Season Finales and Stuff 2015

Some season finale observations or overall season overviews. There might be more television posts later; we’ll see. Anyway, spoilers ahead, or if you don’t care, read on.

As I’ve said before about “Elementary” (see my 2014 year in review commentary), I wish the show did a better job at being an ensemble show. The acting is great, but the reality is that the show is very much the Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson show (and even then, more the Sherlock show, as well it should be). However, the moments with Detective Marcus Bell (Jon Michael Hill) and Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) have been notable and they sort of had arcs this season. I’d like to see more of that – to see a coherent expansion of the Holmesian universe.

For instance, Bell slowly developed a friendship of sorts with Sherlock and he realized that he deserved a life (to avoid, as Sherlock pointed out, the life of personal isolation that Sherlock, Joan, and Gregson each seemed to have carved for themselves).

Meanwhile, Gregson got confronted with how his daughter was a victim of abuse from a failed romantic relationship with another cop, and how her ambition as a cop might not make her the most upstanding cop. And, maybe some amount of corruption or power play might push Gregson to a promotion he didn’t seek or want, which might lead to problems for Sherlock, Joan, and Bell.

But, the arcs of Bell and Gregson felt a little flat ultimately (it didn’t help that the season finale didn’t touch on their mindsets very much, beyond Gregson’s frustration that Sherlock was putting himself in danger).

And, even Joan’s storyline was troubling for how her boyfriend died and how that led to her moving back to the Holmes brownstone and socially isolating herself (or, as she put it, fully committing to detective work).

The most recent season finale didn’t really end on a cliffhanger note (not to me, anyway), when it concerned the threat of Sherlock’s addiction relapse. Sherlock’s addiction problem was left hanging (or never went away) since the season finale of the previous season, when he took the heroine from his safe. And, I would have to go back to the season premiere of this season, but I really thought he had relapsed already, and he never denied that relapse was a threat that still haunted him (the never-ending problem of being an addict).

On the other hand, I was kind of hoping that Sherlock’s realization that he needed friends and his growing acceptance of Joan, Bell, and Alfredo (Sherlock’s former Narcotics Anonymous sponsor) as friends meant more for his character development – especially since he was as someone who was so flawed and rejected his family.

And, I could have sworn that we viewers were left hanging as far as the state of friendship between Sherlock and Gregson (or what passes for friendship). Way back in Season 1, Sherlock pretty much burned Gregson by doing some really dubious things, and Gregson has been left with the thankless role of Supportive Boss of Authority over Sherlock, Joan, and Bell (a fairly stereotyped role of police procedural tv series and movies). There could have been some fleshing out of this whole friendship theme of this season.

I ended up liking the “Kitty as Sherlock’s new protege” storyline far more than I expected, because it made Sherlock aware of how he impacted lives. Even Kitty, as a jarring character during the 1st half of the season, grew on me (even if she was pretty brutal). What I like about Sherlock Holmes of “Elementary” is that he is so human. But… the big but…

But, as the A.V. Club‘s Myles McNutt noted in his reviews of the 2nd half of this third season, things got weird. McNutt got frustrated that the episodes seemed so determined to have a murder as a hook, even though the plot would get very meandering and away from the original murder. I agree that, with such rich characters, there could and should be an easier way to have the procedural part, than what often felt like incoherent messes with terrific Sherlock dialog.

(also, I enjoyed McNutt’s season finale critique, and I’m sorry that he’s moving on from the “Elementary” assignment on the A.V. Club! Hope his successor goes as deep).

When a series makes it obvious that the guest star is the suspect and did do the murder, I would strongly suggest going back to the drawing board. This ain’t Columbo (and even the “Elementary” episode that was in a Columbo style – where the viewer knows who did the murder, even if the why has to be unfolded – didn’t exactly work all that well, because the why still made no sense).

I have hope for “Elementary,” since the cinematography is great (I love how Long Island City ends up being a stand-in for just about every part of the city, and how the city just looks good on the show) and the cast – I like the cast! But, come on, writers: be focused and use the strengths of your cast!

Meanwhile, “Dancing With the Stars” managed to be its usual fun. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how the adapted music on that show works for the ballroom dancing stuff, but the pro dancers are so talented. I have enormous respect for Derek Hough as a choreographer, but I was rooting for Val Chmerkovskiy to win finally. The time when he and Artem Chigvintsev did the trio paso doble with Rumer Willis – whoa. Hot stuff. I couldn’t get my eyes off of Val and Artem! See below!

But, yes, in dancing with Val during this latest round of “Dancing With the Stars,” Rumer has done a great job showing us viewers that she is more than the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. She has a lot of talent and hopefully this can help her with whatever her next gig is. The season finale was pretty bloated though, dragging out the tension while still being entertaining.

I watched the farewell to David Letterman on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on CBS this past Wednesday.  It was actually David Letterman Day in the City of New York (well, “Late Show with David Letterman” Day, per the mayor’s proclamation for that day).

I’m not much of a late night tv viewer, but I admired how Letterman became such a New York City icon, from his days of returning to work after 9/11/01, and how he made his return from the writers’ strike.  Letterman was funny about his sarcasm and candidness (his skewering certain politicians could be fun to watch), and his human moments (his family, his heart surgery) were human.  And, those odd bits (Rupert Jee and the South Asian guys from the early days of the series’ CBS incarnation) were … odd bits.

Anyway, I thought that the farewell episode was sweet for remembering old guests (especially those who passed away).   Also, the Top 10 was hilarious, just for being a fun roast of Letterman (not a new thing, but a nice way to end things).

It’s not clear what Letterman plans to do in his retirement, other than spending time with his family.  He’s entitled to do nothing during retirement.  But, as I’ve mentioned before, I could easily imagine him doing a Charlie Rose-style of project, covering topics he wants to do or whatever he cares about.  Best wishes and congrats, Letterman, and be good in whatever you’ll do next.

Sidenote stuff: See here on FC’s post on Calvert DeForest, who was best known as “Larry (Bud) Melman” on the old “Late, Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC (the Melman name couldn’t go to CBS during Letterman’s transition); I thought it was nice that a clip of him was on the finale.

If you do a search of “Letterman,” on the triscribe blog, you can find more commentary that we made about stuff we saw on his show over the years of triscribe.  Oh, and check out the blog post by Emil Guillermo, over at the website of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), regarding Asian Pacific Americans who have been on the Letterman show (even when it got real uncomfortable – see my reference above on the odd bits’ being odd).

I still have to catch up on a lot of shows. But, hopefully summer television could be fun.

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