Friday, January 31, 2014

Ten million Elementary viewers can't be . . . wrong?

If you don't like Elementary, don't watch it. Yes, I know.

Lord, how I know.

I sat down to watch the latest brand new episode of the show about the man called "Sherlock Holmes" again last night, here in the midst of new Sherlock season, and found the effort as much a struggle as doing homework from a college econ class while there's a party going on at your best pal's house. At the first commercial break, I startled the good Carter awake and went looking for something else on the on-demand menu. Eventually I settled into the latest episode of Lost Girl, Canada's series about a succubus. The succubus was solving a mystery of her own, and it was a comfortable watch.

So tonight, after a third viewing of Sherlock's "The Empty Hearse" with friends seeing it for the first time (and enjoying it all over again), I gathered up my will power and sat down to attempt getting through Elementary one more time.

Elementary seems to be on completely non-Canonical ground these days, and the lack of all the cookies that Sherlock likes to throw in like pitons for anchoring the Sherlockian climber's tether to the show was a very noticeable absence. The stout woman in flannel whose name was Gay seemed like a slightly offensive way to get a "Sherlock is gay" joke in, which is kind of a Sherlockian trope these days, so I grasped at that straw until I puzzled over whether or not I should be getting excited about a dinosaur fossil. That got me to the credits.

Past the credits, my first real emotion of the show came from watching Jonny Lee Miller, in his top-button-buttoned dress shirt, standing uncomfortably rigid and twitchy beside a table, showing how uncomfortable and twitchy his character was at having to deal with sponsoring a fellow addict. Miller's performance made me relate very strongly to his character's tense, uncomfortable stance. He's very hard to get comfortable with, seeming uncomfortable in his own skin so much. But I gritted my teeth and watched on. His hobby of the episode of drilling into skulls didn't help the relaxation factor, either.

Seeing Joan Watson chopping shallots, I pondered what she might be cooking, and who gets to dine on said meal with her. It's hard to imagine her settling down to the result of her well-prepared efforts with her house-mate. If her choice of sleepwear is any example, Joan lays out a creative and interesting meal. I think Mr. Elementary enjoys Joan in her nightwear, because his monologue on "dead clade walking" is much more relaxed and listenable than anything else out of his mouth on the show prior to it.

This week, Mr. Elementary sliced up a case file and threatened to eat it in hopes of absorbing the information the way a planarium worm absorbs memories from a fellow worm by eating that worm. As a detective method, it makes no sense, of course. As a joke on Joan, it doesn't seem like he's joking (or funny). But as a way of showing that he knows about planarium worms, which only smart people must know about? Right on target.

Sherlock Holmes did always like the dramatic little exposition moment at the end of a case. Mr. Elementary chose to do his by holding a hand-drawn "Will work for food" sort of sign next to a fossil display in a museum. It wasn't cool, by any stretch of the imagination, but he was, at the core of it, doing something vaguely like Sherlock Holmes would do at roughly the same point in a case. So I'll give him that.

On that positive note, we'll call my homework for the week done. Which is why I'm still watching the show, of course. I was a Sherlockian long before either Sherlock or Elementary aired, and when a show with a character named "Sherlock Holmes" is seen by nearly ten million people every week, one has to do one's homework to see what they're accepting as a character with that name.

Man, do I wish that task was more fun, though.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Back to WGN for a guy named Sherlock.

It's Elementary night in America. Time to settle in with your two favorite hookers, some take-out from your brother's restaurant, and do a self-tattoo of the episode number and name of your latest hour of random elements before your redundant detective room-mate gets home.

Wow, a lot of pent-up Elementary love there . . .  sorry, we all have our demons. But on to the news of the day.

WGN America announced a deal to get first dibs on running Elementary's reruns today, which is significant when one considers WGN's roots as a Chicago TV station . . . especially regarding an earlier contract they were involved in. Here's a paragraph from John Nieminski's history of The Hounds of the Baskerville (sic):

"In the summer of 1966, WGN-TV purchased screening rights to the twelve Sherlock Holmes films produced by Universal in the 1940s, for airing that fall on 'The Sherlock Holmes Theater," and contracted with their star, Basil Rathbone, to do opening and closing commentaries and commercial break lead-ins. The actor travelled to Chicago in August of that year for three days of taping, and on the afternoon of the 23rd was the feature attraction at a combined press party and post-production luncheon held in an executive conference room on the premises."

Vincent Starrett, along with three other members of The Hounds of the Baskerville (sic) got to lunch at WGN with Rathbone that day, where Rathbone regaled them with some amazing stories, one of which involved Adrian Conan Doyle trying to talk Basil into meeting his father's ghost.

Even though WGN America of now isn't WGN-TV of then, it would still be pretty cool if Jonny Lee Miller went to Chicago and had lunch with a few of the Hounds (and if they got him to Starrett's grave . . . well, cool upon cool.) Funny how things circle 'round.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One more time: Not a sociopath.

One of Peoria's major Sherlockians made a comment the other day that I was wanting to discuss eventually, but Stephen Moffat decided to make my thoughts a rather moot point yesterday in an article on

"He’s not a sociopath, nor is he high-functioning," Moffat said about his Sherlock. "He’d really like to be a sociopath. But he’s so fucking not. The wonderful drama of Sherlock Holmes is that he’s aspiring to this extraordinary standard. He is at root an absolutely ordinary man with a very, very big brain. He’s repressed his emotions, his passions, his desires, in order to make his brain work better — in itself, a very emotional decision, and it does suggest that he must be very emotional if he thinks emotions get in the way." 

The point Stephen Moffat was in the process of making in the above statement was that we can't always take Sherlock Holmes at his word -- in the Canon or in Sherlock. You'd think we'd know that by now, with all the tricks Sherlock pulls on other people. But those are other people, of course, and you know how they are.

I have to admit a little disappointment that they drug out the "high functioning sociopath" line again in "The Sign of the Three. (Note that I stick the added "the" in there to continue the tradition of The Sign of the Four's title variations.) My first thought was, "Oh, stop! He's not a sociopath," and people are going to think he's serious. Because they have in the past.

So I was glad to see Moffat pointing out that which should be plain, probably for not the first time. Sherlock Holmes is a very emotional person. Probably more emotional than Watson. Sure, he talks a good game, he puts on a good show, and Watson goes along with both for the sake of his narratives, but really? A machine? Not so much.

In the sixties, we all though Star Trek's Mr. Spock was like Sherlock Holmes because they both dealt in logic, but here in the 2010s, we can acknowledge the deeper similarity. Both held to reason and logic by damming up emotions that would naturally find moments to come bursting forth. With Vulcans like Mr. Spock, it was the climax of the seven year cycle of pon farr, when the need to mate suddenly had them cutting loose as angry, violent madmen. Thanks to pon farr (and it being the sixties), nobody ever accused Mr. Spock of being a sociopath.

Sherlock wields the "high functioning sociopath" as just another verbal blade to make the occasional conversational nick, just like Mr. Spock would sneak in the occasional wry comment that only an emotional person would feel amused enough to toss out.

Sociopaths aren't nearly so much fun.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The "Sign of the Three" Comment.

For all that's been said about Sherlock season three's middle episode, usually the position for the weakest of the show's three episode seasons, I found myself surprised as the episode drew to a close.

Not by the solution to the mystery, which was actually stronger than non-spoiler comments from previous viewers would have had me believe. Not by the continuing focus on the Sherlock and John bromance. Those things weren't unexpected. Surprising at the level they were, but not a complete surprise.

No, what came at me from out of the blue as Franki Valli and the Four Seasons sang "Oh, what a night!" was something I had never felt from any production of a Sherlock Holmes tale ever before, and a true surprise at that . . . the feeling that Sherlock Holmes actually lived in the same world I do.

This episode is of a different caliber, a more mundane caliber, with Sherlock Holmes turning his powers toward things the rest of us are familiar with, being surrounded by the things the rest of us know so well. After all the talk of past attempts to "humanize" Sherlock Holmes by giving him weaknesses, I found myself completely amazed to find the one show that had portrayed him as "a man who wants to be a god" had found the most direct route to doing such a thing.

Humanizing Sherlock Holmes doesn't take a drug addiction, which, thankfully, will never be a part of the world for so many of us. It takes alcohol. And bridesmaids. And unlikely friendships.

And a silly pop song from 1975.

Bravo, Sherlock. Bravo. Bring on "His Last Vow."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The mandatory periodic note of apology.

I suppose it is generally agreed that one should speak nicely in the public square.

Generally, but not completely. Sometimes unpleasant things need to be said, and many times they don't. And in between, there is the right thing said the wrong way. That's an easy in-between space to fall into, especially in the heat of passion, and . . . truly . . . what's the point of expressing one's self if one can't feel a little passion in one's words?

And yet, nothing comes for free, not even freedom of speech or press. You can say whatever you like, you just have to accept what happens when others hear it. Especially when they hear it a bit differently than the way you were sure you said it. Speak long enough and loudly enough, and you're going to find yourself unhappy with the results at some point, unless you are truly disordered in the brain.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be bloggers . . . .

Of course, I was in this pickle long before the internet and blogging began, so I can hardly blame the blogging things. The frequency and pace of the posting life just makes it more likely that I'm eventually going to have upset, pissed off, or merely earned a dismissive wave and lack of interest from just about every English-speaking Sherlockian on Earth at one point or the other. And if I'm lucky, when I'm dead, some sweet soul will acknowledge all that in a kindly fashion and yet say something positive about me in some "Stand with me on the terrace" summation. In the meantime, however . . .

Well, some days are less fun than others.

Do I enjoy mocking the crap out of Elementary? Yes, I do.

Do I enjoy the reactions I get from those who like the show? No, I don't.

Will I expect to raise questions about accepted Sherlocki-fan wisdom in a sometimes pointed manner? Yes, I will.

Will I expect to be "How could you even think that?" wrong when I do? No, I won't.

We're all coming from different places, different life stories, and I'm writing not knowing what's going on out there with most of the folks who read the blog. Me, I'm currently working on four hours of sleep out of the past thirty six, in two two-hour chunks. Which is probably why I'm using up a whole post with a self-centered apology to anybody left reading, instead of focussing on this evening's "The Sign of the Three."

So, to everyone I'm currently not entertaining with the generally unfiltered stuff out of my head, to everyone I've offended, bothered, or bedeviled in the past -- Or in the future. Your day is coming! -- I would like to offer a sincere apology. I am sorry if you got hit when I was swinging wildly at my imaginary devils like the town crazy. (Who else did you think pontificates in the city square on a daily basis?) Were I to indulge my common sense, I might give this up and retreat to a life of private conversations and unpublished fictions, just to spare all of you, and myself, the troubles.

But among other things, I'm kind of a contrary cuss, even when it comes to my own comfort. So on with the show. Take only as needed.

Super Bowl Sherlock 2: The Sequel

Ah, that PBS may be much more devious than any of us ever suspected.

The eighteen day delay that network gave American viewers between the British premiere of the new Sherlock and the U.S. debut was much shorter than the months-long wait of previous seasons, but it was still eighteen days . . . a curious little period of time. Curious, that is, until one realizes what happens next Sunday, February 2.

The final episode of Sherlock season three, "His Last Vow," and . . . the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl kicks off at 6:25 Eastern Standard Time, and Sherlock comes on at 9:58 E.S.T. Anything about that sound a little bit familiar?

Last year, CBS picked Elementary as it's post-Super Bowl show to push and scheduled it in the time slot immediately after the game, and weird in-game blackouts delayed the episode until sometime in the hour of 11:00 E.S.T. -- about as late as one will have to stay up to watch the longer, later Sherlock finale this year.

Expectations will surely be different: Huffington Post declared Elementary a "ratings flop" in that time slot when it only held on to 20.8 million of the Super Bowl's 108.4 million viewers.  And in England alone, the episode of Sherlock we're going to be seeing after the Super Bowl pulled in 8.8 million viewers without the Super Bowl bump. I don't expect it to do better than that here, as the U.S. audience for this season's premiere was a just over a third of the British audience (4 million, U.S., 11.8 million Britain).

With the Super Bowl on Fox, and Sherlock on PBS -- two networks without a lot of viewer overlap, I'd guess -- we won't be seeing any kind of Super Bowl bump this time out, and it may ever detract a bit, with the parties and all. Who knows?

But it's still damned curious how we find ourselves in a Super Bowl/Sherlock Holmes situation again this year. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A friendly wager.

As written about yesterday, The Baker Street Journal has raised the question of the authenticity of a certain well-loved detail regarding the death of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. When Holmes's death was first announced by The Strand Magazine, we've been told for years, black crepe mourning bands were worn by multiple folk in London in reaction to that horrible event.

In the modern era, thanks to this wonderful thing we call the internet, no one would deny that fan reaction had "We believe in Sherlock Holmes" posters put up all over the place. But as 1893 was without cell phones equipped with cameras, the evidence for those fan mourning bands is rather slim.

In fact, the theory proposed by Phil Bergem, then pushed by Peter Calamai and seemingly, The Baker Street Journal itself, is that Adrian Conan Doyle just made up the thing and told Doyle's biographer. Adrian, born in 1910, seventeen years after the event, would have no way of knowing anything about it, of course. And the theory runs that his paternal pride was so great that he felt like pumping up Sherlock Holmes further by making the mourning band thing up.

A theory, made up by Phil Bergem. (Nothing against Phil, mind you. Nice guy, dedicated researcher, but theorist, nonetheless.)

The Baker Street Journal has now ramped up the question by offering the following reward: "The first person offering proof (as judged by your Editor) of Londoners wearing mourning bands upon the publication of "The Final Problem" in response to Sherlock Holmes's "death" wins a year's free subscription to the Journal."

The esteemed publication offering this reward would seem to offer more credence to this theory that Adrian was playing with Carr, so in order to balance the scales, I'm perfectly willing to raise the stakes on the opposite side.

Sherlock Peoria, this humble, yet fiesty blog, will offer one hundred American dollars cash money to the first person offering concrete proof (as judged by the writer of this blog, to borrow the Journal's stipulation), that the story of the black mourning bands, first reported in 1949 by John Dickson Carr, is a fabrication. I'm sure The Baker Street Journal would be more than willing to publish such proof, and I'd be more than pleased to ballyhoo such a discovery here in this blog.

Unlike the Sherlock versus Elementary battle, which can never be truly won by either side despite the disparate size of the armies, this little debate has the opportunity for someone to produce definitive proof outside of an opinion in the comment section. And until such proof is produced, both sides are merely operating on their own beliefs, and we can't simply Snopes our way out of this one.

I believe in Sherlock Holmes. And black crepe mourning bands. And there's a C-note in it for anyone able to dissuade me of one of those beliefs.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Standing with the black crepe mourning band.

Matt Laffey's Twitter feed reminded me of a certain challenge by Peter Calamai this week. A veteran newsman, Peter seems to like official sources, and has challenged the Sherlockian world to prove that the old story of Strand Magazine readers wearing black crepe bands in mourning of Sherlock Holmes's death at Reichenbach Falls, when they read of it in 1893.

Both Peter Calamai and his inspiration in the quest, Philip Bergem, seem to have reached a frustrating limit in their own researches and are ready to declare the story a myth we should forego rather than cherish. But you know me. Something in the Keefauver DNA always requires that I take the role of Devil's advocate . . . especially when it seems like someone is trying to lower that high pedestal our friend Sherlock Holmes stands upon, by even a millimeter.

The first mention of the mourning bands seems, at this point, to come in 1949's publication of The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by John Dickson Carr. Reading Carr's introduction, it becomes clear that the author had access unlike anyone before, or after, to Conan Doyle's papers, his still-living children, and the benefit of a life lived among many of Doyle's aged contemporaries.

"Here he [Doyle] was with a real tragedy on his hands, while letters of anger or protest or abuse poured in on him; and in London, sporting young City men went to their offices with crape bands tied round their hats for the death of Sherlock Holmes," Carr wrote.

A later writer, Reginald Pound, would express it differently in Mirror of the Century, his history of The Strand Magazine:

"If in protest rather than sorrow, young City men that month put mourning crepe on their silk hats, there were others for whom the death of a myth was akin to a national bereavement. From that hour a literary cult of exceptional vitality began stirring in the womb of time. Reporting to the shareholders of his private company, of whom Conan Doyle himself was one, Newnes referred to the dispatch of Holmes as 'a dreadful event.'"

Where Carr had vast Doylean resources, Pound had a wealth of resources regarding The Strand Magazine, and to suggest he merely cribbed from Carr would seem a bit unworthy. Note the slightly different details in his account. Silk hats, the emphasis on protest . . . the variation suggests different sources for the tale. And different sources suggest corroboration.

Do a little research into black crepe armbands or hatbands, and you'll find they were very much a thing of the Victorian era, and not something we should at all be surprised to see pop up in the swell of emotion over Holmes's death. Queen Victoria had palace servants wearing black crepe bands for years following her husband's death in 1861. And the world's first consulting detective was a prince of a fellow to many a reader, so why should he not have a few as well?

When Sherlock Holmes met his demise in 1893, it was a different time than we know today. The information age was far in the future, and newspapers were not yet into pop culture or what fans might be doing in a single day's conspiracy of fun. And yet the the folks at The Strand Magazine were sure to have noticed such a thing, even if they weren't going to write it up for their publication. And I'd wager they were the ones to tell Doyle about it, as we don't expect that he was present in that exact area of the City where it took place.

Oral tradition, that passing of knowledge from generation to generation by the spoken word, is mankind's oldest data resource, and even as fallible as it may seem to us now, was the source of most of our earliest written histories. It was still going strong a century ago, and it still goes on now. The stories we tell are our lives, and the story of black crepe mourning bands over the death of Sherlock Holmes was somebody's once as well. Denying it just because our researches don't find it in a newspaper archive may attain the level of denying the Holocaust, but it is still a wee tragedy all its own.

And after all, here in America, for all our little faults, we have this idea of "innocent until proven guilty." And while John Dickson Carr may be guilty of not documenting his every source for the more obsessive-compulsive among us, he is still innocent of creating a hoax until proven otherwise.

And if I have to march around with a black crepe mourning band on my arm to protest that innocence, I shall do so. I don't expect anyone to record the event. But I'll do it just the same.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Comparative Superior Human Studies 101.

Given their very different schedules, it isn't often we get to compare BBC Sherlock and CBS Elementary head to head. Yet this month, not only did we get new episodes of both, there is at least one scene in each that actually makes for a good head-to-head comparison.

In Elementary's "The Diabolical Kind," Jamie Moriarty and Joan Watson have a conversation about how much superior Moriarty and Holmes are over normal folk, and in Sherlock's "The Empty Hearse," we get a similar conversation between Sherlock and Mycroft. Both concern themselves with intellectual superiority and human connection, and even the quickest comparison demonstrates obvious differences in the way geniuses are portrayed between the two shows.

For Elementary's go at the subject, we find ourselves in Joan Watson's corner, as Moriarty arrogantly tell her that she will never connect with Holmes as Moriarty does, because she simply isn't smart enough. Joan is the "normal" person under verbal attack for being normal, even though she's shown us how bright she is, time after time, even out-thinking both her Holmes and Moriarty characters on occasion. It's definitely a view of genius as "the other."

When Sherlock hits the topic, we are squarely behind little brother Sherlock -- in the "smart people club" this time -- as the scene plays out. Sherlock may be a massive genius, but Mycroft is a more massive genius and lording it over his sibling. Ordinary folk get referred to as "goldfish," but Sherlock defends the true worth of having them around, and even suggests that his brother is lesser for their absence.

One can take these two scenes and expand them to see one of the prime differences between the two shows: In Elementary, the uber-intellectual is the odd duck, the queer outsider who must be tolerated for the one useful skill he possesses. In Sherlock, he is the dear friend or brother who is just a bit smarter than the rest, but still a beloved member of the family.

At least that's my morning view, a bit clunkily expressed for lack of caffeine. And probably why I favor Sherlock, at least a little bit . . . .

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sherlock's Premiere for Boys.

Hee hee hee.

Derren Brown. Helicopters with red spotlights. A lead pipe beating that would destroy a face, to say nothing of internal organs.

So over the top. So much fun. And really, James Bond. With Mycroft as "M."

Not like he hasn't been "M" before, of course.

Only James Bond never had a buddy who was getting tea and store-bought cookies set out on a very everyday kitchen table.

Yesterday I may have been focused on Mark Gatiss giving the ladies what many (not all) wanted with an exploration of Watson's abandonment emotions, but having listened to the Baker Street Babes's podcast, my mind was in a fairly feminine mode. Discovering it again on the Comcast on-demand service tonight, I remembered how many cinematic boy toys Gatiss was handing out as well.

Boys toys, girls toys, Canon fan toys, movie fan toys, Molly fan toys . . . "The Empty Hearse" is a virtual Santa Claus bag full of set piece treats. Even Jack the flippin' Ripper. While there's been talk of the Anderson bits being in there for the fans, this whole episode is fan fodder, really, and in the same way a squirrel's hoard of acorns and such prepare him for a long winter, the many, many details of "The Empty Hearse" are the real gift to the fans, giving us so much to chew on for the next hiatus.

But I'll let you in on a little secret: I really hate blogging on Sherlock. I mean, it's not like we need one more opinion on a show that's riding so high with web commentators of all sorts. (How do they not touch the rails? Somebody somewhere will be writing on that, if they haven't already.) Yet how can I not?

Sherlock has what I want from Sherlock Holmes. It's just that simple.

Conan Doyle's Stories for Girls.

I think it's time to build a funeral pyre for my copy of Conan Doyle's Stories for Boys.

Every one of the two novels and four short stories between its covers is a Sherlock Holmes story, and after Sunday's revision of "The Empty House," I think we can safely say those stories aren't just for boys any more. I'd add "if they ever were," if not for Conan Doyle's own words:

I have wrought my simple plan
If I give one hour of joy
To the boy who's half a man,
Or the man who's half a boy.

Conan Doyle is a bit like the Bible in that people tend to pick and choose from his words. They love to cite that "You may marry him, murder him . . ." quote about Holmes as license to get Holmes a'romancing, but Doyle's seeming master plan to give joy to just the male of the species? Not so much.

And oh, how the times have changed. The focus of "The Empty Hearse" was the post-Reichenbach reunion of Holmes and Watson, of course, but this time we're less focussed on the "whys" and "hows" and more on reconciling Watson's feelings on the matter. Watson is plainly more upset about Holmes's treatment of him than he's ever been.

True, that kettle has been boiling with readers for a long time . . . but not Doyle's "boy" readers, whom the publishing industry catered to even just fifty years ago. The literary landscape is a very different one now, where a tween romance novel can kick the ass of anything else on the shelves in sales. The pendulum swings, and the swing is toward adding one more leg to the "Y" in "XY."

Would we have had "Empty Hearse" as it exists, were it not for a largely female fandom, if Conan Doyle's tales were still seen as "for boys?" Of course not, just as we wouldn't have seen Laurie King's Mary Russell series be such a success if there wasn't a desire among readers for a strong female figure in Sherlock Holmes's life. In "Empty Hearse," Watson became the stand-in for a more female reaction to Holmes's leaving without saying good-bye. I'm sure many a guy watching that show was going, "Yeah, the beat-downs are funny, but why doesn't he just get over it?"

Gender identity is a sliding scale, of course, and I realize I'm looking for a beatdown myself in suggesting that anything is more of a masculine or feminine reaction. But as I said at the start, it's definitely not Conan Doyle's Stories for Boys any more.

And it's definitely going to make things a lot more interesting, as it has already.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The American BBC Sherlock.

There's a TV show that we never got to see, thanks to Elementary.

What is that show? The American version of Sherlock, of course.

As any avid user of Netflix streaming knows, there seem to be two versions of many a popular BBC show. There's a Being Human (US) and a Being Human (UK). There's Shameless (US) and Shameless (UK). And should we even bring The Office into this?

As most fans know, the project that eventually became Elementary started as CBS checking in with the makers of Sherlock to see if they'd do a U.S. show. That conversation quickly went nowhere, and we got what we got. But what if things had gone differently? What if we got a Sherlock with different actors, twenty-four episode seasons, and all the tweaks that come from a transplant using the same seeds?

Sure, there have been failures in the UK-to-US television transplant process, but there have also been notable successes, too. Very solid successes.

Without the threat of lawsuits hanging so large over the show's head, Sherlock Holmes could have stayed in London, with his father only influencing his life in making Mycroft suffer through Les Miz. "A Study in Pink" might have been extended to a two or three part story, and Moriarty's arc would have lasted at least through the first season, where some of what we saw on the BBC got re-worked into the American show. Eventually, the American Sherlock would have started charting its own course, of course, with all that extra air-time to fill. Mycroft might have gotten his own episode. Maybe one totally told from Mrs. Hudson's point of view would have shown up as well. A lot of those "two minute" case snippets we get on the BBC version could have been expanded into something closer to modern adaptations of Doyle's originals than we've seen elsewhere.

It could have been a dream . . . or a dud. One never knows with these things. Could an American Sherlock surpass it's British original, even with the best writers, directors, and showrunners America has to offer?  Given the track records of shows past, I'd think catching the same flavor and producing something of equal quality is the best we could have hoped for. But still, that would be nothing to sneeze at.

As it stands, an American Sherlock seems like something we'll only see if we develop travel to parallel universes at some point . . . or maybe a second act, recreating the beloved show a decade or so after the BBC finishes their run.

These days, you just never know. "What might have been" sometimes just winds up being "what is still to come." And it's not like Elementary could sue . . . .

Monday, January 20, 2014

Elementary surpasses Sherlock.

This in from several sources today: "It's Elementary, Sherlock: How the CBS procedural surpassed the BBC drama" out on the A.V. Club site.  Let me pen a reaction . . .


Heh heh.

BWAH HA HA HA, HEE HEE HEE, khch . . .


Ah, my . . . HA HA HA HA HA HA, heh HA HA HA HA . . .

I just . . . I just . . . *snort* HA HA HA HA HA HA . . . hooooooo . . . .

I just can't do this with a straight face anymore. *snicker*

They really should have saved that one for April Fool's Day, instead of the day after the Sherlock American premiere. But hey, we're in "funny" mode with Sherlock these days, so I guess it fits right in.

Yesterday's big TV event!

While all the attention might have been on PBS's Sherlock season premiere, we really can't ignore the fact that CBS did make some attempt to compete earlier in the day by rolling out it's version of Sherlock Holmes, the one-of-a-kind . . . David McAllister?

Or maybe it was Howard Ostrom or one of the girls . . . and eventually there was that Miller fellow . . .

After a year in waiting, CBS Sunday Morning finally ran it's Mo Rocca piece on "The continuing popularity of Sherlock Holmes." I say "a year in waiting," even though much footage is from 221B Con, because at least some of it was shot at last year's B.S.I. weekend, and originally intended for later that month.

The nearly seven minute segment gets five stars from Sherlock Peoria, as it manages to say a lot in that short time, ranging from naked Sherlocks to a message from Jonny Lee Miller to my old partner in blogging, Don Hobbs. The Baker Street Babes and Always 1895 got nice plugs, Michael Dirda made an appearance, and overall the segment felt very fresh, even though it was a year in the making.

Curious timing, for a network to be running a Sherlock Holmes feature the day its biggest rival is making a splash . . . maybe just a subtle way of going "Our show is still here, too!" . . . but one more thing in a day of fun.

The lovely thing about YouTube, where the video now resides, is that you can pause-and-look, pause-and-look, and see who else got on TV that morning besides the featured interviewees. Lyndsay Faye gets to nod in agreement with Ashley Polasek. Marilynne McKay can be found on her knees as Mrs. Hudson at one point, plainly a tribute to the landlady's vital part in the dummy-turning of "The Adventure of the Empty House." At exactly the 29 second mark, you can pause and see the backs of Regina Stinson and Jacquelynn Morris as they have lunch. And if you pause right on the 5:51 mark in the video and look for a red shirt?

You'll see the writer behind this very blog, as his psychic powers come in and he realizes he will one day appear in a CBS show with Jonny Lee Miller.

At least, that's the excuse I'm giving for the goofy look on my face.

(And here's your "DVD bonus" . . . to see Don Hobbs and I at a younger point in our lives, wearing the same red shirts as I had on that day with embroidered Dancing Men code, here's a link.)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

An evening in ninety minutes.

Well, I guess I really shouldn't have complained about the 8:58 thing in my previous post. Turns out it was just a sham start time for PBS to run its commercials prior to an actual 9:00 p.m. start time of the new Sherlock. And PBS then spared us the person with the British accent saying something about Conan Doyle and/or Holmes. And, I am told, they didn't cut anything this time around. So thanks to PBS for not getting in the way once the time was here.

And what time was that?

Time to get together with old friends.

You know, I could go on about this detail or that detail. Compare it to past exploits, call out favorite characters, make a comment about . . . no, tonight I won't even do that.

I've always enjoyed my friends. The nearby ones, whom I got to see this weekend. The faraway ones, whom I only get to see every year or so . . . sometimes longer. But the thing about good friends is that no matter what the interval, when you come together once more, it only takes a little bit before it's just like it always was. That little miracle . . . that consistent chemistry over time . . . it's a joy I've been lucky enough to have grown quite familiar with over the course of my life.

And tonight, it just felt a lot like that.

It doesn't matter what those friends have been particularly up to. It was just good to be with them again for ninety minutes, to spend an evening with them. And I'm not talking about characters in some TV show that just had six previous episodes.

I'm talking about Sherlock Holmes. And Dr. Watson. Mrs. Hudson. And G. Lestrade. Oh . . . and Mycroft Holmes, even though he's always been more the "friend of a friend" sort. Folks whom I've know all of my adult life. Yes, yes, I know they're only shades of real people, imaginary spirits evoked by a medium -- be it literary or video based. But I've know them a very long time.

And tonight, they came back for a visit. And it was just like old times.

Works for me.

8:58 Central Standard Time . . . really?

Here I am waiting again.

Y'know, for all their little promotion of the event, I get the feeling that PBS just really isn't that into Sherlock. 

I mean, who puts an actual "We're proud of this and consider it a big event!" season premiere on at two minutes before the hour?  Is there that much fear that the Downton Abbey crowd is going to jump up and go, "Nine c'clock! Turn the TV off!"

And what is with putting a ninety minute television show on at practically-nine on a Sunday night, anyway? It's a good thing we decided against a premiere party, as who has the time to spend in long, thoughtful discussions at 10:30 PM with a job to get to the next day? (And hush up, you Martin-Luther-King-Day off jobs people. Do I need to add "You suck!"? Because I will.)

You know, earlier this weekend I seriously considered just waiting until Monday and buying the show from iTunes. I mean, I just waited eighteen days while the rest of the world watched the damned thing, blogged, podcasted, and made YouTube videos on it. What's one more day?

"Appointment television" is more and more becoming the dinosaur in the room, and PBS sure isn't doing it any favors with this little bit of scheduling fun. 

But hey, Jonny Lee Miller commented on my buddy Don Hobbs and friend Jacquelynn Morris got into the B.S.I. this weekend. Those two events should be enough to keep me from crabbing for the extra hour to get to Sherlock right?

Oh, wait a minute . . . or 58 minutes. Or actually 83 minutes. Sigh.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Booking, 2014.

Contemplating the goings-on in New York this weekend, my memory turns back to one of my favorite past-times during that event: shopping for books. A trip to the Mysterious Bookshop, Murder Ink, the Strand bookstore . . . one inevitably came home with a mass of books, some even having large boxes shipped to save transporting them on their flights.

But that was another time, before Amazon and alibris, before e-books and Kindles.

New books from small presses like Gasogene Books or BSJ Publishing get debuted on Holmes's birthday weekend in NYC, to be sure, but buying them there isn't a rare opportunity as it once might have been.

The world of books and how we interact with them is changing, no news to anybody, but it will be especially interesting to see how those changes affect the Sherlockian landscape over time. Or if they will.

A hobby with roots in the Victorian era, where emulating a certain Victorian sitting room's furnishings is common, will probably embraced the printed book long after mainstream society lets it go. And the very core of Sherlock Holmes fandom will never be so large a number that a small print run of specialty books made just for the pleasure of holding them in one's hands as Holmes and Watson did won't be a suitable celebration of the two.

I am not, at this point in my life, one of those naive souls who proclaims, "One can never have too many books!" One can, especially in an age where the big book sellers will market crap books that are only printed for someone to buy as a gift for someone else -- not to actually be read. Or faddish books that pop up and go out of fancy almost immediately -- will anyone give two shakes about "Duck Dynasty" in ten years, or even two? Not enough to read a book on the subject. Local used book sales seem to end with more and more books unable to find a home, every single year.

There are those sorts of books that will do well as an e-book. Ephemeral things of the moment, catching readers at a flare-up of interest and then going away. Thanks to e-books, we won't have to fill dumpsters or landfills with the waste by-products of moving thoughts from head to head if those thoughts aren't worth everyone holding a personal reference copy.

Sherlock Holmes, however, has proven his worth over time, and how having just that right old book on the shelf to pull down can be a joyous exercise. Were we a part of a more profitable past-time, all of our lore might be on the internet for a quick Google search, but it's not . . . at least not yet. If Sherlock keeps working its magic, who knows?

But for now, Sherlockian book-love abides.

And, luckily, nobody was headed for New York just for the books, after all, were they?

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Night of the Dinners, non-attending version.

Well, what do you do when you aren't going to do when you can't go to the annual dinner of the Baker Street Irregulars?

Depends a lot upon what else is going on in your life, but on a chilly night when all the fun hometown kids are staying home, I watch/play/blog things on your computer and keep your Twitter feed open on the side of the screen and wait to see if anything you think might happen transpires. And hope that if it does, someone tweets it.

So far, Kristina Manente and Scott Monty seem to be the prime Twitter correspondents for the evening, which is to be expected, as the Baker Street Babes and I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere are two of the best all-around content providers of the Sherlockian internet. Heather Holloway is over at the other dinner, the Gaslight Gala, but so far is just reporting her level of alcohol consumption . . . being the less formal dinner, the Gala is a good place to party, so that's just fine.

Les Klinger gets an award and a standing ovation at the BSI dinner for his efforts in the Free Sherlock court case, which puts the official opinion of the Irregulars on that matter across in no uncertain terms. I'm sure it's only aged backs and bookworm physiques that keep those assembled from hoisting him to their shoulders and parading him around the room.

The lauding of Les was only unexpected in that I'm waiting for a certain other event at the dinner tonight. What is that other event?

You know . . . the investitures, the annual awarding of shillings to newly inducted (and usually quite surprised) members of the Baker Street Irregulars of New York -- the closest thing our hobby comes to the Academy Awards for achievements in the movie biz. And like the Academy Awards, there are always people trying to predict who'll be awarded each year, grousing about the leanings of the selection system, all that sort of thing. I really doubt there are any bookmakers handicapping our little Sherlockian event, but betting could be taking place out there.

Tonight, I'm betting on one investiture in particular. A sign from the powers that be.

I don't want to type my prediction here just yet, as the Irregulars still seem to be toasting the usual Canonical culprits. Baker Street Babe Prime just tweeted, "I love how dorky the BSI Dinner is." She is truly the beautiful queen of the moon maidens, that one . . . but wait, there's a Baker St. Babe tweet from the Gaslight Gala. Maybe that "dorky" tweet wasn't Prime -- they are a hale hydra of Holmes hussies, those Babes. (And I wouldn't say for sure that they're "hussies," I was just into the alliteration of the moment.)

Gary Burghoff is tweeting about 1976's Battle of the Network Stars on my normal feed, but Scott Monty pulls it back to BSI by sneaking a photo of most of the banquet hall . . . which, not surprisingly looks like the BSI dinner most other years. A crowd trending gray-haired, round tables with white tablecloths, black, black, black outfits . . . for a moment I don't feel badly about not being there, having seem that enough times. Banquet dinners are banquet dinners. But then I see a photo of Ashley Polasek and her "Tree of Sherlock Holmes" at the Gala and go, "I could stand to see that a lot closer." (Whether the tree or Ashley, I'll let you decide. Though I do think of myself more the Sherlockian than the lecherous old man, so take that into account.)

Lyndsay Faye tweets in between Gary Burghoff's trip down memory lane, and I get a pang of sympathy for that most excellent writer, as she doesn't seem to be at the festivities and is such the perfect fit for a night of Sherlockian fun and celebrity.

And suddenly, I break new ground in my relationship with the Baker Street Irregulars dinner -- exchanging Facebook comments with Jacquelynn Bost Morris while she's there. Such a small, everyday thing normally, but tonight I feel like I've gotten my ham radio to pick up a signal from Mars. We really do like in an age of marvels.

I think I need to watch Deadwood for a minute to calm down and bone up on my cussing.

Ah, and then I come back to find they're still singing "Holmes' and Watson's Time" at the Gaslight Gala, thanks to 221B Con's twitter pic. The feeds slow to naught as the talks go on (at least that's what I'm guessing with the dearth of info), so I head upstairs for a glass of wine and a bit of cheese. The good Carter is currently on "The Hounds of Baskerville" in her Sherlock pre-watch, so I get in on a bit of that. Good old Greg Lestrade. Never quite picked up that it was Hound mixed with "Devil's Foot" before. Surprising how that show always sneaks these things past me.

Well, after that I wander back and the investitures are up. A friend got in, so that's good. But such safe choices. And at least one passing-over that indicates somebody just isn't "getting it," and I don't mean anyone who missed out on the shilling. Makes me sad.

Ah, well. It was fun while it lasted. For a time, I was almost thinking I was missing out on something. But in the end . . . well, I'll have to have more than one glass of wine to get into that.

Have fun, kids.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My first Sherlock.

He was my Sherlock Holmes before I knew who Sherlock Holmes was.

He was my Professor before I knew who Professor Moriarty was.

He was Russell Johnson, and he died today.

We often talk of the actor who really made Sherlock Holmes real for us, but we rarely talk of the actor who gave us our very first impression of Holmes, the one who made an impact before we were even old enough to fully understand the role of the world's first and foremost consulting detective. It might even be impossible to say who that actor and place we first saw Sherlock Holmes was, as our memories aren't neat and tidy Google-searchable things. But when I search my younger years for any possible memories of Sherlock Holmes, who do I find waiting there at the head of the line?

Russell Johnson from Gilligan's Island. The Professor.

In the first episode of season three of Gilligan's Island (which is a little bit spooky when you consider what airs on PBS this Sunday), Gilligan was bitten by a bat and dreamed he was a Count Dracula sort. That episode, "Up At Bat," could actually be considered one of the first Holmes-Dracula confrontations, as "Inspector Sherlock" and his assistant Watney come to Transylvania to deal with Dracu-Gilligan.

After it first aired on September 12, 1966, the episode eventually went into weekday afternoon rerun parade for many, many years where kids coming home from school could plop down and watch it before supper . . . time after time after time.

Thanks to those reruns, the words, ". . . take one step, and then come up for air, and then take another step, and come up for air," are burned into my brain, even though it was Watney's line, explaining how they walked to Transylvania across the English Channel because they had trouble getting a hansom cab. Alan Hale Jr. had to play Watney with a little Nigel Bruce flair, as Nigel was still the last great Watson at that time.

But it was Russell Johnson's character of the Professor on Gilligan's Island who fit so easily into Sherlock Holmes mode, even if it was for a campy dream sequence. The Professor was that Renaissance man of multi-discipline learning that used to be the height of genius in the culture of yesteryear. Adept at medicine, mechanics, electronics, chemistry . . . he wasn't a boxer or criminologist in his non-dream character . . . the Professor could have held his own in a conversation with the real Sherlock Holmes. (Picture that dinner party -- Sherlock Holmes, the Professor, Doc Savage, Derek Flint, Buckaroo Banzai, and a few others of that sort of mind at one table, while Watson, the Skipper and Gilligan, the Fabulous Five, Flint's girls, and the Hong Kong Cavaliers partied next door. I might rather be at the party next door, now that I think about it.)

Tis a sad day to lose the man who first showed me that a fellow named Sherlock in a deerstalker and invernesse cape was a smart guy who could deal with the creatures of superstition. The Professor's eventual common-sense solving of Gilligan's over-wrought vampire crisis in the non-dream episode, albeit simpler, was entirely the type of intervention Holmes was known for, and set a concept in place for me long before the true Sherlockian part of my education could begin.

Russell Johnson, requiescat in pace, to put it as the Professor surely would. And thanks.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The thing you won't hear said about New York, New York this week.

If there was ever a song Sherlockians associate with this time of year, it might be the one that starts, "We never mention Aunt Clara . . ."  Or there was this strange Reindeer Song I heard about once. But for me, mid-January is always the time I hear Randy Newman reprising in my head:

"Hate New York City, it's cold and it's damp. And all the people dress like monkeys . . ."

I sometimes begin these blogs with a disclaimer, attempting, usually in vain, to warn off fans of a certain CBS program. They aren't my target audience, and my thoughts are usually more entertaining for those of a different bent. This time, I'd like to point out that I'm writing for those people who aren't within a hundred miles of Times Square this week. Especially those who chose not to be there.

Because it's okay not to go to the Sherlock Holmes birthday weekend. Really. It is.

But you get to see so many people, and it's so much fun, and you can buy a ton of books, and . . .  yes, yes, I know, people-who-go-to-the-birthday-weekend. I've been, several times. Wander back to getting dressed for whatever function you're going to next and let me talk to the non-attendees.

Folks who habituate the Holmes birthday weekend in NYC can be a little bit like young evangelicals. They're bright-eyed, thrilled about the thing, and won't take "no" for an answer. There simply is no reason not to head east in the dead of winter to find Sherlock, in their eyes. If you get the chance to talk to them for five minutes, anywhere else in the country, any other time of year, somewhere in that five minutes will come the words "Are you coming/going to New York this year?"

The "coming/going" difference is key, but it tells you if they're from the NYC area or one of those hardy souls who makes January in the city one of their annual vacations, just as some families annually hit a particular Gulf Coast beach. Both are perfectly acceptable conditions, living in New York or being a routine vacationer, if you're that sort of person.

Some of us, being of more limited vacation time and/or funds, have to make travel choices every year. A hundred Sherlockian friends in NYC or that one close comrade in Phoenix? Your fan clan at the birthday or blood kin in the mountains? The Great White Way and Holmesians you've never met or the glittering Vegas strip and really good-looking strangers you've never met, most of whom aren't bundled up for winter?

Other choices can, and do, get made. And no slight to the weekend people, but that's really okay. You can still be a first class Sherlockian and never make it to NYC. You always could, but once upon a time, New York in January was the place where you could interact with the most Sherlockians at one time. Now we have this internet thing.

Yes, yes, face to face contact is always a step up. (What are you still doing here, weekend people? Flag the waiter down for another drink. Do a "where's Waldo" and find Don Hobbs.) But the map has changed . . . significantly. You can now find six hundred Sherlock Holmes fans gathered in Atlanta in springtime, and that sort of thing never existed before. That's also a choice for spending your budget of vacation time/cash.

Even Sherlock Holmes only goes to New York City when he looks like Roger Moore or is at a very beaten point in his life and needs watching. Life has offers us many roads, even in a specialized hobby such as ours. So enjoy your week, folks who are elsewhere. It's okay not to go to the Big Granny Smith this weekend. Be at peace with your choices.

Sherlockian 2014 has only begun.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Sherlock Holmes type.

One runs into our friend Holmes in the oddest of places.

Sherlock Holmes wouldn't really seem out-of-place as an example in a self-improvement seminar, but when I ran into him at a session run by my place of employ's human resource department, his familiar silhouette was more of as a directional marker.

The particular registered trademarked bit of employee development we were participating in that day was constructed to facilitate communication between different sorts of people, and in order to determine just what sort of people we were, our first act was to look at a series of pictures and pick which we felt best represented our attitude toward life. And there was Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Not James Bond or D'Artagnan or Abraham Lincoln. Sherlock Holmes. In fact, no other identifiable human being showed up among the pictures at all.

And of course, I picked his card as my first choice. What am I, a Twihard? Nope. Sherlockian, and having to go with Mr. Sherlock Holmes, regardless of how it might throw a wooden shoe into the machinery of corporate self-improvement. Fortunately there where other indicators that backed up the picture test, and I scored in the Sherlock Holmes category on those as well. Of course who's to say from the outset that a once I was presented with a certain consulting detective I wasn't placed in a mindset that was going to put me there in any case, biasing the test.

And who's to say that a picture of Derek Flint wouldn't have set me down a different personality course as well. At a certain impressionable age, our man Flint was a strong competitor with Holmes and one or two others for my favorite character of fiction. He certainly didn't have Holmes's issues with women. (I think most of my understanding of ballet came from a combination of the movies The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and In Like Flint, when you come right down to it. Both involved an interview with the prima ballerina after the show, and neither worked out all that well.)

But as Sherlock Holmes would have done, I couldn't help but find fault with the course in the end. It broke humanity down into such a few categories, less than a newspaper horoscope, and as Holmes himself once went to the trouble of categorizing seventy-five types of Victorian perfumes, I think he would have hardly settle on less brackets for the human race.

But approve or not, it was still good to see him there that day, as it is most times we meet.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mass engagement.

Tonight is the final episode of Sherlock season three in the UK, and for the past three weeks, I've been fending off questions about why I'm not watching it from friends within the cult of Sherlock Holmes and without. Everybody knows you can pull a TV show down from the internet ahead of schedule once one country has had it, so why would an enthusiastic Sherlock Holmes fan wait?

Why indeed? I've made excuses about the quality and unsure performance of a pirate download, sure, and I would be the last one to make a moral argument. It always seemed like there was some larger reason, however, and with the help of Alison Graham of The Radio Times this morning, I thing I've found it. Alison writes a nice little piece about the joy of community experience with a television event; my favorite phrase in the article being "mass engagement."

And after reading her article and searching my emotional guts, I realized that I'm waiting for the PBS launch of Sherlock out of patriotism. Not flag-waving, my-country-right-or-wrong patriotism . . . the basic patriotism of wanting to stand with your countrymen together to enjoy a coming TV event. Or suffer through the torment of waiting for it while spoilers abound and UK viewers rave about what a great time they're having.

I'd like to claim to be a pure egalitarian and say that I'm not watching Sherlock until we can all watch Sherlock, just as I annoyingly suggest open invitations to the BSI dinner every now and then. But I suspect its more of a love of the underdog, and in the race for Sherlock, we Americans are definitely the underdogs. And even beyond that, as Alison Graham suggests in her article, we love watching TV together, even if we're watching alone so nobody talks during the show. The common bond we share in the days that follow such an experience brings delightful little encounters and conversations, as we're all fresh from the event.

Mass engagement is not something we're used to in the older Sherlock Holmes community, having gone through some pretty dry years in Sherlock's popularity with the mass audiences that TV and movies bring in. And now that we have it for a time, I'd hate to miss fully appreciating the thing.

So the countdown continues . . . only one week until "The Empty Hearse."

And that's just fine.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why I'm an Elementary hater.

After being accused of hating on Elementary for every reason in the book over the past couple of years, a little debate on Holmes's addiction or lack thereof has brought my feelings on the show into a little clearer focus in the past couple of days. I'm going to be of the Candor faction in what follows (Divergent reference, for those of you who don't follow popular tweener novels), so if it pains you to hear bad things said about that CBS program, you might want to move along. So here goes.

It had been suggested that I was predisposed to hate on Elementary from the start. Well, in one light, that's true. In another it's not. The light in which it's true totally comes down to the question of Holmes being portrayed as a drug addict. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Elementary, and The Last Sherlock Holmes Story are all depressing, extreme little corners of the great mass of Sherlockiana that I could do without. As that recent court case seems to point out, all that we love about Sherlock Holmes was established very early on, and him being a drug addict was no part of that. I find it hard to believe anyone could be a fan of Sherlock Holmes and really be into him being an addict, unless it's like those "Sherlock Holmes, golfer" things where one wants a Holmes who likes what they like. And if that's the case, Sherlock-Holmes-fans-who-are-also-addicts, you go, girl!

That said, I do find The Last Sherlock Holmes Story as my favorite of the the three druggie Holmeses, just because, hey, if you're gonna go for it . . . *** SPOILERS *** . . .  make Holmes the worst drug addict ever and have Watson take him down. Damn, that's an evil book.

It has also been suggested that I never gave Elementary a proper chance because I was such a big Sherlock fan, which is a bit like saying every time I roll a one on a dice, it increases the chances I'll roll a six the next time. Each roll of the Sherlock Holmes dice is an independent event. I enjoyed Robert Downey Jr.'s take for all it's wackiness, because it accomplished the basic task of any fiction: it pulled me into its world for a couple of hours. Absorbing one's audience, convincing them to buy an illusory universe for a time and indulge their willing suspension of disbelief, is a task that varies from person to person. I know many people who don't like the movies I go in for because "they don't seem real enough," even though all movies except documentaries are false, and even some of those are a bit twisted.

What makes a movie or TV show convincing is selling you things you already want to buy. Ideas, points of view, places, people . . . the further something is from what you normally like, the harder a creator must work to sell you on the merits of that thing, which a really, really good film-maker can do. When I walk out of a theater having enjoyed the kind of movie I would normally hate, it's a great thing and I admire the folks who achieved such a thing.

Elementary has continually pushed ideas on me I don't find attractive and failed to sell them to me. Why does its Sherlock need to be a drug addict, which would kill the abilities of a true top-of-the-heap professional? Why does it need to be set in New York, instead of good old London? What is gained from Moriarty being a woman and a former lover who dumped the sad sack Elementary wants to sell me as Sherlock Holmes? By just shoving such extreme variations on Holmes lore at me with a "Hey, this is different!" attitude, rather than selling me with a organic universe where it makes sense that these things are so, I don't know that Elementary has ever won over my suspension of disbelief.

Sherlock, if we must make a comparison, gives an old Sherlockian like me cookies to sell me on its many alterations. Its Holmes is masterful and in control of his world, having even given up smoking. I like a masterful Holmes. London is lovely and a great place to set the show. I want it to be in London. Jim Moriarty is a truly tricky bastard and more fun than a barrel of crazy monkeys. I'm willing to upgrade that old math prof to this ADD psycho (who still looks a little like the old guy) because he challenges both Holmes and me. Sherlock lures, teases, and seduces and I give up my suspension of disbelief willingly. Elementary seems to go, "Hey, the guy is named 'Sherlock Holmes,' there ya go." It's the salesman who doesn't really care if he makes the sale.

And why should he? Elementary has gotten fine ratings off non-Sherlockians, people who don't have to be sold on Holmes not being in London, etc. For us non-physicists, movie physics like shotguns blowing people backwards make a sort of emotional sense. For a physicist, though? Yikes. Same sort of thing here.

As for those who were already fans of Holmes, the greatest thing Rob Dougherty did to sell his show to Sherlockians was over Labor Day weekend 2012 when he screened and did Q and A for a symposium co-sponsored by the Baker Street Irregulars and the UCLA School of Television. As Maria Konnikova pointed out in Mastermind: How To Think Like Sherlock Holmes, being in an environment that makes us happy primes us to make more positive judgements. Those Irregulars who attended that LA weekend on Holmes were in symposium-bliss mode, and practically predestined to take their first viewing in as another wonderful part of their wonderful weekend. Were they the taste-leaders of our little fan cult, their joy might have trickled down to folks like myself, but we Sherlockians are a cussedly independent lot, and most of the old school hadn't made it to the internet to disseminate the Elementary joy immediately after that viewing, as the Baker Street Babes tend to after a Sherlock premiere. So the effect of that bit of smart selling never really made it out of the symposium bubble.

I've long passed the age where I was excited about everything with a reference to Sherlock Holmes in it, and the luxurious feast of Holmes we're getting these days makes me even less apt to treasure every morsel like I might have in the early 1980s. But, come to think of it, I really wasn't that keen on the movie version of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution even then. I hate Nichol Williamson's wimpy Holmes with a passion. And here we are back at that pesky drug addiction.

What was that classic line from Vincent Starrett's Sherlockian Pledge of Allegiance, "221B"? "Only those things the heart believes are true?" Well, if one really has to find a flaw in my make-up that will qualify or discredit my opinions that Elementary is an awful, awful television show, blame it on my child-like believe that my hero, Sherlock Holmes, was never a serious drug addict.

That one I'll give you. Still, it's an awful, awful show.

See, I have a child-like stubbornness, too!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Sherlockian Lady's Guide to the Fanboy.

As we continue to move into our brave new world of Sherlockiana, it occurs to me that last year at about this time there was some unpleasantness involved a fanboy who had written an article pooh-poohing the enthusiasms of some of the young ladies of our hobby. Knowing young ladies of all ages will be alighting upon New York City streets in the week ahead to celebrate Sherlock Holmes's birthday, it only seems appropriate to prepare them for their inevitable encounters with that unusual male of the species that roams the streets and clubs of Gotham each January: the Sherlockian fanboy.

Here's what a lady must remember, first and foremost, at a time when possible fanboy encounters abound: Over time, the Sherlockian fanboy develops a natural sort of camouflage. Their hair grays or falls out. Their skin dries and wrinkles. Some among them even grow sort of handsome, in a mature sort of way. They can look like a family doctor, an senior statesman, or a tenured college professor . . . with all the trappings of a respectable elder of the tribe. But underneath that well-developed cover lurks the innards of a twenty-three-year-old fanboy or younger, of the sort you wouldn't take any crap from anywhere, anytime.

They say a public speaker should imagine his audience naked to get over a fear of public speaking. Likewise, I would suggest looking at the fanboy imagining him as the excitable teenager that lies beneath their deceiving outer crust. That Sherlock Holmes movie or pastiche they inexplicably think is just the best thing ever? Probably saw it at thirteen, just as the hormones were kicking in. Sure, in the years that followed, they did their research and attached footnotes and substantiating evidence to their thirteen-year-old Sherlock crush, but it's what guys do instead of writing fanfic. Why do you think baseball has such a ridiculous amount of statistics? Because the numbers make it all seem less silly.

Here's another tactic should you run into the fanboy who wants to sniff at your Sherlock season three excitement while heading off for the annual Christopher Morley walk. Sure, the Walk is a cool thing, but consider this: The Sherlock Holmes fanboy who's most seriously getting off on Morley is a fanboy of a fanboy. A fanboy squared. Some of the least fun Sherlockians you can ever bump into are fanboys squared. No modern fan is ever going to be as good in their eyes as the fanboys they're fans of. (Except maybe themselves, who would surely have fit right in with those favored fanboys of old. Because they're the right sort of fanboy.)

Should you run into the truly outside-the-box Sherlockian fanboy, you might find yourself vastly entertained by their little eccentricities. There are some truly "colorful" examples out their who seem to have actually been greenhouse-grown on some other planet and don't understand our Earth ways. Is a fanboy single with multiple cats? Keep an eye on that one, because you'll soon have stories you'll be telling for years. Sometimes the years don't bring respectable camouflage to the Sherlockian fanboy -- they just add more color and odd patterns to a crazy quilt that's been sewn together for decades. And that's not always an entirely bad thing.

Because don't get me wrong, ladies of the Sherlock Holmes enthusiasm: Fanboys are your natural playmates in this Grand Game of ours. In forty or fifty years (or less), you might have some of their same ailments. ("That Siffo Cyghlaub is certainly no Benedict Cumberbatch!") And most of us aren't going to be a problem at all. We can be cute as a bug, friendly as a hug, and generous to a fault. So many of us are just teenage geeks who finally got old enough and knowledgeable enough that we appear to have more credibility, and there are a few who want to use that to put a little more weight behind the fannish opinions they've held since they were a scrawny kid. There are all kinds out there.

One might even take a little notebook and start cataloging the various species of Sherlock Holmes fanboys in New York City at this time of year, just like the birders of The Big Year. That way, next year, you can post a much more authoritative guide than this.

Have fun!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Was Sherlock Holmes a casualty in the War on Drugs?

An interesting little bit came across the feed from the Twitter machine today when Martin M. Montague posted a shot of something Denis Conan Doyle wrote in to The Lancet:

"As a matter of actual fact," Sir Arthur's eldest son wrote to the medical journal, "my father neither conceived nor depicted Sherlock Holmes as a drug addict. He was represented as one of those rare individuals who use drugs sparingly and occasionally, and who are the masters rather than the slaves of the drug concerned."

That was in 1937.

Come the 1960s, when drug culture was growing with rise of the hippies, Viet Nam, etc., the Baker Street Irregulars were disproving Holmes's possible addiction right and left.

"There can be no doubt that Sherlock Holmes was not addicted to narcotic drugs. There is very little evidence to support such a belief, and the facts are all against it," wrote William H. Miller in an award-winning 1969 article in The Baker Street Journal, and he was just one of many. Some even considered the cocaine and morphine references a hoax or joke Holmes concocted.

And then, in 1971, Richard Nixon declares a "war on drugs," and drugs are suddenly a very big deal, where a minimal amount found on a person can destroy a life. And, unfortunately, a minimal amount of drugs could be found in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes.

A seven percent minimal amount.

It's probably not too surprising, then, when in 1974, an ambitious young writer named Nicholas Meyer decided to do the literary equivalent of tabloid journalism and exploit a celebrity's minor connection to a particular drug to give his budding career a jump start . . . right to the top of The New York Times bestseller list with The Seven-Per-Cent Solution.

Within four years, a member of the Sherlockian community named Jack Tracy backed Meyer's play with a little book called Subcutaneously, My Dear Watson, where Tracy refers to "Sherlock Holmes, cocaine addict" in the very first line, as if the matter is an accepted truth. And maybe, after Meyer knocking Holmes off his pillar in Seven-Per-Cent, it was an accepted truth to those who prefer their heroes with feet of clay. But even Tracy, knowing his Sherlockian brethren, had to put a line in his book's acknowledgements that read, "Needless to say, any conclusions reached in this book are those of the authors, who alone must bear responsibility for errors of fact or judgement."

Even without Tracy turning on Holmes where Irregulars before him did not, the damage was done. I never will forget a cocky young bookstore clerk in Toronto, upon seeing me buying a copy of the Sherlock Holmes stories, felt compelled to inform me authoritatively, "You know the guy that wrote those was addicted to opium!"

"Yeah," I replied, knowing he meant Holmes instead of Doyle, and cocaine instead of opium, and that Meyer was to blame for it all, giving stoner bookstore clerks a drug-using hero.

So it was nice to see Denis Conan Doyle defending our friend Sherlock on Twitter today, preaching the gospel of a Holmes who was a master of his drug use and not mastered by it.

Especially on Thursday night, when Elementary is due to come 'round once more and punish Sherlock some more for being caught by the War on Drugs with that litttle amount. It'll be nice to see his sentence in that particular jail of public gossip over one of these days.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reconsidering "The Blind Banker."

Playing the waiting game for Sherlock, season three, one finds one's self doing all sorts of things to pass the time. Take tonight, for example. I was walking through the living room just as the good Carter was settling down to watch some Netflix. An Asian woman was describing the process of applying tea to an ancient tea pot in a museum.

"Hmm," I thought. "Familiar . . . what heist film is she watching? I know this . . ."

And so I stood, stopped in my tracks, going, "I know this! What is it?"

"Of course, you know this!" the good Carter replied.

But I didn't get it until the signature music and main characters showed up: "Is this 'The Blind Banker?'"

It was, of course. and I found myself drawn into watching it. I actually don't think I have re-watched it since the DVD release, all those years ago. Long before Elementary came along. It was always the "not quite as good" episode, and the one I'd willingly admit was lesser when the Elementary fans would complain that Sherlock wasn't a perfect show.

But good goddamn, after watching a season and a half of Elementary? I freakin' love this episode!

The client from Holmes's college days. The cipher-based case. The locked room murder Holmes finds was committed by someone who near-impossibly came in from a great height ala Tonga. The Asian tattoo. So many elements of a Sherlock Holmes story. True, those cipher stories were never the best, even in Doyle's day, but still . . . Canon-ish! So Canon-ish . . . .

And the charm of Cumberbatch and Freeman interacting in a relationship that actually feels like a relationship. Holmes giving Watson the twirl-around talk on human memory only being so accurate, then having Watson stop him with a phone pic. And Molly. Gotta love some Molly, poor uncomfortable Molly.

John is saving Sherlock's life again, sure. Moriarty is teased again, sure. But that lucky girl with the jade hairpin worth millions learning of her unexpected windfall, Watson's charming-yet star-crossed date Sarah, so many little moments that, all in all, make this still an entertaining and rewatchable episode.

I'm sorry, "Blind Banker," for ever doubting you. Sure, you're the little brother to some pretty impressive, and even award-nominated TV movies. But I remember another little brother to a very impressive "mind of a whole government" type of wonder man, and that little brother didn't do too bad for himself either.

Maybe you just needed a better Scotland Yard guy.

Watson, the gateway genius.

Perhaps we should quit considering Dr. John H. Watson as an ordinary man quite so much.

Yes, ever since Nigel Bruce got his hand stuck in a cookie jar, we've been arguing that Watson wasn't stupid. But in arguing that he wasn't stupid, it seems like we're just raising him up to the level of "normal." He is everyman, one of us, a regular guy . . . only he's not.

John H. Watson is both a doctor and a popular writer, a man with the abilities of a Michael Crichton or any number of other physician-authors -- not exactly "regular Joe" sorts. Left to his own devices, John Watson might have even been someone who wound up described by others as a genius. But, no, Dr. Watson was set up to live alongside Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes. So near the top of the genius ladder. The very top of his field. The guy that's so damn smart, many a pasticheur thinks he must be dysfunctional. And others have to dumb him down just to pair him up with a woman so there isn't a "dominant male" issue to put off female readers. Yes, Sherlock Holmes, an intellect that doesn't fit well into the lives of normal folk, and the lives of normal folk don't fit in well with him.

Which brings us back to Dr. Watson. Sherlock Holmes liked Dr. Watson. He found Watson pleasant company . . . which says something about Watson. Sure, Holmes also said, "Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it," but think about that for a second. To Sherlock Holmes, genius was something he saw partially in himself, and moreso in his brother Mycroft. Sherlock Holmes's standard of genius was a lot higher than that which the average I.Q. test sets the bar. Of course, Watson didn't seem like a genius to him!

But it doesn't mean that Watson wasn't a genius by anyone else's standard. 

And I would argue that it would take a lower-level genius to make an upper-level genius like Sherlock Holmes accessible to those who truly aren't "possessing genius." In literary form, in the sixty chronicles of Sherlock Holmes, it was easy for John Watson to keep the spotlight off of his own intellect. On television and film, many a writer and director feel a need to find roles for Watson to fill the void left by taking away his storyteller role . . . without seeing that the one Watson already has does the job quite nicely.

John H Watson was a genius who was best friend to an even more brilliant genius.

Our gateway genius.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Sherlock Holmes Villain Pitch

It has long been a theory of mine that a great actor at playing Sherlock Holmes is also a great actor at playing the villain. Rathbone had his Sir Guy of Gisbourne among others. Cumberbatch had his Khan. Christopher Lee had Dracula, as did Frank Langella. The commanding presence of Sherlock Holmes has a certain similarity to the arch-villain -- both very good a dramatically explaining an evil plan, the villains just doing it before the crime while Holmes tends to do it after.

And then there's that fondness pasticheurs have for pitting Sherlock Holmes against serial killers. Be it classic Jack the Ripper or some original creation, since Doyle was writing before psychotic serial killers were in vogue, his body of work left a void modern writers just love to fill.

With these two Sherlockian tropes in play for so many years, it was kind of fun after wandering late-to-the-party through four seasons of the TV show Dexter, to see Elementary's Jonny Lee Miller pitted against a serial killer.

Of course, as the Dexter fans out there already know, in this particular case, the serial killer is the good guy. And Jonny Lee Miller is a bad, bad guy. A motivational speaker and head of a serial rape gang. Miller doesn't have quite the same villainous presence as a Rathbone or Lee in Dexter . . . and I have to wonder if that lies a lot in the pitch of his voice for me. So many great Holmes/villain actors have those deep resonating tones, and Miller always seems a bit reedy, especially when he's doing an American like Dexter's Jordan Chase.

With all the analytical tech we mere mortals have at our disposal these days, it's probably only a matter of time before some enterprising Sherlockian uses voice analysis comparisons to pick out the perfect Holmes voice. Able to strike terror into the heart of a criminal and soothe a nervous client, with many other abilities in between, the ideal Sherlock Holmes voice is something really special.

Basil Rathbone stands as one of the great Sherlocks of all time because he was successful both as a movie and radio Holmes . . . the latter being the perfect test of whether or not one can evoke Holmes from voice alone. And while Benedict Cumberbatch has done Cabin Pressure, his character Martin Crieff is hard to pull a Holmes out of, and it's even harder to imagine that we'll get a lot of movie/radio Holmes combos in the modern day. (Fun to imagine Martin Freeman hawking Petri Wine with some announcer who strolled in off the street, as Nigel Bruce once did, though.)

Of course, I could be imagining Martin Freeman's Watson getting married as he is on BBC1 this weekend . . . but this being America, I'm still getting Jonny Lee Miller. And pondering villainy and vocals of Sherlock Holmes. (And whining, when I could do the web thing. Yeah. I know.)

Mystery at both ends.

"I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere" has an interesting little piece today about "the business entity known as the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd." and its reaction to the ruling on the "Free Sherlock" case. The lawyer for CDE, Ltd. is definitely spinning the case's outcome as a victory and giving up as little ground as possible in his response, almost seeming to imply that nothing has changed whatsoever.

But then, if you've ever visited Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd.'s website and are just a little knowledgeable about Doyle and his legacy, you know that spin has been a big part of their approach for a while.

"Only Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. is associated with the family of Conan Doyle," the site says, and presents many a picture of Conan Doyle and his children, with one entire page of "Conan Doyle Family." Yet none of Conan Doyle's children are still alive, none of them had children that they passed his copyrights down to, and Dame Jean Conan Doyle, his last surviving child, left her rights to those stories involved in the court case to the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind then "sold the rights back to the Doyle heirs, who transferred them into a family-owned company" as The New York Times once reported giving the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. its ability to answer its website's question "Who Are Conan Doyle Estate Ltd?" with "Conan Doyle Estate Ltd is owned by the Arthur Conan Doyle family."

Just what part of his family that is, the website is not at all clear, preferring to focus heavily on Dame Jean, Conan Doyle's last direct descendant, even though she is not a part of Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. and Dame Jean plainly thought the Royal National Institute for the Blind should have had the rights, as her will stated.

Those few Sherlockians you will find supporting the "business entity known as the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd." these days tend to be friends of its American agent, though they are usually as quiet about bringing that up as the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. is about which part of the Doyle heirs/family they're connected with.

"I am accustomed to have mystery at one end of my cases, but to have it at both ends is too confusing, I fear," Sherlock Holmes once said in "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client," one of the last stories whose American copyrights are still held by the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. And on that, we can sympathize with him in this case. Just don't borrow that line for your pastiche.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Siege mentality.

Assault on Precinct 13. The Dawn of the Dead. Dog Soldiers. The Alamo.

You remember those movies. The handful of souls hiding behind barricaded doors, trying to survive the frenzied attacks coming straight at them.

Welcome to life in Sherlockian America, January 2014, pre-Sherlock season three.

Maybe it's more like a Invasion of the Body Snatchers sort of thing . . . watching your friends and neighbors getting possessed by an alien consciousness that only means us well: "Come join us! True joy awaits within our collective!"

Sure, they start out like you or I. They don't hand you a gun and say, "Promise me you'll put a bullet in my head if I turn!" No, what they say is, "We won't give spoilers! We'll hold true to the convictions we had before we saw it!"

But then they look at that which PBS dictates we must not yet see. And their enthusiasm takes hold. A simple appreciation of a t-shirt with a quote on it. Reviews that are said to be "spoiler free," yet must tell you something about the shows, or else what would be the point?

So eager to give you their reaction, so eager to share, so hungry to put something in your brains.

Braaaiiiinnnnsssssss . . . .

They're trying so hard to fight it. You feel for them, even as you barricade the doors and windows, avoid clicking on the links, and avert your eyes when you see a certain glint in their Facebook posts. All they want is for you to join them in this new state they've discovered. All they want is your happiness.

You'll love it. Of course you will! You're only . . . human. And the links to get there are sooo simple. Here, try our lovely podcast, these alluring young ladies in the basement of Dracula's castle mean you no harm.

"Must . . . watch . . . Elementary," you find yourself gasping, hoping the cold water of procedural television will shock you out of temptation. And it works, for a bit.

Sixteen more days. And with each day passing, you see at least one more friend leaving the life you've shared without S3E1 filling your very soul. Can you make it? Will you be the same once these sixteen days are over? I know readers of this very column who have virtual compounds of pre-Sherlock enthusiasm who might take a person in for a time, if you could talk them into opening their gate after shooting down a few surges of the Cumberbatch fevered. But then you remember the Governor, and what happened on The Walking Dead.

"We should have nuked Britain after 'The Time of the Doctor' was broadcast," you hear an embittered friend say as he pushes his back against the boarded up door as the fingers start to poke through it's broken edges. "Then we'd have been okay . . . then we'd have been . . . okay . . ."

But somehow you know WGBH in Boston was sure to already have a copy in their evil editing labs, and even leaving the mother country a smoking ruin wouldn't have stopped our eventual occupation.

Yet, even knowing we will one day succumb to joining our friends in that seemingly blissful state of the having-watched, we must, for now, fight on to keep it all out . . . to keep our minds whole and untouched until that last moment.

These are days which test us, my friends.  Pre-Sherlock S3E1 America.

Sherlockians under siege.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elementary lives! Me, maybe not so much.

Faux brainy will never be the new sexy.

With all the crazy excitement across the Atlantic from last night's Sherlock return, I actually got myself slightly worked up about the return of Elementary tonight. Moriarty was coming back, which one could see as Elementary putting its best foot forward. England has had its big moment, so now America can have its, right?

Oh, God. Why? Why do we build up such hopes and dreams? Why do we forget how bad the pain can be, be it childbirth, dentistry, or . . . ?

So here's the spoilers:  Mr. Elementary is pen pals with Jamie Moriarty, because he is so adrift in making a connection with another human being that she is the only one who he feels he can discuss his inner workings with. Because he is such a genius. And she is too. Yes, they're so much smarter than you or I that to us, their exchanges sound like poseur teenagers affecting what they think super intelligent people sound like. But that's only because we're not smart enough to truly understand such genius. At all.

Moriarty is being kept in a super-secret abandoned warehouse prison that looks like a street urchin could break out of it, where she gets to paint giant pictures of Watson as her punishment. Ironically, Joan Watson and her partner's nemesis this week is "Faux-riarty," one of Jamie's henchman who went free-lance and decided to kidnap a young girl and play cribbage with her. So, of course, the government (represented by Arnold Vosloo from the Mummy movies) lets Jamie out of prison with some super-science fiction stun bracelets as her only restraints, so she can work with Mr. Elementary. He is as awkward as a super-intelligent teenage boy around her, despite the fact they once had lots of sex, which typically makes said boys a lot less awkward. Not so this time.

With Jamie Moriarty able to walk freely while still "in custody" in super-science fiction magical way, she and Joan Watson can have some alone time. Moriarty uses that alone time to explain how she and Mr. Elementary are pretty much the master race of big-brained humans, and how poor Joan will never understand how they relate to each other. 

More painful conversation about how smart these people are and how Mr. Elementary doesn't understand emotions . . . blah, blah, blah . . . itty bitty Jamie chokes Arnold Vosloo out with a towel, when I suspect in real life he'd just toss her into a wall even if she had a full fifteen seconds of choking in first. I want her to be scary, really I do,  but it's just not here. And here comes the big twist that anyone with a real life brain saw coming ten minutes ago . . . the kidnapped girl is Jamie Moriarty's daughter. (But not with Mr. Elementary . . . phew, we'd hate to think Nero Wolfe was now a girl, too. He'd hate that!)

This episode was literally nails on a chalkboard to me. A whole lot of people poorly explaining how smart they are instead of demonstrating it, telling how they have a connection rather than showing us something human . . . but then they're so far beyond us, right?

Anderson in Sherlock's  "Many Happy Returns" impressed me more with his brains than anything shown in this episode. Seriously. That dude should come to New York and rule the NYPD.

A lot of folks have tried to find excuses for my dislike of this show over the last couple of years. Deciding I didn't like it early and just being unwilling to reassess. Stirring the pot just to get readers. But let me explain it to you in as Elementary would do: I'm just of an intellectual level far too low for a normal CBS viewer's understanding, and I'm writing to my fellow unter-intellectuals in a coded form of English said viewers wouldn't understand to talk about 2 Broke Girls. That's all that's going on here. And I've got space bracelets on that neuronically inflame my positrons between nine and ten Central every Thursday night. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

And suddenly, I fear no spoilers.

The faked death. The emotionally straining reunion. The Sherlock season opener.

We have been here before.

Having resigned myself to waiting the eighteen days until the proper American start to the much anticipated season three of Sherlock, I settled in to commemorate the day by at least watching "A Scandal in Belgravia," last season's opener, one more time.

You know, the one that got nominated for all those "outstanding" Emmy awards.

I anticipated an enjoyable 89 minutes of rerun Sherlock, having a few chips and some guacamole, just relaxing a bit on the sort of day where relaxation is king . . . .

And then "A Scandal in Belgravia" began.

Forget spoilers, I've seen the whole damn thing multiple times. I know what happens.

And yet, it drew me in. So many choice details. So many references for the knowledgeable Sherlockian to revel in. Such an emotional impact . . . not just at the climax, but over, and over, again. Everything I love about Sherlock Holmes was captured in that 89 minutes. Much of it, quite beautifully.

I don't think the episode lost a step from the first time I viewed it. "How does Elementary even exist?" I found myself wondering. And remembering how I was stunned to realize they'd combined "A Scandal in Bohemia" with the movie The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, my favorite Sherlock Holmes movie of all time, I realized something else.

"A Scandal in Belgravia" is my new favorite Sherlock Holmes movie. Of all time.

Sure, not every episode of Sherlock is "A Scandal in Belgravia." But they're closer to it than anything else on film or videotape. And how can the Mona Lisa or the Grand Canyon or Lara Pulver have such a thing as "spoilers?" A true thing of beauty is something you have your own first time seeing through your own eyes no matter what anyone has told you. It's that moment when it becomes yours.

Some things depend completely on their shocking surprises to delight and entertain. But the really good stuff . . . and I mean really, truly, madly good . . . well, it doesn't even matter if you've seen it all before. It's still just that good.

So spoilers . . . pfui! I laugh at spoilers. Sherlock is coming back.

And that's good enough.