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Elsewhere

Sherlock Season 3 – Episodes 1 & 2

Sherlock’s Season 3 is turning out to be a treat to watch.

The first episode was great as expected. Which is natural because everyone’s curious on how Sherlock survived and the creators better come up with a good explanation. But the beauty of the episode, in my opinion, was how they toyed with the theories. The episode showed enactments of multiple fan theories teasing us that this might be the answer and then pulling the covers off to show that it’s only a theory. In fact I am still not sure whether the final theory shown (to Anderson, with the squash ball) is the real explanation or just another theory.

Anyways, as Watson put it well it doesn’t really matter how he survived – umm, though it does to us curious viewers! – what really matters is that Sherlock is alive.

I found the case in the first episode weak. It was interesting in terms of the wordplay – “underground” network really meaning the “Underground” railway network, and “empty hearse” referring to not just Sherlock’s hearse (as in the book) but also the missing carriage which had the bomb in it. Good one!

Speaking of bombs though do they come with kill switches? I thought that was a bit cheeky and convenient – placing an off/on switch in the bomb. I would have understood putting an off switch which requires you to enter a code, but something as plain and simple as the switch in the story seemed a bit like the writers we’re pulling a fast one on us. Anyways, I wasn’t paying much interest to the case in this episode. Sherlock’s return was the big thing, along with Watson’s reaction and the introduction of Mary and the general effect upon everyone on seeing Sherlock again. The scenes were Sherlock meets Watson for the first time again were well taken – from the French waiter impersonation to the tussles the two had, as well as the ongoing theme that nearly everyone “important” to Sherlock (such as his brother and parents) seemed to know he was alive but Watson didn’t.

Overall, a good episode though perhaps a bit cheeky in not letting us on with regards to how Sherlock really survived! And the episode ends with a hint of the new villain – ooh, yummy!

The second episode, aired yesterday, was simply brilliant. I saw it today, a few moments ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was well written – genius in fact, the dialogues and plot and the disparate cases that all tie together in the end – and was amazingly captured with the camera and special effects sprinkled through out the episode. Lots of excellent wordplay and smart dialogues that say one thing but mean another and in the end lead to something else altogether. Sherlock’s wedding toast speech was beautifully written – along with his non-human way of delivering something that was absolutely touching and yet he not realising how wonderful it was or why everyone was in tears! The speech also interweaves the multiple murder mysteries into it and twines them all together to produce the grand mystery which Sherlock obviously uncovers and in the process solves the other mysteries as well.

I am not sure how the “invisible knife” murder would work in practice – I can see the victims won’t bleed until the belt is removed, but won’t they feel any pain and thus be aware of being stabbed? – but that’s just a small thing compared to the amazement I had with everything else.

And just when you think that everything’s done and that the title “sign of three” possibly refers to the three cases, we are told that nope it in fact refers to Mary being pregnant and so alludes to the signs that the family is going to be three. Bravo!

Can’t wait for the next episode. It’s going to be sad though, when that episode ends on a cliffhanger like in the past two seasons and we have to wait another year just to see Sherlock and Watson again!

Speaking of Watson, that’s another brilliant thing about this episode. It puts a focus on Watson and how he too is an important member of the team – not just someone to contrast Sherlock with (which quite smartly Sherlock himself says and then turns around to deliver the real message), but someone who complements Sherlock and balances him. You need both Sherlock and Watson for the team to be like it is. The show might be called “Sherlock” and be all about Sherlock, but Watson is equally important and can’t be replaced with anyone else.

Speaking of replacing Watson, last episode gave a glimpse of how things would be if Sherlock were working with Molly instead. It isn’t quite the same…

Molly seems to have more screen presence these two episodes. Not too much, but she is there and the camera focuses on her now and then to show she still cares for Sherlock and while she may have moved on she nevertheless has an eye on Sherlock. Which is good. We don’t know how things will unfold so it’s good to know Sherlock has someone if need be.

Fantastical 2 is a great iPhone calendar app

Started using a new calendar app on my iPhone yesterday, called Fantastical 2, and I am excited by it! Which is odd because who gets excited by a Calendar app, right? Calendars are supposed to boring and people try and make pretty interfaces to it, but at the end of the days there’s nothing exciting about a calendar app. But no so with Fantastical 2!

For one this is a pretty app. It doesn’t try anything fancy with the interface – just some minor but very smart changes like a day picker that shows the free/ busy status of your next few days, a nice month view that shows your appointments for the day via dots, and an events/ tasks view that combines your Calendar and Reminders app. That latter bit is super cool because I have always hated having two separate apps for these. Reminders, in my opinion, should be part of the Calendar but just kept and shown separately due to them being of a different nature. The creators of Fantastical 2 understand that.

Another neat feature is the ability to search. Just a slight swipe down to reveal a search box. Similar slight swipes show/ hide the day picker and the month view. Very near interface design decisions!

But probably the coolest feature for me is the natural language input. I can make entries like “Class on 30 Jan at XYZ place from 8 am to 10pm” and Fantastical 2 understands what I mean and makes an entry accordingly. Now if that isn’t cool in a calendar app, what is? Similarly I can make reminders too in natural language by starting it with specific words such as “todo” or “remind” or “task”. Neat!

Maybe it’s the bull (Taurean) in me but another thing I like about the design is the red bar on top. I love that shade of red and how the white text showing the date contrasts with it! This red bar is also useful in that you can long press it to go to any date you choose. And a plus sign next to it let’s you add new entries. You can also add new entries by long pressing on any date in the month view to add an entry with that date chosen. Little things, but they make a big difference.

All in all a great app and highly recommend by me. It’s currently on sale for $1.99 (60% off usual price) which is what prompted me to purchase and give it a go.

ps. Fantastical 2 can sync with all the calendars setup on your phone. So it can easily use your Google Calendar etc. And it stores reminders in the iOS reminders app so these too get synced to other devices via iCloud. A good side effect of using the iOS reminders app is that you get all its features such as geo-fencing, and are also able to add reminders via Siri. Siri will add the reminder to iOS and the reminder will pop up in Fantastical 2!