Revisiting Sherlock

I’ve been e-mailed and asked by a few readers if I’m ever going to post my thoughts about Series (Season) One of BBC’s Sherlock. I had posted quite extensive coverage of Series Two (see below) but never much about the first series for the simple reason that this site began well after that had aired. So I don’t really see much point, though I’m happy to discuss anything about the show anyone cares to bring up.

For those catching up, here is a list of links to the posts about Series Two. I apologize in advance that it’s a bit of a rabbit’s hole of information:

The reason for the labyrinth of links is that I viewed the episodes when they aired in the UK, and then again when they aired in the US, so there were a number of pulse points to cover and different readers from different places to accommodate, &c. So everything is a bit disjointed, and some of it is repetitive besides, but if you’re willing to swim through it, I’m happy to chat about it—anything that’s there or anything I might have missed, and certainly anything about Series One as well.

A Torch for Torchwood

I finally got around to watching that Torchwood: Children of Earth series. I had enjoyed Miracle Day, but I think Russell T. Davies does best when writing more tightly; at five episodes, Children of Earth was definitely more intense than Miracle Day.

I have to also say, I think Russell T. Davies has it all over Stephen Moffat, hands down. Davies can sell the horror and the pathos in a way that works. Children of Earth was honestly scary at moments. And touching at others, too, without it feeling manipulative and forced. Moffat likes to go on Twitter and into interviews with this idea that he’s so clever. He promises people will be frightened by this or crying at that. I’ve yet to have that happen with anything he’s written or produced. He has talent, I suppose, but Davies wins for sensibilities.

I would like to see more Torchwood, but Davies is dealing with personal issues at the moment, and I wish him well on that front. His work is worth waiting for in any case.

More on “St. Peter in Chains” & some K-Pro

Fellow writer Christine Rains will be posting her review of “St. Peter in Chains” on her site on Tuesday. The following Monday, July 9, she’ll publish an interview with yours truly. Thanks, Christine, for the awesome hospitality!

Now to focus on The K-Pro. I’ve given myself a deadline of July 31 to finish the draft. I’m not sure yet how realistic that actually is since lately I’ve felt kind of flat when it comes to writing, but I’m sure as hell gonna try. I sometimes forget that a draft is just that: a draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It won’t be. But if I want to try Camp NaNo in August, I need The K-Pro to be done first.

Tidbits

Have a couple script treatments to write, but with my office not even half unpacked and sorted I totally don’t feel like it. My physical space isn’t right, so my mental space isn’t right, either. Gah.

Wondering what I thought of Frankenstein? Wonder no longer: my thoughts are here.

And if you’re wondering what I think of Matchbox Twenty’s “She’s So Mean” you can read a short musing on it here.

Now I am off to continue excavating, and to possibly even do some work (namely writing).

Summary: “The Reichenbach Fall”

And so of course I must post my various thoughts on the final episode of Sherlock Series 2:

  1. Initial Thoughts
  2. Talking Points
  3. Sneak Peek at “The Empty Flat”

Additional considerations:

Let me get clear on the series of events I’m expected to believe have led us to this pass: (a) Mycroft and Co. (including the American CIA agent?) snared Moriarty off the streets in pursuit of the technological skeleton key they believed he was in possession of. (b) To tempt Moriarty to talk, Mycroft fed Moriarty’s obsession with Sherlock by slipping him tidbits of personal information about his little brother. (c) And even though Moriarty failed to give them the key—and showed only signs of growing psychosis—they released him back onto the streets . . . Where Moriarty would use the myth of the key to target Sherlock and surround him with assassins, and use the information gathered from Mycroft to discredit Sherlock and force him to suicide.

I won’t bother to point out all the problems with this. Instead I’ll only ask: What was Mycroft’s actual goal? And is he working against or with his brother?*

Meanwhile, if James Moriarty were a fiction, wouldn’t that have been discovered during the court proceedings? Due diligence and such?

And why would John, who tag teamed with Mycroft during “Scandal,” suddenly find Mycroft’s request that John keep an eye on Sherlock so ridiculous? Particularly when faced with evidence of so many assassins on their doorstep? Not that John has ever really needed prompting to take care of his frequently errant flat mate.

I found some of the edits to the American broadcast a bit strange, too. Removing the music from the scene in which Moriarty visits Sherlock (in the version that aired in the UK, Moriarty’s tapping was set to the Bach he later references on the rooftop)? The UK cut also gave the distinct impression that Sherlock was more on top of things than the American one—after all, even if Sherlock is being a bit slow, he’s had ample time while waiting at Bart’s to sort out the fact that there is no key, as Moriarty’s binary spells out (why does Moriarty say it was “meaningless” I wonder?). There were a number of other odd differences, like the omission of Mycroft reading the paper featuring Sherlock’s suicide, but the lack of music cue in the one scene was the most glaring.

Way to economize on the headstone, Mycroft! I suppose you figure to put the actual dates on later, when your brother is actually dead? Reduce, reuse, recycle.

And how long has Sherlock been hanging around the cemetery? And to what purpose? Just to see who shows up for a “visit”?

As an aside, can we get Benedict some shirts that fit next season? These ones pull funny at the buttons and leave me to wonder whether John shrank the laundry.

*A theory in Mycroft working against Sherlock: If we posit that Jim really IS just an actor, and that Mycroft has hired him (and later tormented him into insanity, whee!) . . . And that Irene was also an actress hired by Mycroft . . . And that Mycroft [and the government] is working with these CIA agents . . . Molly escapes being targeted because Mycroft does not perceive any true affection for her from Sherlock . . . And Mycroft’s people clean up Moriarty’s body before the police arrive . . . Yeah, maybe that could work.

Summary: “Hounds of Baskerville”

Since I viewed this episode a couple times in January, I’m posting the links to my original thoughts here:

  1. First Thoughts
  2. Some Other Considerations

After another viewing this evening, I find any logic you attempt to hang on the episode falls apart pretty quickly. Still, a cute story if you don’t think too hard about it.

As an aside: if Sherlock took the case because of Henry’s use of the word “hound” . . . But then everyone in the area refers to it as a “hound” anyway . . . Do they call it a hound because that’s what Henry called it? Something doesn’t quite jive there, sort of like an uneven fault line.

I do have a slight problem with Sherlock’s use of “disorientate” as well, which I know appears in dictionaries, but “disorient” is generally preferred and what’s more seems like a better choice for someone who (a) has shown himself to be a stickler for grammar (though I understand the use of “disorientate” does not exactly overstep the bounds), and (b) tends to be succinct in thought and speech.

Also, missed opportunity to show whether Sherlock snores and keeps John awake. (I know they didn’t get a double, but the Cross Keys was busy and full enough they must have shared a twin room, right?)

Summary of “A Scandal in Belgravia”

I’m not going to waste my time and yours reiterating everything I’ve already written about this. Instead, here is a list of links regarding my initial feelings about this particular episode of Sherlock. It’s not a matter of being politically correct, and I don’t consider myself any kind of feminist, really. It has more to do with the character and story being wronged and playing false in a lot of ways. All very manipulated. Though, as you’ll see in the post titled “Redeeming Irene,” all may not be what it seems.

  1. Write-Up of the Premiere at the BFI
  2. More Thoughts About “Scandal” After a Week of Rumination
  3. After A Second (And Third) Viewing
  4. The “Sexist” Angle
  5. How to Like It (aka “Redeeming Irene”)
  6. But I Won’t Watch It Again

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.

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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.