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Belle

Posted by Melissa on April 23, 2014 in Movies |

So want to see this!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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The Greek Empire

Posted by Melissa on April 20, 2014 in Random Thoughts |

I found a fantastic documentary on the rise and fall of the Greek Empire which happened in a matter of only two centuries.  Amazingly, within those two centuries, they laid the foundation of our modern civilization.  At 48:17 in the video, it describes how aristocrat, Cleisthenes established a democratic government.  At 1:28;57, it talks about the ostraca, which were shards of pottery upon which Athenians scratched the name of a politician they wanted removed from the government.  The politician with the most ostraca was tossed out of Athens altogether.  It is where we get the word “ostracize”.  Good practice, that!  If only we had a measure for doing this with our Congress!

Here’s the full video narrated by Liam Neeson:

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Barley’s Canine Recreation Center

Posted by Melissa on April 5, 2014 in News, Random Thoughts |

BCRC

Today, I took Copper for his first swim lesson at Barley’s Canine Recreation Center, a fun center for dogs that just opened in Salt Lake City.

So, did he like it?  Well …

Needless to say, it wasn’t his thing.  The other dogs who loved the pool were looking at him like: “What the hell’s wrong with you?  Don’t you know how to swim?”

Here’s a full video:

When he got out of the pool, he looked up at me as if to say: “Why did you do that to me?”

Poor guy!  I thought he’d like it.  Oh well.  I guess we’ll be coming back for the other services they have for pups.  Barley’s isn’t just for swimming.  They have a wide range of activities and services for dogs:

Doggie Day Care

Walking & Hiking

Canine Massage

Acupuncture for Dogs

Dog Wash

They also have an entire wall-full of dog toys, oh boy!

Toys

So even though Copper was less than thrilled about the pool, he loved all the other stuff, especially the Barley balls!

CopperSwimming

Happy Playing!

~ Melissa

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A Village With No Roads

Posted by Melissa on March 30, 2014 in Random Thoughts |

I was amazed when I saw this!  It’s a village called Giethoorn in Holland.  There are no roads, no traffic lights, no cars and no nasty car smog in the air.  Why?  Because people either travel by waterway like they do in Venice or they ride bikes.  Fairy tale village?  Yes!  I want to go there!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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The Raie’Chaelia in the Top Five A&A Young Adult Books

Posted by Melissa on March 21, 2014 in Books, News |

I love it when I have something to celebrate and today I woke up to find the first book of my trilogy in the top five Action & Adventure Teen and Young Adult books on Amazon!

Top5ActionAdventure

It’s also on the front page of Kobo’s First Free in Series!

KoboFirstFree

I’m enjoying it while it lasts. :)

Happy Reading!

~ Melissa

 

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Vision and Brilliance

Posted by Melissa on March 17, 2014 in Random Thoughts |

I absolutely love Neil deGrasse Tyson for what he says here.  He is so right!  If only we all had the luxury of doing what we love for a living, we’d all be considered brilliant visionaries.  So true!

If everyone had the luxury to pursue a life of exactly what they love, we would all be ranked as visionary and brilliant. … If you got to spend every day of your life doing what you love, you can’t help but be the best in the world at that. And you get to smile every day for doing so. And you’ll be working at it almost to the exclusion of personal hygiene, and your friends are knocking on your door, saying, “Don’t you need a vacation?!,” and you don’t even know what the word “vacation” means because what you’re doing is what you want to do and a vacation from that is anything but a vacation — that’s the state of mind of somebody who’s doing what others might call visionary and brilliant.

~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

 

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Posted by Melissa on February 14, 2014 in Events, Random Thoughts |

vday

For a little history of love’s most favorite day:

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Sherlock: His Last Vow

Posted by Melissa on February 3, 2014 in Actors, TV, Writing |

For anyone who hasn’t seen this episode of Sherlock, do not continue reading as there are major spoilers following the trailer.

If you liked this episode, please don’t read the following post.  In the next few pages, I am going to shred it and if you loved the episode, my words will only upset you.  However, if you do decide to read, keep in mind that everything being expressed is purely my opinion and for the most part, not shared by the majority of the Sherlock fans in existence.

In my last post on the Sign of Three, I started off by saying:

Unlike many series that have a tendency to drop off as time goes by, this show seems to be getting better with each new episode.

Unfortunately, I spoke too soon, but before I get into my complaints about this episode, I should probably start by sharing the parts of it that I did like.  The funny, highly entertaining scenes and the great one-liners.  Such as…

When John finds Sherlock in a drug den:

I'm undercover!

I’m undercover!

No, you're not.

No, you’re not.

Well, I'm not now!

Well, I’m not now!

When Molly processes the drug test on Sherlock and finds that he tests positive:

Shit.

Shit.

Is he clean?

Is he clean?

Clean?

Clean?

*smack*

*smack*

*smack*

*smack*

Ow

How dare you throw away the beautiful gifts you were born with and how dare you betray the love of your friends!

How dare you throw away the beautiful gifts you were born with and how dare you betray the love of your friends!

Say you’re sorry!

Say you’re sorry!

I LOVE this part!  I love Molly’s character development.  I have been wanting Molly to do this for a long, long time.  Ever since the very first episode of the first season when Sherlock treats her like the dirt beneath his shoes.  He deserved it as much then as he does now.

The next scene I relished in this episode is when Sherlock finally loses it with Mycroft.  I love the relationship between Sherlock and Mycroft, but it always rankled that Mycroft could be such a bully, coming around whenever he wanted or sending in his cronies to push Sherlock and Watson into doing his bidding.  This time, it didn’t work.

Magnussen is none of your business.

Magnussen is none of your business.

Oh and he's yours?

Oh and he’s yours?

I consider him under my protection.

I consider him under my protection.

I consider you under his thumb.

I consider you under his thumb.

If you go against Magnussen, you go against me.

If you go against Magnussen, you’ll find yourself going against me.

I'll let you know if I notice.

I’ll let you know if I notice.

Bye.  Bye.

Bye. Bye.

Unwise, brother mine.

Unwise, brother mine.

IDontThinkSo

Brother mine.

Brother mine.

Don't appall me when I'm high.

Don’t appall me when I’m high.

Mycroft, don't say another word.  He could snap you in two and I'm a bit worried right now that he might.

Mycroft, don’t say another word. He could snap you in two and I’m a bit worried right now that he might.

When Sherlock and John break into Magnussen’s office:

MarryMe

Gasp

You see, when there's a human involved, there's always a weak spot.

You see, when there’s a human involved, there’s always a weak spot.

Did you just get engaged to break into an office?

Did you just get engaged to break into an office?

Yeah

Yeah.

But she's loves you.

But she’s loves you.

Yeah, like I said.  Human error.

Yes, like I said. Human error.

We should call the police.

We should call the police.

During our own burglary?

During our own burglary?

When Sherlock accuses Mrs. Hudson of running a drug cartel:

Even your land lady used to run a drug cartel.

Even your land lady used to run a drug cartel.

It was my husband's cartel.  I was just doing the typing.

It was my husband’s cartel. I was just typing.

And exotic dancing.

And exotic dancing.

Sherlock, if you've been youtubing!

Sherlock, if you’ve been youtubing!

When they go to Mama and Papa Holmes’ house for Christmas:

Why are we doing this?

Why are we doing this?

Oh, Mikey, behave!

Oh, Mikey, behave!

Are you two smoking?

Are you two smoking?

No.  It was Mycroft.

No. It was Mycroft.

Cigarettes

When Sherlock and John leave the Holmes’ house to find Magnussen:

This is going to be incredibly dangerous.  The odds are stacked against us.

This is going to be incredibly dangerous. The odds are stacked against us.

But it's Christmas!

But it’s Christmas!

I feel the same.

I feel the same.

Oh, you mean it's actually Christmas.

Oh, you mean it’s actually Christmas.

And finally, at the end, when Sherlock falls into Magnussen’s trap and decides to take action, a move that is incredibly out of character for him, but at the same time will save the people he loves.  This decision on his part is really less of a Sherlock move than it is a Kahn Noonien Singh move, but I still liked it because it was badass:

No chance for you to be a hero this time, Sherlock Holmes.

No chance for you to be a hero this time, Sherlock Holmes.

Oh, do your research!  I'm not a hero.  I'm a high-functioning sociopath.

Oh, do your research! I’m not a hero. I’m a high-functioning sociopath.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

*bang*

*bang*

Now, everyone keeps talking about the humanizing of Sherlock.  I don’t buy it.  He has always been human.  And even though he loves to claim that he’s a high-functioning sociopath, he isn’t.  He is, and as we’ve learned, has always been surrounded by people who love him and whom he loves in return and loves deeply, enough to put his own life on the line again and again.  And this is what we are seeing here at the end — Sherlock driven to extremes to save his family.  As he says to the murderer in episode one of the very first season: “Bitterness is a paralytic.  Love is a much more vicious motivator.”

Now, on to the more disappointing aspects of His Last Vow.  I have to say that just by having watched the preview, I knew I wasn’t going to like this episode of Sherlock.  Quite frankly, it paled in comparison to the previous ones and reminded me more of something that would come out of Hollywood, than out of Britain’s very refined and elegant cinematic culture.  His Last Vow was less about mystery and crime solving and more about ostentatious flamboyancy and sensationalism, created to draw in as many viewers as possible.

The intelligent sophistication of the very first few episodes that we all came to love was completely gone in this one — the crime, the mystery behind it, the two detectives looking for clues and finally putting the puzzle pieces together.  There was absolutely none of this.  There was no puzzle to be solved and it left me wondering: where was the genius of Mark and Steven in this episode?  What happened to it?  It was almost as if the two of them got together and said: “I know.  Let’s take all of our characters, except for John, and put them in the most shocking and out-of-character scenarios we can think of to attract attention!”

In my opinion, this episode was the product of a mediocre script that was redeemed only by the brilliant and convincing performances of the actors, all of whom should be given the awards they so richly deserve for carrying the season to completion.

And this isn’t even mentioning the many plot holes that made watching this episode like eating large and unpleasant portion of swiss cheese.  For example, where were Magnussen’s bodyguards when Sherlock and John came to his house at the end?  Why weren’t the two of them searched for weapons?  Why didn’t Sherlock see into Mary during The Empty Hearse when she clearly showed signs of being who she was? Furthermore, why would Mary want to keep Sherlock around anyway when he was the most likely of people to discover her secret?  And why didn’t Mary just knock Magnussen out and trust Sherlock would help her when he said he would?  Shooting him was probably the worst thing she could have done in the circumstance.  So unfortunately, there were just too many of these problems that didn’t add up and sadly made the whole episode feel too contrived.

But the biggest disappointment of the whole episode was Mary.  I thought it was strange in the Empty Hearse that Mary knew immediately someone was sending her a skip code, but I dismissed this as something that maybe John had taught her or maybe something she just knew about from some previous experience, not at all expecting what that previous experience would be.  So, when the mysterious female shooter turned around in the season finale and we all found out who she was, at that point, my willing suspension of disbelief could not handle it.  It could not kick in and I was left feeling empty inside, like it was a cheap shot at shocking the audience just to create echoing gasps around the room.  The only words that kept running through my mind through the entire scene was: “No, no, no, no, no, no!”

The writers basically took Mary, the best character of the entire show and just ruined her and they did it purely for the shock effect.  This is not Doyle’s Mary and in my opinion, the writers compromised a great character for a WTF plot twist that was entirely unbelievable, extremely disappointing, and ultimately a poor choice for the show’s turn of events.  Even the very emotional scene at the Holmes’ house where John forgives Mary, played out so well by the actors, might have had more of an impact on me if I could actually believe that Mary was an assassin with a dark and murderous past, but I couldn’t.  The whole concept was just too outrageous.

As for Sherlock, although his relapse into drugs was not out of character and actually came from Doyle’s original story, as was his fake engagement to a woman to get close to the villain, I still found Sherlock’s fake relationship with Janine disgusting.  And it seemed to be so disgusting, it even grossed out his best friend.  At least his flirtation with Irene was smart and sexy, but his relationship with Janine was about as impressive as his relapse into drugs, even if they were both intentionally done for a case — a case involving a villain with whom Sherlock is so obsessed, he becomes perilously blindsided: Charles Augustus Magnussen.

I’d read so many rave reviews about this villain that when I actually saw the whole episode play out, I was left speechless, wondering how so many people could have gotten this so wrong.  I thought: this is the villain that people are raving about?  A creepy snake of a man who licks and flicks people and pees in fireplaces?  A villain who takes Sherlock’s concept of a mind palace to an utterly ridiculous level and has absolutely no documentation or other evidence to back up his “knowledge”?  And we’re really supposed to believe that he is the “Napoleon of blackmail”?  Are you kidding me?  Is this really the best villain they’ve got?

And Moriarity!  Why o’ why are they resurrecting Moriarity?  Can’t we just let him go?  Do we really have to keep bringing people back from the dead?  Can’t the writers come up with a real villain this time?  You know, a scary one like Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lector, or Heath Ledger’s joker, or even a villain like Jared Harris’ Moriarity would suffice.  So far this show is woefully lacking in good villains and I’m wondering if maybe this is just a weakness of the writers.  That they have trouble inventing someone who is so incredibly diabolical and frightening, it would actually equal the characters they’ve created who are “on the side of the angels”.  Maybe they should give Stephen King a call and take a few lessons.  But no, instead of doing that, they feel like they have to bring Moriarity back.  I mean, if we’re going to bring back previous villains, let’s bring back Irene Adler, okay?  Not Moriarity.

Don’t get me wrong.  Overall, I love this show.  It is really one of the only TV shows that I’ll watch.  I think Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are brilliant and so is everyone who puts their amazing talents into making it successful.  But this episode left a lot to be desired and at this point, the only thing that will bring me back to the fourth and fifth seasons of Sherlock is the unique friendship created between John and Sherlock by two of the finest actors that Britain has to offer.

Thank you Martin and Benedict!  Keep up the good work!

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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Sherlock: The Sign of Three

Posted by Melissa on February 2, 2014 in Actors, Characters, TV, Writing |

For anyone who hasn’t seen this episode of Sherlock, do not continue reading as there are major spoilers following the trailer.

Unlike many series that have a tendency to drop off as time goes by, this show seems to be getting better with each new episode.  Everything about it is improving: the writing, the acting, and especially the camera work.  Something I noticed about this show from the very beginning was how well the camera tells the story.  Yes of course, the writing and the actors play a huge part in making the story come alive, but the camera adds so much depth and information that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.  If it wasn’t for the creative and brilliant innovations created by the show’s producers, we would never be able to see exactly what the characters are seeing and learning as the story progresses.  I’m talking about the angles of each shot and the white subtext they throw into the scenes that makes everything click and come together.  I’ve never seen that before on TV and I think it’s brilliant.

The writing in this show is also getting much more clever than the first two seasons.  Added with the performances of the actors themselves who can say a thousand words in one expression, the Sign of Three I can say without a doubt is probably the most hilarious episode by far.  Below are some of my favorite scenes.

Sherlock’s attitude toward marriage:

Shut up, Miss Hudson.

Shut up, Mrs. Hudson.

BringingYouYourTea

Just bringing you your tea, dear.

Thank you.

Thank you.

So, it's the big day today!

So, it’s the big day today!

Marriage changes you in ways you couldn't possibly imagine.

Marriage changes you in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine.

AsDoesLethalInjection

As does lethal injection.

His obsession with protecting Mary:

So, what do I need to do as an usher.

So, what do I need to do as an usher.

Let's talk about Mary first.  You are her ex and I see whenever she tweets, you respond within five minutes.

Let’s talk about Mary first. You are her ex and I see whenever she tweets, you respond within five minutes.

You think I still have feelings for Mary?

You think I still have feelings for Mary?

You have Facebook photos of her without John and on three occasions, you acted as a shoulder to cry on.  Explain that.

You have Facebook photos of her without John and on three occasions, you acted as a shoulder to cry on. Explain that.

W-w-well...

W-w-well…

I have your contact information.  I will be monitoring.

I have your contact information. I will be monitoring.

They were right about you.  You're a bloody psychopath!

They were right about you. You’re a bloody psychopath!

No.  A high-functioning sociopath, with your number.

No. A high-functioning sociopath, with your number.

His relationship with kids:

You have to wear the outfit.

You have to wear the outfit.

No.

No.

You really have to wear the outfit.

You really have to wear the outfit.

What for?

What for?

BecauseGrownUpsLikeThatSortOfThing

Because grown-ups like that sort of thing.

Why?

Why?

I don't know.  I'll ask one.

I don’t know. I’ll ask one.

You're a detective?

You’re a detective?

Yup.

Yup.

YouSolveAnyMurders?

You solve any murders?

Sure.  Loads.

Sure. Loads.

Can I see?

Can I see?

Yeah, alright.

Yeah, alright.

What all the stuff in his eye?

What all the stuff in his eye?

Maggots.

Maggots.

Cool!

Cool!

His reaction to John telling him that he’s his best friend and wants him to be the best man at his wedding:

You're my best friend and I want you to be the best man at my wedding.

You’re my best friend and I want you to be the best man at my wedding.

Me?

Well?

Well?

I'm your best friend?

I’m your best friend?

Yes, of course, you are.

Yes, of course, you are.

TakingDrink

How was that?

How was that?

Ugh

Eye

Surprisingly okay.

Surprisingly okay.

His relationship with Mary:

Serviettes

Swan or opera house?

Swan or opera house?

Where'd you learn to do that?

Where’d you learn to do that?

There are many unexpected skills in the field of crime investigation.

There are many unexpected skills in the field of crime investigation.

Fibbing, Sherlock.

Fibbing, Sherlock.

I once broke an alibi by demonstrating...

I once broke an alibi by demonstrating…

I'm not John.  I know when you're fibbing.

I’m not John. I know when you’re fibbing.

Okay, I learned it on Youtube.

Okay, I learned it on Youtube.

Up until this point I really didn’t have a favorite character in the show.  During the first two seasons, for me, each character was well loved on an equal level, that is, until Mary was introduced in The Empty Hearse.  She is certainly now my favorite character, played beautifully by Amanda Abbington.  I love how her character interacts with the two men in her life and doesn’t interfere with their unique dynamic, but instead enhances it.  I love her relationship with Sherlock and the mutual respect and understanding shared between the two.  I also love the fact that she is a woman and is naturally smart enough to see right through both of them in a heartbeat, just like a mother of two children would.

Sherlock, I think, understands this and instead of being threatened by it, as he would have been when we first met him in the Study in Pink, he accepts it and embraces her as a trusted friend.  To me, this is a sign that his character is growing and maturing as time goes by.  Because of his new experiences and certainly because of his close friendship with Watson, he is reaching a new level of self-awareness that becomes apparent in his best man speech where he says:

The point I am trying to make is that I am the most unpleasant, rude, ignorant, and all-around obnoxious arse that anyone could possibly have the misfortune to meet.  I am dismissive of the virtuous, unaware of the beautiful, and uncomprehending in the face of the happy.

In short, John, I am a ridiculous man.

In short, John, I am a ridiculous man.

And things really do get ridiculous when Sherlock and John get drunk on John’s stag night and go “cluing for looks”.  This part killed me.  It was so funny:

Am I the current King of England?

Am I the current King of England?

Which one of you is Sherlock?

Which one of you is Sherlock?

He is.

He is.

Hi, I'm Slurlock.  Pleased to meet you.

Hi, I’m Slurlock. Pleased to meet you.

CluingForLooks

He's cluing for looks.

He’s cluing for looks.

Asleep

Zzzzz

Zzzzz

Zzzzz

Don't compromise the integrity of the...

Don’t compromise the integrity of the…

Blaaaaaaa

Blaaaaaaa

Of the crime scene.

Of the crime scene.

Yes, that.

Yes, that.

And then… the hangover in jail, being bailed out by Lestrade:

Lightweights

Wakey! Wakey!

Wakey!  Wakey!  What a couple o' lightweights.  You two couldn't even make until the end of the night.

What a couple o’ lightweights. You two couldn’t even make it until the end of the night.

Can you whisper, please?

Can you whisper, please?

NOT REALLY!

NOT REALLY!

Huh?

Huh?

Ah, my head.

Ah, my head.

How do I walk again?

How do I walk again?

But then the wedding day gets more exciting as they discover they have a murderer in their midst and have to solve yet another crime, all three of them this time:

Solve it and open the door like he said.

Solve it and open the door like he said.

I couldn't solve it before.  How can I solve it now?

I couldn’t solve it before. How can I solve it now?

Because it matters now.

Because it matters now.

What is she talking about? Get your wife under control!

What is she talking about? Get your wife under control!

Shut up!  She's right.  You're not a problem solver.  You never have been.  You're a drama queen.

Shut up! She’s right. You’re not a problem solver. You never have been. You’re a drama queen.

*gasp*

*gasp*

And does the drama queen solve the crime?  Of course he does and the show ends with an explanation of its title, The Sign of Three, which I originally and mistakenly took to mean the now crime-solving trio, Sherlock, John, and Mary.  But no, the sign of three means something quite different:

I will be there for all three of you... uh, the two of you.  Sorry, just miscounted.

I will be there for all three of you… uh, I meant the two of you. Sorry, just miscounted.

This was one deduction I hadn't anticipated.  The signs are all there Mary.  The signs of three.

This was one deduction I hadn’t anticipated. The signs are all there, Mary. The signs of three.

What?

What?

Shut up!  Shut up now!

Shut up! Shut up now!

Sorry.

Sorry.

DontPanic

Don’t panic.

Don't panic?!

Don’t panic?!

You've had all kinds of practice and you won't need me around anymore now that you have a real baby on the way.

You’ve had all kinds of practice and you won’t need me around anymore now that you have a real baby on the way.

JohnSmile

SherlockSmile

Congratulations.

Congratulations.

When I saw this shot of Sherlock above, I couldn’t help but feel that Cumberbatch is not really acting here.  His expressions can say a thousand words and the expression he has on his face in this scene is one of equal joy and sorrow.  His look is expressing happiness for his friend, but at the same time you can see a deep sadness in it.  What I’ve been trying to figure out is where this sentiment is coming from.

At first, I thought maybe it was Sherlock’s feelings toward losing his best friend to marriage and children, but then I soon realized that that couldn’t be it.  He knows — he’s been assured by both Mary and John — that nothing will change as far as the crime solving duo is concerned.  So what then is the source of his sadness?  The only explanation I could really find is that it is a sorrow for something he has not yet achieved in his life.  And if that’s the case, then this sentiment cannot be coming from Sherlock.  After all, it was Sherlock who said during his speech:

All emotions, in particular love, stand opposed to the pure, cold reason I hold above all things.  A wedding is in my considered opinion, nothing short of a celebration of all that is false and specious and irrational and sentimental in this ailing and morally compromised world.  Today we honor the deathwatch beetle that is the doom of our society and in time, one feels certain, our species.

So this look — this sentiment of sorrow and regret — was a bit out of character for Sherlock, I thought, and cannot, therefore, really originate from him.  It has to be a sentiment coming purely from the actor.  What’s amazing about this is that this is the first time I’ve ever seen Cumberbatch slip up and impart one of his own traits to a character.  I’ve never seen him do that before.  And yet, the show and its characters in this last scene eerily reflect the real lives of the actors who play those characters, so I suppose it makes sense in a way.  Maybe.

Finally, the episode ends with a very heartbreaking shot of Sherlock leaving the wedding reception early, all by himself.

SherlockLeavingReception

If there is one thing I could wish for Sherlock at the very end, during the last season, when they decide to finish the show, it would be for him to meet (and fall for) the female version of himself.  Someone unlike any of the other female characters he’s encountered.  Thus, not a wicked sex kitten or a nerdy, awkward coroner.  Someone just like him: cold, calculating, and callous.  Someone who could obliterate him intellectually and see right through him in second, mercilessly vocalizing his habits, flaws, and his innermost desires and insecurities to the world.  I would LOVE to see his reaction to someone like that.  I would love to see how that would play out.  But alas, I’ve heard that the show’s producers don’t have anything like that planned for future episodes.  Too bad.  That would make for a great show!

Tonight airs the final episode of the third season, His Last Vow.  By watching this trailer below, I can see we are in for quite a bit of drama.  I just hope we don’t have to wait two more years to find out how Sherlock fares this time.  :)

Happy Viewing!

~ Melissa

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