Thursday, September 27, 2012

Chocolate pudding.

Tonight I enjoyed a really great hour of network television.

Yessss, it was ABC’s Last Resort.  A rogue submarine captain and crew stand against what seems to be an evil plot within the government. Probably the first submarine-based television series since Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, it’s something we haven’t seen on TV of late. Something to make one ponder personal integrity versus mechanically going along with what is handed down from greater powers.

Then, later in the evening was the result of a major American television network spending more money than American TV has spent on Sherlock Holmes, ever.

I don’t really need to review Elementary here. You’ll find reviews all over the web. TV critics, mystery writers, Sherlock Holmes fans . . . I’ll let them pick at the details. I’ll let you in on a little secret, though. A lot of Sherlock Holmes fans have crap for taste. Always have. They’re nice enough folks, but have you seen all the really awful Sherlock Holmes novels there are out there?  They wouldn’t print ‘em if somebody wasn’t buying.

The battle cry “Any Sherlock is good Sherlock!” is like saying “Any chocolate is good chocolate!” when you’ve been handed a dish of instant chocolate pudding. You know it’s not chocolate. It’s okay to like chocolate pudding, sure. But don’t call it chocolate. Real chocolate is a completely different thing. Serving chocolate pudding to someone who paid for chocolate is actually criminal. We call it “fraud.”

And tonight, a major American television network handed us chocolate pudding and called it chocolate.

I suppose there might be those who don’t watch much modern TV and don’t understand the level to which it can reach these days, who will settle for chocolate pudding if you call it “Sherlock Holmes.” And there are also those kindly souls who will just be happy for any attention given to our favorite fictional character and treat it like their sister’s half-wit son. “Aww, isn’t he sweet . . . and so talented!” And this one may cost me, but there will also be those who like man-candy with a Sherlock nametag, and the idea of a handsome Holmes who has to be cared for by a sensible woman . . . well, win-win! But seriously . . . at the end of the day, is the guy on CBS Sherlock Holmes?

Now, if you’ve read this blog at all, you may consider all this just a final confirmation of a prejudgment made long ago. And in a way, it is. All the pieces of Elementary we’ve been given prior to the premiere episode were indicators of just what sort of show it would be. And the finished product is true to every bit of these early glimpses showed me. No worse. And no better. It is what it is.

I don’t think that is Sherlock Holmes. And even if the CBS show winds up being incredibly popular, I’m not so desperate for validation of my lifelong hobby that I’m going to be calling it Sherlock Holmes. And, barring Elementary forcing itself upon me in some other way than just existing at nine Central time on Thursdays, I’m done commenting on it here.

But if someone creates a brand of chocolate pudding and call it "Sherlock Holmes," I will devote at least one blog to it, just to be fair.


And one final word in from my neighbor, a much more scholarly man than myself:

"There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man's lawful prey." 
                                    --John Ruskin

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