The International Business Times offers more spoilers for Sherlock Series/Season 4. [Do I actually need a SPOILER ALERT here? Really? ] The article quotes Steven Moffat alluding to Moriarty’s returning as a major character and an increase in romance as well as more screen time for Molly and Mrs. Hudson.
The Daily Dot has a piece on the growing concerns among a some Sherlock fans that the apparent sexism and misogyny of Steven Moffat ,expressed in various interviews and certain Dr. Who scripts, has taken root in BBC’s Sherlock series, particularly in the ending of “His Last Vow” in Series/Season 3. Now I’ve expressed my sense that Sherlock has been morphed into The Doctor in my Series/Season 3
rant review, however, I’d avoided publicly airing my earlier concerns about the show’s portrayal of key women from the original Canon. So since I’m burning bridges, let’s go ahead and discuss some issues with the women in Sherlock.
[Oh, and do I really have to say SPOILER ALERT?]
The Daily Dot notes:
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…
“…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”
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).
Here’s the new non-interactive Sherlock Series/Season 3 trailer:
It’s also a massive SPOILER! So unless you want to be a complete Sherlock Series/Season 3 virgin, head off to BBC One’s new interactive Sherlock trailer. Meantime, here’s a starter of some shots from the video.
(Yes, Virginia, there is a Hogfather and yes, he has done a capture of the video, but he’s also good and isn’t going to post it because there’s no reason for all the good little boys and girls NOT to go to BBC One’s site to watch.)
A big tip of the deerstalker to Anne Zanoni of Ariel’s Miscellany… a la Sherlock blog and Sherlockology for the tweets announcing the BBC announcement. There’s a nice little report of some Cumberbatch snark when Madonna makes the mistake of attempting to diss Mr. Cumberbatch (either that or she was caught in the Stupid Zone (the mysterious force field some people exude that causes others to suddenly lose a 100 I.Q. points — or more — thus rendering them utter morons and incapable of coherent thought, let alone conversation; it is, fortunately, a variable Superpower). And yes, John Watson’s blog has new content as reported the official BBC Sherlock blog, and if you haven’t checked out Mark Gatiss’ official blog, I recommend it highly.
By all means, Share This. Let’s blow away the internet by the time Sherlock Series/Season 3 premieres!
Have almost achieved velocity to escape Black Hole project. Re-cutting bad narration, missing video, and soundtrack today.
SPOILER ALERT! Don’t LOOK or read any further if you don’t want to see ANY preview photos (or hints) for Sherlock Season (Series) 3.
Right don’t say you weren’t warned.
‘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).
So it looks like everyone’s holiday gifts will be a little late from me. Sorry. Stupid, stupid, stupid work and life.
And while I’m still trying very hard to focus on Sherlock Holmes and not the individual cast and crew, I felt I did have to share this wonderful praise from JJ Abrams about Benedict Cumberbatch, in part because it explains so much about why Sherlock is so good (even when it violates our willing suspension of disbelief, but more on that when I post my Christmas Letter to Santa Moftiss later this week). Here’s an excerpt from the article:
Speaking to Digital Spy the director: “Being on the set with him… I think everyone was bringing their absolute A-game. I think, frankly, in a way, [his] presence sort of elevated everything.
“Time and again, every scene, Benedict brought a surprising, unexpected, grounded, real and often terrifying aspect to the role. So we are incredibly grateful, all of us.”
Keep in mind, Mr. Cumberbatch has said repeatedly that Martin Freeman produces the same result in him when they work together. And Mr. Freeman is getting massive doses of praise for his performance in The Hobbit as Bilbo Baggins, despite other criticism with the film. Great work guys!
Now speaking Sherlock Holmes (the original), he’s featured in this wonderful New York Time’s Sunday Review article on concentration. Being a big fan of neuroscience, I’d read several abstracts and articles on research that supports and underlines the results highlighted in the NYTR article. Needless to say my New Year’s Resolution is to concentrate more on Sherlock Holmes (and meditate on surviving until Season 3 Sherlock).
I’ve got scads more I’d like to post, but need to dash off to a instructor’s workshop on using antiquated tech. *heavy sigh* More antler-madness is coming along with the other holiday cheer.
But you do realize that the 12 Days of Christmas start on Christmas Day and end on Sherlock’s Birthday (Epiphany), don’t you?
If you haven’t been following, there’s a wonderful Sherlock Advent Calendar and Contest at Sherlockology that tells a story (based on the original Silver Blaze plot) in the manner of the Sherlock: Casebook.
And a big Shout Out to the folks who have ordered Sherlock Quote T-Shirts and Tote Bags as well as those folks who have used the MX Publishing shop. I’m adding a bonus donation to the Audubon Society and the Cornell Ornithology Labs this month because they have a matching contribution offer.
A Holiday Gift for You
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.
(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.)
It’s really too bad Molly can’t even remember John’s name in The Great Game because he’d definitely be interested in taking her out and they’d have something in common to talk about (i.e., Sherlock). But that darn Biological Imperative means that a smart woman like Molly is going to crave Sherlock’s “massive intellect.” Poor Molly!
I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours, Molly. Sherlock, you’re not actually surprised, are you? She’s got a smashing one of you with your riding crop.
Okay, this is the last one. Honest. I’m bustling away getting ready for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and the Seattle Sherlock Convention (registration ends today, duckies). So I’ll keep this very brief. I think I’ve figured out how Sherlock hacks into John’s password protected computer thanks to this list here. [“Not exactly Fort Knox.” — Sherlock]