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.

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