My Christmas Wish Letter to Santas Gatiss, Moffat and Vertue and Team Sherlock

Louise Brealey as Molly Hooper in BBC Sherlock; text reads: I wish I could be Naughty with Sherlock this Christmas. Did I just say that out loud?

‘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.

Sincerely,

J.H. Watson

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).

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