Holmes, how you’ve changed!

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Late yesterday it was announced that Sacha Baron Cohen has been cast as Sherlock Holmes with Will Ferrell as Watson in a new, Judd Apatow-produced comedy inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective — the second Holmes major reinvention in the works, with Guy Ritchie working on a version that will “be more adventuresome and take advantage of his skills as a boxer and swordsman.”

At the Guardian‘s film blog, Maxim Jakubowski has already expressed his displeasure: “The mind boggles. In the left corner Sherlock getting involved in over the top ultra-violence and in the right corner a farting Sherlock (or would it be Watson?) with the sensitivity of an average American teenager.” He does allow that “there have been hundreds of Sherlock Holmes books written by others since Conan Doyle’s demise,” and that “Holmes has been impersonated by a legion of actors since he was first adapted for the screen.” But Holmes has also already been reinterpreted in various, er, unconventional ways that would have ruffled the feathers of the protective Sherlockians Jakubowski mentions long before Borat stepped on the scene. A few TV/movie versions that come to mind:

07022008_holmes1.jpgDarryl Zero (Bill Pullman)
“Zero Effect”

The first film from Jake Kasdan (who went on to direct “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”) is essentially an update of Doyle’s story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” with Pullman as “the world’s most private detective,” a man so reclusive that he only interacts with clients by way of his assistant, played by Ben Stiller. The mysterious blackmailer and Irene Adler equivalent is played by Kim Dickens, who pulls Zero into a romance that’s definitely not part of the original text.

Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie)
“House, M.D.”

House (as opposed to “Holmes,” yes?) is a surly, isolated genius who keeps to mysteries of a medical nature and prefers Vicodin to cocaine, but still has a Watson (well, Wilson) to bounce ideas off of and manages to get shot at by someone named Moriarty.

07022008_holmes2.jpgArthur Sherlock Holmes (John Cleese)
“The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It”

Cleese’s character is technically the grandson of Holmes, pairing up with Watson’s descendant to prevent Moriarty’s offspring from destroying the world in this 1977 spoof of detective movie tropes. It’s notable mainly for a scene in which Holmes assists Watson with a crossword puzzle and ever “elementary” pun possible is unleashed: “Yellow manta ray, my dear Watson.”

Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub)

Monk’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, while played for cute, could be read as an extreme interpretation of Holmes’ attention to detail and antisocial leanings. Regardless, the character is another Holmesian brilliant but quirky detective, with a female Watson equivalent. He’s even given a parallel to Holmes’ smarter, sedentary older brother Mycroft — Ambrose, played by John Turturro, an agoraphobe who writes product manuals in multiple languages, all self-taught.

07022008_holmes3.jpgSherlock Holmes (Nicholas Rowe)
“Young Sherlock Holmes”

In Barry Levinson’s exceptionally silly movie, Watson and Holmes meet as teenagers at a boarding school, where they stumble upon an Egyptian-themed cult performing human sacrifices and shooting people with hallucinatory thorns. Moriarty is the schoolmaster, played by Anthony Higgins, who also took on the role of Holmes in 1993 TV movie “Sherlock Holmes Returns.”

Sherlock Holmes (voiced by Jason Gray-Stanford)
“Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century”

Holmes, animated, in the future. Hey, he’s restored via a new cellular rejuvenation technique! Who else is going to catch that Moriarty clone wreaking havoc on New London?

+ Holmes pic nabs Baron Cohen, Ferrell (Variety)
+ Sacha Baron Cohen’s Sherlock Holmes won’t ‘make benefit’ anybody (Guardian)

[Photos: “Zero Effect,” Columbia Pictures, 1998; “The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It,” Shearwater Films, 1977; “Young Sherlock Holmes,” Paramount Pictures, 1985]


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.