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Benedict Cumberbatch Tag

Warner Brothers, which has given us gangland classics like Little Caesar (1931), White Heat (1949), and Goodfellas (1990), adds to its arsenal another engrossing entry, Black Mass, from the twisted saga of James “Whitey” Bulger. But gangsters weren’t uppermost on my mind as I watched. To me it’s almost like a Frankenstein story, with an ambitious FBI agent, toying with dark forces, creating an uncontrollable, havoc-wreaking monster.

The parallels aren’t exact. Bulger, who had done time at Alcatraz before returing to his roots in Boston’s tough “Southie” neighborhood, was already damaged beyond repair by the mid-70s, a sociopath who lavished attention upon cats, old ladies, and his mom when he wasn’t

I saw London’s biggest stage sensation a couple of days ago, and not because Popdose sent me (like that would ever happen). I just walked across Flatbush Avenue and took my seat at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where Frankenstein was beamed across the pond courtesy of National Theatre Live. Like The Metropolitan Opera the National Theatre has been simulcasting some of its productions via satellite for a couple of years now, but I was reluctant to attend. I’ve always found the idea of experiencing otherwise inaccessible live entertainment via TV or a film screen more enchanting than the reality, where too often the camera freezes in its tracks and the performance is rendered inert, the immediacy and excitement gone. “Why did people pay good money for that?” you end up thinking as you rouse your dozing, frustrated self from your seat.

Still, $21 seemed a small price to pay given the hubbub and generally excellent reviews the show has received. The director is the Oscar-winning Danny Boyle, returning to the stage for the first time since his film success, and the two reputable stars, Benedict Cumberbatch (the BBC’s new Sherlock Holmes) and Jonny Lee Miller (most recently on Dexter), alternate in the roles of Doctor Frankenstein and the Creature. And it’s a big production, with a steam engine that rumbles through one raucous scene, a flight of paper birds, and an overhanging assemblage of 18,000 lights that zap the show with electricity.

The size worried me–how would it translate to film? Mostly Frankenstein worried me–Mary Shelley’s captivating creation (that a young woman writing early in the 19th century got so far in her thinking boggles the mind) is an evergreen at the movies but a stiff on the stage. I saw the flop Young Frankenstein musical on Broadway in 2007 and a smaller, serious-minded Off Broadway musicalization of Shelley’s novel that year, loud and clangy and equally unsuccessful. And I’ve dined out for decades on having seen a super-production

SherlockThe Sunday night tv scheduled just got a little more complicated than it already is, at least for the next three weeks. In addition to HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Bored To Death, and Eastbound and Down, and Showtime’s Dexter, PBS has entered the fray with the new Masterpiece Mystery series Sherlock. Thank goodness for DVRs and On-Demand viewing, because Sherlock is a series that you do not want to miss.

Beginning this Sunday night, and continuing for the next three weeks, PBS will present a Sherlock that is radically re-imagined while somehow still remaining true to the source material. I suppose the biggest change is that the series is set in 2010 London. I can see you rolling your eyes, but I can assure you that this is a Sherlock that even the most die-hard Baker Street Irregular can love. Many of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters are on hand including Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), who is, as always, a retired army doctor, only this Watson was wounded in Afghanistan, and when we first meet him he is walking with a cane, and possibly suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. One more thing; Watson is a blogger, and that’s how this particular set of Holmes stories come to be told.