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.