Olympic Memories

I did finally watch the final episode of Sherlock S3, but I’m going to wait a few days to talk about it because …

OLYMPICS.

I love the Olympics. My parents, living in the foothills of the Adirondacks, went to Lake Placid during the 1980 Winter Games. They couldn’t afford tickets to any of the events, but they said even just walking around downtown, sharing in the Olympic spirit, was amazing. So it’s only natural that I grew up loving everything about the Olympics, as well. I even love the Summer Olympics, but the Winter Olympics are unquestionably my favorite. When I was a kid, I cared about the figure skating and not much else, but now I love it all. Even curling.

I have some pretty awesome memories tied up around the Winter Olympics, too. Like being a flag bearer for the Torch Relay in Lake Placid before the 2002 Olympics. Getting to watch Jack Shea run in with the torch, surrounded by the women’s hockey team, standing there holding the Olympic flag across from my best friend holding the American flag … wow. One of the most awesome moments of my life.

(No pictures from that, sadly. We weren’t allowed to use cameras while we were carrying the flags.)

Then there’s all the pre-Olympic competitions, games, and races I’ve volunteered at over the years (again, growing up an hour away from Lake Placid had some fabulous perks). I never got to shake Jimmy Shea’s hand, but I’ve cleaned his shoes, how many people can say that?!

(If you watch the start of a skeleton event, you’ll see someone at the top run a stiff brush over the bottom of each slider’s cleats right before they go down, to make sure there’s no stray pieces of dirt caught. That was my job at one competition, and I was simultaneously elated at the responsibility and terrified I’d mess up and ruin someone’s run. Thankfully, everything went well!)

I’ve met and mingled with winter athletes from all over the world, serving them in one way or another. There’s a special bond between volunteers and athletes; neither of us would be there without the other. We were always so thrilled just to be able to participate in the event, and they were (almost always) so appreciative of our efforts (some were jerks, but honestly, most were genuinely nice people). Those years in Lake Placid were where I learned to love the sliding sports.

I want to go down a run on a skeleton sled at least once in my life. It looks like the biggest rush I can imagine.

I love the spirit of the Olympics, really. The spectacle of people coming together from all around the world, to celebrate the triumph of human spirit and endeavor over every obstacle and difficulty. I’m not a big sports fan in general, but the Olympics are so much more than sport.

I’m cheering for all the athletes, but most especially Noelle Pikus-Pace in women’s skeleton, the Night Train crew in men’s 4-man bobsled, Team USA in both women’s and men’s hockey, and Meryl Davis & Charlie White in ice dance.

Who are some of your favorites, and what do the Olympics mean to you?

Sherlock S3 Ep2 (With Spoilers)

loved this episode. I’ll have to re-watch it to be certain, but it just might be my favorite episode of the entire series thus far. I felt it even cleared up some of my frustrations with The Empty Hearse – because here, finally, we got to see the heart of Sherlock.

We got to see that he does have emotions, he just doesn’t have the ability to understand them, and so he ends up making huge missteps, both to try to stuff the emotions back down and to try to work around/with them. So messing with John’s head about the bomb? Not necessarily being manipulative and sneaky, but more “I have all these weird things that I think are called feelings and I don’t know how to process them or work with them and I don’t know what to do so I’ll just do this stupid thing and hope somehow it helps.” Goodness knows I use humor – occasionally inappropriately – to get me through an awkward situation or a time when my emotions are threatening to overwhelm me.

But here, in The Sign of Three, we get to see Sherlock coming to terms with the fact that he does have emotions, and attempting to communicate them, and it’s beautiful. Despite the fact that the speech is planned and choreographed, it’s still genuine, and he’s never just saying the words because it’s what society expects (well, until he gets to the funny stories).

This was one of the funniest episodes in the series, and I loved that, loved the combination of the solemnity of Sherlock trying to express what John means to him and then getting to see the two of them interacting and being utterly ridiculous. The stag night drinking, and trying to solve the case while completely out of it, and Lestrade’s glee over having to get them out of jail – LOVED IT.

And oh my, Sherlock’s decision, whether conscious or unconscious, to include Mary in his group of “people he protects,” because John loves her and she loves John – beautiful. The scene with the usher, where Sherlock threatens him if he ever tries to weasel his way into Mary’s affections, was both funny and poignant, because for him to do that meant that Mary, now, was one of his. And of course he reiterated that at the end, much more bluntly.

(Side note: the “yeah, okay” to Archie’s request to see corpses was brilliant. I chortled.)

Speaking of Mary … can I just say how much I love her? Playing John and Sherlock off each other so they go solve a case, reassuring them and incidentally getting them out of her hair at the same time? “I’m not John, Sherlock, I can tell when you’re fibbing.” ZING. Teasing Sherlock at the wedding about neither of them being John’s first. She is completely unthreatened by their friendship, completely unintimidated by Sherlock, treats him as a human being, lets them do their mystery-solving thing but joins in when necessary without forcing anything, and in short is pretty much my favorite character on the show. If they kill her off in Episode 3 I am going to be SO MAD.

The mysteries were a side note here to the human stories, and I think that’s why I loved it so well. We got to see – everyone got to see – why John and Sherlock work so well together, that John is not an idiot but chooses to focus on people rather than problems, while Sherlock deals with problems over people, and how well they balance each other, even while sometimes they drive each other mad. I could go on and on, detailing every aspect that I enjoyed, but really, that sums it all up.

Sherlock S3 Ep1 (Spoilers!!)

I, being the patient part of the fandom, waited to watch Sherlock S3 until it aired here in the States. And then I waited one more day because a 10:00 start time is way too late for me, especially when the next day is a school day and I must have some semblance of a brain in order to teach.

But now! Now I’ve watched it, and I’m exploding with Thoughts.

(Spoilers follow. You’ve been warned.)

(I personally don’t mind spoilers for some things, but I did, very much, want to watch Sherlock without anyone else’s thoughts or reactions influencing mine, so for this one I did avoid spoilers like the plague.)

**********

I loved it. Mostly.

Side note: I have struggled, in the past, with calling myself a fan, because I don’t obsess over things, or have to know every detail, and because I don’t mind admitting when the Thing I Love has flaws. But I’m getting over that, and even though I say yes, Sherlock has flaws, and even though I waited to watch it until a sensible time, I really am a fan. Just not a fanatic.

So yes, it had flaws. I really dislike how the show has gone from Sherlock being aware of social conventions and how people will react to him, and merely choosing to ignore it, to how he is utterly clueless about everyone. Before he was well aware that the things he said were hurtful, and just didn’t care. Now, especially with John, he hasn’t got a clue. “No, of course John won’t mind that I never told him I was dead! Of course he’ll think it a big joke that I surprise him in a restaurant, in public, while he’s on a date, to reveal that I’m alive!”

Um, no. Sherlock Holmes is many things, but he’s not dense.

(I also don’t like how the viewers are invited to wink wink, nudge nudge, snicker snicker along with him whenever he plays John. The raw pain of John’s goodbye last season is not something I care to giggle about now that it’s over. Sorry.)

But! I love Mary (really, really, surprising even myself, love her character). I love how smart she is (she figured out the code within moments!) and her common sense, and her adventurous side, and her warmth, and pretty much everything about her. I hope she sticks around for the rest of the show’s duration, because it would be tragic to lose her.

I like the playing with all the different theories the fandom has concocted explaining Sherlock’s demise, and that we’re never exactly sure how it really did go down. I do hope that the explanation Sherlock gives Anderson is at least partially correct, because that was MY theory – the before part, not the actual jump part.

I was certain, upon my last watch of Reichenbach Fall, that Sherlock and Mycroft were playing Moriarty from the beginning. It seemed impossible to me that he could trick Mycroft the way he claimed to, or that Sherlock could really be two steps behind him all the way. I wasn’t quite sure of their purpose in playing him, but I knew that they were. So when Sherlock told Anderson that he and Mycroft had it all planned, in order to discover the extent of Moriarty’s network, I felt rather pleased with myself. I don’t care if the jump part is right, but I very much want that aspect to be true.

I like the relationship between Molly and Sherlock, and how she humanizes him more than John, even, maybe because he got used to John and didn’t listen to him after a while, but he’s not as familiar with Molly and so still pays attention to her. I  love how she’s not intimidated by him anymore. All in all, it was the women of Sherlock that really won me over this episode (Mrs Hudson, of course, was spot on as always. Her little comments during Sherlock’s exchange with Mycroft in the flat were priceless.).

The mystery itself was fairly uninspiring. I never felt much tension over it, or even cared that much – but that was okay. The focus of the episode was clearly on Sherlock coming back to life, and that’s as it should be. I did hate the scene at the end, where Sherlock tricks John into forgiving him, and John finally breaks down and laughs, ha ha, you’re a jerk Sherlock but that’s okay, everything’s fine. Um, no. Mary, please slap both of them upside the head.

Although I did like how they poked gentle fun at the shows where, with one minute left on the ticking clock, the scene plays out for fifteen or so minutes. I was sitting there snarkily going “well, that’s the longest two minutes ever,” and then you find out Sherlock stopped the clock and it really wasn’t meant to be two minutes at all. Well played that, show.

All in all, it was a great episode, and I do like how they’re trying to show Sherlock becoming more human. It’s a fumbling effort on their part, but that’s okay, because one can only imagine Sherlock is fumbling in it too. He’s very adept at pretending to be human, but he sucks at the real thing. It’s okay if the show drops the ball here and there, too.

Have you seen it? What are your thoughts, if so?

Television Heroines

As promised, the companion post to my piece on favorite tv heroes. This time, it’s all about the ladies! Without further ado, I present my top five favorite tv heroines.

Lorelai Gilmore, Gilmore Girls: Oddly enough, I never really liked Rory on this show. You’d think I would, right? Quiet, bookish, ambitions of writing … yet I always felt like she came across as this spoiled, pampered little princess who assumed everything would go her way and couldn’t handle it when life got a bit difficult. Lorelai, on the other hand, is the kind of mom I can only dream about being. She’s fun and loving and kind and savvy and present (not just physically, but wholly); she’s not perfect but she never quits trying; she has a life of her own but still always puts her kid first. And she has great hair and a razor-sharp wit. Yep, pretty awesome.

 
Zoe Washburne, Firefly: I love Zoe. I want to be Zoe when I grow up. She is a rarity in television, an action heroine who is also happily married. Her combination of deadly combat skills, fierce loyalty, dry wit, and loving fidelity is amazing. Plus she gets awesome one-liners. My mom likes River the best, and I know a lot of people really love Kaylee (and don’t get me wrong, I like both of them, too – I think Kaylee would make a terrific best friend), but for me, it’s all about Zoe. She’s strong and still human, and that’s hard to find in any kind of heroine these days, television or literary; most are either all strength and no human emotions, or all vulnerability and weakness with a side helping of unrealistic warrior skills. Not Zoe. I also really love the fact that she’s a sci-fi action heroine who does not spend the entirety of the show running around half-dressed. And she’s a really, really good shot.
 
Captain Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager: I know I complained in my heroes post about the fact that Voyager focused almost solely on Captain Janeway … but that doesn’t take away from the fact that she’s still a fantastic character. A female starship captain who never exhibits any signs of belligerence or insecurity toward the men under her command, or the other officers in Starfleet; a leader thrown with a totally unconventional crew across the galaxy, trying to get them home without ever going against her principles; a captain trying to maintain protocol with the crew while still providing them with the stability and comfort they need; an explorer faced with unprecedented challenges … as long as she had her coffee, Janeway took everything in her stride and faced it with humor and dignity.
 
 
Detective Kate Beckett, Castle: I only recently started watching Castle, and so far have only made it through Season 1. Season 2 should be coming to me through inter-library loan any day now. (edit: just picked it up from the library. can’t wait to start watching.) So I’m not sure how Beckett’s character developed in later seasons, but based on Season 1, I think she’s fabulous. She’s tough but compassionate, which I love in any character, male or female. She doesn’t take any nonsense from anyone. I love watching her get the best of Castle in any of their exchanges, and the developing friendship (which I know from things I’ve read turns to romance later, but is really great as a friendship, too) between them is so much fun to watch.
 
 
Donna Noble, Doctor Who: This one is kind of cheating. Donna’s not technically one of the stars of this show, more of a supporting character (and that only for one season, weep, weep) … but I love her so much that I don’t care. I really liked Rose; I would have liked Martha if she hadn’t let her inferiority complex turn her into such a drip; I loved Sarah Jane in the one episode of the new series (no, I haven’t watched any of the classic series, and Netflix doesn’t have The Sarah Jane Adventures, so I need to start borrowing those from the library too before I can know more about her); but Donna has turned out to be my favorite so far (I’m in the middle of Series 4). She’s the perfect foil for the Doctor, in her humor and compassion and strength. She’s not in love with him (thank goodness!) but their friendship is so, so strong, and they both grow and gain so much from the other. I even love her abrasiveness, the fact that she doesn’t take any crap from anyone. Her relationship with her grandfather is just icing on the cake. I know how her story arc ends (yes, I read spoilers, especially when I’m watching old seasons of a show), and I’m finding myself really reluctant to finish watching Series 4, because I don’t want to leave her behind. Well, I don’t really want to say goodbye to the Tenth Doctor, either, if I’m being perfectly honest.
 
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It seems that my favorite female characters share the same traits I admire most in male characters – strength blended with compassion, the ability to stand up for themselves and for others, loyalty, a ready wit, and a thorough love for adventure. Being ready and willing to take out the bad guy doesn’t hurt, either.

Television Heroes

I’ve done a list of my favorite literary heroes, but never of favorite tv heroes. Silly me! Lately I’ve been looking at the rather disparate list of characters I love on tv, and trying to figure out what it is about them that draws me – whether there is one common theme, or if I like each for completely different reasons. So then, naturally, I decided to blog about it.

Here, then, is my list of top five television heroes, with one thrown in as a bonus at the end.

Chakotay (Star Trek: Voyager):  Carl and I recently started re-watching the Voyager series (re-watching for me, first time for him – true love!), and I was astounded to discover that it was nowhere near as awesome as I remembered from when I was watching it as a teenager. I mean, the basis is awesome, and the acting is brilliant, but the writing, oh the writing. It’s pretty much “The Janeway Show,” and none of the other characters really get much development until Seven-of-Nine shows up. Then it’s the “Janeway and Seven Show.” And that sucks, because really, it could have been so amazing. And Chakotay was one of the most amazing characters on it. A basically kind, gentle man with enormous compassion and such strong ethics, forced by his principles into a life of violence. So much conflict in him, and clashing loyalties, and his rarely-seen but wickedly delightful sense of humor … yeah, even after all these years, and even with the major issues I now see with Voyager, Chakotay is still one of my all time favorite television heroes.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs (NCIS): Ah, Gibbs. I knew I loved him from the moment I heard his preferred method of dealing with politicians was to shoot them (actually, that’s his preferred method of dealing with most people, come to think of it). Taciturn, rude, terrible people skills … Gibbs still manages to win the hearts and loyalty of those who work with him. Probably because along with all those negative traits, he’s also fiercely loyal to his people, protective, deeply loving, and almost always right. The NCIS team really is like one big family, and Gibbs is unquestionably the father-figure to them all (well, aside from Ducky, who is most definitely the eccentric great-uncle of the clan). If I were ever in mortal danger, it’s Special Agent Gibbs I’d want protecting me.
Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly): I hate to admit that I was kind of on the fence regarding Mal at first. It wasn’t until the end of the episode “Safe” that I made up my mind on him. When Simon was asking him why Mal came back for Simon and River, Mal says “You’re my crew.” “Yeah, but you don’t even like me,” Simon pointed out. “You’re my crew,” Mal said blankly. “Why are we still talking about this?” And that’s when I fell irrevocably in love (not really, Carl). I love Mal’s stubborn loyalty, the fact that he will do anything at all to protect his people, whether he likes them or not. The fact that he never, ever gives up, even when he is utterly beaten just adds to his endearing qualities. As someone whose stubbornness goes far beyond reasonable limits (be quiet, Carl), I like seeing that portrayed as a good quality in fictional characters.
Carson Beckett (Stargate: Atlantis): It is entirely possible that much of my fondness for Carson is influenced by his adorable Scottish accent, along with his habit of calling people “son” or “love” or even “wee man” (that last one delivered with killing sarcasm). Mostly why I like him, though, is for his Everyman qualities. In a company made up of scientists, military persons, and administrators, Carson is the one normal guy (though a perfectly brilliant MD in his own right), the one who genuinely cares for everyone, who treats each person as an important individual, who is never too busy with his own tasks to take the time out for others. He’s perfectly sweet, and did I mention the Scottish accent?
The Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who): The Ninth Doctor was my first introduction to the show. I’m still tremendously fond of him, but oh, the Tenth Doctor. That unique blend of remarkable kindness and ruthlessness, compassion and cold-bloodedness … not to mention his delightful sense of humor, his zest for life. His occasional rudeness, usually followed by sheepishness at having been rude adds to his charm. And his loneliness just breaks my heart. Weep, weep! If Gibbs is the person I most want to have my back if I’m in danger, the Tenth Doctor is the one I think would be the most fun to have around when I’m in peril. Even if he caused much of that peril to begin with.
And the promised bonus: Sherlock Holmes, my dream husband.

I expected to like Watson best in the latest BBC adaptation of Sherlock. On the surface, I do like him best. Sherlock is an egotistical maniac, cold-hearted and quite thoroughly amoral, self-described as a “high-functioning sociopath.”

And yet … it was Sherlock that I dreamed was my husband (literally – I dreamed Carl and Sherlock were the same person). It was quite a friendly dream, actually – Sherlock/Carl, John Watson and myself, solving a mystery together, the two of them totally in character, nothing racy or anything I’d be embarrassed to have my mother read on this blog. Sherlock/Carl and I just happened to be quite happily married, as well. And somehow, every time I watch the show, I find myself more drawn to him. No idea why. I’ve quit trying to analyze that one.

“John, stop chattering on this phone – the game’s afoot!”

So, in looking over this list, describing the characters, I am indeed seeing a pattern. Ruthlessness when necessary, compassion and kindness, fierce loyalty and protectiveness toward “their” people, and a wry sense of humor. Not exactly the dashing, noble hero of traditional fiction, nor even the typical anti-hero such as Han Solo or Jack Sparrow … but it works for me. And also explains a lot of the hero-characters I find myself writing!

Who are some of your favorite tv heroes, and why?

Disclaimer: I really don’t watch a whole lot of tv. So I’m sure there are some fabulous characters out there that I just haven’t discovered. If I left your favorites off, it’s not necessarily because I don’t like them! 


Disclaimer #2: I know there aren’t any female characters on here. I’m going to do a post later on with favorite tv female characters. I’m not sure why I separated them, except that maybe that helps me squeeze two posts out of this topic instead of one? Or maybe that it’s so much harder to find strong female leads on tv (which is a post in and of itself, but not one that I think I’m fit to tackle), so it’s going to take me a bit longer to figure out five that I really love as much as I love the five mentioned here. But I’ll get there eventually!