Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

‘Sherlock’ and the Case of the Jumped Shark

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. Continue reading ‘Sherlock’ and the Case of the Jumped Shark

What Kept Conan Doyle Going?

Before he created the most illustrious residents of Baker Street—whom he nearly called J. Sherrinford Holmes and Ormond Sacker—Arthur Conan Doyle had already written a novel that was lost in the mail, and contributed excellent short fiction to various magazines. “The Captain of the Pole-Star” (1883), set in the Arctic, is one of the most haunting Victorian tales of the supernatural. But the young writer could hardly think of quitting his day job as a doctor in Southsea. A Study in Scarlet was turned down by one publisher after another, until it was finally accepted by Ward, Lock, and Co., who offered to buy the British copyright for a derisory twenty-five pounds.

Michael Dirda describes Conan Doyle’s desire to write better work than his Sherlockian mysteries and what kept him writing them. (via Prufrock)

Alone with Classics

Author Sarah Perry was “raised by Strict Baptists” in Essex and not allowed to watch movies or read contemporary books. The result? “I turned my back on modernity and lost myself to Hardy and Dickens, Brontë and Austen, Shakespeare, Eliot and Bunyan. I memorised Tennyson, and read Homer in prose and Dante in verse; I shed half my childhood tears at The Mill on the Floss. I slept with Sherlock Holmes beside my pillow, and lay behind the sofa reading Roget. It was as though publication a century before made a book suitable – never was I told I ought not to read this or that until I was older. To my teacher’s horror my father gave me Tess of the D’Urbervilles when I was still at primary school, and I was simply left to wander from Thornfield to Agincourt to the tent of sulking Achilles, making my own way.”

And she soaked in the King James Bible. Her debut novel, After Me Comes the Flood, is reviewed here. (via Prufrock)

Television Review: Sherlock: A Study In Pink

Although we naturally (and quite rightly) think of Sherlock Holmes as a character comfortably ensconced in Victorian London, with its hansom cabs rattling down cobblestone streets, yellow fog, and helmeted bobbies, the idea of updating the character isn’t actually a new one. The early Holmes films were always set in the year of their production, just as we today think nothing of seeing James Bond (whose stories were written in the 1950s and ’60s) using a laptop computer or carrying a cell phone. The first Holmes film actually set in period was The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Basil Rathbone, released by Twentieth Century Fox in 1939. Then, after one more Victorian film for Fox (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes), the series moved to Universal and back to the cheaper approach of updating.

I was prepared to dislike the new BBC series Sherlock, broadcast on PBS, but to my surprise I quite liked it. The new Holmes operates as a police consultant in contemporary London. The police are suspicious of him (one accuses him of being a “psychopath,” to which he replies that he’s a high-functioning sociopath). He doesn’t wear a deerstalker or Inverness cape, but those costume elements have tended to be overused (and inappropriately used) in films and TV shows anyway. The modern world doesn’t allow him to smoke, so he relies on multiple nicotine patches when he needs to think out a problem. He does take drugs. The actor who plays him (one who rejoices in the name Benedict Cumberbatch) looks too young for the part, but has the attitude exactly right. Continue reading Television Review: Sherlock: A Study In Pink

In which I look more like Sherlock Holmes than Robert Downey did

'The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual'. Dr Watson watching Sherlock Holmes going through mementoes of his old cases. From The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle from The Strand Magazine (London, 1893). Illustration by Sidney E Paget, the first artist to draw Sherlock Holmes. Engraving.

Not a bad weekend, all in all. The storms did no damage to my house that I’m aware of. I’d planned on doing something constructive and diligent in terms of house maintenance, but wasn’t able to manage it. On Sunday I gathered with other Sons of Norway members at Wabun Park in Minneapolis, and oddly enough it wasn’t for anything having to do with Vikings (much). We had a picnic to celebrate the centennial of our district. Somebody had spoken vaguely of dressing in period for 1910, so I made an effort. I wore a white dress shirt with a tie, light-colored khaki trousers with suspenders (Y shaped. You’ve got to have the Y configuration). And I topped it off with my panama hat. I actually looked sort of like I might have come from the 1930s, if you didn’t look too closely, but I made the effort. This paid off when somebody showed up with a 1913 Moline automobile, and I got to ride around in it a little because I was dressed right.

Sometimes—rarely–virtue is rewarded in this world.

Also watched the DVD of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey.

What shall I say about this very odd concoction? Continue reading In which I look more like Sherlock Holmes than Robert Downey did