Saturday, July 6, 2013

Unleash the Babes of Baker Street!

Things I didn't think I'd hear on this lazy July morning: author Lyndsay Faye doing a fairly accurate impression of my old buddy Don Hobbs.

I'd been saving the latest Baker Street Babes podcast for a time when it would be more than background chatter during one sort of work or the other, and the third morn of a long holiday weekend seemed just the moment to catch up with the world's most open gathering of Sherlockians.

The main focus of their latest episode is "Lestrade Appreciation," but as in any good podcast, there's an element of total randomness at work, keeping things completely unpredictable. There are technical difficulties, there are moments when they're commenting on their own podcast, and there are moments of unguarded honesty . . . all of those things that can make podcasting a much more interesting medium than other carefully edited or purpose-driven venues.

The variety of voices and opinions have always been the strong suit of the Babes. Often when they get guests on, the focus on the guest's area of interest often takes away from the pure Babeness of the podcast, so it was good to see them just turned loose on a subject again as they were in this episode. And could there be a better subject to exploit their talents than Inspector Lestrade?

As they ramble from Don Hobbs and the pronunciation of "Lestrade," through Lestrades from the future and Russia, they zip from topic to topic at a speed that would keep even Sherlock Holmes himself from boredom. Their enthusiasm never wanes, they sound like they enjoy being together, and the clink of glassware comes in every now and then (or the sound of fork dropping on to plate).

In one of my favorite parts of the episode, they consider Gregson from Elementary as a Lestrade substitute, and bust out a few honest opinions before backpedalling a bit to pronounce the show "awesome" and state that any dissing of the show is not dissing of its fans. It's a bit like the "No animals were harmed during the making of this film" statement in the end credits of a movie or Seinfeld's mandatory "Not that there's anything wrong with that." But before they get to that part, we do get a particularly lovely line from Ardy: "As the series went on, I'm not sure if the series actually got better or if I just cared less." (Though Lyndsay did get in a shot that reflects my own opinion a bit more . . . but my own summer restraint forbids me from quoting it here.)

There are great little stories on actors who played Lestrade, the evolution of prostitutes in Ripper movies, the historical perspective on the Scotland Yard inspector, and "an audio description of a painting of a statue." For those who think the Babes are overly fond of BBC Sherlock, I would note that they make it fifty minutes into the episode before that particular topic even comes up. But they quickly get back to the Canon and Paget drawings of Lestrade and their contribution to the characters.

An episode like this one practically demands that the transcript get annotated, as the Baker Street Babes compress a century of Lestrade into an hour and fourteen minutes. M.J. Trow's comedic Lestrade? Check! Hopes for future Lestrade adventures and relationships? Check! Reference to the movie Hot Fuzz? Check! I could go on all day about the rampant conversational flow of this single Babes podcast, but they actually talk faster than I think as a write, so it would be much more efficient for you to go give them a listen if you haven't already.

The Baker Street Babes have long been a flagship of the current rise in Sherlockian fandom, and listening to an episode like this one, you understand why they deserve that spot. They're connecting new fans with all sorts of paths to enjoy the master detective, and reminding some of us elder-ly Sherlockians of what was fun when we first came into the hobby. Outside of the podcast, they're so active that one always wonders if the podcast itself will eventually suffer, but their "Lestrade Appreciation" episode gives not the least sign that such will ever be the case.

And I, for one, am very glad about that.


  1. Podcast - one more thing for me to avoid. About that 'M. J. Trow's comedic Lestrade' comment - I hope you or they meant that the murders were comedic, not Lestrade. He comes off very well. (Though the treatment of Holmes is wonderfully deplorable!)

    1. You remind me of my old neighbor, who was very proud he never saw an episode of Seinfeld during its original run . . . and then became a huge fan of it in syndication. Podcasts are just the new radio, as text messages are the new telegrams. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      As for Lestrade, wasn't he always crashing through windows and having a certain Inspector Clouseau quality in those Trow books?

    2. Perhaps there was a BIT of humour in the series, but overall I would not call Lestrade comedic. As to your old neighbor, I presume that was my buddy via the mail, Bob Burr. Though he may have been 25 years older than I, I do not believe that he could be as stubborn. (or is that pig-headed?) You also mentioned text messages - as I do not own or carry a phone that is something I do not have to deal with. (Yes, unfortunately, my wife does have one)

  2. For those not ready to listen to us babble, here's the transcript:

    MWAH for the kind words Brad <3