No, But Thanks For Asking
A friend of mine in Massachusetts found this graffiti in her neighborhood and thought of me:
I’m actually flattered.
And a lot of people have been asking how excited I am about Sherlock on PBS a week from tonight. The first episode of Series 2 (or “Season 2” in the States) is “A Scandal in Belgravia,” which Holmes fans might correctly surmise is an adaptation of Doyle’s “Scandal in Bohemia.” The truth is, I don’t even plan to watch it. I’ve seen it three times already, and I like it less every time. Law of diminishing returns, perhaps, though it’s only when I really think about the episode that it bothers me.
I’ve written before about the mindless gush of fandom, how people who like a show are primed to adore all new episodes (especially something like Sherlock, which spoons said episodes out in such small quantities, people will eat them up regardless of how good or bad they taste). These fans don’t stop to think too hard about what they’re seeing; they’re so determined to like it. They have, in fact, already decided they like it, even before they see it. And anyone who says the show is less than perfect must simply be a stupid, horrible person.
Well, I know I’m not stupid, and I hope I’m not horrible. But I do like to think these things over, and even when I like a show—and I’d count Sherlock as a favorite—I try to be thoughtful and objective about it. Nothing is perfect, after all. So even when much of a show is very, very good, there can be things that are not so wonderful. But I won’t go into all of that here, since I did it before, starting with my original thoughts after the premiere last December. And going on from there (search “Scandal” in the box or click on “Sherlock” on the sidebar cloud and you’ll find all my commentary).
Now, over the next couple subsequent Sundays “Hounds of Baskerville” and “The Reichenbach Fall” will air. These episodes, which I have also seen multiple times, are decidedly better.
So in short: no, I’m not excited about “Scandal in Belgravia,” though I will watch the other two episodes again. (I’ve written about them, too, but had fewer issues.) In general, while I liked Series 2, I found it slightly less strong than the first. Probably because quality is hard to consistently maintain, even in the short seasons afforded here. When you set the bar so high from the outset, you can really only go down, even if a little.
I realize, of course, I’m in the minority. Mine is the lone voice shouting in the wilderness. The fans won’t want to hear it, and the people who don’t watch won’t care. Ah well. I’ve been unpopular in my opinions before (cf. “Ever the Same” by Rob Thomas. Jesus, people, seriously). I can live with that. I could not live with blindly accepting what’s fed me. I guess I’m a picky eater.
To be clear, I’m not saying people shouldn’t watch Sherlock—certainly, they should. I’m only suggesting viewers consider, after processing their initial, gut reactions, they also think about the narrative itself, and then eventually look at everything through a cultural media lens. Of course, not everyone wants to put that much work into their television viewing. That’s kind of the point of television. But if you’re watching something as cerebral as Sherlock, you should probably expect to exercise your brain a bit.