Curious search engine terms

Doctor Who series finale

Yesterday I had an unexpected visitor. That is not to say that I was displeased to “see” them, but it did wet my curiosity. More so when I realised how they found me out. Unknown X typed “moffat briggs” in the search engine and were delivered to Shards of Silence.

For a moment or two I continued under the delusion that I was the “briggs” they were looking for. There are several writers I would love to work with, and Moffat is certainly one of them, so being paired up with the creator of two of my favourite British shows put a smile on my face. But the chances of that are so infinitely small that I decided to go out on a limb and do some research on this.

To discover “the other” Briggs, I had to delve a little deeper in Doctor Who history. I came across an interview with Steven Moffat, where he claimed that The Big Bang was the best Doctor Who story he has ever written:

“The Doctor is trapped inside a prison from which even he can’t escape. Amy Pond is dead. Rory is plastic. River Song has been blown up in the Tardis, which has been blown up and destroyed every sun in the universe. I think any other hero would be in a pickle but I think The Doctor can take it. I really do think episode 13, the episode we’ll see on Saturday, is a story only Doctor Who can do – no other show could have come close to a story like this. That’s what is exciting about it.” Skyfilove

The other interviewee however was the one I was searching for: the mysterious Briggs who unintentionally prompted the visit in the first place.

It didn’t take me long to track them down. He is none other than Nicholas Briggs, the terrifying voice that seeps into Whovian dreams everywhere in the guise of Cybermen and Daleks. The Doctor’s deadliest foes and my namesake are one.

And here he is infiltrating Tardis territory. Mystery solved.

I hope that the accidental guest found at least something on Shards of Silence to make up for their troubles. Perhaps I ought to have a word with the editorial team and see when the next issue of The Gallifrey Express will make an appearance.


[Loud bangs somewhere in the background.]

Wait a moment. There’s someone at the door.

“Hey! Stop that racket. I’m busy!”

[A massive explosion and the entrance hall now has a view of the street curtesy of…]

Cybermen: “You will be upgraded. You will become like us.”


There is a time for bravery and then there is a time to leg it. Umm. Second solution to be implemented at once! Just as I thought I reached safety via the back exit…

Daleks: “Exterminate-Exterminate”

Well… now I’m in a bit of a…

That’s Elementary, my dear Watson. No. Wait. It’s Sherlock!

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with thedailygrime

“I’m not an uber Sherlock fan, so I didn’t bother watching the first episode of the new season until a few days after it had been aired. So I ended up reading the reviews before seeing the program for myself. The reviews were what is euphemistically called “mixed”, which is another way of saying that the first episode was universally panned.

The thing is though, even before watching the first episode, I didn’t understand what the reviewers were talking about.” The Game Is Afoot


The full title of thedailygrime‘s review is The Game Is Afoot – How The Critics Want To Sink Sherlock And Why I Think They Never Will, and if you’ve been keeping up with all things CumberVic on this blog, you will understand why I couldn’t help myself. Just had to read the review, and once read a reply begged to be written.

You see… my last Benedict Cumberbatch post inadvertently added me to the nameless hoard of critics who have met the Empty Hearse, first episode of Sherlock the Third, with a good old battering by the proverbial pan. I am ready to admit however, that an even greater disappointment than an underwhelming return of the show would be its cancellation. I certainly do not want for this series to end up being Sherlock’s Titanic, so I am glad to find that there are many out there who are enjoying Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat’s latest offering.

I enjoyed thedailygrime‘s style in taking on the reviewers and decided to examine the evidence in consulting detective fashion and add my own deductions to the mix.

Let the games begin!

I’m afraid there will be a few SPOILERS in what follows, so if you haven’t watched The Empty Hearse and want to hold on to that element of surprise, read at your own peril. I’ll do my best to keep them to a minimum, but can promise no more than that.

tdg: “They talked about far-fetched explanations for Sherlock’s faked death. I thought “surely everyone was expecting that?””

I’m with tdg on this one. Far-fetched explanations were not the problem. Dramatizing fandom’s theories as to what went down on that roof in The Reichenbach Fall finale was fun to watch, yes. However, it did feel like the writers were pandering to the fans instead of getting on with telling the story at hand.

I also rather enjoyed watching Scotland Yard’s former forensic expert Anderson’s guilt-ridden antics in this respect, with one exception. If you’ve seen the episode you will know which one was over-acted. Yep. That’s right. That oh-so-dramatic moment when Anderson latches onto the walls, ripping off those crazy notes he’d been wall-papering over the last two years. It was too much of a good (?) thing. And this brings us to the next point:

tdg: “They also said it was confusing. Well, it’s a fast paced detective program. It’s meant to be confusing, surely?”

An astute viewer, I dare say, will not be confused by any narrative, no matter how many twists it may have and however fast-paced it may be. They will be stumped however when the pieces of the puzzle do not fit together, even when they finally reach the end and have the big picture.

That last reference to Anderson was a clear example of that. It lacked finesse and it was somewhat confounding. Here we are with Holmes and Watson, in the deepest darkest bowels of the underground, attempting to disarm a bomb that is about to make mincemeat of all of Her Majesty’s Members of Parliament and the Houses themselves (admittedly, judging by the usual number of MP absentees, there might’ve been fewer victims than the wanna-be terror-plotters may have hoped for) and suddenly we a wrenched back into Anderson’s layer for an impromptu Sherlock confession on how he had faked his own death two years earlier.

Was this supposed to be Sherlock telling John about how he faked his death and why, via Anderson? Or… is this Sherlock’s memory of a former meeting with Anderson kicking in for some incomprehensible reason at a cliff-hanger moment? Or… did the director realise during the edit that he’s run out of places to plonk this into, and decided that it was as good a time as any for the big reveal? I’ll guess… the latter.

It did make for confusing viewing and, instead of increasing suspense, it only increased my levels of frustration. Several of the transitions from one scene to the next suffered from the same inexplicable disjointedness. They should’ve been handled better.

tdg: “And there was the question as to why Sherlock faked his own death anyway. Well, you could try asking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that. He invented that particular twist. You can’t blame Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat for that.”

It’s good to see that tdg and I are on the same page again. I did not require The Empty Hearse to understand why Sherlock had faked his death. Moriarty had destroyed his reputation and, to completely demolish his nemesis, he had all (well… almost all) of Sherlock’s associates at gunpoint. To save them, Sherlock had to die. Mystery solved.

It was the “how” that required additional attention and I felt that the episode gave sufficient scene time to the question. I only wish that final reveal had been better placed.

tdg: Why would Sherlock fake his death? Well, he’s a narcissistic psychopath.”

I beg to differ. Sherlock is not a narcissistic psychopath. He is a highly functioning sociopath 😉 Will not squabble re his narcissism. He does rather fancy himself, moustache or no moustache.

The final mystery: Why does thedailygrime think that critics are attempting to sink Sherlock and why won’t they manage it?

Well… I recommend that you read The Game Is Afoot to find out. I can’t speak for any of the other critics, but I beg to be absolved of the crime of which I stand accused.

Come to think of it, I wish I had delayed watching The Empty Hearse and read the onslaught of “mixed” reviews first. It may have tempered my expectations, and perhaps… I might’ve been put on the defensive and watched it afterwards determined to like it against all odds. Alas. I fear that since even my lingering obsession with the lead was unable to rob me of my critical prowess, I may have lamentably reached the same conclusion: Deduct again. Deduct better.


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Sherlock the Third


Welcome to The Batch on Sunday: Your Online-Home For All Things CumberVic

The Batch on Sunday reports!

We all know that the third series of Sherlock will blast its witty detection onto BBC One screens on Wednesday, the 1st of January 2014. But for all that, The Batch on Sunday team feels that it may as well be 2024. Never have three weeks felt so lengthy! To wait for even one day longer seems unbearable.

The show’s creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, have done a good job of keeping the plots for the three episodes of this new series secret. No matter how much we searched the Internet for some juicy spoilers, there was not one to be found.

All we know so far is that #SherlockLives, and while reassuring, we need not pretend that we did not know this already. Final appearance of the smartly clad detective in the shadows of the graveyard aside, no Sherlokian could be fooled into believing that the protagonist would be killed off with a whole new series promised in advance.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who was the youngest ever actor to be cast as Sherlock when the first series aired in 2010, sympathises with the plight of the nation, having himself experienced some of the impatience the rest of us are suffering from as we wait for the elusive detective to finally reach our screens. He admitted that “I sort of got into the same obsession that the nation did, before we did it.”

Sorry, Cumberbatch. Whilst you are much loved, in this case no amount of sympathy will do the trick. We want Sherlock and we want him now!

If this is another three pipe problem, I begin to suspect that we’ll be smoking ourselves into an early grave. Not all of us have Sherlock’s comebackability to rely on. Perhaps a Sherlock calendar with a factoid countdown is in order. We must do something to pass the time until he is ready to come back from the dead. Lucky Christmas is just around the corner.

Merry Cumberbatch everyone and a Happy New Sherlock!

Truth stranger than fiction… #BenedictCumberbatch

8th of December 2011

On that fateful Wednesday morning I was a few days into the renewal of an old pet project: considering the pointlessness of life. Little did I know that an answer to my question would materialise by the end of the day. And what I suspected even less was how little I would like that answer.

Embracing the inevitable tide of cultural pessimism, I made my way through the busy Bloomsbury streets towards the library. It was a drizzly December morning and I had a deadline to meet, which might have been in part to blame for that rather dark train of thought.

People may assume that such thoughts can only be brought about by unhappy circumstances. This was not the case with me. I was generally thought to be a happy person, and would have easily agreed with that assessment. And why wouldn’t I? I had a beautiful home, where I often entertained my fabulous friends together with my beloved and loving husband. Too many adjectives perhaps, but that was my life: great at every turn. And I loved my job – most days – which was no little feat in itself. Altogether it was a cosy existence and I saw no reason to complain, nor was I particularly inclined to do so. What else can a human being possibly wish for?

Now I come to think of it… Perhaps middle-class ennui was to blame for what happened.

As a child I dreamt of a contented life, but once I had it, doubts loomed in from all sides. I began to question whether contentment could ever be sufficient in itself. I knew the answer once, but could not find my way back to it through this stringy extension of time. What gives life true purpose? Memory failed me.

The wind sharpened, so I wrestled with my umbrella and stepped into my favourite café for a little warmth and the first coffee of the day, all philosophical questions forgotten.

Work went well that day so naturally the evening approached at a galloping pace. Time was no longer my friend. We fell out a few years back, when I would have liked to stop it in its tracks and failed.

I checked my wristwatch. It was getting late. After the IHR seminar was over I joined my co-convenors, colleagues and friends for a couple of drinks at the university bar. But something made me restless. After speeding ahead at a lightning pace for the length of the day, time suddenly stumbled, retracted and slowed down to a crawl. “If I hurry,” I thought, “I might still make the next train home.” I said my goodbyes and exited the bar, quickening my step.

On the underground however, the first unexpected turn of events took place. Suddenly, instead of taking the tube to King’s Cross, I found myself traipsing in the opposite direction.  My legs seemed to have a mind of their own that evening. Dissatisfied with reaching Covent Garden, they shuffled down the cobbled streets and wound their way towards the river. Retracing my steps I suppose.

The air had mellowed. It was not exactly cold, but it was warmer than it had been all day and I craved a cigarette. I conjured up circles of smoke and enjoyed what moments of solitude one can steal in a crowd.

“Life may have no purpose, but sitting on the banks of the Thames, under the evening stars – however little visible – does have its charm.”

Afterwards, once I could trust my feet to do my bidding, and thought it safe to get up from my table, I walked through the BFI building to the info desk to get a programme for future screenings. Around the corner from the information desk, I was met by a crowd. Curiosity peaked; I asked what it was for…


The English are misunderstood as a people. The stiff upper lip is little more than the social circumspection of the overly sober. A pint or two is all that stands between an Englishman and recklessness. And there are the queues of course. It is a truth universally acknowledged that English people love a good queue. So there is no shortage of these on the island, and London has more than its fair share of them. Any queue, for whatever reason formed, is filled with like-minded people. So, if you have an interest of any kind and want to expand your social circle, you can’t fail if you join one.

This particular queue was filled with Sherlock aficionados. The cast was there, I was informed, and everyone waited for autographs and a glimpse of their favourite star. Yes. In true surreal fashion, I had stumbled upon a Benedict Cumberbatch adoration gathering.

Suffice to say that the temptation to stay was too great to resist. I thought that at most I would get a closer glimpse of my favourite, but since I had the programme with me, I ended up with Steven Moffat, Mark Gattis, Andrew Scott and Lara Pulver signing it.

Then… the waiting game was afoot.

We waited around for quite a while. I was near the end of the queue, and across from a glass door through which the actors went one after another after the signings.

Next, disaster struck. I saw Benedict on the other side of the door, readying himself to go through to the private bar area, whereto all his co-stars had retreated before him. Discontentment brewed amongst those at my end of the queue; all feared he would not be signing anything that evening. After waiting for so long, one was not amused!

I was exactly opposite the door, about two meters from where he was standing, ready to go through. I watched his hand clasp the handle, looked up and…. He was watching me. I held his gaze.

Time elongated, stretched itself through the glass, obliterating all around me. Everything blurred. His eyes were the only point of clarity in the room. My brain counted the fractions of time. One – I am here for you Ben – Two – This is why I stare – Three – What is your excuse? He blinked. Looked away. Pulled at the door. Disappeared through it.

My flowing silk skirt was doing its best to earn the ten quid I spent at the vintage market in Spitalfields, it appeared.

I felt slightly faint. Never having mastered the art of whiskey drinking, nonetheless I would have killed for a measure of single malt to settle my nerves. He was gone. I went outside to have a cigarette. A second glass door was added to the first, expanding the space between me and the Batch. By the end of the second cigarette – excessive I know, but it seemed to be an evening of excesses for me – I saw him return.

He started the signings at the other end of the queue. I observed his approach through the crowd. Twice our eyes met again. I began to doubt my vision at that point. Surely I was imagining it. Even as I am writing this, it seems somehow unreal… And then, when he was within a meter or so of me, he looked up again. Perhaps I was not imagining it after all.

Ego boost or what?

But reason stalled the luxury of basking in the glory of an almost-conquest, and decided wisely that I must remind him of someone he knew. That was the only reasonable explanation for a second extended eye-lockup in a hallway crowded by his admirers.

I am his madeleine. He tastes the flow of memories long past in my gaze.

Moments later he was in front of me, taking my pen and preparing to sign.

“Thank you so much. We hope to see you on stage again soon.”

Benedict’s hand froze on the page. He looked up, a naughty twinkle in his eye as his gaze affixed itself onto mine. The corner of his mouth curled up into a mischievous smile. His head tilted slightly to one side, knowing and not knowing what I mean. Was he meant to read between the lines?

Damn you Freud, and your slips! In that moment I realised the subtext translation: I have seen you naked. And yes, asking for more. I added a little flustered:

“When you have the time…”

He smiled again. Nodded. Moved on. I remained glued to the spot. The crowd swarmed past me, moving in around him. Everyone wanting a little more of him. He looked tired, a little haggard even. Suddenly I felt discomfited by it all; all these strangers advancing on one man.

Time expanded. Space contracted. I was one of them. I was one of the beleaguers. I noticed his minder getting more uneasy as the circle tightened around Ben. He spied me watching and called me forward, indicating that if I wanted a photo I should go around to the other side.

As if in a trance I moved to the place he pointed out. Someone offered to take a pic with my mobile. I handed it over. Benedict stepped forward, asked where to look.

He was at my side, the star, the man, and yet in that moment… I felt sorry for him. I wished I were anywhere but there.  I was about to step away, but there were so many people around us, there was no visible escape. I felt his hand trace the small of my back.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, elongating the ‘o’ in ‘so’ so that he would know that I mean it.
He looked at me. Smiled: “That’s quite alright.”

A flash and it was over. I got the last picture of the lot.


On my way home, I felt the need to expunge the guilt and put my case to the public. After all, what do we live for, but to make sport for our neighbours, and make fun of them in return? So I put the picture up on my Facebook wall with the following caption:

“There is a first for everything… Very embarrassed about it, but couldn’t resist. Black on black with matching hair: “We hope to see you on stage again soon.” Got a mischievous smile in reply. The penny drops. Gosh! I’ve just told Benedict Cumberbatch that I have seen him naked!”

“There is a first for everything… Very embarrassed about it, but couldn’t resist. Black on black with matching hair: “We hope to see you on stage again soon.” Got a mischievous smile in reply. The penny drops. Gosh! I’ve just told Benedict Cumberbatch that I have seen him naked!”

Him (smiling): Stalker.

Me (guilty blush):  I am merely an admirer of his craft. I appreciate beauty and art – that is all.

Him: Groupie.

Me: That is slander, dearest.

Him (raised eyebrow): You finally did it! You have taken your obsession to a new level. You do realise your boyfriend has the name of an evil rabbit, right?

Me (incensed): Not so!

Him: He clearly does. Benedict Cumberbatch sounds like the name of Peter Rabbit’s nemesis. In which case he would always be trouserless… to your eternal delight.

Me (laughing): Heaven!

He shakes his head, half-bemused, half-disgruntled.

Me (struggling to keep a straight face): Seriously though: No to rabbits, particularly trouserless ones!

Him (leaning in for a kiss): There’s an axiom to live by if there ever was one…


The red velvet lowers. Before you leave: What is the meaning of life?

Well… what followed was a rather un-philosophical resolution to that problem.

We make our own meaning. The body and its senses, as well as the creative thrust of our imagination: both have their place in our making sense of life, the universe, and everything.

And as for Cumberbatch… I will continue to maintain that it is a magic word. Works. Every. Time.


Time chimes from me to you and back again. Submitting to your will, subtract from mine. And your return awaiting; I bow out.

PS: New to vicbriggs’s blog and want some more Benedict Cumberbatch fixes? Take a look at the links below.

In the order of appearance:

1.  I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. Daily Prompt: Pants on Fire or the confession that started it all.

2. Sex with you-know-who will steam up your windows. Beware!

3. COMING SOON… a snippet of Cumberthings yet to come.

4. The Batch on Sunday Interviews vicbriggs on working with #BenedictCumberbatch and life after Sex with you-know-who.

5. Midnight Snog – the sequel to Sex with you-know-who is finally out.

Enjoy! and thank you for stopping by 🙂

And a big thank you to for inspiring Daily Prompts: