The Universe is getting chronically LAZY with all of this coincidence. Not sure how to post a pic, but Rachel Talalay changed her Twitter header to some sort of diagram of a "cut scene" from her Sherlock episode. When someone asked her to identify what it was, she had the DP of the episode answer. She changed it before he saw it, but his answer? "Damnit! Missed it! Guessing it was a highly detailed and comprehensive representation of the transition between scenes 13 and 14? ;-)" Giant Shrug™
Oh yeah, Nonny? Hmm. Yeah, all these coincidences are making me So Tired™. I mean, Logic Steph says it was probably an honest mistake on Rachel’s part and she quickly wanted to rectify it. Tinfoil Hat Steph, though, is banging pots and pans screaming “RELEASE THE EFFIN’ SPECIAL ALREADY”.
Just an FYI, you can submit pics through submissions rather than asks (I believe anon is on for that too :))
She’s being reunited with Michelle Gomez as Missy and our favorite foes, the Cybermen. This time around, she also gets the extra challenge of resurrecting the original Mondasian Cybermen from the 1966 story “The Tenth Planet.”
Now that the BBC has confirmed Rachel Talalay is returning, we have the final tally for women writers and directors for Series 10: Two women writers (Sarah Dollard and Rona Munro) and one women director. That’s slightly down from the Series 9 high of two women writers and two women directors.
Though we still need need to push for progress (and we’re terribly far from parity) there are reasons to be encouraged. It’s great to see both Rachel Talalay and Sarah Dollard returning to Doctor Who, particularly since this is now the third Series in a row that Rachel Talalay has directed the finale. It’s also encouraging to see that the first Classic Who writer recruited to return to the new series is one of the few women who ever wrote for the Classic Series.
I’ve read Rachel Talalay’s post on her tumblr re: TST and I have to say I really appreciate someone from the ‘creators’ engaging with fandom without ridiculing or insulting us, but, as it seems, out of curiosity and genuine interest. This is such a wholesome attitude for a change! Only, I’m way too shy and in no psition to address an established and experienced director as Ms Talalay (yep, I simply don’t dare to.). But I am a viewer and recipientof her work, so I’d like to chip in my 2 cents.
Her post got me thinking. She writes that she deliberately refused to read TFP when directing TST. If I understood correctly, it was because her characters don’t know their future either, and she wanted to keep that perspective.
Of course, she is fully justified to make her own artistic decisions. Only, in retrospect, I’m not sure that approach really worked so well. Not because of not knowing that there would be a mad sister incarcerated on an island and that Sherlock would in the end befriend her… not because of the future outcome of the show.
But because of what TFP revealed about Sherlock’s past. I think knowing about Victor/Redbeard/the well, and incorporating this knowledge into TST, could have made the whole thing a bit more explicable, a bit easier to swallow.
For example, Sherlock suddenly has premonitions in TST. He never had before on the show or in canon. It wasn’t that ACD was averse to such things (he believed in fairies and seances), but it didn’t fit in his stance at Holmes and detective fiction as logical and reasonable. So, where does this supernatural element stem from in Sherlock?
Those premonitions are linked to water. Rememeber the promo picture of 221b? TST starts with a shot of the aquarium and the story of Samara = destiny + water. Sherlock again experiences a watery premonition at the Wellsborough’s, combined with a shot of the table that reminds me of the well, while dealing with a missing, dead child.
Was this just foreshadowing the end of the episode, the showdown at the aquarium? Or couldn’t this have been foreshadowing the revelation in TFP of Victor = Redbeard, drowned by Eurus in a well? Hmm… not if you don’t know about this. But it was hammered home in the trailers that this series would deal with Sherlock’s past - what made him. Wouldn’t it have been crucial for directing an episode that led up to this reveal that the director had known about these aspects of Sherlock’s past? Wouldn’t that have been fair to the viewers, to give them a chance to figure it out by leaving hints for them? This is what makes one appeal of the Holmes stories - if they get explained to you in the end, you ask yourself: Of course, why didn’t I see this? But in S4, we didn’t have a chance. Because evreyone seems to have stumbled though the story in the dark.
In TFP, all the water in the show - from the pool in TGG to Reichenbach in TAB - is connected to Sherlock’s childhood loss of Victor and his search for a replacement of such a friend ever since (hello, John). But this just seemed so subsequently invented, almost forced onto the narrative. Because, for example, Sherlock fights an assassin in a pool in TST - but there is no premonition in this scene, no sign that water could mean something, anything to him. Now, I really appreciate the aesthetic of a dripping wet Benedict Cumberbatch - but this scene could perhaps have tied in better with the whole childhood/Victor plot if the director had known about this plot? Also, the line with the memory stick: “But she destroyed it” - accompanied with a flashback to John throwing the drive in the fire in HLV - this might actually have been planned as foreshadowing the reveal of Eurus destroying Sherlock’s childhood and home, and therefore a hint for the viewers where Sherlock’s premonitions came from (WATER!) - but without knowing this, it wasn’t emphasised enough and became just another odd plot hole.
On the other hand, they could have gone for true punch to the gut, nothing foreshadowed, just BAM! right in your face - here’s a dead childhood friend, drowned, and Sherlock suppressed everything about that and his sister now take that, audience! But they didn’t. The writers wanted to be clever. Redbeard features since S3 - only, I don’t think the writers had a plan how to exactly solve this narrative streak back then. And this ‘making the story up as we go’ bleeds through again and again - and perhaps even more than necessary, if the outcome had been known to all the participants. This could ahve been a chance to tie up at least some of the mess made by the writers.
I read a post a while ago that said the secrecy of the writers killed the show. I think it’s true when you look at Mary Morstan, for example. I doubt that Jeremy Lovering, who directed her in TEH, or Ms Abbington herself knew what would happen to the character in HLV, directed by Nick Hurran. Now, such surprises, the uncertainty, can add suspense and a flirring sense of vagueness and unrealness to a story - which was a great thing in Broadchurch. The doubt, the mistrust, added to the feeling that no one was save, that everyone could have been the child’s killer. But for Sherlock? Mary was just a side character - this form of surprising suspense asigned way too much weight to her in an already complicated narrative. Why?
And then her end in TST! I’d really like to ask Ms Talalay if this was done purposefully ridiculous, as a form of satirical comment on Mary’s arc? Because it made no sense. Mary transformed from a sassy girlfriend to ruthless assassin to selfless hero. In one episode, she shoots Sherlock (without a good reason) and in the next she saves him without necessity, sacrificing herself without good reason either. Now, if the directing of this scene should subtly emphasize the inadequacies of Mary’s arc - I bow deeply to Ms Talalay’s directing choices, while making the most of a ridiculous script.
This secrecy prevented the actors from engaging with their characters. They only do the show every odd year for a few episodes. Retconning everything they might have thought up as a backstory for their character with every new script is not helping to get a grip on your character, I imagine? And it was done with Ben as well, as Mr Gatiss said in post mortem after TAB. He revealed something to Ben during the filming of TAB (presumably about Redbeard not being a dog?) that Ben shouldn’t have known back then. Keeping such big points a secret, while later playing on them, thereby forcing some foreshadowing onto an already established narrative, caused more plotholes than it gave explanations, because it prevented the actors, actresses and directors to incorporate this knowledge into their acting and directing choices. And this is not a good idea on a show like Sherlock, that has to make some sense and can’t prevail endlessly in the realm of vague suspense - based on… nothing , apparently.
A series like Shelrock needs explanations. That’s what detective fiction is about. That’s what a Holmes story is about. Logic and reasoning, solving the mystery, not creating one after another until everything is muddled up.
I checked back. S1 and S2 - the series which, for me and many others, still work best - were largely made by Paul McGuigan. He directed 4 out of 6 episodes. TBB was made by Eurus Lyn, who’d already worked with Moffat on Doctor Who. So, both directors were involved with the series long-time or knew how the writer(s) worked, could develope arches - they knew where they were going with this. And that added to the cohesiveness of the narrative. Bringing in Toby Hayns for TRF was also a good idea. It needed someone new to sweep everything up and kill the main character - fresh perspective, new approaches. But after that, every episode had a different director. And the scripts came late. No preparation, while the times between the series grew longer and longer.
Only for TLD - for me the best episode in S4 - they allowed Nick Hurran back, who’d also done HLV. And to me that is noticeable, even in the character of Mary. Because he had worked on the story and the characters before. He had some ideas where they came from and where they might be going (turned out it wasn’t right, but it did fit at least with the previous episodes). Even for John… he’s angry in HLV, and still angry in TLD. I can see at least some connection there.
So, in short, I think too much secrecy killed the show, because it lost course and purpose. No one seemed to have known where this was going (how could they?) - and this led to opening up narrative sidelines via acting and directing that weren’t followed up, because they were never intended to. It created a vagueness that allows now for almost every interpretation you might throw at the show to seem valid, because there surely can be found a line or shot that supports it in all this jumble. Because everybody seems to have done the best they could, bringing in their own ideas - but no one coordinated this. It was all secrets and rug pulls - but no cohesive story telling, at least after S2.
This might be a chance for fandom to take away form the show what you want to see in it - but it’s just so not Sherlock Holmes that I wonder why they didn’t make their own show about three people suffering, marriage, childhood trauma, toture, assassins, spies, gay pining (or not), spiced with horror elements, and just called it something else after S2?
Oh, and I’d really like to know what Ms Talalay thinks of Mary’s end-monologue: “Who you are doesn’t matter, it’s all about the legend.” Is that true? Did she see the characters like this? Does she approve? Perhaps I should dare to ask her after all?