“…don’t waste your time and ours hooting at crap! Go after the good stuff, or leave it alone.”
— Daniel C. Dennet, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, “Sturgeon’s Law”
You’re not the only one depressed right now, Sherlock.
Because Sherlock is not (was not?) “crap,” I am compelled to share this review, even though I know it won’t make any difference in what is going to happen in Series 4 and 5. I feel in all fairness, though, I must warn you, that, in the words of the divine Miss Bette Davis, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
First, before I go any further, let me say that even though my comments on episodes 1 and 2 are brief, it’s not due to lack of appreciation. I have not had television reception for 13 years, but purchased both a wide-screen plasma TV and installed minimal cable just to watch the episodes, and then held rather elaborate Sherlock Series/Season 3 parties for the event. I do not regret a penny spent. Sherlock Series/Season 3 Episodes 1 and 2 were incomparably wonderful, nonpareil storytelling in an expanding Sahara of television.
We’ll get to episode 3.
SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO DON’T REALIZE A REVIEW WILL HAVE SPOILERS
“The Empty Hearse”
I thought “The Empty Hearse” was a brilliant send up of all the post-Reichenbach Fall hysteria, in the original meaning of the word, which was very reminiscent of the reaction of the reading public when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem.” (By the way, Holmes first fans had to wait 10 years for his return.) It was witty, thought provoking, and gave fans some much needed catharsis, as well as poking a bit of biting fun at the excesses it skewers. There was plenty of angst, but there was a great deal of good natured fun with the characters, and just enough mystery and deduction to make it an actual Sherlock Holmes story, and not simply an homage to fan fiction. (People forget that “The Empty House” also focused more on Holmes’ return then on the mystery.) Hearse, however, is not necessarily comfortable viewing for those who don’t like facing a bit of self-examination or non-traditional television. And not particularly satisfying, or undertandable, for “mundanes,” i.e., non-fans. But then freshness and originality is what made Sherlock such a success!
“Somebody loves you! If I had to punch that face, I’d avoid the nose and teeth too.”
—Irene Adler, Sherlock, “Scandal in Belgravia”
Fans of the series got John not just punching Sherlock in the face, but fans of the Canon got a nod to the John Watson originally fainting, when Sherlock reveals himself, in Freeman’s masterful performance of a man willing himself to stay standing and conscious. The acting was, if anything, even better than the previous episodes, and I was struggling for some decorum while inwardly bubbling at Benedict Cumberbatch getting to show off his comedic chops (little did I know then what was to come).
Unlike Sherlock, I haven’t been hiding underground from assassins, however, I have been a bit busy. Over the past week, though, work has been interspersed with more enjoyable activities.
While I try to keep this site strictly for Sherlock Holmes, first let me encourage you to catch the National Theatre Live’s 50 Years On Stage presentation,celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Theatre, while you can. I’m planning to catch a second showing at my area theatre. The outstanding performances are too numerous to mention, but you really don’t want to miss Andrew Scott in an excerpt from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Angeles in America. It’s a heartbreaking scene and the range of emotions he conveys with his expression at the end of the scene is a true tour du force. And I have to thank Benedict Cumberbatch for making Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead both accessible and enjoyable. I’d seen two different stagings of the work, both of which left me unmoved and questioning the universal praise for Tom Stoppard. I now not only understand the work, I intend to read it soon. Mr. Cumberbatch had the audience both laughing and aching with the pain of the character and the existential questions of life, death, and eternity. And for Cabin Pressure fans (i.e., all of us), Roger Allam does an amazing monologue from the play Copenhagen, playing the same character (the physicist Heisenberg) Benedict Cumberbatch played in the BBC radio version of the play. (These are the moments when you realize just how incestuous — and talented — the British acting community is. But really, when you have this much talent of this caliber, how can you not enjoy them as much as possible.)
I’ve been traveling a minimum of 90-miles round trip to catch the National Theatre Live performances whenever I can for a few years now, and they have all been worth the time, the effort, and the money. Some of you, I’m certain, caught the Frankenstein presentation where Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller alternated roles. Given the derivative collection of films at your multiplex for a minimum £6, you’d get much more enjoyment for you money (not to mention actually enhancing your neurons) by spending £12, to catch the National Theatre Live broadcasts. In January you can see Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gatiss in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Not one of Shakespeare’s most famous or more popular works, in part I think, because it deals with a more difficult and complex question about the responsibilities of public figures.
And speaking of public figures…
While attending OryCon in Portland, Oregon (8-10 November, 2013) to help promote Loncon 3 (the 72nd World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in London; your are going, aren’t you? I mean Eurocon is the following weekend in Dublin and Loncon is in… well, London!) and Sherlock: The Game Is On project (which is just BRilliant!), I saw the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. It’s a wonderful excursion for fans of Sherlock Holmes — and their families and friends! The first part of the exhibit has things to fascinate fans of the Canon, including a portion of the Doyle’s original manuscript for The Hound of the Baskervilles in Doyle’s own hand and with his edits and revisions. There’s also the official portrait of Dr. Joseph Bell that makes it clear that the physical description of Holmes is clearly based on Dr. Bell while additional information about Dr. Bell and his work highlight that Sherlock’s core methodology is also based on Doyle’s teacher and mentor. There’s a film clip of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that makes it clear that the traditional representation of Dr. Watson, in the likes of Nigel Bruce, David Burke, Edward Hardwicke, and so on, is taken from ACD himself. And historical mystery buffs, along with Steampunk fans, will find the collection of medical implements and specimens fascinating.
This continues into the second section of the exhibit which is an interactive presentation of the “tools of the trade” in Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian London. While I’m pretty well versed in most things Victorian, including the use of quite a number of poisons in cosmetics and toiletries, I thoroughly enjoyed trying all of the hands-on exhibits. The ballistics trajectory experiment (although using a laser light might be a bit of a 2oth Century cheat) was surprisingly challenging and I learned that taking rubbings, with the correct tools of the craft, is not as easy as it looks.
In the third part of the exhibit you attempt to find various items “hidden” amongst the clutter of 221B Baker Street. Here it helps to be familiar with the stories in Canon because the items are from the stories. I was bustling along until I hit the “wax bust with bullet hole.” I did a Homer Simpson “Duh!” when I realized the clue was referring to the bust of Sherlock Holmes from “The Empty House” and that I’d been staring at it for 10 minutes! For historical fans and Sherlockians, these tableaus were a delight, but the younger kids in attendance were eager to move on.
The interactive fun really hit its stride in the fourth part of the exhibit where we are invited to actually solve a crime. While the kids were having a good time, the adults were reverting to childish glee! Basically, you must determine whether or not the police have arrested the right person. You make deductions based on experiments you do at various stations such as determining trajectories, type of impact, marks in the sand, even chemical analysis. You even get to test blood spatters at a slaughterhouse, which is not as gruesome as it sounds, although I suspect the faux meat carcasses hanging about gave the Portlandia vegans a bit of discomfort. One little boy could not be pried from the footprint test “devised by Sherlock Holmes,” so he became an unofficial staff member repeatedly racking the sand and then operating the device for anyone needing to use that station. When I left the area, he was attempting to sketch the construction of the device and I suspect there is now a backyard in Portland with a sand pit and a wheel that makes various boot prints when turned.
The last part of the exhibition is the history of Sherlock Holmes on stage, film, and other media. There’s a great deal of memorabilia from the Robert Downey, Jr. Sherlock Holmes films and from the television show Elementary, including some of the costumes and scripts. There’s a small collection from the BBC Sherlock, including the explosive vest John Watson wore at the pool, and a lovely quote from Mark Gatiss. The exhibit rounds off with some additional interactive stations on modern forensics and detection before spilling you out into the inevitable gift shop. Alas, there were no t-shirts in my size remaining (which begs the question of what they are going to do in December) so I came away with a silly green-screened photo of myself in a deerstalker superimposed upon a background of the Parliament buildings and Big Ben, a mug (like I really need another one), a pen (ditto), and a bag of Victorian candies. I was rather disappointed that there was a catalog of the exhibit with more historical information, but I suspect in this digital age, I’m one of the last to collect such things.
I have no idea what the travel plans are for the exhibit, but if you get the chance, I recommend it. It’s loads of fun and delightfully engaging. Although, I suspect for those of a nerdy or geeky mindset, you may run the risk of going home with the intention of developing your own hands-on forensics experiments. (My cats are presently tolerating my experiments in animal and footprints in various types of soils and conditions.)
And last, but far from least, while I plan to have some more fannish things like fan fic, holiday fun, the on-going Sherlock Holmes news feeds, and a run-up to Sherlock Series 3, for some of the best of Sherlock fandom, check out Anne Zanoni’s blog Ariel’s Miscellany… a la Sherlock. Just be prepared to lose and hour or two. 🙂
SPOILER ALERT:The following contains information and links that reveal confirmed information about Sherlock Season 3 content. Please Stop Reading Now if you do not wish to know anything in advance of the actual airing of the Sherlock Series 3 in your area.
Okay, you can’t say you haven’t been warned.
So, Sherlock, that’s what you’re planning to wear to the wedding, is it?
“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.
Yes, that eery, horrific noise you heard was the sound of millions of BBC Sherlock fans screaming in pain at the news that production for Season 3 is being delayed for at least 3 months due to scheduling conflicts for Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.
This is what happens when you have so much incredible talent working together. *Heavy sigh* Well, kids, I guess we’ll just have to find ways to keep ourselves entertained (notice I did not say sane) until late 2013.
Sorry. I couldn’t resist. Actually you are going to be stuck with more of this “binders of women” meme this week because I’m still reeling. (Not certain which is more appalling, the antiquated, misogynist attitude behind not knowing of any qualified women candidates in this century or the lack of technical awareness and competency displayed in using 3-ring binders to collect, organize, and transmit the data about these women. Personally, I’d love to see some of these executive women adding the phrase “I was in the binder” to their business cards and LinkedIn profiles.) Some of the other guys will be appearing with their comments on “binders of women.” (FYI, the Lord of the Rings “binders of women” images are hysterical. Especially Martin Freeman as Bilbo.)
I also apologize for not getting a) more posts up this week and b) getting the Mycroft Birthday story posted.
In the case of the story, it mushroomed (bloomed?) to over 7K words in length and I’ve just now found an ending I satisfied with. So I’ll be getting it up this week. Honest. I just want to give it one more day to stew and to re-read it so I can get some of typos corrected before posting.
In the case of the posts, I’ve been finishing up with the online marketing classes I teach (Master WordPress is always such a monster — and I always forget what a time-sink it inevitably becomes) plus getting as many of the swag bag goodies done for the Seattle Sherlock Convention before this weekends work party. (Hint: There are lots of cool things in the bag, some of which will find their way onto the site *after the convention* and in time for the holidays).
I also discovered I can’t watch Sherlock, Season 1 or 2, while using a paper cutter. I keep wanting to watch Sherlock instead of the paper I’m cutting. I ended up switching to The King’s Speech and then watching Sherlock while I folded clothes (I had to have something to wear to the Sherlock Con work party.) Reminder, registration for the convention ends this week, 25th Oct., 2012.
Maybe I was a little hasty with The Final Solution. Is it too late to change the script so I don’t actually die?
Sorry, but Andrew Scott let it out at the television conference that Moriarty is indeed dead (well, I could have told everyone that) much to the wails of a segment of Sherlock fans. It also came out that the reason Moriarty was included to begin with was that a bit of research by Mofftiss discovered that the one character all of the fans wanted to see in a Sherlock Holmes series was Moriarty. All of this was a surprised to Moffat who pointed out that Moriarty was on only in one story. But look at how many times he appears in the movies and pastiche pieces, Mr. Moffat!
It also came out that the entire bit at the end was added to the revised script because they came up with it for the audition since the only thing planned at that point was the “Gay Jim” bit. After Scott finished chewing the scenery, spitting it out, and flossing his teeth with Semtex, Mofftiss ordered some changes to The Great Game — and then had to work their way out of it.
Frankly, I feel Andrew Scott was the Best Moriarty Ever — and I grew up with all of the classic ones. The problem with the other Moriarties (is that the plural for Moriarty?) is that they were always so stuffy and pompous, which did fit in with the Victorian/Edwardian Canon, but the part missed is that he was a total psychopath. Andrew Scott’s rendition is a fabulous bat-sh** crazy psychopath (sort of the very bizarre offspring of Johnny Depp’s Hunter S. Thomson and Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter).
And the amazing thing is that Mr. Scott seems like such a nice guy in the interviews.
Rat. Wedding. Bow. A very clever game to keep the fans, and me, from getting bored, Mofftiss, but I’ll figure it out.
Let the games begin! Between flying Sherlock solutions to the Fall and scrambling to re-read all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyles Sherlock Holmes stories again to try and crack the bode, I think we’ll all be a bit busy this fall. Of course, now that Andrew Scott has admitted he knows the Secret of the Fall, he might want to make certain he doesn’t travel alone or at least keeps an eye out for bands of desperate Sherlock fans…
Meanwhile, I’ll get back to the fanfic and a couple of other things I’m working on instead of actual work. *sigh*