Mulder & Scully | forehead

Fic: The Fox and the Star

Title: The Fox and the Star
Fandom: The X-Files
Rating: G
Pairing: Mulder/Scully
Spoilers: Set post-IWTB, pre-Revival. I have deliberately been avoiding Revival spoilers, so if anything is accurate it's pure coincidence.
Word count: 662
Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine; the book mentioned isn't mine. I have nothing.
Summary: Mulder reads Scully a story.

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RDJ | Golden Globe

The Test is What Happens Now

There are a few shows from the US's autumn (or should I say 'fall'?) lineup that are slowly making their way to the UK, and I'll give maybe half a dozen of them a try: Gotham, The Strain (I watched the pilot and was less than impressed, so I might ditch it), Intruders, The Knick, Madam Secretary if a UK channel invests in it. But the one that I'm already addicted to is The Leftovers.

Based on a book by Tom Perrotta, it takes place three years after a mini-rapture, when roughly two percent of the Earth's population disappeared into thin air. Instead of going global the focus is condensed to a small American town with a broad ensemble of the most intriguing characters you could ever hope to meet. Someone's shooting dogs. The Chief of Police might be losing his mind. There's a cult called The Guilty Remnant whose members dress only in white, refuse to speak, and chain-smoke to prove their devotion. Bizarre, yes. But also endlessly fascinating.

Episode three, 'Two Boats and a Helicopter', aired here earlier this week and it's one of the best pieces of television drama I've ever seen. It centres on Christopher Eccleston's Reverend Jamison, who produces posters detailing 'the truth' about some of the departed and who keeps getting punched as a result. I won't say any more for fear of ruining it, because it's best to sit down and watch it without knowing what happens, but it was interesting to see how people and events are starting to tie together. And Christopher Eccleston is always inherently delightful to watch.

Although it's an American show it feels European. It's artfully crafted, with stunning imagery and cinematography, and with characters who aren't written to be likeable. Some of them are, but it isn't forced on you. In many ways it reminds me of The Returned, which I raved about last year. Given that it's written by Damon Lindelof, who had a hand in Lost, I just pray that the answers to the big questions have been plotted out well in advance.
House | squint

The Mystery of the Forgotten 21st Century Sherlock

This article was written for British Mensa's Sherlock Holmes SIG. Copyright remains with the author. Please obtain permission before reproducing this article in any form.



He is an arrogant genius with brilliant powers of deduction and a willingness to break the law if he feels it morally justifiable. He is easily bored, enjoys music, and isn't averse to dabbling with drugs. He has one close friend and he lives at 221b Baker Street.

His name is Gregory House.

The character of Sherlock Holmes has undergone a popularity surge in recent years with Guy Ritchie’s action-packed films, the BBC’s contemporary reimagining, and CBS’s New York-based television drama, Elementary, all hits in their own right. With each reincarnation the debate about the best modern-day Sherlock begins anew. Oft-forgotten amidst the Downey Jrs, Cumberbatches, and Millers of the world is Hugh Laurie, whose portrayal of cantankerous doctor Gregory House earned him six Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe Awards, and critical acclaim from all four corners of the earth. But Laurie’s Sherlock was neither English nor a crime-fighting detective; add the fact that he didn’t even play a character called Sherlock Holmes and putting his name forward for consideration begins to look a trifle foolish.

But House and Holmes are certainly cut from the same cloth and have more in common than synonymous surnames. Not only do they share an address – albeit on different continents – play musical instruments, and take drugs of various descriptions, they also pride themselves on baffling others with their deductive reasoning and ability to identify lies. While Holmes fights deadly criminals House fights deadly diseases, and both are more concerned with, and gain more satisfaction from, solving problems than the feelings of the people involved in their cases.

If that sounds too much like the generic phrasings of a fraudulent psychic – is there any other kind? – then consider this also: House replicated Holmes’s feat of faking his own death, although the former did so by fire and not water. Characters with the surnames Adler and Moriarty appeared in episodes of House, and House’s best friend was named James Wilson in homage to John Watson. Most interesting, however, is the fact that Sherlock Holmes himself was inspired by a real-life doctor, Thomas Bell; ouroborically it was long-believed that a Thomas Bell was House’s biological father.

So while Gregory House may not be immediately identifiable as Sherlock Holmes there are more than enough similarities between the two to recognise that this House is indeed a Holmes. He isn’t the fast-talking, smirking genius-cum-Action Man that is Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock, stripped of subtlety, nor is he as cold as Jonny Lee Miller’s representation. And while there has been praise for Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal criticism has been levelled at his Sherlock for being pretentious and mean-spirited. Nobody can argue that House did not have moments of unkindness but he was often impolite and provocative in order to save his patient’s life, or if he was detoxing from Vicodin and suffering from chronic pain in his thigh. He was rarely rude without reason, and Hugh Laurie brought such warmth, wit, and vulnerability to the role that it was difficult to dislike House even when he was at his most caustic.

People not readily associating House with Holmes must be the sole reason for Laurie’s name not being mentioned more often in discussions about modern Sherlock actors. His nuanced performance, worlds apart from his wide-eyed, slack-jawed turns as affable, dim buffoons in Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster, has been rightly hailed as magnificent, inspiring a generation of straight-talking, discourteous lead characters such as Lie to Me’s Cal Lightman and Shark’s James Stark, none of whom survived the television networks’ culls for very long. Quite clearly there was something special about House, about Laurie, and it’s about time Sherlock Holmes fans acknowledged that.
RDJ | Golden Globe

Lights, Camera...

Hadley Freeman, a Guardian journalist, has written an article about how no celebrities would talk to her at the BAFTA afterparty on Sunday night.

And this is newsworthy because... ?

Celebrity culture has evolved to such an extent that actors, musicians, even those who are famous for doing nothing, can expect very little privacy. With social media readily available it's all too easy for someone to quickly send a message to the world that they've just passed Julia Roberts in the street - without spilling orange juice on her - or that they're sitting next to Stephen Fry on a plane. It's quite possible to track an individual's movements by these tweets, leading some 'passionate' fans to the verge of reporting a celebrity missing when there have been no sightings of him for a day or two. And then there's the paparazzi, those photographers who hide out in bushes and sit in parked cars for hours on end in the hopes of snapping a celebrity walking down the street or stumbling out of a nightclub.

So when there is this constant 'threat' of public exposure, coupled with the fact that celebrities' words are often analysed and twisted and taken out of context, can you blame any of those present Sunday night for wanting no part of it? They had already walked the red carpet, had stopped to talk to fans and journalists then, and had sat under the watchful eye of the cameras inside London's Royal Opera House for several hours. But apparently they hadn't given enough of themselves for one evening.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. People demand too much of celebrities these days. If they don't stop to sign their autograph while out shopping, they're rude. If they won't pose for a photo when approached in a restaurant, they're rude. If they don't talk to journalists... well, you see where this is going. They're public figures, yes, but they should still be entitled to a private life. And if they don't want to talk to the press at a party thrown by a production company for its casts and crews to celebrate their successes, why should they then be subjected to an article that essentially paints them all as ignorant, arrogant, and stand-offish? They aren't obliged to speak to journalists any more so than the rest of us and most, I suspect, have significant reservations about doing so - quite rightly, too.

The public is not entitled to know, nor does it need to know, everything about a celebrity's life. The sooner people start realising that, the better.
RDJ | Golden Globe

Oh, Giroud, We Love You

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud today admitted to cheating on his wife after a photograph of him in his underwear, accompanied by a kiss-and-tell story, appeared in the newspapers. The football player took to Twitter to confess and to apologise, and the reaction was... well, shocking.

People - mostly men - have taken to the website to post photographs of Giroud's wife, adding comments such as, 'Look at her; I can't blame him for cheating.' Others - again, mostly men - have published images of the model he cheated with, saying, 'Look at her; he had to do it.'

This is where I have to remind myself to take a breath. I suspect the majority of women know that we are judged on appearances to a greater extent than men are, but to see a photograph of a woman and then pin the blame for her husband's infidelity on her because of how she looks? To deem it okay for a man to cheat on his spouse if the woman he cheats with is deemed more attractive in appearance? To demand it, even?

Unacceptable.

While women's rights have progressed significantly in the last century or so, sex and relationships is one area in which perceptions of men and women are rooted in the Stone Age. Those people applauding Giroud for having an affair are liable to be the same people who call promiscuous women 'slags', 'whores', and 'sluts'. And don't tell me it's in a man's nature to sleep around to help ensure the survival of the species; if we're considering that argument it's also in a man's nature to hunt and kill, yet I don't see many doing that these days. No, women are still drawing the short straw, to the point where it's thought that she has rightly been punished for not looking like a supermodel.

Age of Enlightenment? More like the Age of Men's Entitlement.
Mulder & Scully | FTF

Oh, Chris...

Note: minor spoilers throughout. What I'd consider to be the only major spoiler is under a cut.

Chris Carter has a pilot called The After currently available to view via Amazon. The summary reads thusly: 'Eight strangers are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation.' Which basically gives him carte blanche to write in whatever weird shit he wants without having to justify it by way of answers. Where have we seen that before...

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House | hospital bed

How about I Dance the Black Swan for You?

Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan was on TV tonight and as I write this it's currently trending on Twitter. Scrolling through the comments has left me a little... confused? annoyed? I'm not quite sure. 'Unsettled' perhaps covers it best.

You see, the vast majority of the comments focus on a scene in which Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis have sex. It's a couple of minutes long, at the most, and it isn't massively pivotal in the context of the plot. But because it features two women in bed together, it's a talking point. Noticeably, what isn't on everybody's lips is the other hundred or so minutes of the film, which largely centres around Portman's fragile mental state and decline into madness, for lack of a better word. Black Swan truly is a terrifying watch, but it seems as though most people who watched it tonight were more horrified at having sat through a sex scene with their parents in the room than witnessing a woman suffering with mental illness.

Thanks to the likes of Fifty Shades of Grey and the loosening of censorship laws sex is no longer the taboo it once was. If we can now talk relatively openly about our bodies, as evidenced by the amount of tweets on the subject, why can't we do the same about our minds? Mental health is a blot on the typically British 'stiff upper lip' way of life. It makes people uncomfortable because they can't see it, because they can't wrap their heads around the idea that someone is compelled to open and close a drawer a certain number of times amid fears that something bad will happen if they don't, or that a person can spend all day in bed not because they're lazy but because they genuinely see no point in getting up. And I accept that it can be hard to grasp if you've never experienced it; there can be no logic behind it, no reason, but mental illness can be just as dehabilitating, if not more so, than physical ailments, and reducing it to scandalous newspaper headlines and whispered comments about funny farms only aids that. Stigma is a powerful thing and the labels attached to those with mental health issues as a result of ignorance, of not talking about it, serves to further injure those people by way of prejudice, discrimination, and isolation. The veil of silence covering mental illness is reinforcing the problem and it is long past time that it was lifted.

I just hope it doesn't take another E.L. James book to do it.
Mulder & Scully | forehead

The End is Nigh

The final episode of The Tunnel airs in the UK next week. For those who haven't heard of it - and I doubt many will have; it doesn't seem to have had a lot of media focus and I don't know anybody else who has watched it - it revolves around British and French police having to work together after a body is found in the Eurotunnel, right at the midway point between England and France. (From what I gather it's a 'reimagining' of The Bridge, which involved Danish and Swedish police collaborating when a body is found on the Øresund Bridge. I haven't seen it, although I plan to.)

Regardless, episodes one through nine have been fabulous on every level. The two lead characters, Karl and Elise - British and French police respectively - are quirky and flawed, and seeing their partnership develop has been both painful and magnificent. The show itself is a masterclass in suspense, with each episode slowly ramping up the tension and then dropping a cliffhanger even more promising than the one before. No character is safe, either, with those both suspicious and not being killed off fairly regularly. And, although I did guess who the killer was before it was revealed at the end of episode eight, the programme has still surprised me and has taken turns I wasn't able to predict.

Which leads me back to my point: the final episode airs next week. The standard has been set and it's high, so high I fear it won't be able to match up to the rest of the series. And I think it's important that it does, because so much of my judgement is influenced by the ending. I'm not judging a book by its cover but by its final chapter. Is that fair? Should a weak ending cloud one's opinion of the thing as a whole?

In a way I think it should. The ending is, generally, what we remember: think of The Sopranos with its fade to black or Lost with all its questions and no answers. If there's clever build-up but no payoff, what was the point? In police programmes such as this, one expects the killer's identity to be revealed, his motives; if the show ends and the audience is none the wiser, they're going to question why they bothered watching. If a show promises something it has to deliver. If it doesn't, it surely has to be seen to have broken those promises and is thus judged because of it.

On the other hand, one rotten apple shouldn't be allowed to spoil the bunch. Previous episodes should be judged on their own merit, without the interference of hindsight. If the way it posed a question was spectacular, does it matter if that question wasn't answered later?

I think endings are very, very tough to get right. Inevitably somebody's going to be disappointed at how the show, film, book, concluded. Personally I think too many utilise happy endings; The Green Mile and Se7en are among my favourite films because they subvert the traditional Hollywood ending, and tonally it works. The Tunnel operates on similar levels, with investigative breakthroughs giving hope that the killer will be found while the nature of the crimes and the dead ends the police come up against makes this a very bleak programme. And it deserves a bleak ending, even though that means several characters will suffer beyond belief. Here's hoping it has the guts to do it.