What has some fans angry is that Sherlock’s interpretation of Milverton’s death completely removes the agency and power of the female character in the original story. An unfortunate occurrence that neatly fits in with Moffat’s track record with female characters in both Doctor Who and Sherlock.
“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” is one of the very few examples in Victorian-era Holmes canon where a female character takes practical action on her own behalf, while Holmes and Watson technically fail to solve the case. Milverton, like Sherlock’s Magnussen, is a foe so powerful that it’s virtually impossible to defeat him using Holmes’ usual methods, which is why the story has to end with Milverton’s death. The final scene of the short story is Holmes identifying Milverton’s killer, but tacitly agreeing with Watson to let her get away with the murder because Milverton was such a loathsome figure.
If Moffat and Gatiss had simply said they wanted Sherlock to kill Magnussen because it was a more interesting story for him as a character, or because it provided an exciting development to lead into the next season, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But the fact that they seemingly couldn’t believe that a woman defeated Milverton only exacerbates their problems with Sherlock fans who already take issue with the way women are portrayed in the show. Links to the interview are already spreading on social media…
The following is a little (“Sarcasm?” “Yes.”) monograph on the philosophy of friendship. Apparently, I was channeling Sherlock Holmes (although my inner-Watson felt the need for a little levity). So I suppose I should put an academic warning on this…
Is the enduring appeal of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes in their complete friendship?
When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote A Study in Scarlet it’s doubtful he realized that he was creating one of the most iconic relationships in literature. With adaptations of the characters appearing onscreen and in print at a near geometric pace, in everything period pastiches to openly labeled alternate universes, Holmes and Watson have replaced David and Jonathan in the 21st Century as a shorthand reference to an everlasting and extraordinarily close friendship. But what makes the friendship so appealing that a hundred years later we are still fascinated with them? How do they epitomize the philosophic ideal of friendship? And what, if anything, do the permutations of the relationship and the characters say about the culture in which they were created and re-created?
Word of Warning If You Are Viewing “Sign of Three” For the First Time This Weekend
To avoid choking or spewing, I recommend that first-time viewers NOT drink any beverages during the episodes. Seriously. Each time you think you are going to be safe to take that big gulp, you’re at risk of having things go down the wrong pipe or be shockingly ejected in a wide dispersal pattern (I believe I have found and cleaned everything from the party at this point, although the micro fleece afghan may never be the same. I’m so glad I served champagne and not the red wine!)
While I’m curtailing my Sherlock and Sherlock Holmes fannish spending to optimize my U.K. Invasion funding (%%$%#$$#% Taxes!), I suspect the nerd and geek in me will not be able to avoid buying the Sherlock App for my iPad. There’s a full review and details on Sherlockology here. Who wouldn’t want to be part of Sherlock’s “Homeless Network?” I mean you never know when you might be called upon to help stage a fake suicide, right? But even more exciting is that there are supposedly 10 new mysteries that you get to solve. Alright, Alright, I confess. They got me with the news that there will be some exclusive new footage of Cumberbatch and Freeman as Sherlock and John included as well. The app is a joint venture of The Project Factory and Hartswood Films and should be available now from your UK App store. Supposedly an international and Android release are coming. (You know, it would really be lovely if corporations grasped the fact that these days things need to be released world-wide at the same time because we are connected world-wide and that not doing so only causes people to have to fake IP addresses and engage in behaviours they ordinarily wouldn’t. Just saying…)
And finally, here’s a charming video from CBS about the lasting power of Sherlock Holmes with some nice shots from the Atlantic Sherlock Holmes Convention, some historic footage of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and some lovely interview bits with Lucy Liu and Johnny Lee Miller from Elementary — oh, and a brief segment on all the naked Sherlock Holmes of late (that got your attention, didn’t it?).
Where the hell is that bloody cable installer? I’ve got to hook it up to the hard drive and test the video feed before John gets back.
Just a quick post of links to some yummy things to keep us going and as compensation for those of us who do not live in an area where we can watch the BBC Sherlock Series 3 on New Year’s Day. (After 13 years with no TV reception, I am waiting for the cable installers to arrive and give me Local Basic Cable for obvious reasons. Please, don’t tell them that I’ll be canceling it after February…)
First, if you think we’ve been inundated with Sherlock Holmes recently, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! A U.S. judge has ruled that most of Sherlock Holmes canon is now in the public domain (not including John Watson’s second wife, however…). The ruling came as the result of a civil action brought by author and editor Leslie Klinger (the New Annotated Sherlock Holmes) and states that elements of the Sherlock Holmes stories written by Doyle prior to 1 January, 1923 are now in the U.S. public domain. There’s a very well-done article in the New York Times here.
There’s another one that makes a nice distinction between the stories being in the public domain and the characters and story elements being in the public domain at the Wall Street Journal (which makes sense given the financial implications). And if you’ve a legal frame of mind, the blog TechDirt dices the ruling into judicial slices for you. There’s another article at The Hollywood Reporter that also digs into the ruling and its implications for creatives (writers & filmmakers, natch).
The Doyle estate argument definitely was a weak one for the U.S. courts where a fine distinction between “flat entertainment characters” and “complex literary characters” is not likely to be recognized. (I’m writing that with a straight face. No, really, I am… Okay, there was a little sarcasm in my head and there was maybe a little wink-wink-nudge-nudge going on when I typed “recognized.”) While I expect a veritable flood of Biblical proportions of Sherlock Holmes creative (and I use that term in its loosest sense) to deluge my in-box and the internet, it should be noted that an appeal of the ruling is possible (I’d say likely since otherwise the Doyle estate has basically lost all of its U.S. licensing income immediately, as opposed to at least delaying the loss by another couple of years).
But don’t expect to see a flood of BBC Sherlock fan fiction getting published on Amazon any time soon (well, not unless they pull a 50 Shades of Grey and scrub the serial numbers off with different names, et al). BBC and Team Sherlock made it clear when Elementary was being bantered about that they intend to “protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring.” A reasonably polite way of saying they’ll sue the trousers and pants off anyone who tries to cash in on their work.
Photo Spoiler Alert: Stop Now If You Don’t Want to See ANYTHING from BBC Sherlock Series 3
Second, there’s a lovely bit of fun on PBS to attempt to quell the riots until the 19th January. It’s called Unlocking Sherlock, and if by chance you haven’t seen it, you should. Mark Gatiss has quite a lot of fun chewing up the scenery as he reads excerpts from Arthur Conan Doyle’s original work, and Steven Moffat is rather charmingly mellow and candid as he talks about Sherlock Season 1 & 2, particularly A Scandal in Belgravia (he admits that his Irene Adler is not a nice person and does some incredibly horrible things during the episode — and that Sherlock is chillingly cold-blooded when he saves Mycroft’s bacon and roasts Adler at the end). And then there are all of those behind-the-scenes clips we hadn’t seen before and the bits with Cumberbatch and Freeman (my gosh, Cumberbatch looks so thin in those clips (and pale)! I want to make a giant pot of Tom Kai Gai (Thai chicken soup) and an entire bakery of goodies and go feed him! Eat! Eat! Take a little nosh, bubeleh! )
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. 🙂
A lovely piece from the BBC about research done in the 1980’s by the Sherlock Holmes Society of London investigates the real-life source for the setting for The Gloria Scott, the only story that gives us any information about Sherlock Holmes obviously lonely youth and former best friend. The article has a nice sidebar summary of the connections between Sherlock Holmes and Norfolk. (I am now adding Norfolk to my British Invasion 2014 List. How I’ll manage to see everything on the list I don’t know. Win the lottery?)
Well, the Baker Street Babes, among others, have posted the hint that Mark Gatiss and company gave about Season 3 Sherlock. I’m not certain it actually helps reduce the pain (especially since there are awful rumours that the first episode won’t air until FALL 2013).
There are a number of possible stories that could apply. We know that The Empty House has to be a part of the first episode and Moran was certainly a rat, however, there is always the untold case of the Giant Rat of Sumatra and, of course, the reference in The Boscombe Valley Mystery. Chances are good that we’ll get a first episode that makes reference to more than one Holmes story.
Alright, alright. Calm down. I’ve already discussed John Wedding scenario possibilities here. And let’s be honest we’d all LOVE to see Sherlock and Mycroft at a Bachelor Party! But there are a a LOT of weddings in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Canon including:
The Sign of the Four with Mary Morstan (whom even Sherlock finds “charming”)
Charles Augustus Milverton (who is certainly another “rat”)
The Illustrious Client (although we’ve already used that one once in Scandal, but they didn’t use the bit where Sherlock gets engaged — and then jilts the bride)
The Noble Bachelor (which coudl be turned into John and make the fans happy with a runaway bride)
The Solitary Cyclist which has lots of heroic action and a plucky, but poor heroine and is bit Victorian for my taste but I know many Sherlockians love it.
And, of course, it could always be a switch-aroo with Mofftiss and Molly could be the one with wedding…
and she asks Sherlock to walk her down the aisle since her dad is dead…hmmm?
(To quote Dumbledore)
Now calm down everyone. We’ll proceed in a calm and orderly fashion. Remember, Keep Calm and Believe in Sherlock Holmes.
Yes, yes, the first thought is His Last Bow where Sherlock retires, but keep in mind a) that there were stories written and published afterwards that took place before Last Bow and b) the word has many meanings in English. It also has multiple pronunciations, although the report is that it was said like the bow of a ship or the bow after a performance. And yes, it’s true, that while Cumberbatch and the rest have said they would love to keep doing Sherlock they are all very hot commodities right now with very lucrative and creatively satisfying offers.
Well, I’m off to do more research in the Canon (and drink some camomile tea to calm down). You do realize that Mofftiss did this to torture us because they are such awful sadists, don’t you?
‘Fraid so, Sherlock. There’s a wonderful article on Criminal Elements by a psychologist on why Sherlock is neither a psychopath nor a sociopath like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer (in large part because he does actually care hence the name of this site). I’m going to copy a few quotes below, but you might enjoy reading the entire article. The comments are particularly fun because the commenters engage in a lovely debate about Sherlock’s Meyer-Briggs assessment (INTJ according to an early posting), the divergence between the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character and the Moftiss incarnation of BBC Sherlock (although there’s a terrific little photo from RDJ’s Game of Shadows) which several folks deduce is autistic in some fashion, possibly Asperger’s Syndrome.
However, all are in agreement that Sherlock cares.
But heck, we knew that.
Stop Calling Sherlock a Sociopath! Thanks, a Psychologist.
by Maria Konnikova
…So how does Holmes stack up against this picture? And why has he been termed psychopathic so often—and so uncontestedly? The answer to the second question, I’d venture to guess, has something to do with the detective’s apparent coldness and his calculating nature, coupled with his vast intellect.
Oh, stop pouting, Sherlock. You didn’t really expect a parade with a flotilla and fireworks to end Sherlock Holmes Week, did you?
Of course Sherlock did, John. Not to mention a torch relay and 4-story puppet.
It may be the last day of Sherlock Holmes Week, but thank goodness we all know it’s not the last of Sherlock Holmes — or even Sherlock. The Fandom Who Waits is on the downside of the production countdown while in the States everyone is awaiting the arrival of Elementary.