Sunday, September 28, 2014

Crossover time, ye gods of television!

Now that Sherlock Holmes seems to have a pretty firm grip on television and many leaps and jumping of sharks have been made, it's probably time for one more special treat of the TV industry to occur: the crossover.

Applying the Sherlock-coloured glasses to everything as I do, it was impossible to see tonight's crossover of Family Guy into the world of The Simpsons without thinking of Sherlock Holmes finally meeting some of the other denizens of prime time. But who?

No, not "who" as in Dr. Who . . . that poses much the same problem as Sherlock Holmes meeting Dracula. They're from universes that function by completely different sets of rules. And Sherlock's universe does not allow the supernatural or inter-dimensional gateways. The Sussex vampire can never actually be a vampire (or some sort of lamprey-humanoid alien).

Personally, I'd love to see the BBC's Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty run into DCI John Luther and Alice Morgan. Luther's Britain is a bit darker than Holmes's, but for a "lighter" Luther story it might just fit. With airtime for either Sherlock or Luther being such a very precious thing, I doubt that could ever happen . . . but on American TV, with seasons going on most of the year?

Heck, Elementary could practically become the new The New Scooby-Doo Movies with all the crime dramas on CBS to crossover with: CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, Hawaii Five-O, Blue Bloods, Unforgettable . . . heck, you could just about throw The Good Wife in for good measure. Personally, I'd hope for a Joan Watson stop at the 2 Broke Girls cupcake shop. 

Elementary wouldn't even have to do full crossovers, having already established a penchant for having random ladies coming out of Mr. Elementary's bedroom in the morning. A simple pre-credit walk-on of shame every week could cover a lot of ground. And who's to say, at this point, that Mr. Elementary doesn't swing both ways? Double his pleasure, double our crossover fun!

While Sherlock Holmes crosses over with other fictions like mad in fanfics and more professional works all the time, and has since the 1890s, he still has to make the leap in the medium of television . . . unless we're counting YouTube as television at this point. (Who really knows there.)

Could this be the year? With a Christmas special on the other side of the pond and a need for something exciting on this side, who knows what's possible?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mr.Elementary meets Shonda Rhimes.

With CBS's incarnation of a Sherlock Holmes character and its third season of Elementary starting so late this fall, it was bound to have an upstart rival or two coveting its time slot. But who would have expected that one such rival's very title would be practically be a glove-slap-across-the-face challenge to the show?

How To Get Away With Murder, which started at 9 P.M. Central this past Thursday, is the latest creation from Shonda Rhimes, a TV powerhouse responsible for such addicting dramas as Gray's Anatomy and Scandal. The latter show has, in a few short weeks of binge watching, beaten out the latest season of Dr. Who on my what-to-watch-first list. So I had to check it out, just to see what Mr. Elementary's new competition looked like.

Well, as is usually the case when a Sherlock is involved, the big challenge this time is going to be a professor: Professor Annalise Keating. The show's law school backdrop and Keating's tough way with the student might remind an older viewer of John Houseman's The Paper Chase back in the 1970s. Her relationship with the students, however, might remind a modern viewer a little bit of House. Add in the multiple tracks of interwoven secrets, agendas, and shocking dramatic turns that has served shows like Scandal so well, and you get TV that uses all of the current level of modern drama techniques to their best advantage.

Why couldn't somebody have hired Shondra Rhimes to do the first modern American TV attempt at Sherlock? Well, she was undoubtedly busy with her own projects, but had she taken the job, I'd bet we wouldn't have dallied with a female Watson and gone straight for a Sherlock Holmes with XX chromosomes, as her leads are typically strong, professional woman with a command presence -- just the sort of thing we'd look for in a lady Sherlock.

As How To Get Away With Murder now has a well-promoted head start on Elementary, we'll see if it can dent the show's junior year ratings. Professors have tried to push Sherlocks over the falls before and failed, but occasionally they do pull it off. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out this time around.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Wealthy, wealthy poor people.

We live in an age when income inequality seems to be an ever-growing issue. Yes, yes, there have always been the rich and the poor. And that subject is far too real-world for a Sherlock Holmes fan blog despite the rich-fan, poor-fan parts of our culture that we overlook in favor of the common playing field that fandom gives us.

And then there's the wealth of Sherlock Holmes we all share these days.

In this month of networks rolling out all their latest and greatest television shows, anyone who doesn't shun the video medium entirely is finding their time filling up with exciting new entertainment possibilities. I used to be pretty good at TV trivia . . . an expertise that ends exactly at the time three networks began to explode into first hundreds via cable, then thousands via the internet.

Publishing has had a similar explosion, going from major publishing houses to print-on-demand to e-books, making it practically impossible to keep up with all the Sherlock out there. In the time it takes you to read one book of Holmes pastiches, three more seem to be published, not counting all of the tales of Holmes that newly appear for internet readers every single day.

None of this is new data, none of this is blogworthy data. But here's what I wonder about it all, given current trends . . . . as the middle classes lose more buying ability will we see fewer collectors and a relatively smaller number of folks able to travel to the pricier events? There have always been some remarkable and notable Sherlockians who've been short on funds but making a big impact, and I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of those.

Because, thanks to the internet, it's very easy to be rich in Sherlock Holmes these days, no matter how small one's budget for actual hardcover books.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Applause for an offstage acting afficionado.

One could make a comment upon Dr. Watson and Kitty Winter singlestick dueling on a public sidewalk this week, as the CBS is teasing in their next season of silliness, yes. But that time would probably be better spent in praise of someone who is actually accomplishing something. And who might be worthy of such celebration?

Anybody say "Howard Ostrom?"

"Sheercheek Holmes -- An All-too-Human History of Stage & Screen Variations on a Name" by Howard Ostrom and Ray Wilcockson showed up on No Place Like Holmes today. And if you were anxiously awaited Ross K. Foad's 400th video on that YouTube channel, Howard's latest addition, with the help of his sometime writing partner, will fill up that time nicely -- an Ostrom essay is nothing if not comprehensive, especially when he's got Ray Wilcockson backing him up.

Thirteen very full pages of people who are almost named Sherlock Holmes this time out, ranging from 1900 to 2012.  (True, their essay on African-American Holmeses ran 27 pages, but it had pictures!)

In an age when the young and trending Sherlock-ish fans are blowing us away with their energies and productivity, Howard Ostrom has been out on that same internet frontier, putting out fabulous pieces that would have been mail-away-for-it-monographs or beefy most-of-a-journal articles once upon a time, foregoing the solid archival safety of print for the ability to share with the most Sherlock Holmes fans possible. He is a generous fellow indeed, and Howard's drive for collecting all the thespian culprits in any of his endeavors puts his name up there with those completists like Hobbs and DeWaal.

While I'll never be able to get the image out of my head of Howard at the first 221B Con, driving the young girls wild with his rockstar exposing of Sherlockian high-tops beneath his Invernesse cloak, the inestimable Ostrom is showing off more brain than ankle these days, and one is always happy to see a young soul rising on more than just their physical charms.

So here's to the latest work by one of our best Sherlockians out there these days. Keep up the good work, Howard! (And Ray, too, who will hopefully forgive a bit of Ostromian bias.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

If it's September in Peoria, its time for the 2704!

The thirty-seventh annual 2704 banquet of Peoria's Hansoms of John Clayton took place tonight.

That sentence seems a bit arcane these days, in an era of Sherlock Holmes fans who don't always follow the old Sherlockian society model. Peoria's home Holmes club was named in tribute to the hansom cab driven by John Clayton, which Sherlock tracked down by its number, 2704, in The Hound of the Baskervilles, and one has to be pretty well-up on the Holmes Canon to recognize the name of Clayton and something of a trivia expert to know number 2704.

But the Hansoms continue, and the old traditions are still observed.

This year, we dined at Jonah's Seafood House, where the Hansoms last held the September banquet on September 25, 1999 . . . in the last century no less. Our last dinner there had sixteen in attendance spread across a couple of tables and a lot more disorganization (the ancient Clayton Ritual was performed at only one of the two tables), but this 2014 edition, with seven members in attendance was much more focused.

Table favors of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman greeting us with a "Hello Hansom!" adorned every place setting and a classic club info brochure was brought out of retirement to give us a copy of the aforementioned Clayton Ritual for its responsive reading, led in good voice by Marla Serrine. A lively discussion of "The Adventure of the Devil's Foot" that began in the Oyster Bar sometime before dinner continued through the courses, some discussion of the yesterday's vote against Scottish independence took place, and intermingled in was the usual host of other topics.

Eventually, after the largest servings of bread pudding anyone had ever seen, Starrett's 221B was recited from memory by the good Carter, and we began to disperse, finding our varying ways home along the river, across it, and beyond.

It was generally agreed that our next meeting should be planned with more than a week's notice, but given that short lead-up, as well as the noticed absence of two of our members, whom we all wished better health to in days ahead, it was a pretty darn good time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The mystery of Rotten Tomatoes.

After spending an idle hour or two in fanworld last night, I decided to take a look at what the pros were thinking these days.

One of my favorite sites is Rotten Tomatoes, where you can see an entire range of well-expressed opinions upon a movie or TV show by what we used to refer to respectfully as "critics." In a world where we've all started to value our opinions as highly as that of some fellow or the other who used to write for a major metropolitan daily or the other, a single critic no long holds much power. But an aggregated summation of a large group of them? Well, if nothing else, it can be a lot of fun.

And what do we find for our friend Sherlock Holmes?

The Emmy-award-winning Sherlock, season three, naturally gets a 97% positive rating among critics. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows barely stays "fresh" with 60%. And good old Elementary, season two, comes in at a 100% rating . . . what the Baskerville Hall? Everybody likes the show?

Checking out a classic, just for comparison, gives a bit of a clue. The Rathbone/Bruce adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles gets a prime 100% rating, yes, but it also carries the disclaimer "No consensus yet." Ten reviews is apparently not enough for consensus. It's poor younger sibling, The Scarlet Claw, fares even worse with a rating of "No score yet ..." as only two critics have weighed in on it.

But even The Scarlet Claw isn't at the bottom of the Rotten Tomatoes barrel. Track down the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore The Hound of the Baskervilles and you'll see a rating "No Reviews Yet ..."

Rotten Tomatoes is known for its tomato-based judgements of "Fresh" or "Rotten," based on whether or not 60% of the critics seemed to like a film or TV show, but what they don't really have a cute little icon for is the amount of interest a show generates. Rathbone's 1939 Hound can probably be forgiven for only generating 10 "professional" reviews on the modern internet. But behind, Elementary's season two 100%? A non-consensus-forming seven critics.

Season one of the show clocks in at 83% with forty-two critics -- the necessary requirements to get Elementary a "certified fresh." And since season two has only had its DVD on sale in America for about three weeks, perhaps it's still a little early to expect it to get consensus.

And while Sherlock was "Certified Fresh" in its third season with 97% by thirty-four critics (and a single negative view keeping it from a true 100%), seasons one and two of the show didn't get reviewed nearly as much. Season one got a 221B-step count of seventeen critics on board for its 100% (not enough critics to be "Certified Fresh") and season two barely made that same cut with twenty-three reviewers for its 100%.

The critic numbers for Sherlock have grown, probably because of its import status, while the home-grown Elementary could possibly be losing critic interest as it settles in for the long haul.

Who knows? But for those who like the statistical side of baseball, one of its strengths among the major sports, Rotten Tomatoes gives our on-screen entertainment some interesting numbers to play with.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who's the god now, Who?

A nice editorial piece on reactions to the latest Dr. Who was passed along on the Twitter feed of a certain Baker Street Babe this week. Well, thought-out, well-written, and a perfect counterpoint to a brilliant Dr. Who commentary video that I bumbled into on YouTube last night called "It's time to retire Dr. Who."

Yes, yes, this is a Sherlock Holmes blog, but Dr. Who is running parallel to Holmes in some ways these days (sharing a writer, for one thing), and comparing and contrasting the two can be illuminating.

Dr. Who, for example, is one character on one show who has gone on for decades, played by different actors and written by different writers. And yet the shared delusion we try to maintain is that it's all part of one long continuity, one large entity of story.

Sherlock Holmes, on the other hand, is one character who has, for decades upon decades, been played by different actors and written by different writers, yet each incarnation inhabits its own little fictional universe in our minds and they don't have to share story arcs or lives at all.

(And Sebastian Moran seems to be completely different in every one of them.)

We have a Rathbone generation of Sherlockians, a Brett generation of Sherlockians, and now a Cumberbatch generation of Sherlockians, all of whom can happily reside in their own fandom if they like, without considering the others at all.

Dr. Who fans aren't so lucky. Whichever Doctor they are fans of is supposed to be the same Doctor as the ones they aren't fans of. Sure, the switch from David Burke to Edward Hardwicke mid-stream in the Jeremy Brett days went well enough, but can you image the reaction if Granada had taken their Victorian Baker Street set and suddenly moved Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in, to take over that same series? And then two years later, Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu took over from them?

There will always be those "my fandom, right or wrong" fans that stay brand loyal through all of the hard turns. Their very lifestyle is based around the fandom and ignoring the latest incarnation is almost like holding one's breath. And no one can argue with the angelic virtue of acceptance that makes for a handy stick to beat "the haters" with. Hating is bad, right? It's all good, right?

And there will always be the "yeah, it will never be as good as it was then" fans at the other end of the spectrum. Their nostalgia for a particular story experience at a particular time in their lives is their first love, a love that outshines all others. And true love remains true, in the face of all rivals, doesn't it? Can't argue with that.

Most of us mix and match and lie somewhere in between. And with Sherlock Holmes, we can wander in between worlds and pretty much ignore the ones we don't care for. (Unless, of course, we're drawn to its sheer wrongness like a moth to a hot light bulb. Ouch!) Dr. Who fans are not quite so lucky. The good, the bad, and the boring all comprise one long-televised being. At least until you step back far enough . . . .

If you get enough distance, all the Sherlock Holmeses can form into one great image, like those big pictures whose colors are based on gathered tiny pictures. He's not just one shape-shifting character zipping through time, space, and a few dimensions . . . Sherlock Holmes is a pan-dimensional being existing in multiple timelines at once. Stephen Moffat famously said, "the Doctor is like an angel aspiring to be human, and Sherlock is a man aspiring to be a god," but in the greater view of things, the Doctor is single being who became many over time, while Sherlock Holmes is a legion of beings who somehow form a single entity in our minds.

Not that I'm in any was biased . . . .

Monday, September 15, 2014

Famed Sherlockian character Quentin G. Stanhope?

Think you know the Sherlock Holmes stories backwards and forwards? Okay, then, riddle me this: In what story do we find Quentin G. Stanhope?

According to KOIN news a forger apprehended in Lincoln City, Oregon told authorities that's what his name was, and also according to KOIN, "Quentin G. Stanhope is a spy character in a Sherlock Holmes book."  The link KOIN supplies with the last part of that will take you to a web page of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London that distinctly does not feature the name "Quentin G. Stanhope."

Yes, the cases of Sherlock Holmes have Stamfords and Hopes, and even G. Lestrade. But "Quentin"?

Now, so many, many, MANY pastiches of the original Holmes tales have been done over the years that to say a name appeared in "a Sherlock Holmes book" does open up a thousands upon thousands of potential character names, so it's surely out there somewhere. But where?

At times like this, one has to wonder where we would be without Google. A search for "Quentin G. Stanhope" pulls only the story in question, but dropping the middle initial?

Suddenly, a site called LibraryThing has the answer: Quentin Stanhope is apparently a character in four of Carole Nelson Douglas's Irene Adler novels.

Ah! Irene Adler novels . . . well, that's completely different!

I can't help but be reminded of H.G. Wells trying to use "Sherlock Holmes" as an alias in the movie Time After Time, wherein the humor lies in his expectation that no one will know a character from a story a hundred years before. Apparently modern Oregon forgers are a little more clever . . . though this fellow might have still done better with a pre-internet self-published fan novel character than one from a popular writer like Carole Nelson Douglas.

Because, after all, we do have Google now. . . .

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thirty-five minutes on Sherlock Holmes.

Well, this weekend I continued my ongoing string of not attending major Sherlockian events, an awful and embarrassing condition that has been plaguing me since the first 221B Con, and some might say for some time before that.

The reasons are numerous and, at this point, intertwined and convoluted enough not to try unravelling them here, but whilst so many of my Sherlockian brethren were off at the latest weekend of education, camaraderie, and shopping, the Master of Detectives was not going without proper tribute in good old Peoria. T'were the great and powerful Sherlock an angry deity, I would hope that my humble offering would have been enough to appease him . . . but you never know.

I mean, the venue for this particular tribute to Sherlock Holmes was a chautauqua night, featuring speakers on a variety of subjects, ranging from rain gardens to the different sizes of infinity, sessions were thirty-five minutes in length and the title of my spot in the program was "The Real Sherlock Holmes was . . . Sherlock Holmes." And the description ran thusly:

"When history and fiction collide, you get something with a lot more truth in it than what you see on some 'news' networks. Come find out what the greatest detective who never lived (and so can never die) has been up to for the last one hundred and twenty-five years."

Of course, all that was not based upon a well-prepared and outlined talk. That was just me coming up with something I could talk about. And as the weeks passed and the event neared, it became more and more clear that there wasn't going to be a well-prepared and outlined talk.

Now, in most cases, this would be considered a horrific dereliction of one's duties and an insult to the person organizing the program . . . and maybe it was . . . except that the person organizing the program was me, and I just added my Sherlock talk to make for a round number in the last session of the evening's program.

And, with no free time whatsoever, in the days leading up to the chautauqua, my complete preparation for the talk wound up being a walk through my library in the hours before and throwing books in a backpack.

Which brings up an interesting question: If you suddenly had to do thirty-five minutes on Sherlock for a not-overly-large group of people, what books would you throw in a backpack?

No matter which annotated edition you dearly love, they're both far to heavy as compared to their show-and-tell value. My first choice? The bound volume of The Strand Magazine that has "A Scandal in Bohemia" and the beginning of the first short story run. I had used a Beeton's facsimile for talks in the past, but for up-close-and-personal Holmes history, you can't match the Strand.

A copy of The Baker Street Journal from its second year in existence, 1947. A book of photographs from London in Sherlock Holmes's time. One of the Sherlockian encyclopaedias. A copy of "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" in dancing men code. Some Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman stickers along with that great Kickstarter storybook version of Moriarty's tale from the second season of BBC Sherlock.

As I said, I didn't put a lot of time and thought into this . . . just ran into my library and grabbed things. But those things wound up being my touch-stones to weave a thirty-minute talk around.

A very interesting thing happens when you find yourself with a good audience and a nice period of time just to talk about our friend Sherlock Holmes without a plan . . . you hit the basic historical points, yes, but what's really fun is the occasional response from your audience that inspires a sidelight that you didn't see coming. There is just so much to Sherlock Holmes that one can go all sorts of directions, and find something to keep just about any audience happy.

At least for thirty-five minutes. I was definitely not as sensational as the guy who popped out of a full-sized outhouse replica wearing a tuxedo to start his presentation, but thanks to our good friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes and a life spent in his company, well, there's always material to keep people interested.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why Brad can't spell.

I was one of those kids that loved spelling in school.

It came so naturally somehow, like it was in my DNA. Spelling bees were a joy, spelling tests, something I looked forward to.

But now, I fight with the spell-checker every day.

Why, you ask? What caused this change?

Sherlock Holmes, of course. Sometimes, I spell like Conan Doyle.

Moustache. Theatre. Colour.

And "travelling." Oh, how that double consonant thing vexes me. At least with the first three I'm aware of what's causing it. That double "l" in travelling just sneaks in there.

There are the "tempting, but no" words like "cheque," where it's so obviously not American standard that it's impossible to screw up accidentally, but it's just so pretty, so tempting. Cheque, cheque, cheque. We just don't use the "q" nearly enough over here!

At least spoken English has an obvious accent to it when you go British. Written, however?

Loving Sherlock Holmes too much has its side effects, as with any other serious condition. Maybe they should put warning labels on the Canon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A seriously hairy topic for debate!

Jude Law's moustache is kinda patchy on top.

There, I said it. I don't care if it destroys what little credibility and reputation I have via this blog. I don't care if my site's daily hits dwindle down to my mother and my stalker. I just have to say it as I see it: Kristina Manente's definitive ranking of Watsonian moustaches is just wrong.

Yes, I know, there are those who will say I'm only going against the goddess of internet Sherlockiana because she went blonde and her powers might seem weaker with that shade, but I say thee nay! Others might say that the lack of new Elementary episodes to therapeutically work out my issues on has left me with brain fever, but again, I say thee nay!

Jude Law's moustache is kinda patchy on top, and without Jude Law underneath it, would not fare well at all. And that two-piece peach fuzz on Gareth David-Lloyd's face? The Secret Society for the Perpetuation of the Young and British seems to have bribed Ms. Manente to get their poster-boys bookending the list. Who should have been topping that list?

Take a look at this moustache!

Yes, Colin Blakely, the homophobic Watson of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes . . . there was a contender of a Watsonian moustache. And who else failed to make the list, coming in as a longtime fan favorite . . . a long, long, longtime fan favorite . . . ?

This guy!

Sidney Paget Watson! The first and greatest of Watsons, and JUST LOOK AT THAT MOUSTACHE! It eclipses and predominates the whole of his face, the way a perfect moustache should. Sure, being a piece of art gives him an unfair advantage over Colin Blakely, which is why I'd only give him the number two spot. But, wow. Just wow.

Now, Kristina has a lot of good candidates in her list. I would keep them all . . . except maybe that Asylum guy in last place . . . and make it a top ten Watson moustache list. And coming in at number ten, in place of her personal favorite shlocky Watson with bad facial hair, I would add one more contender to the list.

He lives in my house, what can I say?

It's good old Action Sherlock Brain Theater Watson! Sure, his moustache was a teeny-tiny piece of duck tape, but the lip-carpet matched the drapes in his case, and he wouldn't want to be mistaken for a certain kingpin of crime.

Not being a wearer of the Watsonian moustachio myself, I will not claim to be the last word on the subject. And I'm sure many an admirer of the male form and feature has studied this matter longer then either I or the ever-so-young-in-moustache-studying-years Kristina. So I will bow to greater authorities when the time comes. But for now?

C'mon, Colin Blakely is just the man! And stable-boy Joe Barnes from the Brett series hasn't quite grown into a moustache so manly that ballet dancers of both genders flock to it like butterflies to honey . . . .

Monday, September 8, 2014


Welcome, ladeez and gentlemen to another evening of sports entertainment coming to you from the Statler Waldorf Megadome, here in beautiful midtown Peoria! Tonight we're bringing together a pair of combatants who haven't squared off in this arena before for what promises to a fine night of podcast competition. So LET'S GET READY TO GRRUUMMMMMBLLLLLE!!!

In this corner, weighing in at 57 episodes, the Baker Street Dozen (plus an otter) . . . the Dauntingest Things under a Bonnet . . . Charlie Magnussen's Angels . . . THE BAKER STREET BABES!!

And in the other corner, the veteran at 67 episodes and four more years at the podcast game, the 221 Tag Team . . . the Wolder and Scully of the B.S.I . . . the Full Press Monty . . . I HEAR OF SHERLOCK EVERYWHERE!!

DING! And there's the bell to start round one. Both contenders come out of their corners with their latest podcasts, and . . . what's this? Both are starting this bout trading sponsor blurbs, and they're matching each other blurb for blurb! A Gasogene Books/Wessex Press, followed by a Baker Street Journal! But when Everywhere pulls back at the thirty-second mark, Babes keep at it with a Scintillation of Scions push! Their youthful energy has them coming off strong in the initial exchange of sponsors.

But Everywhere has a head start on their intro, bringing in Charles Gray followed by jungle drums, a seriously announcer voice, and sound bites from the Jeremy Brett series. It seems a pretty full intro, but they're out of the gate and into the podcast proper at the minute-thirty mark with a hearty hello from Scott Monty.

The Babes filk singer doesn't seem to be hurrying their theme any -- the "quotidian" is still in there -- and that extra sponsor winds up costing them a solid 30 seconds before Curly gets her "Welcome!" out. The always unpredictable Babes are bringing five members into the ring tonight, plainly confident that will be enough to take on their two opponents.

Everywhere is plainly in this for the long haul. They tease the news and go into their contact info at a steady pace that takes them to the five minute mark, by which time, Babes have introduced their topic and are rambling laughingly in circles around the other podcast. If they keep this pace up, they won't last a full fifty-five minutes!

OH MY CROFT! Just past the five-and-a-half minute mark, Everywhere pulls out a complete shocker! In October, Everywhere announces, they are planning a co-recorded show with the Babes!

What's this? They're having a big podcast hug? The crowd here at the Statler Waldorf arena is going wild! Who could have foreseen this? Not the guy who came up with the idea of having them podcast-off in tonight's blog, that's for sure . . . and the fight has gone completely out of this match-up as the crowd rushes the ring and that post-fight Rocky music plays!

"YO! Adrian Conan Doyle!" (And we're not even sure who that was . . . .)

WARNING: Simultaneous podcast listening can be hazardous to your unified personality and is not recommended or endorsed by Sherlock Peoria, its staff, or any of its advertisers, should we ever have any. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sherlock Holmes beats Jack the Ripper every time.

Every Sherlockian knows that Sherlock Holmes could have taken down Jack the Ripper, and probably quietly did, outside of the pages of The Strand Magazine. But a recent development in the Ripper case shows one more thing about the classic Holmes-versus-Ripper match-up: the Ripper's weak spot.

The Daily Mail has come out with an article claiming that Jack the Ripper has been identified conclusively as Polish hairdresser Aaron Kosminski by DNA evidence. The findings don't seem that far fetched. Kosminski has been a suspect in the Ripper murders since 1894. He spent the next twenty-five years in an asylum, where he died in 1919. One has to wonder if Ripper fans will accept this latest bit of evidence, or are hoping it will get quickly discredited, because the fame of Jack the Ripper, unlike that of Sherlock Holmes, depends completely and utterly upon us not knowing anything about him.

There have been murderers since the Ripper who murdered more people. There have been murderers since Jack the Ripper who did the deed more gruesomely. There have been murderers since Jack who have been much more "successful" at the trade, however one measures success. But Jack the Ripper's entire legend hinges on him remaining a boogeyman, a nearly supernatural creature of darkness. And like all boogeymen, once you shine a light on him, he's nothing special.

Sherlock Holmes on the other hand, is a shiner of lights. Even when he explains his tricks, we admire him all the more. He looks as good in daylight as he does in darkness, and the more a Holmes fan can find out about him, the more they like him. With Holmes being a being of light and truth, and the Ripper being a creature of darkness and ignorance, it's natural that writers and fans have been wanting them to square off, almost since day one.  It's a natural, right?

The problem is that when you put Sherlock Holmes up against Jack the Ripper, Jack inevitably ceases to be a boogeyman by the story's end and loses all his power . . . which always makes for a somewhat unsatisfying conclusion. Jack the Ripper cannot stay Jack the Ripper once he meets Sherlock Holmes, just as darkness can't exist once the lights are turned on.

Of course, part of Jack the Polish Hairdresser's problem is that he was born of ignorance and failure . . .  he wasn't the best at what he did, just the luckiest, stumbling into reknown. To truly match Sherlock Holmes, a legend who was created to be exactly what he was, one would have to pull in the likes of a Hannibal Lechter, a legendary serial killer created to be at the top of his game. Now there's a match-up that would be worth watching!

So are we done with Jack the Ripper now? Do we need his out-dated legend to scare anyone any more? Is he getting two TV series and a major motion picture franchise like good old Sherlock, the man who cleaned the Ripper's clock more than anyone else?

We shall see.  Night always comes again sometime after the sun comes up, but it's always a different night, a different darkness. The sun remains the same. So it is with Sherlock Holmes.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Winter is coming. Ah, if she was only full strength.

It's hard not to think of Kitty Winter these days. Even though the season premiere of CBS's Elementary is weeks and weeks off, its prophecies of a new character by the name of "Kitty Winter" teaming up with its main character has that name upon many lips.

Kitty Winter . . . Porky Shinwell's fellow resident of "Hell, London." And best supporting role in the "The Adventure of the Illustrious Client," print version.

Kitty is "what Adelbert Gruner made me."

Yet we're never exactly sure what that is, thanks to the Victorian sensibilities of Watson's literary agent.

But we know this: Kitty Winter is fire. Kitty Winter is vengeance personified.

She is young, slim, "flame-like," and burns with hatred at a level of intensity that Watson claims is rare in women and non-existent in men. It's a little bit sexist, unless one wants to claim being the gender capable of higher emotional levels is a complimentary thing. In which case, it is still sexist, just nicer.

Adelbert Gruner used Kitty, we have her own statement on that. And Kitty loved Gruner, surely as intensely as she later hated him, which is probably why the baron wanted her. She loved him so much that it didn't matter that he murdered people. No, it wasn't the murders that turned her off him, which is interesting.

Gruner took something from Kitty Winter. Not merely her virginity, nor vanilla sexual tastes. Her health seems good enough. No, her greatest wish is to see him "in the mud with my foot on his cursed face." Kitty wants to bring him down, and if the Biblical "eye for an eye" holds true, that is what he did to her.

Kitty Winter obviously wasn't born in the slums of London, which she describes as "Hell." She probably had a good family, friends, and a life in a class of people where being courted by a baron was just what one did. If one looks at the "wonder woman" that Gruner is currently dating, Miss Violet De Merville, one can probably glimpse what Kitty Winter was. Had Miss De Merville made it through a relationship with Gruner and lived, she would have been a totally different kind of Kitty, yet a Kitty all the same -- an amazing woman, used for her connections, position, and wealth until they were all used up, then cast into the slums to pick a living as best she could.

Kitty Winter is a fascinating character, with many secrets we have never been told. Sherlock Holmes selected her as a partner in crime, which says something very important about her. This was no common street whore, as some would make the mistake of thinking. No, whatever trades Kitty used for her survival were probably much more interesting than that.

Elementary's combination of modern day setting and "in name only" character borrowing will surely not be giving us a great exploration of the woman Watson met so long ago . . . we have yet to see a fully-considered Kitty in any acted medium as yet, probably because like a Lovecraftian creature, Kitty's strengths in a story are what is left unsaid about her. Yet we have to wonder. We always have to wonder . . . and hope.

Winter is coming again. And as with all winters, this one won't be the same as any before. Let us hope we get many more Kitty Winters before we are through.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Those strange relationships.

Last night I had the oddest dream . . .

No, I really did. Not making this up.

I was watching the new season of Elementary, and with Miss Watson gone, Jonny Lee Miller had found a new love and partner: Mrs. Watson.

Somehow, Mary Watson, the Kelly Reilly version from Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows had been thrust forward into the future, and left here with her Jude Law husband long dead of old age, paired up with Mr. Elementary.

The episode's shocking twist, however, came when a letter arrived from David Burke's Dr. Watson from the 1980s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, stating that he had been Mary Watson's lover and was coming back for her.

And, as so often is the feeling in dreams, it all seemed perfectly normal.

When I woke up, however, it still didn't seem all that odd. Why?

If you haven't noticed, we seem to be living in the Relationship Era of Sherlock Holmes, where the relationships between characters is often just as important, or even more important than the mysteries Holmes and Watson investigate. I would hesitate to declare the Mystery Era of Sherlock Holmes over and done, but there is a decided difference between then and now, and it's in the relationships.

Time after time, I've heard fans of Elementary talk about how the relationship between Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu's characters is what they like most about the show. Fan fiction has explored every possible aspect of the connections between Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock and Martin Freeman's Watson, and every other character on Sherlock. (And if someone somewhere hasn't hit every possible one, I'd be very surprised . . . and someone should get on that remaining one, if I'm wrong.)

One could point at a change in the gender skew of Sherlockian fandom as a possible cause for this, but that might stir up trouble from one side or another. Things had plainly run their course in the previous era of doing things Sherlock, however, and the new Relationship Era seems to be giving it all some fresh wind for the sails.

Will it come to the point of cross-pollinating our Sherlocks, however, as my dream seems to portend?

We shall see.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A new "Monk?"

A nice Sherlock Holmes-based look at the fall TV season was passed along via the WelcomeHolmes list yesterday. Sam Thielman, writer of the ADWEEK article, finds at least five shows on this year that seem to be inspired by our favorite detective.  There's Sherlock and Elementary, to be sure, along with The Mentalist, which we've already seen, but now two more entries to Holmes-world come into the picture, and they make for an interesting contrast.

One is about a English-accented immortal detective . . . sounds familiar, right?  Except he actually is immortal and uses his Highlander powers to solve crimes. It stars Ioan Gruffudd as the investigator, an actor who has been great in roles (Hornblower) and awful in roles (Reed Richards) depending upon what he's been cast in. A look at the previews makes me think this might be leaning toward the latter side and falling in the "Hey, he's got an English accent, so he's smart!" category of Sherlock imitators.

More interesting, and definitely on my "try it out" list, is Backstrom, starring that marvelous actor Rainne Wilson as an addicted genius detective with a Watson . . . but no British accent. Backstrom's previews show off that it definitely has the clever going for it, reminding one of House, Monk, and Bones, all shows that a Sherlockian could love with original characters who, while not being complete attempts to copy Sherlock Holmes, were definitely heirs to his legacy.

Monk, it will be remembered, seemed to focus on the observation/deduction side of Sherlock's bag of detective tools. Backstrom looks like it will be focussing on the Holmes method he expressed in "The Musgrave Ritual" with "You know my methods in such cases, Watson: I put myself in the man's place, and having first gauged his intelligence, I try to imagine how I should myself have proceeded under the same circumstances."

With two shows where the character is specifically named "Sherlock Holmes," perhaps we'll have a harder time getting a Sherlock fix from a guy without that name like we were forced to back in the days of Monk, but hey, a good show is a good show. But without the pressures of having to live up to the actual legend of Sherlock Holmes, which affects the two name shows in different ways, Backstrom might just be free-spirited fun. Being on Fox, of course, it will be "succeed quickly or die" for the show, so we'll find out soon enough.

The beer company massing of Sherlocks.

Some years are just more educational than others.

Take this year, for instance. The Guinness Book of World Records has been around since a few years before I was born, and one of those things like Ripley's Believe It Or Not! that every kid finds fascinating for a time at some point in their childhood. But back when I was reading it, American adults were drinking Budweiser and Pabst Blue Ribbon, so I had no inkling that the book had it's origins with the managing director of Guinness breweries, even with the similar names.

And it wasn't until this year, when both the beer and the book came up at the same social gathering, that I realized the two were connected.

So when, this week, the record was broken for largest number of people dressed as Sherlock Holmes by over a hundred, I was also surprised to learn that there was a world record for the number of people dressed as Sherlock Holmes at one time.

Ummm . . . hooray?

Once upon a time, it seemed like great fun and cause to celebrate when some ridiculous little accomplishment based around Sherlock Holmes took place. A hill in Texas is officially named after Sherlock Holmes! Yay! The name "Garrideb" appears in a phone book! Hip-hip-hooray! A site with anything at all to do with the Sherlock Holmes stories gets a plaque! Huzzah most huzzah-y!

But those things were back in a day when dedicated Sherlock Holmes fans were few in number, and such victories seemed momentous, relative to the more popular fads of the day. Now, with Sherlock Holmes surfing a world-wide wave unlike any before?

At this moment, I'm a bit old, a bit jaded, and a bit tired and past my bed-time, so I'd most likely be yawning in any case, but my first question has to be "How long has there even been a world record for the most people dressed up like Sherlock Holmes?" Obviously there was at least one recorded before this latest attempt.

The official Guinness World Records site only lists one Sherlock-related record: First actor to play Sherlock Holmes on television. Surely there are others, but I don't know if you have to stop in at their offices, or buy the book (which must be a multi-volume set by now, if they're including such stuff as the number of people dressed up like Sherlock Holmes) to find such things out. Don't think I'm dedicated enough to my Sherlock blogging to do either of those things, but if you feel so motivated, feel free to pass along the information.

Since Guinness was selling well over a million barrels of beer a year by the time Sherlock Holmes was having a beer in such tales as "A Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Blue Carbuncle," he was undoubtedly acquainted with the Guinness name. (And if he wasn't then, his pose as an Irish-American in "His Last Bow" probably did the trick.) But with the "world records" side of things not coming along until the 1950s, his record for being the World's First Consulting Detective probably never got properly recorded.

Sherlock richly deserved that one, so if it's not in the books, I guess we'll just have to take a record for the number of people dressed like him for now in its place.