All posts by Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, photographer, and all-round fangirl geek. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and primarily covers geek culture, entertainment, and the performing arts. She's been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others. You can see more of her work (and her social media connections) over at her website angiefsutton.com.

Tea & Review: ‘Fish’ Podcast is the Ultimate Edutainment Experience

{All images used courtesy the No Such Thing as a Fish Facebook page.}

No Such Thing as a Fish
produced by BBC Two / QI
Hosted by James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski, and Dan Schreiber.
Released weekly, with an approximate running time of 60 minutes.
Started March 2014.

Did you know that there is an American cricket team in Compton (as in ‘Straight Outta….’)? How about that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller coaster ride? And Leonardo da Vinci made sculptures out of marzipan and got angry when people ate them. These are just some of the fun facts you will learn when you start listening to the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish.

Started three years ago this month, the podcast is a byproduct of the British quiz show QI. Hosted by the researchers of said show, who are cheekily titled the QI Elves, the podcast combines the best of British humor and the fun parts of research and education.

Each week, the approximately hour long podcast is hosted by four of the Elves (mostly James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski, and Dan Schreiber, although they occasionally have someone else come in for one of them). They each present their favorite fact they came across that week, and then discuss it. The topics range from somewhat serious to outright hilarious, and are always fascinating.

Continue reading Tea & Review: ‘Fish’ Podcast is the Ultimate Edutainment Experience

What I Had Hoped to Get from ‘Sherlock’

{All images courtesy BBC One.}

So, Sherlock series 4 has come and gone, and I’ve already expounded greatly (to the tune of over 4,000 words) how much “The Final Problem” was a horrible way to end the show, if indeed it is the last episode of the series. In said review, I wrote about my expectations for the show, and how that may have been a problem going in. It got me thinking of all the little things I had hoped to get out of series 4 (and even series 3 for some of these) and that I hope we get to, should the series ever make a comeback. Some are silly, and some are legitimate things I wished the show would explore.

As a fan of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman beyond Sherlock, I’ve had the opportunity to hear both of them sing (i.e., Cumberbatch sang in August Osage County, and Freeman in Saving Santa), and while they aren’t exactly Tony award winners (Freeman especially), they can at least carry a tune in a bucket. So, why haven’t we had a musical episode? If we have to maintain ‘realism’ (which, considering the James Bondness of series 4, I will have problems if THAT’S the only reason why), have it where Sherlock has to take the place of an actor in a stage musical. (Maybe even where we see that when Sherlock actually TRIES to act, he’s horrible at it? And dear God, the idea of what Martin would do if John had to be on stage as well: I keep thinking of that tag scene from “The Puppet Show” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

In fact, I wish the show would’ve let both Freeman and Cumberbatch show off their comedic chops more often. Yes, the show is a drama and we should take it seriously, but all the best dramas are interspersed with comedy, and both Freeman and Cumberbatch have great comedic timing. Which leads into another silly one: we finally got a canon ‘The game’s afoot’ (one legitimate one in “The Abominable Bride”, and one of Sherlock quoting the source in “The Lying Detective”): couldn’t we have gotten John to say “No shit, Sherlock” even once?

Continue reading What I Had Hoped to Get from ‘Sherlock’

Geek Speaks: The Uses (and Abuses) of Science Fiction

This piece appeared on Contents May Vary on November 8th 2013 Photo Credit: Geoffrey Long

What do you get when you bring together science fiction writer and co-editor of Boing Boing Cory Doctorow, Intel Futurist Brian David Johnson, and transmedia specialist Dr. Henry Jenkins for a conversation about the purpose of science fiction? You get what Jenkins described as the Three Tenors for geeks: last night’s Geek Speaks panel on “The Uses (and Abuses) of Science Fiction.”

In partnership with the Annenberg Innovation Lab, this is the first in an ongoing speaker series Jenkins created “to provide a homeland for those of us who are geeks here at USC to get together and hear from interesting thinkers from across popular culture and new technology.” The goal, according to Jenkins, is to help build up the community of geeks at USC, and he hopes to have one panel a semester.

The conversation ranged from the panelist’s geek ‘origin stories’ to the participatory culture of science fiction to what draws them to science fiction. Johnson stated that, “one of the things that we all talked about is that the science fiction that has inspired all three of us is usually science fiction with an opinion.”

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My ‘To Be Read’ Pile – 2017 Edition

{Header image taken by Angie Fiedler Sutton.}

I read … a lot. The only problem is that ever since the invention of the Internet, my off-line reading has been sacrificed for all the reading I now do online. So, while I do still read quite a bit, my ‘books I’ve read’ pile has slowly shrunk over the years.

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2013, all of our books got packed into boxes. They’re still (mostly) there, partly because I have yet to have the discretionary income to buy bookcases, and partly because we weren’t 100% sure we were going to stay in this apartment, as going to USC was the primary reason for picking the place we did.

Over the three years since, I have picked up a handful of books. Some of them were from teachers, suggestions for further reading in my studies. Most, however, were ones purchased at various book-related events such as the Los Angeles Festival of Books or at book signings.

Continue reading My ‘To Be Read’ Pile – 2017 Edition

Tea & Review: Sherlock’s ‘Problem’ is Aptly Named

{All images courtesy BBC One.}

Sherlock, series 4, episode 3, “The Final Problem”
Written by Mark Gatiss & Steven Moffat
(based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle)
Directed by Benjamin Caron
Produced by BBC (in partnership with PBS Masterpiece)

So, in my last review of series 4 of Sherlock, I wrote that the television show was one of the rare pieces of media where I process my own thoughts through reading other reactions. This rings true so much more in this, what is framed as the last episode of the show. Not only the reviews from Indiewire, Vox, the Nerdist (which I apparently remembered the title from), The Guardian, The AV Club, The Mary Sue, and Just Add Color, but the plethora of responses from other fans as we all digested this last piece in the world of Sherlock. It made me reevaluate my place as a fan, and think about the show as a whole. Needless to say, this has major spoilers.

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Prepare for Takeoff: BBC Radio 4 Rebroadcasts ‘Cabin Pressure’

{All images used courtesy BBC Radio 4}

Note: all quotes come from Wikiquote.

Brilliant!

The BBC Radio 4 sitcom, Cabin Pressure, is currently being rebroadcast from the beginning. But hurry up – the first episode of series 1 only has five more days.

If you’re unaware of this lovely piece of comedy writing, the basic story is of an airline company … well, make that an airplane. “I don’t have an airline. I have one jet. You cannot put one jet in a line. If MJN is anything, it is an air dot,” as the head of the company, Carolyn Knapp-Shappey (Stephanie Cole) states in the first episode, “Abu Dhabi”.

Having gotten the jet in a divorce, Carolyn sets out to run a private charter company. Accompanying her on this is her not-so-bright son Arthur (played by the show’s creator and writer John Finnemore). She has two pilots: “I have a good pilot and a safe pilot; and the safe pilot’s in charge of the good pilot,” as she says in “Ipswitch”. One of the pilots – the good one – is First Officer Douglas Richardson, played with smarmy fun by Roger Allam (V for Vendetta and the original Javert in the London Les Misérables). The safe pilot is Captain Martin Crieff, played with comedic incompetence by some actor named Benedict Cumberbatch (not sure if you’ve heard of him, or anything: it’s not like he’s been getting any roles lately).

While the show is primarily the four of them, there are the occasional guest stars, including later in the series a recurring spot for Anthony Head (known as Anthony Stewart Head here in the states) as a sometimes dater of Carolyn.

Photo from the last recording session.

Continue reading Prepare for Takeoff: BBC Radio 4 Rebroadcasts ‘Cabin Pressure’

5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To

{Header photo taken by Richard T. Sutton.}

With thanks for the prompt from The Nerdy Girlie.

When I was younger, my mom had the book The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. Written as part encyclopedia, part travel guide, it took on the conceit that imaginary places were real, and described everything from Oz to what a Hobbit was. Almost all the entries contained glorious maps of these fictional places, and many of the entries included illustrations as well.

I remember devouring this book, even the entries on places I hadn’t visited yet and ones I tried and never got into. I loved the concept that I could easily find out the details of Narnia and the surrounding area, for example, and learned more about other fictional worlds.

So when I first hear the phrase ‘5 Nerdy Places I Want to Travel To’, I immediately think of fictional places: Narnia, Hogwarts, Prydain, the Shire, and Discworld. Of course, it’s a bit difficult to travel to any of those places in real life (although I did go to the Kilns, which may very well have been inspiration for Narnia).

The Nature Preserve outside of the Kilns. If that isn’t Narnia, I don’t know what is. Photo by Angie Fiedler Sutton.

For real life visits, I decided to discount the handful of places I’ve already been. So, most of London was out (although I would love to go back), as well as the many nerdy places here in Los Angeles. I’ve also visited Laura Ingalls Wilder’s final home in Manchester, Mo., and went to Williamsburg, Va., when I was 7. And, of course, I regularly go to a Ralphs for grocery shopping – although I have yet to see any Night Vale creatures there.

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Tea & Review: This ‘Detective’ Isn’t the Only Liar

{All images courtesy BBC One.}

Sherlock, series 4, episode 2, “The Lying Detective”
Written by Steven Moffat
(based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle)
Directed by Nick Hurran
Produced by BBC (in partnership with PBS Masterpiece)

Sherlock co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have almost made a career out of outright admitting they are lying whenever they are interviewed with regards to plot points in Sherlock. Interview after interview, they state one thing, to only state in the next interview the exact opposite. Their argument, which does have a point, is that no one really wants to be spoiled as to the plot of the show or where it’s going. But rather than outright just stating ‘spoilers’ ala River Song in Doctor Who (or a variation of ‘no comment’), they gleefully troll the fans of the show with their deception, thinking it’s all in great fun.

So, when they said that this series of Sherlock would be wrapping up most (if not all) of the major plot points so far (which is another clue that this is most likely the last series), I took it with a grain of salt.

And in “The Lying Detective”, we definitely didn’t see much resolution. As usual, there are spoilers and speculations ahead, so turn away now if you haven’t seen the episode.

Continue reading Tea & Review: This ‘Detective’ Isn’t the Only Liar

Looking Back at ‘Leverage’ – Let’s Go Steal Us a TV Show

{All photos from the Leverage Wiki.}

Leverage is a television show that – like the schemes used by our lead characters themselves – doesn’t seem like it should be anything special but ends up being so much more than meets the eye.

Premiering on TNT in December of 2008, the basic idea wasn’t anything new: a group of criminals (a thief, a hacker, a grifter, and the muscle) all join forces under a man who is good but wants to help others who can’t get help through normal means. Pretty much The A-Team, Mission Impossible, and so on, it’s the ‘bad guys make the best good guys’ trope for the 2000s. Created by John Rogers and Chris Downey, the show ran five seasons and continues on in tie-in novels. And while there’s the occasional ‘not great’ episode, every single one of them is a joy to watch.

I had originally started watching in the second season when I had heard that Wil Wheaton would be making a guest appearance. If I remember right, this was one of his first appearances on television since he had taken a break post-Star Trek and was the first in a line of ‘evil’ characters he was cast in. I had also been seeing the show pop up a lot in my perusal of TV Tropes, and it sounded interesting enough to give it a try.

I fell hard.

Nathan Ford helps a man in season 1’s “The Snow Job”.

It’s one of those shows you watch more for the characters than the actual plots, and it’s filled with geek references and clever quips that make the tropey premise work. (I literally squeed the first time they made a reference to Doctor Who.)  There are also a number of shout outs and crossovers from other shows I liked, from one of the main characters being Christian Kane from Angel to a recurring part for Mark Sheppard (from Firefly and before he popped up on Supernatural and Doctor Who) to shows being directed by Jonathan Frakes and Frank Oz.

Continue reading Looking Back at ‘Leverage’ – Let’s Go Steal Us a TV Show

Tea & Review: ‘Six Thatchers’ Needs a Deeper Look

{All images courtesy BBC One.}

Sherlock, series 4, episode 1, “The Six Thatchers”
Written by Mark Gatiss
(based on the works of Arthur Conan Doyle)
Directed by Rachel Talalay
Produced by BBC (in partnership with PBS Masterpiece)

And we’re back to Baker Street. Finally.

As I often state, being a Sherlock fan is one of immense patience. Three episodes a season (albeit episodes that are the same length of movies), with wait times between series that have entire shows start and canceled while we wait. And while technically it’s been only a year since we last saw Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman grace our screens as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as I noted in my review of “The Abominable Bride”, the Christmas special was almost completely character development for Sherlock, and very little actual plot.

So we have been left with the questions still unanswered at the end of series 3 over two years ago, including whether Moriarty was actually still alive somehow, Mary Watson’s background as an assassin, and what Sherlock and John were doing during those two years after Sherlock jumped at the end of series 2. As with my other reviews, there are spoilers in this review, although I try not to give away TOO much. So, if you haven’t seen it, I’d turn away now.

Continue reading Tea & Review: ‘Six Thatchers’ Needs a Deeper Look