Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'Sherlock' And The Entertainers We've Lost

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Benedict Cumberbatch plays the famed detective on <em>Masterpiece Mystery! Presents Sherlock. </em>

Sherlock and Pop Culture Happy Hour both premiered in 2010, but until now, the two have never intersected in the form of a full segment on our show. The series of 90-minute episodes — which air in America as part of PBS's Masterpiece Mystery! series — stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, respectively. Last weekend, Sherlock launched its fourth three-episode season (not counting a one-off special in January 2016), which makes this a perfect time to dive in.

This week's panel — Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Barrie Hardymon and me — has many kind things to say about Sherlock, starting with the chemistry of its leads, its visual inventiveness and its self-aware undercurrent of silliness. But we also tackle its flaws, which here range from episode length to the treatment of its female characters, and discuss Watson's hair, Andrew Scott's wonderfully wild-eyed performance as Moriarty, and the complex and intense nature of Holmes and Watson's relationship.

Then it's on to a nowhere-near-comprehensive segment celebrating a handful of the many entertainers we lost in 2016, with a heavy emphasis on three who've died in the last few weeks: Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and George Michael. For Fisher, we mention not only her work in movies and TV, but also her writing — titles mentioned in this episode include Surrender The Pink, Postcards From The Edge and The Princess Diarist — and the boldness and bawdiness she brought into the world. (We also mention her explanation of bipolar disorder during a panel at Indiana Comic Con.)

Of course, multitalented actress Debbie Reynolds died the day after the passing of Fisher (her daughter), and we take a few minutes to examine Reynolds' legacy, which included work in movies (we bring up Singin' In The Rain, In & Out, and Mother) and TV (Will & Grace). And the death of pop star George Michael on Christmas Day compels us to discuss his career — and in particular his desire to be taken seriously as more than just a chart-topper. Along the way, we reference two excellent essays: Linda's piece for NPR on "Freedom! '90" and Ira Madison III's piece for MTV News about Michael's contribution to the way Madison views gay sexuality.

Then, Barrie, Glen and I each take a turn at naming some of the people we'll miss most. Barrie listed a trio of authors — Harper Lee, Natalie Babbitt and Richard Adams — while I bring up soul singer Sharon Jones, who performed with joy and ferocity. And Glen hails comedian and actor Garry Shandling, with an emphasis on the incredibly influential Showtime series It's Garry Shandling's Show.

Finally, we close with What's Making Us Happy this week. I praise the Oscar contender Lion, as well as the wise casting decision it has in common with Moonlight. Glen is immersed in a new video game, and has kind words for a somewhat-maligned Australian film. ("I'm not sure it's good," he says, "but I like it.") Barrie's enjoying an expansive Shakespeare adaptation. And Linda's been loving an 18-hour (!!!) series of lectures about food and culture. (It's pricey, but also widely available in libraries and via Audible.)

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: Linda, me, Glen, Barrie, Sam, producer Jessica, and producer emeritus and music director Mike.

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