Did You Really Say That, Sherlock?

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock curled up on sofa looking up to ask a question

Does this robe make my bum look fat, John?

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.

There’s a wonderfully insightful piece over on Inside Blip about Why “Elementary” Fails Sherlock Holmes Fandom. For my part it lands pretty squarely on what John Scalzi calls in his fabulous science fiction novel Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas
“lazy writing” combined with writing a series with input from the marketing department.

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.

  1. Simply download the 12 different sheets in PDF format below.
  2. Print each sheet on card stock (the pre-perforated, business card stock from the office supply stores is the easiest and best solution).
  3. 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.)

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 1

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 2

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 3

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 4

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 5

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 6

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 7

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 8

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 9

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 10

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 11

Sherlock Quote Cards Page 12

(I should also mention that these are the corrected cards for those who got an early version card with typo in their convention bags.)

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4 thoughts on “Did You Really Say That, Sherlock?

  1. Anne Zanoni

    Ooooh, you have the Casebook! Congrats!

    I found out about it, got some screen shots to ogle, and did a long post mostly about the Casebook.

    I love this pic too. He’s so _shocked_ that John’s leaving. (“I need some air.”) Sherlock, honey, there was never a rule that said you were the only resident pouter. Stop presuming, my lad, it’s bad for you — you ought to know better by now.

    🙂

    Reply
    1. Watson Post author

      Yes, I cheated and ordered it from Amazon UK. Alas, due to the storm on the East Coast, it didn’t arrive in time for me to take it to the convention. (Stupid 6-hour round-trip drive!)

      It’s very well done piffle. The sticky-notes are brilliant. A few more photos of our heroes might have ben nice, but I guess they have to save something for the calendar (sold out from wholesalers everywhere according Odyssey Bookshop) and future goodies. I do wish we we’d get a blooper reel at some point.

      Well, back to working on the NaNoWriMo project and getting some more things done for the site. (I’m suppose to be getting “real” work done, but that’s boring, according to Sherlock.)

      Reply
    2. Watson Post author

      As for the pouting, John, doesn’t pout. He sulks. He sulks beautifully. Leaving Sherlock in his snit was the perfect play for John, as Sherlock’s look of surprise shows. I suspect that when Sherlock pouted as a child, someone always tried to jolly and coax him out of it and he got lots and lots of attention. By leaving, John, takes away the attention and the audience, completely defusing the value of the pout.

      I suspect John mastered this technique with Harriet… now if he could just get the hang of girlfriend relationships. Keep them straight, John. You have to keep them straight.

      Reply
  2. Anne Zanoni

    =chuckles= I don’t know that it was deliberate. John probably _wished_ he could walk away from Harry half so much!

    But it was clever; “I need to get some air” got Sherlock’s attention. Just as he’d gotten John’s when he left in Study.

    Sally was all “He does that” as if Sherlock was a cat who’d gotten bored with a toy. Instead of realizing that hey, if he left, there was a reason. Something else had attracted his attention, certainly. The gift of being outside and us being able to see what Sherlock was doing, rather than being in the story and twenty steps behind him.

    So… I don’t know. I suspect with John that rather than punch Sherlock, he left. Definitely had the novelty of working well.

    Reply

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