What until Sherlock finds out my blog was nominated for a Beautiful Blogger Award. Thank you, Alyson Dunlop!
Yes, the lovely and vivacious Alyson Dunlop has nominated Sherlock Cares for a Beautiful Blogger Award! (Along with being a Sherlock fan, she’s a Whovian and a Dracula devotee. Oh, and she’s both a Scot and a Ginger!)
(And yes, there will be some Sherlock Cares updates at the end of the post.)
And while I don’t normally participate in chain letters (and let’s be perfectly honest, that’s what this is with the blogger twist), I appreciated the nomination and could think of many worse ways to acknowledge those folks who give me pleasure (and a way to avoid doing the work I should be doing…Very Wicked Grin).
So the Beautiful Blogger Rules are as follow:
Copy and paste the Beautiful Blogger Award in your post. (Done.)
Thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog. (Done.)
Tell 7 things about yourself. (See below)
Nominate 7 fellow Bloggers, tell them by posting a comment on their Blog. (Yes on the nominating, again see below; Maybe on the commenting.)
“Physically or mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects is the definition of addicted. Why can’t people just think?”
There’s a charming review of BBC Sherlock on FlickeringMyth.com entitled Late to the Show — Sherlock you might want to read. I’m particularly impressed with how he manages to review the series without any spoilers.
The author does, however, consistently make the mistake of referring to Sherlock Holmes opium addiction. Sherlock Holmes never took opium in any of the stories or incarnations. He did take seven percent solution of cocaine from time to time. And the only time Sherlock ever takes morphine, in the actual stories, is when he is received a serious injury requiring stitches. In fact, using any or all of the standard definitions of addiction, the only thing Sherlock Holmes appears to have an addiction to is solving crime. Lack of interesting cases has the deleterious affect on Holmes, not his drug use. He may not even have an addiction to nicotine, if we use the stories as evidence!
Which is why I want to nail this “Sherlock Holmes was a drug addict” myth with a Buffy-sized stake through the heart (or double-barreled blast to the head of all the Sherlock Addiction Zombies, if you prefer).
Why Sherlock Holmes Is Not, Nor Has Ever Been, A Drug Addict
Addiction is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse dependency consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors.
Ad•dict•ed/Ad•dic•tion: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful
addicted – compulsively or physiologically dependent on something habit-forming; “she is addicted to chocolate”; “addicted to cocaine”
— The Free Dictionary
(sorry my OED is boxed up at the moment)
Exactly how many nicotine patches are you wearing right now, Sherlock?
Note that all of these definitions refer to a dependence and most refer to an adverse or harmful result. Sherlock Holmes does not show a dependency upon any drug, even nicotine, at any time in any story. He is perfectly capably of going for long periods of time, when on a case, without so much as a cigarette or pipe. If anything, he seems more adversely affected by lack of tea. (But, of course, he is British and it is Victorian England). Dr. John Watson repeatedly mentions that the use of a seven percent solution of cocaine is taken only when Sherlock is between cases. In the very first story, A Study in Scarlet, we have this description of Sherlock by Dr. Watson:
“Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him: but now and again a reaction would seize him, and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting-room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night. On these occasions I have noticed such a dreamy, vacant expression in his eyes, that I might have suspected him of being addicted to the use of some narcotic, had not the temperance and cleanliness of his whole life forbidden such a notion.” [Emphasis mine]
From the beginning of their relationship, Dr. Watson notes that Sherlock Holmes is not an addict, nor does he have the personal habits or behaviour of an addict. In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock does his masterful deductions about Dr. Watson’s watch being previous owned by Watson’s brother who was an alcoholic while high on cocaine. Sherlock uses the deductions to demonstrate that the cocaine has not dulled his wits.
‘Fraid so, Molly. Easy on the Holiday Spirit. But don’t worry, it’s no where near as embarrassing as what some folks post on Tumblr and Twitter.
All I Want For Christmas
Dear Santa Sherlock (aka Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, Sue Vertue & Team Sherlock),
I don’t want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need (this isn’t going where you think it’s going, by the way). All I want for Christmas is for you to go through Season 3 Sherlock scripts with a magnifying lens and make certain they don’t require me to willingly suspend my disbelief more than once per episode. In other words, iron out all the bits that don’t make sense when you think about them but were shortcuts. What John Scalzi calls “lazy writing” in his novel Redshirts. (I did seriously consider sending a box of the book to the production office, but was afraid you’d take it the wrong way and not understand that my concern is because, for the most part, the writing is breathtakingly phenomenal).
I’m talking about those bits in the script that force me to turn off my brain, where the writer sublimates logic, reason, plot coherence, character integrity, and even fundamental knowledge to push the emotional impact. In other words, emotional manipulation is given precedence over plot and character consistency — or even believability.
And I’m sorry, Mr. Moffat, I know you don’t like critics and criticism, but if someone doesn’t mention the quibbles, how will you ever know they are there? I love your writing when it’s witty and sharp and bright, which is why shortcuts that cheapen and tarnish the sparkling brilliance are so blatant and maddening.
I am aware that we’re in another Romantic Revival period (made even more obvious by the concurrent Gothic Revival) and that in the Romantic Movement it’s all about heightening the emotional response to the art, however, as Mr. Moffat pointed out, brainy is the new sexy.
Season 2 Sherlock is exceptionally fine television from every standpoint: acting, production, directing, set decoration, music, even costuming. And yes, there’s some damn fine writing in it. The dialogue is phenomenal and the updating of the classic tropes from the original material is spectacular. Which is why the large — and entirely unnecessary — plot holes drive me mad. My inner Watson has a great deal of trouble controlling my inner Sherlock from doing a high-speed, 10-minute rant of the plot and character continuity issues.
I won’t bore you by going through them all (although I must mention that the oft-cited “instant acting drug” followed by Adler’s escape in Scandal requires at least three “willing suspensions of disbelief” in one scene including a weak, indecisive, inactive Watson in a “man down” medical and “combat” situation). I will, however, point out the most blatant example from The Reichenbach Fall.We are expected to believe that a Chief Constable of Scotland Yard is unaware of who Sherlock Holmes is and that he has been assisting the police in a number of major investigations despite the fact that Scotland Yard held a major press conference to publicly thank Sherlock Holmes for his essential assistance in the capture of Ricoletti, *Interpol’s Most Wanted Criminal!*
Not to mention the man being apparently oblivious to the recovery of the Turner masterpiece stolen from the National Gallery, the rescue of the kidnapped major capitalist, the Moriarty Trial involving the breaking into the Crown Jewels, the maximum security prison, and the Bank of England vault, and the current case of kidnapping of the American Ambassador’s children. Really? I’m suppose to believe in a Scotland Yard Chief Constable who missed all of this? Apparently, he doesn’t read the papers, watch the telly, go online or even bother to read the Scotland Yard crime and case reports.
And the most frustrating part is that this was not only unbelievable and weakened the story, but it could just as easily played out correctly and actually strengthened the scenes involved. In the first scene, where Anderson and Donovan have gone over Lestrade’s head and taken their case to the Chief Constable, the characters, the scene and the episode would have been strengthened if the Chief Constable had responded with something along the lines of “It makes sense he’s been behind a lot of these crimes. I always knew there was no way Sherlock Holmes could be that smart. We’ll teach him he can’t make bloody fools of us all and wipe that superior sneer off his bloody arrogant face.” Which harkens back all the way to A Study in Pink where so many officers volunteer for the “drugs bust” at Sherlock’s flat and ties in nicely with Watson’s warning about “every single officer you ever made feel a tit, which is a lot of people…” Finally, at the actual arrest, the Chief Constable would only need to change a few words saying something to Donovan along the lines of “So we’ve got him nicely cuffed, I see. Not so clever now. I always said he was a weirdo.” At which point Watson could haul off and slug the Chief Constable per the scene. This would allow the Chief Constable to still remain a twit, but not make it seem that Scotland Yard is run with the most appallingly incompetent management this side of Steve Ballmer or RIM. (I was going to make a comparison to Barney Fife, but I’m not certain you would get the reference, but he’s in Wikipedia.)
As I’ve said, this is just one of the examples I could have used. I chose this one because it was the simplest and most obviously unnecessary (fixable by changing just a few lines). Both Scandal in Belgravia and The Reichenbach Fall are rife with them. But this being the holiday season, ’m not going to belabor the point by going through all of the others. My purpose is merely to beg you to take the opportunity of the 3 month production delay to winnow out any continuity issues that might be lurking in the Season 3 scripts.
I just ask please Santa Moftiss, don’t settle for the easy applause of pandering to the cries of the Romanticists. Be strong. Make the Season 3 Sherlock scripts as sharp, tight as A Study in Pink, and capable of withstanding the scrutiny of Sherlock Holmes himself. Challenge yourselves to challenge us, please.
Do this for me and I promise to be very good and not whine about the wait or ask for a blooper reel to tide me over. I’ll even bind and gag my inner-Sherlock when watching Dr. Who with my fan friends. And I’ll channel my inner-Watson and bop in the nose (verbally) anyone who dares to criticize any of the writing.
Uhm, after posting this, I came across this video regarding some of The Avengers continuity issues. My inner-Watson is choking my inner-Sherlock to spot me from doing this to Season 2 Sherlock (or even just Scandal or Reichenbach).
Okay, I have to confess I’ve spent a large chunk of playing the Star Trek Into Darkness teaser (both the US and the Japanese versions) largely to hear Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice. I swear the man’s voice could sell me Windows 8 (okay, that might be going a bit far, byt the man could definitely sell me Windows 8. I wouldn’t actually install it on anything, but I’d buy it from him.). So just in case you’ve missed it, I’ve embedded the English video below.
But to give equal time, BakerStreetBabes brought to our attention a very short film with Martin Freeman entitled “The Girl Is Mime” that he did in 2010 for a special project. The entire thing was written and shot in 48 hours (I’m assuming with very little sleep on the part of the writer, director, and most of the other people involved). It let’s Martin Freeman demonstrate just how magnificently expressive his eyes are. Oh, and it’s from Vimeo, so you may have to be a little more patient with download speed.
to say Thank You for your support of both Sherlock Holmes and this site.
Click on the image below or this link to download a set of 10 gift tags featuring characters from BBC Sherlock (sorry I’ll work on the other versions). The tags were designed to to be printed on Avery micro-perfed business card paper, but can be printed on any card stock and cut apart if preferred.
Click on image to download the Sherlock Holiday Gift Tags PDF (6.6MB)
(Oh, and if you need some gifts to use with the tags, please feel free to check out our new MX Publishing Shop or consider a t-shirt, tote, or calendar… all profits for December go to the Hurricane Sandy Funds of the Red Cross and the Humane Society.)
Quite by accident I came across this charming interview with Martin Freeman on an Irish talk show that happened after The Office finished and Love Actually was released, but pre-Sherlock. Not only is it worth it to see his impression of a drunk approaching him at a bar, but wait until you hear him talking about being recognized from his TV and movie appearances. There’s a lovely bit about 7 minutes in where he talks about “if I’m 55 years old and people are still going ‘there’s Tim from The Office’ then somethings gone terribly wrong” (I think it’s safe to say that’s a fear he can put behind him). Then he starts talking about the trials of being recognized (with a super tongue lick at around 8:20 and again at 10:55). He also does this bit about how “with the advent of the Internet” he doesn’t have to see over-enthusiastic Hitchiker fans (this was, of course, pre-Tumblr and fan porn) as well as the fascinating look at how London casting directors initially saw him (“I lost count of the number of gay bare knuckle fighters” at around 11:53).
Anyway, it’s a charming interview and a bit of lovely looking back to see how much different The Hobbit response has been.
[No I haven’t forgotten today’s antlers. I’m just about to post them, but since it’s John’s turn, I couldn’t resist the Martin Freeman clip.]
See? Antlers. Look closely. Bit hard to see in this background. More coming. (It’s a series with something like a narrative.)
Speaking of more coming, in case you haven’t noticed, and still are looking for gifts or good reading, we’ve added an MX Publishing shop to the site. I’ll be adding some reviews shortly, but let me start by saying A Sherlock Holmes Who’s Who by Molly Carr is a must have for any Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Canon pastiche authors, and I highly recommend it for any BBC Sherlock or Sherlock Holmes fan fiction writers who want to incorporate from the Canon. Great for names, places, and insider bits (like those Vatican Cameos). It would make a terrific gift for the author on your list!
Well, Grinch-lock just seemed wrong and besides I’m NOT writing a musical this year. (No, really, I just don’t have time. I still have a NaNoWriMo Sherlock novel to finish before Dec. 1st!).
Be forewarned, however, that there is a holiday series about to start. Check back on Monday for the first installment. SPOILER ALERT: There will be antlers in honor of Mrs. Hudson and Una Stubbs.
On the news front, Anne Zanoni has ferreted out some terrific links to art and comics and just plain good fun (as well as some excellent posts) over at her Sherlock blog (FYI, she’s an excellent copy editor for novels if you know any SF/Fantasy writers who need a bit of help. She’s even been known to do a bit of line editing, if you make it worth her while.)
One of the people and sites Anne has hooked me on is wellingtongoose who has a fabulous piece on Why Sherlock Is Not Sexist (and the BBC series isn’t — but Elementary is (and racist)). There are a few minor errors in the series of articles, but nothing that changes the conclusion (e.g., in the ACD Canon, Mrs. Hudson was Sherlock and Watson’s housekeeper and not their landlady. This is a distinction that was significant in those days since a housekeeper was a servant while a landlady is & was a business woman). Recent conversations have made me want to start doing some real analysis of some of the renditions of Sherlock (which I’ve avoided because I didn’t want to raise any hackles, but my inner Sherlock is saying “Oh, please. Those people are idiots anyway.” [Hey, it’s my inner Sherlock. He doesn’t worry about social conventions and people’s feelings.])
I was going to try and get up links to all the things that are happening to Benedict Cumberbatch (such as numerous audio work including the sequel to The Snowman and various rumours of a Monty Python-esque comedy (please, please, pleeee-ase, do a comedy, Mr. Cumberbatch) as well as Martin Freeman, Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, et al, but the list is huge and I’m wanting to get this NaNoWriMo Shelrock fanfic novel done in time, so I’ll save it for the next post.
It’s okay. We all love it when you pout, Sherlock. And besides, there are non-fattening treats later in this post.
To jump to the treats, click here. (I really thought they’d show up sooner.)
Oodles of catch up to do this week (and I still haven’t physically recovered from the Seattle Sherlock Convention (the brain may still feel 30, but the body is reminding me that my motto at that age was “I can rest when I’m dead.”) which explains the fact that I still haven’t finished unpacking from the convention — okay, that and the fact that my Sherlock: The Casebook arrived from the UK on Saturday so it was waiting when I got home on Monday…It’s very well done and, like the show, was done with love and care about the characters, the series, the people involved, and the fans.).
I’ve been pretty quiet on the Elementary front because a) I don’t have TV reception and CBS’ on-site episode streaming has been highly problematic for that series and b) it’s not good Sherlock Holmes. I’m sorry, but really the kindest critique I could make is to borrow from several other reviewers who’ve said that it would have been much wiser and kinder to the show to call the lead characters anything *but* Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson because it’s really just another formulaic CBS police procedural with quirky characters like “The Mentalist.” However, by calling it a “modern Sherlock Holmes” it not only comes with certain expectations but demands comparison with BBC’s Sherlock. And it can’t begin to hold up to the comparisons.
My concerns from the beginning was with the apparent marketing mindset of “we gotta have a gimmick” (to paraphrase the strippers in “Gypsy”). Changing the gender of one of the lead characters would require changing at least some of the dynamic between then, but this would have been fine — except I was suspicious from the start that the show creators chose to make the emotionally supportive and less ostentatiously bright partner (Watson) female instead of tackling the harder task of making Sherlock the woman, so my concerns from the start was that Watson would become a “wife”/caregiver. Granted we have this done already in Bones, so I could understand the idea of doing a different gender-swap and choosing Watson, however, I was also dismayed by the choice of Liu as Watson which I felt was another marketing choice (“We can appeal to the Asian demographic as well as attract the nerd/geek/tech fanboy demographic who might tune in hoping to see her in a cat suit.”).
One of the key dynamics of the original Holmes/Watson partnership is the pairing of Sherlock’s cold, taciturn, inscrutable behaviour with Watson’s passionate, demonstrative, transparent personality. Cumberbatch and Freeman capture this yin and yang perfectly with Freeman’s face expressing entire three-volume-novels of emotion while Cumberbatch can drop an Iron Curtain of enigmatic complexity across his face that lets us see that the CPU is overclocking at an alarming rate, but gives no hint as to what the results will be. Liu has never been known for the openness of her expressions and the preview made her appear Botoxed into a rigid mask of obscurity.
But even having two enigmatic, mysterious characters might have worked for Elementary (although not as canonical Holmes & Watson) if they’d made Lui’s Watson dynamic and strong. I’d been afraid when I first heard of the casting that they were going to have Lui act as a sort Kato (martial arts sidekick and chauffer to the Green Hornet) to Miller’s Holmes, but frankly, that would have been a better choice than the emotionally-damaged, low self-esteem, wimp Watson. One of the things that makes both Jude Law’s and Martin Freeman’s Watsons work so well is that, while they try so hard to fit into the social norms of the middle-class, they are zestful and vital and delight in the opportunities to action. Given Miller’s Sherlock roams NY looking like a gay, emo, addict, I’d expect attacks by gay-bashers, bully-boys or general muggers to be fairly common and having Lui’s Watson apply a little Sandra Bullock/Miss Congeniality self-defense ,or demonstrate she’s not the victimizable “weaker sex” that canonical Victorian Holmes considered all women, would go a long way towards bringing some life to her Watson. Right now, her Watson is like a small black hole sucking out what little energy the show has and Miller can’t possibly generate enough thrust to avoid being pulled in.
Since I didn’t really intend for this to be an Elementary critique post, I’ll skip breaking down why Miller’s character fails as an effective Holmes (it’s not Miller’s fault, but the writers, producers, and directors; he’s working his heart out). But I will point out that what works for Robert Downey, Jr.’s action-man Holmes is that he isn’t angst-filled emo. He is totally self-centered and so we don’t feel guilty about our enjoyment of his rather callous fun. Cumberbatch’s Holmes understands that he is disconnected to the emotional lives of others (“Not good?” “A bit not good.”). This single vulnerability, and his charming dependence on Watson like a child clutching another child’s hand on a Field Trip outside the safety of the classroom whenever he must deal with the emotional lives of others, allows us to connect with Sherlock. But the writers of Elementary do Miller no favours by trying to make his Holmes a tough “bad boy” who also self-analyzes on a daily basis while trying to pretend he isn’t just another rich, white boy with a good education and no excuse for failure.
Right. Well, I’m glad I got that off my chest. Now to the treats.
Sherlock Quote Artist Trading Cards
For the convention, I wanted to create something that could be given away and possibly used as a conversation starter for the less outgoing or newbie (at least to conventions) fans. It’s always a bit awkward showing up at a party where you don’t already know most of the people. My friend, Heidi Berthiaume, has been in the Artist Trading Card (ATC) movement for several years which gave me an idea. Alas, I’m a very slow artist so there wasn’t time to make a series of “art” cards, but the thought occurred how about some Quote cards? So I started making quotes laid out to print on the self-perforated, create-your-own-business-card stock available at office supply stores. Somewhere around page 12 I realized I had to stop because it was going to cost me a fortune to print out enough copies to provide enough variety to allow folks to exchange them at the con. I’m not certain everyone understood the entire concept, but folks seemed to like the quotes and were having fun with them, so I promised to post the entire set (120 different quotes on 12 sheets of 10-up cards) in PDF format so people can print out their own.
Simply download the 12 different sheets in PDF format below.
Print each sheet on card stock (the pre-perforated, business card stock from the office supply stores is the easiest and best solution).
Separate your cards and use them however you wish.
Some possible uses are:
Exchange with others (either as Artist Trading Cards or fellow Sherlockians)
Print your fandom IDs, URLs, email address, or other note on back to give out to others.
Use as gift labels (the holiday season is approaching and you don’t want to make Molly’s mistake).
Create random acts of Sherlockian street rebellian by leaving them in public places to be found by others. (You can even add “I believe in Sherlock Holmes” or “Moriarty was real” to the back to promote the movement.)
Do your own artwork on the back.
Use to communicate with people when you don’t want to actually say what you’re thinking (“You lower the I.Q. of the entire street.” or one of the nice ones even.)