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Archive for May, 2012

1) We’ve watched just about all of Awake, the new series on NBC. It’s an intriguing concept and generally well-done: a detective awakens after a car crash to find his lift shattered into two realities, each seeming to be a dream of the other. In one his son survives the crash; in the other, his wife does. Clues from one reality help him solve cases in another. Which one is real — or both — or neither?

Besides the estimable Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter‘s Lucius Malfoy), the pilot at least got the concept right: it’s all based on his subjective reality. Subsequent episodes have had scenes with events taking place outside his character’s presence, which not only messes up the dream logic but undermines the whole premise of the show. And some have been introducing elements to suggest a darker conspiracy against him. That makes me fear that if it’s a success, the show will become another convoluted Lost. Or, the ultimate cop-out, that both realities are just dreams. Don’t need that.

2) The new Sherlock on PBS is great, great fun. Benedict Cumberbatch is a worthy successor to Jeremy Brett, and the updating of typical Holmesian tropes to the age of smartphones and Google is very well done — very much in the spirit of Arthur Conan Doyle. I’m not a Holmes fanatic, but those who are have pointed out that there are many hidden references to the canonical Holmes scattered throughout the series. For example, a reference to a “geek interpreter” in the May 6th, 2012 episode is a glance at The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter. And the really obscure “Victorian cameos” is even more arcane — a case referred to by Watson, but not one written by Doyle.

I don’t want it to wear out its welcome, but if this series can maintain this level of quality, I hope it comes back every year.

3) Speaking of Sherlock — wouldn’t it be great for The Big Bang Theory to riff on that? They do all sorts of geeky things about comic books and old sci-fi TV series. Sheldon would be a natural for Sherlock — with

  • Leonard as Watson
  • Penny as Watson’s wife Mary
  • Howard as Inspector Lestrade
  • Wil Wheaton as Dr. Moriarty
  • Amy Farrah Fowler as Irene Adler
  • Raj as Mrs. Hudson
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Thomas Cranmer, 1489-1556 (from Wikimedia Commons)

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London recently celebrated the 350th anniversary of the Book of Common Prayer. Initially I thought that date was a mistake, since Thomas Cranmer wrote it (or compiled, if you prefer) in the 16th, not the 17th century.

But 1662 was pivotal. The Prayer Book as revised that year remains the “doctrinal standard” of the Church of England, though other churches in the Anglican Communion, like the Episcopal Church in the U.S., have issued their own versions.

Cranmer’s language has influenced and enriched English almost as much as Shakespeare and the King James Bible:

  • “till death us do part”
  • “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”
  • “speak now, or forever hold your peace”
  • “the devices and desires of our own hearts”

From the 1979 Episcopal Prayer Book, here’s a prayer I especially like, given my profession (“For those who Influence Public Opinion”):

Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices: Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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