Daily Archives: February 27, 2012

For Female Watsons, Will the Third CBS Pilot Be the Charm?

With the success of the BBC’s modern-day Sherlock, and before that, the success of the American modern-day Holmes versions in House, M.D. and The Zero Effect, it’s inevitable that we go back to another US version of Holmes.

On the upcoming CBS series Elementary, Holmes is a respected criminologist, formerly a consultant for the Yard but now a recovering addict fresh out of rehab. The NYPD hires him as a consultant, but makes him take on a “sober companion” to keep him on the straight and narrow. The one he gets is Dr. Joan Watson, a gifted surgeon who lost an influential patient on the table and her license, in quick succession. So she has to ride herd on him during cases, whether either of them like it or not.

Holmes is played by English actor Jonny Lee Miller, the grandson of actor Bernard Lee (the original M).

Dr. Joan Watson is Lucy Liu.

This is going to be awesome.

Anyway, the folks behind the upcoming CBS show, Elementary, have announced that there’ll be a return to the female Watsons of two failed television pilots for CBS: The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987 – Michael Pennington, Margaret Colin), set in Boston with a revived olden days Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s private eye descendant, Jane Watson; and Sherlock Holmes Returns (1993 – Anthony Higgins, Debrah Farentino), with a revived Sherlock Holmes in San Francisco, helped by Dr. Amy Winslow.

(For other female Watsons, there’s also the Mary Russell series of books by Laurie R. King; and there’s Robert Forward’s Marshal Bravestarr spinoff cartoon with a female Mycroft descendant, “Sherlock Holmes in the 24th Century” (not to be confused with the female Lestrade of Sherlock Holmes in the 23rd Century) and the female Mycroft version, Michelle, in Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, for that matter. You get the idea.)

But this time, it’s not about suspended animation or cryogenics. Everybody’s contemporary, just like on House. (And that obscure BBC miniseries thing.) ;)

The female Watson concept has always been cool, even if Rex Stout came up with it as a rather misogynistic joke. (In his paper for the Baker Street Irregulars, “Watson Was a Woman”, which “revealed” a sort of Shakespeare Code in the stories.) It’s like fate, to see it turn up again on CBS.

Three times makes the charm… I hope, I hope, I hope….

Apparently nobody gave the BBC the memo about all the previous US versions of Holmes, so one of the Sherlock producers attempted to get nasty this winter. So sad. :)

The guy who wrote The Return of Sherlock Holmes is now a California prof, so media take note!

Pictures of Sherlock Holmes Returns at an Anthony Higgins fan site.

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The Spinrad Star Trek Episode That Never Was

Norman Spinrad is selling his old unfilmed Star Trek script, “He Walked Among Us”, on the Kindle. Bit pricey, but he knows what the Trekkie traffic will bear.

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Beyond Gut Instinct

Dangerous Instincts is a new book by an FBI profiler. It’s all about how to suss out creepy people who have learned not to seem creepy.

Now, after meeting these kinds of people and finding out they’re creeps, you might be able to suss out other creepy people of the same type. But honestly, that’s the kind of experiential knowledge you can do without. (At best, you waste your time and energy on jerks, and at worst, you don’t get to have more experiences in this life.) Also, your psychological makeup may give you issues that cause you to ignore stuff that would be a red flag for other people.

But mostly, for everyday safety, you really ought to use your noggin and your eyes and ears, instead of waiting on your gut to give you emergency warnings. Especially if you have kids, or other people you need to watch over.

So if you don’t want to be working next to Ted Bundy all day while thinking he’s a nice guy, just because he’s never been mean to you (like the crime writer Ann Rule once did), this sounds like a good book to find at the library and stomp into your head, or to buy and keep handy. (I’m being cheap until I find a job, so probably the library for me.)

Review at Blackfive.

Here’s another book that sounds similarly useful — In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People. Just because they’re not psychos, that doesn’t mean you need to put up with it.

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William Luse’s Novel Is Out!

I didn’t realize that William Luse (who blogs at Apologia) now has his novel out.

The Last Good Woman is about a guy, a girl, and the girl’s father, who doesn’t think the guy is good enough for his girl. Is he right?

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Act of Valor: Review

A really good movie, full of interesting things to look at and valiant men and women. It’s not deep, but it’s not shallow, either. It’s about men and women doing their jobs, some of whom want to make the world better, and some who just want what they want. The bad guys are not going to do stupid things just to let the good guys win; ergo, bad stuff happens to the good guys and they have to think ahead.

If you like to see competent people at work, as opposed to idiots throwing poses, this is your movie. But more than that, this movie will make you feel proud of America’s military. You will also see how it takes more than just SEALs to make a successful mission.

It’s full of action and violence, but it’s not some weird and creepy thing that treats violence like sex. (That being said, the realism is hard for some to watch.) You won’t cringe over any kind of sexist moviemaker prejudice against women or men. The heroes and the villains are both extremely diverse in their backgrounds, as people tend to be in today’s globalized world. I liked this a lot, because real life terrorists and baddies often have some crazy weird backgrounds, and because the use of Ukraine/Russian/Chechen stuff was so true to life.

Foreign languages are much in evidence and reasonably subtitled. (Although you get bonus info if you know the languages.)

There are a few moments early on, when a Bellisario Filmmaking rule trumps reality. (Bellisario says that people sympathize with faces better than oxygen masks, which is why his fighter pilots usually have Magical Breathing Powers. Just pretend that they’ve really got the masks on, and they’re talking over the radio.)

The cinematography is gorgeous. There are a lot of night scenes, so you’d better hope your theater has the digital projection light levels turned up. (My theater did; but it’s a pretty common cost-cutting measure, and I’ve heard horror stories.) There’s nice use of realistic stereo sound, also.

It is rated R mostly for violence, and partly for a few cusswords. (Not Navy strength ones.)

A nice picture of the Sr. Chief guy from the movie.

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Dangerously Incompetent and Good at It

Somebody was recently telling me about his former boss, who was not only bad at his job but good at stopping good work from being done. He ended up concluding that the guy must have been crazy or mentally deficient. Unfortunately, while some of these people might be a card short of a deck, they usually aren’t mentally ill in any way recognized by psychology. Most of them don’t think of themselves as bad bosses. They show up in a lot of good organizations, particularly in the military, despite the way all organizations don’t want them around.

I think the truth is this: Some people have good skills at advancing and getting promoted, at playing politics, and at being impressive to their superiors. (Sometimes even to people at the same level who don’t work with them.) But with people under them, they’re only interested in using them to stay afloat until they can get promoted again. They don’t actually care about their jobs as jobs, or they only care about their own ideas. Either way, they’re unlikely to listen to reason that doesn’t come from their own heads.

I’ve been lucky never to have worked under such people. But I know plenty of people who have.

Anyway, this comes up because an alternate WWII discussion actually suggested that time travelers should make sure to kill or imprison one General Lesley McNair, because he got a lot of people killed with his teachings. And yet, he was the guy in charge of the Army staff college, right before the war. He also had a protegee named Fredendall who was later considered to have been dangerously incompetent; McNair recommended him for all kinds of important jobs.

And no, I don’t think you can blame this all on the way some military people do better in peacetime than wartime, and vice versa. I think it’s a matter of some people valuing social skills too much (and a very narrow sort of social skills at that), to the point that they don’t notice they’re not backed up with results.

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The World Is Not Pro-Woman

Witness the comments to a New York Times story about Mother Dolores Hart. (I can’t link to it, because apparently I’m over my monthly quota of clicks. Here’s a better story in the Telegraph.)

She’s a Benedictine nun at the monastery of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut. She knows chant, she works to support the monastery, she has the company of likeminded Sisters, and basically uses all her faculties as she lives dependent on God. She is a full, complete person, and it shows.

But a lot of the commenters can’t stand this. It drives them crazy with rage or condescension. (And sounds a lot like suppressed envy.)

How dare she not marry a man? How dare she decide she loved Someone else better? How dare she turn her back on stardom? How dare she sacrifice? How dare she work in secret? How dare she pursue a dream that’s truly countercultural? How dare she be happy doing it?

Heck, how dare she talk honestly about her choices?

There is no better way to well and truly torque people off, than to decide to love and serve the Lord and all the world’s people. :)

Anyway, she’s in the news today because she was at the Oscars for a documentary on her life. It’s sad that she had to sit through all that crup at the Oscars that I haven’t bothered to watch for years; but I’m sure she wasn’t too bothered by the pettiness of it all.

Meanwhile, the story is written by Maureen Dowd, who basically is a living illustration of a woman who’s allegedly successful, but is obviously not secure in herself in any way, shape, or form. The world thinks women should keep desperately chasing their own tails (and men’s tails) like she does, and that as long as you make a lot of money (which of course New York makes you spend again) it will be all right.

Meanwhile, Mother Dolores Hart and Patton’s niece the nun and all the rest of the really strong sisters don’t need any of those things. They are the “wise women” that so many foolish souls claim to be. Their work is hard, honest, and satisfying, and it is done as a prayer. They are still, and they know God.

Look at the picture in the Telegraph. Look at those honest wrinkles, that clear gaze. We don’t all have to be nuns, but we should all grow up to be someone like that.

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