I knew better. But I was seduced.
OK, let me rephrase that.
I had decided, at the end of the last season of BBC’s Sherlock, to stop watching it. I’d liked the first season very much. The second season I liked quite a lot. The third season alienated me. The production went from being a detective show (featuring lively riffs on the original Conan Doyle stories) into being a soap opera about the friendship of two men. I was particularly irritated by the condescending attitude I thought I detected toward the original material. As if Doyle had been waiting for the 21st Century for someone to inform him what he’d really been writing about.
But then they offered a Christmas special, which aired last night on PBS, and they did it in period, set about 1895, with Holmes smoking a pipe again and Watson sporting a handlebar mustache. I couldn’t resist that, could I?
Well, I couldn’t. And I guess it’s just as well. It was only 90 minutes, and that was long enough to put me off the series permanently.
Not to say the production didn’t have its excellencies. The cast, as always, provided top notch performances. The sets and production values were splendid. The writing…
Well, the writing was good of its kind. But it continued the series trend toward being subversive of the material. The story (I’ll avoid spoilers; no doubt some of you plan to watch the second broadcast) takes the form of the character I think of as the fake Sherlock (the modern one) imagining the “real” Sherlock (Doyle’s creation). He weighs him and his stories in the balance, in effect, and finds them wanting. It’s as if Sherlock Holmes fans (and I have no doubt the writers and producers are fans) are appalled at their sin in liking stories that lack themes acceptable in the 21st Century. So they perform an act of contrition through confessing their transgressions in this story.
As I’ve said before here, I’ve chosen to withdraw to some extent from modern entertainment. I find myself, when reading or viewing any contemporary book or movie, in the position of a non-Christian at a World Wide Pictures (Billy Graham) film. I know what the theme will be. I know what subjects won’t be addressed. I know that the climax will involve a sermon and a profession of faith.
We are entering, I believe, an era of artistic famine and creative drought.