Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Anime Wednesday: Gosick


Anime Wednesday is Go!



Hey, Guys! I'm back and it's time for more Asian Cartoon Fun in the summer.

Keep in mind, my Southern Hemisphere brothers and sisters, that summer is going strong in Japan and America right now. I hope you're either staying cool or staying warm, depending on where you are on this muddy rock.

This week's review is for an anime that is basically Sherlock Holmes as a love story. Pretty intriguing!

After that, we will discuss the Summer 2014 Schedule. There are some duds and some treats but as always, I leave my opinion but also leave it up to you guys to make the right decisions for yourselves.

Gosick


Gosick is styled after the word Gothic. Don't ask me why they didn't just make it Gothic. I'm just... gonna assume they can't say their th's. The story is set in 1924 in a fictional European country called Sauville. It extends in a strip from Switzerland, through the alps between France and Italy, to the Mediterranean Sea.

It's that tiny little red country in the middle.
Also you'll notice some of the other countries and bodies of water have weird names.

The main character is Kazuya Kujo, the third son of a high-ranking officer in the Japanese Imperial army (keep in mind this was before WW2 when Japan was pretty much being run by its military). He transferred to St. Marguerite Academy in Sauville, where the popular trend is urban legends and horror stories.

He meets the character of interest, Victorique de Blois, who is mysterious, beautiful, and absolutely brilliant at a dainty, doll-like five-foot even. She does not go to classes but stays in the huge library all day. She often stays there in the conservatory at the top of the library, reading several difficult books, often in different languages, simultaneously. At one point, she remarks to Kujo that she has read all the books on one massive wall and then points to another massive wall and says she has finished all of those two. So the girl is very well-read with a genius intellect. She also has a sharp tongue, abusive bluntness, and an eccentric attitude, and uses a pipe to think while she "reconstructs chaos". She enjoys "reconstructing chaos" by solving intricate mysteries and often complains about boredom being the root of her headaches. Have you realized who the Sherlock Holmes is yet?

It's elementary, my dear Watson.

Although Victorique is very brusque with Kazuya, who is dense and slow sometimes but possesses a keen memory, it's clear she is attracted to him and has feelings for him as the series goes on. Kazuya becomes entangled in her life after she saves him from a near arrest. From there he becomes her Watson, following along with her as she works as a consulting detective for her brother, Grevil de Blois, who is an aristocrat that forced the local police to hire him simply because he was interested in crime. In reality, Grevil is a very awful detective and must beg help from Victorique. She allows him to take all the credit for any mystery she solves because she dislikes any attention she would get from the public for her astounding work. Kazuya is initially annoyed with her, but after spending time with her and getting to know how she ticks, he begins to truly care for her and protect her from a conspiracy that goes all the way back to her birth and beyond.


Kazuya is a pretty cool Watson who doesn't afraid of anything.

The series goes on into Victorique's origins, why her relationship with her brother is so unique, why she isn't living with any kind of family, and even why her genius intellect and emerald eyes exist at all. I'll save that for you guys to discover for yourself. If you love mystery and romance, or are even a fan of Sherlock Holmes, this anime is your ticket to Paradise. The animation is beautiful and stunning and the story focuses on its characters intensely while also portraying puzzles that will stump you until Victorique reveals how events unfolded. The overarching story of Victorique's background is very interesting, compelling, and intriguing too. Give it a look. It's fun and sometimes very funny.

Summer 2014 Schedule


The picture seems pretty tiny, but if you open it up in a new tab and zoom in, you will be able to clearly read the writing. The chart is massive and Blogger won't let me make it any bigger. Here you'll see they are rebooting Sailor Moon, continuing Sword Art Online, and other things. I don't know your interests, so I'll let you peruse at your leisure. Movie, OVA, and DVD releases are also listed!

What's Hot?

It's hard to tell at the moment what will be very popular in the next few days but if the list above is correct, it will probably be Sword Art Online 2, The Sailor Moon Reboot, the two Urobuchi-written animes, Space Dandy season 2, and Hanamonogatari. Keep in mind these are educated guesses on my part considering the popularity of their predecessors and, in the case of the Sailor Moon Reboot, their anticipation by fans.


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That's it for this week. My fellow Americans, enjoy Independence Day. Everyone else, I hope your summer or winter is going great! Catch you on the flip side.



-Brash

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Country Nerd in the Big City

...for Philly Comic Con!!

*wiggles cane* Back in my day, I used to be a cosmopolitan young woman. I went places. I ate food. I dressed fancy. I lived in a less rural situation. I drove a sparkly car. I was well-groomed. I showered. I had developed preferences for flying it happened so often. My routine for the airport was streamlined and attractive, which at this point in my life, I consider a major feat.

Nowadays, I'm lucky if I get a shower and I'm certain I will never quite banish the smell of horses and toddler from my person. My hair is only brushed for special occasions. My makeup collection is well past its prime. I used to have all new prettifying accessories and I never got the cheap stuff. Now I just grab an approximation of the right shade from the foundation section in Walgreen's and sprint down the aisle to haul my escaping child back to the cart. I wear yoga pants to the store and I don't give a hoot.

So when Sheeth and I wandered into the convention center and were visually assaulted with what appeared to be five hundred gajillion booths of stuff and people and cosplayers and artists, I'm pretty sure my eyeballs were about to pop out of my head. I don't get out much.

Also, whenever I saw a good costume, I just straight up stared. I was honestly just appreciating all the detailed work that went into the ensemble. On the other hand, Sheeth, I suspect, thought he was discovering why Flop doesn't take me out in public. The drool stare and sudden inability to walk in a straight line, he probably thought, was one of the reasons I stay chained to the kitchen. It's more for convenience than any great statement on my cooking. There was a spectacular Loki that went marching past with a deeply unpleasant look on his face. No one asked him for pictures. Too scary. Once, Flop told me that if you don't want anyone to bother you in a crowded area, you should walk fast and carry a red folder. Now I know it's either that, or be scary, like Loki.



I didn't get to take a ton of pictures, mostly because I just kept forgetting. Sheeth reminded me a few times to keep my phone out but my brain was entrenched by all the things. All the nerd things. We also didn't get any celebrity pictures this time around, the lines being many, many people long. So, now that we are vastly more experienced with the Philly Comic Con situation, we plan on making it a weekend long event with time budgeted carefully for every nerd activity possible. I also need to save up money to buy all the things that tickled my fancy. Would matching Mario and Luigi prints look weird hanging in my house? Yeah, but dang it I coveted them.

The stuff. It was out of control. This was on the short list for Flop's souvenir.

Sheeth liked the pink one. He's very secure in his masculinity, at least when it comes to lightsabers. 

I considered putting this charming print of George on the ceiling above my bed. 

The Precious! And for such a reasonable price. 

Tardis dress. Just because.




Monday, June 23, 2014

The Doctor, My Son and I



I have hesitated in writing about Doctor Who, being something of a Johnny-come-lately fan. Frankly, I had absolutely no interest in the show initially. I was really only made aware of it in the second season of the new incarnation, an awareness that consisted solely of me popping my head up long enough to say, “Hey, David Tennant’s pretty cute,” and then promptly forgetting about it again.

But between my mother-in-law, a fan of both the updated series and originals, and several friends whose nerdgasming over TV shows intersects my own, I finally gave the Doctor a chance last fall and I’ve not regretted it. (Making me now, I suppose, a member of the bizarre Superwholock trifecta of fangirling. Are there rings? I want a ring.)

D'awww...

I think part of what kept me from giving the show a try was that it might be new to me, but really it wasn’t. I was raised on Star Trek: The Next Generation so there wasn’t going to be a sci-fi show that would present radically new themes (not to mention a brief stint in The X-Files). Yes, travelling in time and all that, but that finds its counterpart in holodecks. Also, I have a bit of a pigheaded streak wherein I delight in not being up on something that everyone seems to be watching. Re: I’m dumb.

As I had largely expected none of the stories really blew me away. Please don’t misunderstand that to mean that I didn’t enjoy them or think they were well-done, because that is not the case – simply that nothing was remarkably different from anything I’d seen before. Except maybe the Weeping Angels. Those f***ers are scary as shit.

You. Not cool.

I was also vaguely off-put by the production values. Again, not necessarily meant to be a criticism, but sometimes it’s difficult to stay in the story when you’re distracted enough by visual effect to think, “Oh, wow that’s cheesy/awful.” On the flip side it certainly lends the show some of its charm, a kind of tongue-in-cheek invitation for us to share in the joke.

So no, I was not blown away by the visuals, by the aliens/crazy stories/tech, but rather by the show’s inescapable heart. My lovely mother-in-law has a persistent theory about one’s “first” Doctor, that as much as you can appreciate the others they just don’t quite compare and I think she’s right. Because Christopher Eccleston sold the idea of the Doctor to me and sold it hard. He was bitter and weary and angry and alone but he was so so damn hopeful and he still cared.

Look at that face. How do you not love that face?
He offered to open up Rose’s world and mind just because he could and he wanted to. And not just her – his gifts are not hoarded away but given freely so that the simple joy of life, of existence can be shared by anyone who will receive it from him.

Unless of course you piss him off, in which case you are cosmically and chronologically screwed. But moving on…

I was kind of heartbroken to see Christopher go, as charming as I find David Tennant’s Doctor. He and Billie Piper still played well together as the Doctor and Rose, which helped – but for me no companion tops Donna Noble.

Best intro ever.

From her mood-lightening intro to her hilariously ridiculous re-introduction all the way to DoctorDonna and her unfortunate departure, she really puts the show through an emotional wringer, in a good way. What I particularly like about her is the complete lack of any romantic undertones or sexual tension. She’s not trying to jump his bones or pining away. Also, Catherine Tate is just funny as hell. If you haven’t seen any of her work as a sketch comedian I highly recommend it, starting with this:

 Gold here, people.

Another wonderful aspect of Donna is that she has such a good heart. She cares about the people and situations they find themselves in.  She cares that the Doctor doesn’t go too far, acting as his literal human conscience. I almost would have believed that she could have travelled with him for the rest of her life and they would have had some of the best times ever experienced.

But one of the things that kept me into the show in the later series, and the reason I’m writing this post, is because of my son. I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and, to a point, Star Trek: Voyager (we largely skipped DS9 – space station does not a star trek make). I’ll admit that TNG started off pretty wonky but once they ironed out the wrinkles it became a solid show that I still enjoy watching over and over. There were certainly themes that would have been over my head at the time and freaky bits that still wig me out but it was something that I grew up with, something I did with my family.

Ah, the memories.

I had never intentionally let my son watch Doctor Who, in part because we limit the TV he watches and in part because it is also the kind of show that is full of freaky bits that 30-year-olds don’t need to see, let alone 4-year-olds.

Again, Exhibit A.

But it happened once or twice anyway that he caught parts of episodes I was watching and thus developed a love of “Eye Bubbles.” As known as Daleks. Because of course. I mean, what’s not to love, really? In all honesty, I have no idea what the appeal is and my son has been unable to explain it himself, but it’s become sort of charming how excited he gets when he sees them. So, while I haven’t deliberately turned on episodes for us to watch together, I’ve been more lax about him catching chunks of them, particularly ones with the Daleks. And he’ll always ask me, “Does this one have Da-weks in it?” It’s cute enough that we – and by “we” I mean “I” – decided to get him a plush one for his birthday, which was a big hit (at least until he got the plush Perry the Platypus).

Rolan insists I would not make a good Dalek. I’m okay with that.
All of this has given me the thought that maybe when he gets a little older and I’m not so worried about giving him nightmares I can put Doctor Who on for us to watch together and it can be thing we enjoy. Not that we don’t watch some TV together now, but Phineas & Ferb and My Little Pony, while awesome, are not quite the same. And he’ll probably lose interest, and in 5 or so years will whine and moan when I put it on, but maybe for now it can be something nerdy we can share and I think that’s pretty cool. I look forward to those days while enjoying the present.

And thinking about getting this for Christmas. But for me.



Saturday, June 21, 2014

Married to the Man: A World of Opportunity

A while ago, Flop and I decided to cancel our WoW subscriptions. It's been a wild experience. We've noticed plants in our house that have been there for years, animals who have nested into the comfy corners of our living room, and a couple tiny humans with terrible language skills and unpredictable tempers.

I'm kidding.

Kinda.

We always knew we had cats.

Ok, no really, I'm kidding.

Each night Flop and I would put the kids to bed and stand around, avoiding eye contact with each other. Eventually one of us would send a whisper--I mean, a text--pretty much asking "what now?". On weekends we actually started doing yard work. Like ambitious yard work involving the truck, tractor, a wheelbarrow, multiple shovels, and a lot of Tylenol.

There were carpentry projects undertaken. Plants planted. Mulch mulched. Sweat sweated.

Flop commented that when we were ready to start saving money again, instead of spending it at Lowe's, we should renew our subscriptions. All that was well and good. There was quality time and extra snuggles to be had all around.

Except now Flop is away doing work things for a month. It's not that long, but after the kids go to bed in the evening, I am left alone to sit in the dark. Some days I look longingly at my monitor and think how nice it would be to hear the voices of my people, the scattered nerd community united virtually to have super leet deeps and compare e-peens. Sometimes I wonder if Flop will come home to find this...


Or this...


Is life better not being sucked into an MMO? Probably not. Having mulch stuck under your fingernails isn't exactly a classy look. Sometimes I like smelling clean for a whole day at a time. But there are things, nerd things, to be had that don't involve computer screens.

And that's Philly Comic Con!!!! 

That's right. Sheeth and I will be in attendance on Sunday afternoon. Anyone else? Bueller? Gather the nerds!!! If you're wondering, "Who the frack is Sheeth?", he's obviously my sexy man date while Flop is out of town. Ok, maybe not "man date" but he's one of my nerd besties and the fun will be out of control.

If you're still lost, here is his (slightly outdated) Ask A Dude.

As if I would sit at home the entire time Flop was out of town, pining and ronery. Pshaw. Oh, who am I kidding? Flop is coming home in a week and this is the first adult fun thing I'm doing in weeks.

If you're going to be in attendance, hit us up on Twitter or Facebook and there will be many high fives and happy claps!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Anime Wednesday: Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions!

Anime Wednesday Time!



Hope you've been looking forward to it because I know it's been a long time coming!

This week's focus is on a little gem we can probably all relate to. You'll see what I mean when I explain it.

Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions!


Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let me give you some basics. The title is actually Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai which means " Even With Eighth Grader Syndrome, I Want to Be in Love." What is Eighth Grader Syndrome, you might ask, guys and gals?

Well, in Japan it would be called Second Year Middle Schooler's Syndrome. The word is composed of a combination of "Chuugakkou ni-nen", (literally, "second year of middle school") and "byou", (lit., "sickness"), and has the base meaning of "second year middle school sickness". We here in the West would call it Delusions of Grandeur and would recognize it in people who roleplay so much that they lose themselves in the character they've created or people who might be mentally ill and have lost their grip on reality or basically weird preteen behavior. It could be considered a symptom of Schizophrenia but in most cases, it's a person on the edge of puberty trying to hold on to the make-believe world they created around themselves constantly as children or trying desperately to be "cool". We all remember that time, usually some months or a year or so, when we struggled with losing our childhood foolishness and tried to begin thinking like adults and becoming adolescents. Some people never grow out of it.

Hikaru Ijuin (Twitter: @hikaruijuin) is considered to be the man who first used the term "chuunibyou". In the November 1999 episode of his radio program Hikaru Ijuin's UP'S, he stated that "I'm still contracting 'chuunibyou' myself." He later opened a portion on his show, called "Am I sick? Oh, it's just Chuunibyou.", where he read "cases" of people manifesting chuunibyou to the listening audience.

Ijuin has defined the word "chuunibyou" as "the things people normally do during their 2nd year in middle school". The term quickly gained fame in Internet communities and many versions of the term evolved from the original, including "kounibyou" ( lit., "second year high school sickness") and "shounibyou" (lit., "second year elementary school sickness"). These terms became memes as well as the original. Ijuin would later post in Twitter his loss of interest in the term: "I have no interest in this word anymore because it has lost its original meaning from when I first described it."

There are three kinds of Chuunibyou:
  • DQN (dokyun-kei) - Pretends to be anti-social or acts like a delinquent when in fact he or she is not or cannot become like either one. Tells made up stories about gang fights or crimes, or boasts and pretends to know about that subculture. "DQN" is slang for "antisocial person" or "annoying delinquent".
  • Subcultural/Hipster (sabukaru-kei) - Often avoids everything mainstream and has a heavy preference to "things that few people like" and establishes themselves as being special. People of this type do not really love the subculture itself but rather strive to obtain the "cool" factor by not having the same interests as others.
  • Evil Eye ( jakigan-kei) - Admires mystical powers and thinks that he or she has a hidden power within them as well. It is this trait that they create an alias specifically for said power. This is also known as the delusional type.
As you can see, even the Japanese have hipsters.

There are probably almost infinitely other kinds. South Park likes to go into this kind of thing, tongue firmly in cheek, with the boys usually playing a game and roleplaying as different sides of an issue the episode will discuss. 

The psychological explanation is that behind the chuunibyou mentality stems the admiration of popular people or a culture that the person desires, which causes the person to take on particular traits from them (fashion, physical traits, personality, etc.), which in psychology is called Identification. In the case of chuunibyou, the person may derive one's traits from video game, manga or anime characters, but isn't exclusive to them.

At any rate, while the pronunciation is actually Chu-u-ni-byo-u, the version of the title translated in English has shortened it to Chunibyo. It's easier to say, still close to the pronunciation, and more like the sounds in our language.

Let's move on then! *Ahem* 

LCOD (which is what I'm going to call it for the sake of brevity while writing this even though the hardcore fans call it Chu2byo) and its sequel/season 2, LCOD: Heart Throb, is about a boy named Yūta Togashi who had his own chunibyo during Junior High School. He was convinced he possessed supernatural powers and dubbed himself the "Dark Flame Master," which went over with his other classmates as well as you might expect.


Where do I even begin?

He finds his past embarrassing, so he decides to reboot his social life in a new high school where nobody knows his past. Enter Rikka Takanashi, a delusional girl going through the same things he did but embracing the character she created for herself.


She's a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

She finds out about his past and takes a liking to him, since in her mind they share the same delusional specialness. Time goes on and Rikka becomes more and more attached to him. He finds her delusions irritating and embarrassing, but he comes to accept her as they fall into a deeper friendship.

Yuta helps Rikka with a lot of things, like establishing a school club for...er...these kinds of persons. He ends up eventually taking care of her because her sister is an adult with her own life and job and Rikka and her sister don't get along.  He also tutors her and puts up with her friends, which believe me, would be hard for even patient ol' me.

This one is the worst of them.
Her only saving grace is that when she says Desu at the end of every sentence
it comes out sounding like Death , which is somehow way more cute than it should be.

When Yuta spends a summer vacation with Rikka, he learns that two years prior her father passed away due to a terminal illness. This broke Rikka's heart and mind because she was very close to her father and she could not mentally handle her father's death. She had a nervous breakdown and fell into the delusion that she would serve a wicked supernatural god named Lord Shingan, that He would help her find the Ethereal Horizon, grant her dark gifts to defend herself against her enemies, and that she could surpass death using the Horizon to find her father somewhere in the Afterlife. It's quite sad and touching, honestly. All she wants is her deceased daddy back.


She's cute but seriously coo coo for cocoa puffs,
which... somehow... makes her cuter.

I won't go too deep into the other characters. It only adds to the mystique of the show that you discover the rest of them yourself and enjoy the comedy that comes with them (plus I'm trying to adhere to a policy of very few spoilers). Kyoto Animation is the studio that adapted the novel series to anime, a studio responsible for many hits like K-ON, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Full Metal Panic, Lucky Star, Clannad, Nichijou, and many others (all I might review someday for your pleasure except K-ON, which I already reviewed, of course). The animation and art are superb and the comedy will keep you coming back for more. The romance between Yuta and Rikka is charming and even though the characters are odd and have these sort of strange alternate personas that they imagine and fall into, like some Calvin and Hobbes comic strip come to life (yes, it even shows the shared imagined delusion that they have when they pretend to use their powers, which is highly amusing and fun to watch), they are all good people and are there for Rikka and one day for Yuta too. This is a solid recommendation and it'll take a long time to go through, with two completed seasons, an OVA, and a full feature film. I guarantee it will satisfy and melt the hearts of even the most cynical amongst you. 


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What's Hot?



Chaika

The Coffin Princess



This show takes place in a magical steampunk fantasy version of Japan with some western fantasy elements and culture. Five years prior to the beginning of the story, a 200 year war between an alliance of six nations and the Gaz Empire came to an end when Emperor Arthur Gaz, the Immortal Emperor of the Gaz Empire, was finally killed by eight warriors known as the Eight Heroes. After the war, the Empire's lands were divided by the alliance who later formed the Council of Six Nations to bring peace and order to the land.

In the present, the main character, Toru Acura, is a former Saboteur (they're sort of like ninja mercenaries) who lives with his  very passive-aggressive, sarcastic sister, Akari. Toru is unable to settle in this peaceful era, as his Saboteur skills are useless and he sees no meaning in his life. He's kind of lost his compass and trying to find a goal in life worth working towards. While out foraging and hunting in a forest for food (since he and his sister can no longer afford to buy much food because their contracts are less numerous and more time passes between them in this time of peace), Toru encounters Chaika Trabant, a white haired Wizard with a white headband and a coffin strapped to her back.  He saves her from a man-eating unicorn and she reveals that her coffin houses the parts necessary to put together a sniper rifle that channels her magic.

Seeing their skills as Saboteurs, Chaika hires Toru and Akari for an important task: to steal the remains of Arthur Gaz from the Eight Heroes. Chaika reveals she is actually Princess Chaika Gaz, the Emperor's daughter, and that she had managed to escape during the end of the war. She wishes to find her father's remains (which were divided amongst the Eight Heroes because his body parts emit strong magical energy) so that she may give him a proper burial. However, the trio face difficulties with the Post-War Kleeman Agency's Gillette Corps, who are tasked in capturing Chaika. The Gillette Corps fear her existence will gather Gaz loyalists, the rebirth of the Gaz Empire, and that the power in Arthur's remains might reignite a war. Not only that, but Chaika and her friends also face other groups, lead by girls who also claim to be Chaika Gaz. 

This show is difficult to describe beyond this summary. The world-building is pretty impressive and the characters are very well-written. Even the antagonists are not actually evil and believe they are fighting for a noble cause. Forget what you know about every fantasy creature ever, because they turn the stereotypes upside-down, like the man-eating unicorn, which is very refreshing. The animation is frankly nothing special compared to some of its contemporary rival shows, but the story is very intriguing and never boring.

Is The Order a Rabbit?




This is a story about a girl named Cocoa Hoto, who moves to a new town to attend a new school. She is being fostered by a family that owns and runs a restaurant/coffee shop/bar called the Rabbit House Cafe.

I'm going to be fairly blunt here. This is the same cute girls doing cute things we've seen before and has a feel like K-ON (In fact, it also shares some of the same voice actresses). The animation is great and the comedy just keeps coming, just as in K-ON. Each character has their own unique quirks, though sometimes they fall into typical stereotypes. The bottom line is that this is a fluff show to watch when you feel like being cheered up. I wouldn't say it has the same artistic value as Non Non Biyori (though I have heard some fans calling it this year's Non Non Biyori) nor does it have the high energy of K-ON but it does give you a warm fuzzy and a lot of laughs. It lies somewhere in-between both of these great shows and that makes it worth watching.

Love Live



This show is like if someone took K-ON and turned it up to eleven. Well, nine actually, since the story is about nine girls who decide to form a pop idol group to save their school from being closed down. It's undoubtedly one of the most popular shows in America and Japan at the moment. Personally, I find the animation, music, and visuals fantastic and it's easy to see from the very first episode why it's so very popular. Everything about it is high quality, from the story, to the characters, to again, the animation, music, and visuals. I had my doubts about this show, but since it received a second season, I gave it a try and I have to agree with the masses that this is an excellent program that really shows how much love, care, and attention everyone who worked on it put into it.

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That's it for this week's Anime Wednesday. Sorry about the long hiatus (nearly a month!)
but celebrating a special milestone in my marriage was more important to me.
I hope you all understand. See you again in two weeks!


-Brash



Monday, June 16, 2014

A Study of Phillip



Pilots of TV shows are significant. They set the tone for a series and can easily be good or bad, and those are just the ones that we, the viewers, actually see. Because they are used to gain the approval of a network to even consider green-lighting the show, oftentimes quite a bit of tweaking is done between what is initially done on film and what is ultimately viewed by the rest of us, hence, “unaired pilots.” But of course they’re always floating around somewhere and are frequently included on DVD volumes as extras. The one that I viewed recently, and which has put the bothersome little bee in my bonnet, is Sherlock.

As with most pilots, it has something of a raw feel to it. The actors are doing their jobs, and well enough, but it has a hint of dress rehearsal to it. There are also the minor tweaks and alterations, particularly in camera work and editing, but also locations, sets and some dialogue (and Mike Stamford being Scottish, apparently?). By and large, I think the final version of “Study in Pink” is a vast improvement on what had been done originally and I’m quite glad about it. Except for one thing which happens within the first two minutes.

Not this, though I am also sad it didn’t make it.

The intro of the pilot starts out largely as it does in the full episode, John in his bedsit and then with his therapist, albeit an abbreviated version. It deviates thereafter by jumping straight to the discovery of Jennifer Wilson’s body (5th victim here, rather than 4th) and NSY’s investigation of the scene. The dialogue opens with a shaggy Anderson (a la Series 3) relaying information to Lestrade. And he sounds competent. He sounds like he knows what he’s doing. You know, like a man who presumably went to school, did his training, and performed well enough to rise to a position as the head of a forensics team.

When Lestrade’s response to the situation is to take out his phone, the following exchange happens:

Anderson: “Um… You’re not … phoning him, are you? ‘Cause we can handle this. We can absolutely handle it.”
Lestrade: “You’ve got work to do.”

In this one minor conversation, I think, a wealth of character is conveyed. Here is a man who is trying to do his job to the best of his ability which, for the reasons I’ve already listed, I think we can presume is at the very least competent. He wants to find the answers and his reputation is important to him, not that that alone is commendable, but he cares what his DI thinks about his performance and he wants to do good work.

And he is immediately and absolutely shut down by said DI in favor of bringing in an outsider who is rude, disrespectful, arrogant and insulting. And, maybe worst of all, correct. Sherlock is exacting, detail-oriented and focused, which Anderson can and should be as well. But one can hardly fault him for not having the kind of brain that makes connections in a flash like Sherlock does, nor for not possessing a “mind palace” chock full of minutiae like knowing scores of perfumes by scent or recognizing brands of cigarettes by the ashes left behind.

 

 












Or, you know, bomb defusing. That, too.

That little snippet of a scene makes Anderson a much more sympathetic character rather than a 2-dimensional comic foil and I wish they’d left it in. Not that I would still like him because he is frankly an unlikeable person - unfaithful, antagonistic and subversive. But I would care more, perhaps empathize with him a bit. It has to be wearing having to deal with someone who constantly undermines not only your professionalism but your personal life as well.

On the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily jive with his descent into madness, so maybe it all turned out alright anyway.