Friday, January 30, 2015

Del Gruner versus Charles Augustus Magnussen.

Two third season TV shows with a main character going by the name of "Sherlock Holmes. Two third season villains forced to try to impress audiences that already had Moriarty. And two TV versions of Canonical characters whose modern names have been changed just a bit to make them distinctly new incarnations.

Elementary's Del Gruner. Sherlock's Charles Augustus Magnussen.

As I've considered last night's climax to the season-long Kitty Winter involvement on CBS's Elementary throughout the morning after, I've found it instructive to look at its villain, Del Gruner in comparison to BBC Sherlock's Charles Augustus Magnussen.

In Conan Doyle's original work, it is hard to say who is the more repulsive villain, Baron Adelbert Gruner or Charles Augustus Milverton. They both ruin lives. They both are all about the documentation of sins and things best kept hidden. And they both get Watson's blood up.

But in their recent TV incarnations, one finds distinct differences that show definite traits in the productions that presented them.

Del Gruner has kept a woman prisoner and burned her with a branding iron. (Not shown.)

Charles Augustus Magnussen licks an unwilling woman's face to show dominance. (Shown.)

Del Gruner grab's Joan Watson's arm so hard that it leaves bruises.

Charles Augustus Magnussen flicks John Watson's face with his index finger.

Del Gruner's twist is that he has a secret child by a woman he raped, which proves to be his undoing.

Charles Augustus Magnussen's twist is that he has a secret mind palace of store blackmail information, which proves to be his undoing.

Del Gruner has his head horribly burned with acid after the show's consulting detective allows his apprentice to do what she wants to this man who threatened the detective's friend.

Charles Augustus Magnussen has his head shot clean through by the show's consulting detective, as he is a man who threatened the detective's friend.

One drama uses the language of the over-used stock serial killer genre to mundanely recreate a character we'd like to know more about.

One drama uses minor interpersonal violations to viscerally communicate just how repulsive a character who we knew was repulsive in the Conan Doyle story . . . but man!

And while the nominations are still far off for one of these villain's drama, the other helped win his episode seven Emmy awards and an additional five nominations for excellence in television.

And while Del Gruner seems to have ended mid-season, leaving one to wonder what will happen the rest of the year (Kitty becomes a villain herself and allies with Jamie Moriarty?), Magnussen's finish was the climax to his season (and set up a return of Jim Moriarty?).

It's hard being the villain that's not Moriarty. Harder still without a deft hand holding the pen that works out your schemes for you. Who comes out on top in a Gruner/Magnussen contest is surely a thing for each of us to decide, but given all of the above, I know who I'm picking, despite his inability to recognize proper toilet facilities. Your opinion may differ.

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