Sunday, May 31, 2015

Loving Sherlock, loving yourself? Or someone else? Or not?

"What is it that we love in Sherlock Holmes?"

Edgar W. Smith asked that question at the beginning of a much cited editorial bit in the April 1946 issue of The Baker Street Journal, and it is a question worth revisiting every now and again. Edgar Smith answered soundly and well for 1946 Sherlockians, but his thoughts, were they a human being, would be now well past retirement age. Many generations of Sherlockians have been born since, and as well-phrased as Smith's words were then, the question he asked must still be answered anew every now and again.

Take for example, the first half of Smith's answering essay: Victorian England. Even though other Sherlocks made it to their own modern day, as Basil Rathbone did, fighting those Nazis, every fan of Sherlock Holmes knew his true home was Victorian England . . . until recently. Television Sherlock has now broken the time barrier, and massive numbers of fans of the great detective now feel as comfortable with him in a modern 221B as ever did with him in the 1880s. And while one might feel a bit of nostalgia for the old Victorian period and love the source material deeply, the good side of Holmes breaking the time barrier cannot be denied -- solid proof that there is something eternal in Sherlock Holmes. Time and technology don't matter to him.


Well, that is where we come to the second half of Smith's essay, the part that gives it its title, "The Implicit Holmes."

We love Sherlock Holmes because we are, to some degree, narcissists.

Smith wrote it much kindlier and more diplomatically than that, but basically, we love Sherlock Holmes because we see something of ourselves in him. We see a part of ourselves that knows there are truths to this world we would like to freely expose. We see a part of ourselves that is smarter than the Scotland Yarders who so often surround us. We see a part of ourselves that we know could rise above it all and set the world's wrongs to right . . . if we just had a little more of Sherlock Holmes in us.

And we love that part of ourselves, that part that is Sherlock Holmes.

Edgar Smith waxed warmly about it all, invoking hearth-fires and sitting rooms, but have you ever noticed how many serious narcissists do pop up in the Sherlockian world? Those who love Sherlock Holmes a little too much, and their own point of view even more? (Yes, yes, I am including those who blog far too much about matters Sherlockian. But I'm a self-aware narcissist -- that makes me less nasty, right? Sure, it does . . .) One wonders if we're now getting more of "jerk Sherlock" and "addict Sherlock" because our view of ourselves has changed . . . or maybe we're seeing Sherlock as something outside ourselves . . . as our partners.

When Edgar Smith wrote his answer to "What is it that we love in Sherlock Holmes?" he was writing as a man for an audience of male Sherlockians. He didn't think of it that way, I'm sure, and some women did read him, but in the culture of the day, let's be frank -- pretty darn male-dominated. Watson, like a wife of the Victorian era, was not Holmes's equal back then. Friend, yes. Trusted companion, yes. Much love between them, yes. And even though we saw Holmes through Watson's eyes, Watson wasn't allowed to be the protagonist. And that came through in films, as film-makers felt a need to include this vital character from the stories, but didn't know what to do with him in a movie format.

Now, we're getting John H. Watson more often as his own man in dramatic productions. A rich and complex character all his own, as he was at first. And sometimes that character overtakes us in the tale, becoming the protagonist and making Sherlock Holmes this strange other thing that has to be dealt with. We are suddenly the wife of this very unusual husband, so to speak.

And what is it that we love in Sherlock Holmes then? Or do we?

These days, with so many Sherlocks to choose from, that question becomes well worth considering. Because we don't have to love every Sherlock. Only those that touch something in ourselves or something we'd like to see in a partner.

It's not as easy a question to answer these days, as it was in Edgar Smith's time, unless one is completely Doyle-Canon-centered. And why would we want easy questions anyway?

We're fans of Sherlock Holmes. The game is afoot.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


"The name's Sherlock Holmes, and the address is 221B Baker Street. Afternoon!"

Oh, my God, I'd forgotten just how good this show was. Lightning in a bottle.

And the detail. Benedict Cumberbatch does look like an otter. Watson's sister's wife is named Clara, making her "Aunt Clara" to that baby bump that comes around third season. Anthea.

John Hamish Watson.

Re-reading the complete written Canon of Sherlock Holmes, often in the summer, has long been a habit of mine. Re-watching a complete television series, however is something new. So as summer begins this year, I decided to do it with that other Canon of Sherlock Holmes, as it's been called by so many. Not jamming through it in a weekend, but just taking it in at a leisurely pace over a week.

I thought, like the written Canon, I could take a lot of notes during the course of it, harvest a few details for later consideration as I went. But as I watched that first episode of BBC Sherlock all over again, all that went out the window.

"A Study in Pink" takes a lot from A Study in Scarlet, and other literary Canon sources, but it has never been a straight adaptation, which I've always loved. Straight adaptations, while all charming and nice as tributes, rarely get me too excited. I know those stories too well. My headcanon argues with what I see on the screen. "Pink," however, did something even better, and it was almost suddenly discovering shared telepathy with another human.

Oh, you understand Sherlock Holmes, too.

"A Study in Pink" didn't just show us that its creators read the Canon. It showed us that they got why millions of people have loved it over the past century. To use a metaphor that will sound too literal, but isn't: Sherlock wasn't just cosplay; it was real acting. Too often we've been treated to the trappings of Sherlock Holmes adventures without the spirit of same. Here, someone got the spirit.

And it's no wonder the Sherlockian world has never been the same since this thing appeared.

It's been an interesting road, with so much inspired from this flagship effort, and fans who love it so much that even the show itself didn't live up to their expectations in later years. (Expectations -- always trouble.) Going back to the source last night, however, proved even more interesting.

I had another favorite movie on as background while I cleaned and did other chores earlier in the evening, but when "A Study in Pink" started playing, nothing else got done, not even notes on the show itself. It just drew me into its spell all over again.

And that is a very good thing to rediscover after so many years.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Shirtless Sherlock.

As a part of the aftermath of my last post, I found myself doing a Google image search for "shirtless Sherlock" this week. ("No shirt, Sherlock!" does not work real well.) And it brought up something I never expected we'd be discussing in the Sherlockian world:

What did Sherlock Holmes look like without his shirt on?

We now have Downey, Cumberbatch, and Miller versions of a topless consulting detective. Did Gillette, Rathbone, or Wilmer ever expose their nipples as Sherlock on film? Of course not. Cushing? Plummer? Stephens? Well, maybe James D'Arcy did when he had that three-way prior to getting hooked on heroin. (He was the pre-Elementary Mr. Elementary.) But it wasn't something we could really do side-by-side comparisons of before.

What can we gather from our sudden influx of bare-chested Holmeses?

Well, Hollywood apparently doesn't see Sherlock as an Adonis. More of the guy who gets sand kicked in his face, if you will excuse an old-geek reference. I'm sure that many a lady-fan is going to disagree with one point or another of anything I'm about to say here, so forgive me in advance -- strictly a hetero male POV in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

So here's the good part about Downey, Cumberbatch, and Miller: None of them makes me feel badly about my own not-so-attractive beach bod. Downey has the rigors of middle-age showing in abundance. Cumberbatch looks like he's about to be bullied in a high school locker room, all pale and scrawny. And Miller has that special quality that evokes a carny with a half-smoked cigarette dangling from his mouth as he starts the ferris wheel. Yes, they've all made some attempt to suck in their gut and done a few sit-ups, but none is going to attain that Daniel-Craig-emerging-from-the-ocean-in-Casino-Royale-make-you-doubt-your-own-sexuality level of shirtlessness.

And as Sherlock Holmes was a man who avoided "exercise for its own sake," this was not a man bound to have six-pack-abs. None of his adventures required him to go scuba-diving or surfing, despite the sea creature featuring so prominently in one of said adventures. And his bedroom escapades of late requiring sensual fleshly attributes have been completely non-Canonical. So until recently, who really cared what Holmes looked like with his shirt off? Ah, you modern day and your hedonist ways!

Or maybe this is just a sign of the great gender culture shift. William Gillette's fans of the early 1900s may have speculated intensely about their hero of the stage without his shirt on, but just couldn't break into the male-dominated publishing world with any writings upon the subject. Had the Baker Street Irregulars of New York been founded by Cristina Morley, perhaps Violet Starrett and one of the ladies comprising the pseudonym "Ellena Queen" might have commented upon Sherlock's chest early on.

Who knows? We now have one more thing about Sherlock Holmes to discuss. Scholarly papers can be written on "Chest hair or no chest hair: Which is better for the detection of crime?" And if you're in the mood to see three different half-naked Sherlocks on your desktop screen all at once?

Well, this is your lucky decade.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Sherlockian thing I hate the most.

Okay, let's be honest. As much of a Mary Sunshine front as some fans want to put on, if you're a true fan of something, a true fanatic, enthusiast, afficianado, or whatever you want to call it, if you are really into something . . . like, say, Sherlock Holmes . . . there are parts of that field of interest you hate.

Hate, hate, hate.

As much as you love the thing you love, karma demands that a price be paid, and that price is your hatred of the thing that doesn't fit into your love-match with the subject of your fandom. You may keep it quiet, you may hold true to a "live and let live" philosophy, and you may behave the way a perfect lady or gentleman behaves, but deep down in your gut there's always going to be some thing attached to the object of your fandom that also makes you one of the dreaded haters, should you ever let it out.

Now, given the tendencies of this blog, regular readers might think I'm discussing my own feelings about a certain television show. But here's a big "NOPE!" to that. If you want to get to the one thing I have pure unadulterated Sherlockian hatred for, the one thing I've never seen anyone trying to defend, and heaven help them if they did, is a very small thing. A very small thing.

A phrase I first saw on a button, years and years ago.

To me, it's the most anti-Sherlock Holmes thing that exists in our culture, the Calvin-pissing-on-a-Ford-logo of the Sherlockian world, a thing that takes all the goodness that Conan Doyle put into the creation of the world's first and foremost consulting detective and turns it on its head.

And Howard Ostrom reminded me of this thing this morning on Twitter. Like so.

While the name of this new acne product is not that thing that I hate the most, it plainly was derived from it by someone who thinks it's a clever line. Which it is exactly the opposite of, though it is the sort of line used by the un-clever to feel so. The greatest quantum physicist in the world could make the most brilliant discovery ever, but if the rube standing next to him utters that horrendous three word phrase when he's done explaining his discovery . . . invoking negation, the gods of poop, and a condescending use of the first name by a non-familiar . . . well, somehow the rube is certain he just elevated himself above the quantum physicist.

And anyone who thinks that Dr. Watson . . . the Canonical Dr. Watson, a Victorian gentleman and gentle literate fellow . . . would utter such a phrase, as is often implied, plainly doesn't know Dr. Watson.

Sure, times have changed. Modern Watsons in the modern day use Sherlock's first name. It's what we do these days. And modern Watsons say "shit." (Or would, if network censors would allow it.) And if your guy named "Sherlock Holmes" is kind of an idiot drug addict, well, that phrase I hate so very, very much -- "No shit, Sherlock!" -- might actually fit the situation.

But when I first saw it used, on a seemingly harmless little button, all those years ago, we didn't have any modern Watsons who might say "Sherlock" and "shit" and make it seem perfectly reasonable. Back then I was an old school Sherlock Holmes fan in an old school world, and a button reading "No shit, Sherlock!' still had all the fresh, non-cliched impact it was meant to have.

And in that moment, a deep, despicable hatred was born. A hatred that lives on in my Sherlockian heart to this day. A hatred beyond any other reaction to anything else with the name of Sherlock Holmes used in it.

So it's a very good thing I don't need any acne medicine.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Like birds to kalimotxo.

I was pondering Mary Morstan Watson the other day, and that description John gives her in the opening to "The Man With The Twisted Lip":

"Folk who were in grief came to my wife like birds to a lighthouse."

And Watson doesn't necessarily mean "grieving" grief here. Given the situation faced by Kate Whitney, who came to Mary when she just didn't know which way to turn, it seems to have more of a "folks in trouble" connotation.

I was thinking about what it must have been like for Watson -- his former room-mate didn't really attract people with troubles, necessarily, but people with puzzles to work out. Watson's wife attracts visitors of a different sort, as evidenced by the wife of an addict looking for help with her husband. No mystery there, just the sort of grief with no easy solution faced by ordinary people every single day. While Sherlock's visitors offered John a chance at adventure and curious events, Mary's visitors were probably more along the lines of sad, sad stories needing a sympathetic ear.

In Kate Whitney's case, John Watson actually has a purpose he can serve -- going after the husband -- but as evidenced by Mary's first reaction, "Or should you rather that I sent James off to bed?" (Let's not get into the "James/John" issue at the moment.), Mary Watson did not always need a man around to deal with her friends' issues. Nor find it of help.

But as I pondered the life of the husband whose wife is constantly attracting folks in sad situations, I went back to the original text for another look, and then got distracted.

"Now you must have some wine and water," Mary Watson tells her guest. She plainly prescribes a gentler nerve tonic than her husband, whose habit was usually to get brandy into Holmes's distraught clients. So that got me curious about wine and water, a drinking practice that apparently goes back as far as the Romans and Greeks.

Mixing water with wine seems to have a great many varieties and reasons, and my initial theory -- that Mary was using the gasogene to add soda water to the wine for her guests -- didn't seem to have been necessarily the case, especially if she was just calming their nerves and not making a party beverage. But the minute my web wanderings found kalimotxo, the mixture of wine and cola, things suddenly look a very non-Canonical turn as I contemplated this much-less-classy cousin to sangria.

Which is part of what I've always loved about being a Sherlockian: The Sherlock Holmes stories are perpetually a portal to ideas that had never crossed your path before, even it is something as silly as mixing wine and Coke, and stumbling upon it from a rumination upon Mary Morstan.

But then, we never really know just what to expect out of Mary Morstan these days, do we?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Conan Doyle-Harry Houdini love match.

A while back when I wrote about the new Conan Doyle/Houdini supernatural investigation drama that Fox network had ordered up, the thought of the inevitable Doyle/Houdini slash fiction that would follow came quickly to mind. Well, the world spins awfully fast these days . . . so fast that apparently, even as that thought crossed my mind, a couple of improv actors were already spinning up such a scene.

I was catching up on some podcasts today when I got to  "The Ugly Couch Show Couchcast." a.k.a. "Geek Shock" episode #280, "R2-D2stein." And what to my wondering ears did appear but Paul Mattingly as Harry Houdini going to town on Conan Doyle in a manly fashion.

It starts at the 28 minute 50 second mark, if you're so inclined as to listen to it (or are the ultimate Doyle completist). Totally NSFW (Not Safe For Work) or playing while any proper society ladies are present that you don't want to go, "Oh, my word!"

But it made me laugh out loud, and if the sound of Conan Doyle spinning in his grave from everything else going on these days hasn't bothered you, you might get a laugh out of it, too.

The politics of dead authorship.

Well, if anyone thought the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. was just going to call it a day after the "Free Sherlock" loss in court, they now should know differently. The Estate apparently has decided the upcoming movie "Mr. Holmes" featuring Ian McKellen is going to make enough money that it's worth suing. Not that we all didn't know this movie was in production for quite some time, or that the book it was adapted from has been on the shelves for what now . . . nine years?

The backlash on the internet has been freely verbalized -- I seem to remember the phrase "die in a fire" used at some point. (Which always seemed the secular version of "burn in Hell" to me, though it probably just is used more as "Go away, with pain.") The Doyle Estate appears to be viewed a lot like a literary "patent troll" to many, which is probably is always going to be the case when the linking between services rendered and payment becomes as tenuous as it is with non-descendent copyright holders.  Does the Estate care about being popular with the fans? Probably not, as fans don't render lawsuit judgements or stop seeing big screen Holmes movies if they don't have Estate approval.

But it's interesting to look back at the political side of the Conan Doyle copyrights where the fans are concerned, as it has gone a couple of different ways over the years. The Baker Street Irregulars and Conan Doyle's son Adrian had their issues when he controlled the copyright, but when the copyright went away and came back . . . this time in the hands of Adrian's little sister, then a nice elderly sort, members of that same group were much more in her corner. And why wouldn't they be? Nobody wants to steal cookies from a nice old lady who might let you have a look at the recipe if you treat her right.

These days it's a bit messier. There is no one face to the Conan Doyle estate, an Adrian or a Dame Jean, unless it's a certain fellow who couldn't be more on the outs with the Irregulars. And while the U.S. courts freed the basic character of Sherlock Holmes, the character of retired Sherlock Holmes from "The Lion's Mane" seems pretty tightly held in their legal grip with the copyright to that single story. (Though a few details of Holmes's retirement -- "a small farm upon the downs five miles from Eastbourne,"  "rheumatism," and dividing his time "between philosophy and agriculture" -- appear in the out-of-copyright preface to His Last Bow.) And Sherlock Holmes fandom is a lot bigger than the Irregulars and their scions now, energetically zigging and zagging about in ways that make you wonder if they even have time to spare to worry overmuch about court battles that probably shan't affect them.

When it's all over and done, the adventures of the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd. is going to make a decent read in The Baker Street Journal -- maybe even a special "Christmas annual" of that same magazine. And one day those adventures will be over, as time gets to everything, eventually.

For now, though, it looks like there's a bit more to be written, about the Conan Doyle Estate, Ltd., if not about Sherlock Holmes from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. We only get to see these sort of issues when that pen has long ago stopped writing stories or signing checks.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Vexillographic Sherlock Holmes.

A good friend of mine was talking about the principles of flag design the other night, and my first thought, in meeting those basic tenets with a flag to call my own was to borrow the symbology of a hero of mine since childhood . . . who wasn't Sherlock Holmes.

When it comes to effective, yet simple, flag-type devices, no one claims a kid's allegiance more than a superhero, and my favorite, then and now, was Kid Flash. His red lightning bolt on a field of yellow is a marvelous thing to me, suitable for flag or t-shirt. Most of the early superheroes came with such flag-worthy, iconic symbols: the red "S," the bat, the lantern. They were meant to be recognizable in an instant, as a flag is supposed to do. You see the skull and crossbones, you shout "Pirate!"

So if Sherlockians were suddenly to form an army, raise their own castle, what flag would we fly?

Well, for one, we should start with the principles laid out by the North American Vexillogical Association.

Principle #1: "Keep It Simple: the flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory."

Principle #2: "Use Meaningful Symbolism: the flag's images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes."

Principle #3: "Use Two To Three Basic Colors. No more than three colors that contrast well and come from the standard color set."

Principle #4: "No Lettering or Seas: never use writing of any kind or an organizational seal."

Principle #5: "Be Distinctive or Be Related: avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections."

Okay, I know from the get-go that someone out there is going to shout, "Deerstalker and calabash pipe! Deerstalker and calabash pipe!" And why not? Those icons have served Sherlockians since the time of William Gillette, whose one Sherlock Holmes adventure will finally be seen by the modern world this fall. But that deerstalker has been an "iffy" proposition for most of the last hundred years. Sherlocks take it or leave it, and in the modern day, they mostly leave it. And despite our remaining tobacco-lovers' natural desire to have Holmes as a patron saint, that pipe is definitely not symbolic of "eternal Sherlock" either. So out go the dated references.

A loyal Baker Street Irregular will also probably suggest purple, mouse-gray, and/or blue as colors for the flag, as they have long held those colors as their standard. But those were the colors of Sherlock's various dressing gowns, and as much as an old-school Irregular might want to pooh-pooh Watson's tighty reddies in fangirl art as born of lustful intentions, what was with all the focus on Sherlock Holmes in his bathrobe? (Yes, I know a dressing gown isn't just a bathrobe, but still a "Does he have anything on under there?" mystery outfit.) Makes you wonder about the old boys a bit, doesn't it? (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

No, to start working on a Sherlock Holmes flag, I think we have to go old school, and I mean seriously old school. As in the City of London flag. Sherlock Holmes was a man of his city as much as anyone, and the red St. George's cross with a sword upraised in the upper left quadrant is an inspiration as to where one could go with his knightly side (had he not turned down that knighthood, perhaps we could have hit it more directly).

The big problem in taking anything from that one other than inspiration is that Holmes didn't really live nor work in the City of London proper, but in Greater London. So one can also look to the flag of the former county of Middlesex, or the flags that fly over Westminster Abbey, or even the flag of that county Sherlock Holmes would eventually retire to: Sussex.

The image of the six small birds in the Sussex flag (martlets) brings quickly to mind the imagery Watson used to describe Sherlock Holmes on occasion, calling his features "hawk-like." As Holmes himself spoke of "my natural prey," it is not hard to envision him as an keen hawk-eyed raptor catching his prey in a sudden swoop down from the intellectual heights.

In that bird's claws could be two or three small black birds, representing Moriarty, Moran, and/or Milverton. Or one could get fancy and make his prey a spider for Moriarty and a snake for Milverton (with a speckled band nod thrown in), but I think the spider just isn't elegant enough for a flag.

It is said that a blue flag symbolizes "vigilance, truth, loyalty, perseverance, and justice," so that background seems a natural. Making the bird of prey gold is a nice nod to Sussex.

But that's just one idea, and the black birds he's catching probably won't pop against a blue background. And bird-wise, Holmes could also be a phoenix, rising from, not fire, but the waters of Reichenbach. Is either of the bird ideas so simple a child could draw it from memory? Done right, perhaps. Flags are tricky things.

We know Dr. Mortimer found Holmes's very skull worth coveting, so would a big old skull suit a Sherlockian flag? A pair of all-seeing eyes like some fortune-teller's sign? A bloodied demon-hound lying beaten in the beams of the light of truth?

These days the pattern on the living room wallpaper from BBC Sherlock's 221B Baker Street is quickly becoming the banner of at least one segment of our Sherlockian community. But it would be nice if we had a standard for all Sherlocks these days, to unite us as a people. (Yes, yes, a bit bold of a statement for the guy who disses Elementary all the time, but still . . . .)

Any clever design folk out there willing to be our Betsy Ross and release something beautiful into the public domain for all of Sherlockiana? The flag pole is open!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mr. Elementary.

Lately I've taken an interest in Sherlock fan fiction.

What fascinates me about Sherlock fan fiction is the exploration of beloved characters by people who have found those characters worth study and exploration. Regardless of their level of writing ability or the cleverness of anyone's particular imagination, they're spending much valuable time and much effort upon working with the recognizable personalities of Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson for the love of those characters. Not because some network handed them a prime-time slot and a couple of name actors. Not because they're getting a paycheck for their work. Just out of the pure love of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and a desire to share that love with their fellow Sherlockians.

There are those folks out there that take a completely self-interested position and go "What are those stories doing for me?" If a given sort of fan fiction doesn't trip their triggers, they'll throw out an off-hand comment of disdain and move on. And that's their right.

Some might equate my disdain for CBS's Elementary to those folks. "I don't like this version of Sherlock Holmes, you don't like that one, same thing. We can agree to disagree."

But here's the thing fan fiction, while out there for everyone to access, isn't being presented to non-Sherlockians as "Sherlock Holmes." One has to be fan enough to seek it out to find it, and fan enough to know one's tastes enough to sample this or that and find out what suits you. You're never going to run into a clerk in a store who sees you're buying a Sherlock Holmes book and goes, "It was always weird to me that Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade had three-ways after they finished performing in their rock band . . . what was its name? Oh, yeah, Two Hundred and Twenty-One Bees!" No one develops their entire perception of Sherlock Holmes based upon a given alternate universe fanfic with a touch of kink.

But here we have CBS's Elementary, a tale told at a level below that of fanfic, because the writers don't seem to exhibit much love of Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Watson at all. Sure, they love playing with their Jonny Lee Miller addict character, and their Lucy Liu whatever-she-is character, but after three full seasons I think we can safely say that those are not anywhere close to the Sherlock Holmes or John Watson characters that fans have loved for over a century. There is no love of Sherlock Holmes here. Just use of the name. And for three years, from fall to spring, this concoction has been foisted upon television audiences in America and elsewhere, numbering well over six million every week, as the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Those people who are going to watch some network TV show every night no matter what's on and absorb a bit of what's there. This is the Holmes they get.

Walk up to a clerk in a store with a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes today and you're liable to get a "Why do you want to read about that junkie and his heroin problem?"

And that, in a nutshell, has always been why I truly hate CBS's Elementary. Because it's not just a fraud . . . television is full of artfully-contrived, gloriously  ridiculous frauds. But because it's a fraud that takes something good, something inspirational, something that has caused generations of writers, scholars, and artists to do wonderful work as an expression of their joy at encountering a legend, and turns it into something that does none of that. And is such a lukewarm attempt, even at what it does do.

The legend that is Sherlock Holmes is big enough to withstand a Mr. Elementary for a few years. And documentarians will be happy to include Jonny Lee Miller in their list of people who portrayed a character named "Sherlock Holmes" in the decades ahead. And some people will still be inspired to create new stories in all sorts of mediums with that original, inspiring character. But now? Here and now, as we have to sit through a summer cliffhanger of "How will Mr. Elementary quite being a loser long enough to have a TV show about him next year?" (The answer being, "Oh, yes, he was never that far above being a loser for three seasons now. Loser Sherlock will carry on.")

But it's such a waste. Such a waste.

No wonder so many fans would rather pour over the latest set photos of Benedict Cumberbatch or hear Mark Gatiss reiterate a line or two slightly differently in yet another interview while waiting for Sherlock to come back, rather than watch this thing.

Lately I've taken an interest in Sherlock fan fiction, even after watching seventy-two episodes of Mr. Elementary's nominal drama. Or because of it. In any case, summer is here at last, and a hiatus has never been more welcome.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

E3:24. The third time's the . . . charm?

Tonight came the final episode for season three of CBS's Elementary.

Tonight is the night that show catches up to BBC Sherlock. Three whole seasons done, hit Moriarty, Milverton, and Mycroft, as well as Irene. Watson has had issues and gotten over them. Tonight, as many an Elementary fan has tried to tell me over the last three years, they are equals. The same.

But of course, they aren't.

Elementary had seventy-two episodes. Sherlock had nine.

Elementary was Emmy-nominated for titles and theme music. Sherlock was nominated for Emmys four times the first season, for writing, editing, effects, and music, then thirteen times the second season, for acting, directing, writing, casting, editing, cinematography, music, sound-mixing, costumes, and just being outstanding, then a mere twelve times in its third season, though it took home seven Emmy awards at long last.

One could make a real "quantity versus quality" statement based on the above facts, but that's hardly something one wants to say about siblings. The modern television industry gave birth to Sherlock, and then went, "What a cute baby! Let's have another!" And along came the little brother who would always have to live in his glorious predecessor's shadow. Sure, he'd be able to hang with his own crowd most of the time, a good many of whom never even heard of his brother and be liked for who he was, but he himself would always know his brother was out there . . . just being soooo damned popular among the cool kids.

Tonight's season-ending episode of Elementary featured that ultra-rare script entirely by the show's creator, Rob Dougherty, who has only performed said task maybe three times now. Various internet spots noted that he would be live-tweeting during the season finale, which seemed a slight distracting for finale night, but the network probably wanted to make sure it got every viewer it could. And when Dougherty gets involved with Elementary, one knows there might actually be some development of interest on the show, so . . . .

Joan Watson makes popcorn in the microwave in the opening moments of this turning point episode. Now, I hate to be judgmental, as regular readers of this blog know, so I'll just let that fact lay there for your consideration.

Microwave popcorn. So during the credits and opening bout of commercials, I attempted you rectify this situation by getting out a pot and some corn and popping up my own batch, just to send the good popcorn karma her way.

I think it worked, because at some point, Joan looks at an old napkin and observes, "The grease is still fresh." The level of skill it takes to detect freshness in a grease blot on a paper napkin based entirely upon visual examination is incredible. Bravo, Joan. And nice detective coat!

This week's mystery is, happily, one consistent narrative. A kidnapping of Mr. Elementary's good addict friend, Alfredo, by Mr. Elementary's bad addict friend, Oscar. The ransom? Oscar wants addict detective Mr. Elementary to find Oscar's addict sister.

Occasionally we get a bit of non-addict action from the three other series stars, Captain Gregson, Joan, and Detective Bell, actually trying to find Alfredo while Mr. Elementary goes on a sort of "ghost of Christmas past" tour of addict-related sites. Addictementary continues, and we wait for that moment when Mr. Elementary actually gets some heroin and has his make-or-break addiction season climax.

Remember how Sherlock Holmes does those things where he amazes and surprises people with his observations or case-solving revelations? That was always great, wasn't it? With just that right bit of dramatic flair added? Magnifique! Sorry, nothing to do with tonight's Elementary,  just reminiscing about the good old days.

Addicts, addicts, dead addict, missing addict. Not sure what the message is on this very serious condition that plagues so many, or it's just a coat of addict-paint on a run-around while Jonny Lee Miller makes an Emily Litella face. Seriously, he makes this pinched-up Emily Litella face.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Don't know why I really need to say that. It's not like there was a shocking twist in all of this. After being dragged around by Oscar through all sort of heroin addict hangouts, after the sister turns up dead, and Oscar reveals he did all this just to get Mr. Elementary to give in to heroin again, he throws some heroin on the ground in front of Mr. E.

Mr. Elementary finds out that kidnapped addict Alfredo was rescued by the detective team of Thomas, Joan, and Marcus, then kicks the crap out of Oscar in a fit of rage. And then, apparently as a result of that rage, he picks up the heroin kit.

Our final scene for this third season is of Joan Watson going to tell Mr. Elementary that his father has called. One knew the father would come up, as he and Joan's original "hired to watch addicted son" relationship was flashed back in the "previously on" bits pre-show. Father Elementary has somehow heard "what happened" and is coming to get Mr. Elementary.

What happened?

Well, the final shot is of Jonny Lee Miller doing what is either serious-brain-damage face or "Oh, no, he's on the heroin again!" face.  A very depressing image and the one Elementary fans are left with for the summer, I guess to look forward to Joan either attempt to re-connect with him after rehab next season, or trying to get him off the drugs herself.

As this episode played out, I found myself going, "Oscar is the arch-enemy they decided to put up against Mr. Elementary for the season finale?" and then quickly answering my own question with, "No, heroin is Mr. Elementary's true arch-foe and has been all along." Not like that took any brain power at all. It's been the running background theme for the past three seasons, as characters kept talking about his addiction, even though it didn't really seem to affect the story, the character, or anything else. He was always fine, week after week, even if he was carrying around a little packet of heroin in a book.

But at the end of last season, when he got that little packet, obviously no one gave him a needle, a lighter, and a spoon, too, then pissed him off. Not that we know about the paraphernalia involved when he did the heroin this time, as there was no dramatic injection scene. Just that brain-damage face. Didn't it take his beloved Irene Moriarty's death to get him on drugs the last time? Wouldn't it have been a better tale if he thought Joan Watson had died (in a great reverse twist on what happened on Sherlock) and turned to heroin to deal with the pain?  That might have made sense. But this? One more deus ex machina character development for no well-developed reason?

Sigh. Good mystery, good story-telling delights by throwing you a surprise even after you've seen all the clues that lead up to that conclusion. With Elementary, as with this episode, we get a slow, drum-beat march to an inevitable finish, with the only true surprise being something that really didn't come out of the writing: in this case, how yuck-o Jonny Lee Miller's addict-face is. I was wondering how they would show the addiction, and his mug was truly disturbing in its own right. I had to actually start Googling whether or not Elementary was renewed for season four, just to see if I had to live with that image as the last thing of Mr. Elementary I'd ever see. (Four days ago, CBS did announce that it will indeed return.)

Every season finale so far has teased Mr. Elementary turning back to the drugs, and now, after two fake-outs, we finally get the real thing . . .

. . . . yay?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hangry for Sherlock.

I got a bit "hangry" a few days ago. Don't know if you have any acquaintances who use the term, but it's that combination of hungry and angry that enhances both feelings with them coming at you at the same time. You're hungry, and you're angry that you're hungry.

It's most often seen it during the hunt for a restaurant during a busy season, like Mother's Day, when everywhere that anyone wants to go seems to have hour-long waits and groups of people get lost in a limbo of searching, but not finding, as their blood sugar plummets.

For me, however, it came with the joyous announcement that BBC Sherlock would start filming again in 2016.

2016! Filming! Next year! After we wait another five months or so until that Christmas episode that is being spoilered about the net! And then wait another year or so after that for the newly filmed 2016 trilogy to roll out.

And then it occurred to me. Benedict Cumberbatch is a full two decades younger than I am. He has said that he'd like to play Sherlock Holmes for a very long time. I could, potentially, spend the rest of my life waiting for Sherlock  episodes to come out, and then actually die before the series has its final episode.

The concept of vampires was surely invented by someone past middle age, because as this point, draining the youth from a few silly young wastrels isn't seeming like such a bad idea. I must be, I realized, getting "hangry."

At what point will the joy of new Sherlock episodes be outweighed by the sheer pain-in-the-ass nature of the weight between them? At what point does one go, "Well, yeah, I think Elementary is crap, but it's on every week, so I might as well blog about it instea . . ." Oops, I guess that point has already come and gone. But it probably is the point when some better, faster Sherlock Holmes shows up and starts emptying Sherlock's waiting room of its fans. Yes, nigh impossible to imagine, I know, but stranger things have happened.

So "hangry" for Sherlock was I the past few days that I finally found myself inexplicably turning to the Canon Prime to search for pancakes. Pancakes! And there I found some comfort, as little Lucy Ferrier spoke so sweetly of pancakes in the non-Sherlock part of A Study in Scarlet, another time when I just kept waiting for Sherlock Holmes to appear.

"I'll tell her how awful good you've been," young Lucy told her companion, speaking of her late mother. "I'll bet she meets us at the door of Heaven with a big pitcher of water, and a lot of buckwheat cakes, hot, and toasted on both sides, like Bob and me was fond of."

I hope Lucy's mother is carrying some butter and maple syrup, too, when I get there, because if I'm still waiting for Sherlock episodes, I'm going to need a full-on pancake pig-out to ease my "hanger."

Monday, May 11, 2015

Green velvet sparkle cake Sherlock Holmes.

I was reading an interesting analysis of what's been happening to Superman of late -- in case you hadn't noticed, he's not really the same guy he used to be, breaking the occasional neck and all. And it made me think, as so many things tend to, about our friend Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes can be a quite different fellow these days than he was in the 1890s, the 1920s, or the 1940s. As much as fans of drug-addict-Sherlock-Holmes or on-the-autism-spectrum Sherlock Holmes would like to say he was always thus, you'll have a hard time finding much evidence for either case in the public eye before the middle of the last century.

And it isn't just that we didn't know what drug addiction or Asperger's syndrome was way back then. We definitely knew what drug addiction was. We just didn't have a need for Sherlock Holmes's amazing powers of intellect and observation to come with a price.

Sherlock Holmes was a Superman, back in the day. He reigned supreme among detectives, just as Superman reigned supreme among superheroes. In fact, he kind of created the whole modern private detective thing in a way, being the inspiration for so many, just as Superman led the charge for the cape-and-cowl set.

But these days, neither Sherlock nor Superman gets to be the pure thing they were in the 1940s when we had external baddies like Hitler to focus on and fight. Sherlock and Superman were us, fighting the good fight, the best of us. Now, without the Nazis knocking on our door, Sherlock and Superman are both given the hard squinty eyeball of the alien we don't quite trust. They're on our side, they're helping us, but there's something there that just isn't normal. And we have to pick at that, since we don't have Hitler to distract us.

Perhaps it's just that they were simpler characters once, in simpler times. But that simplicity isn't that the folks of the past were dim-witted simpletons -- no, they just had less time to spend over-analyzing things. They had to work harder just to make meals, keep the car running, perform all those daily tasks we take so much for granted. They didn't have time to write stories.

That's what you realize when you try to take in all that is Sherlock Holmes these days. It isn't just that he's changing -- it's that he's becoming more multi-faceted, more complex. Where the world once only had four or five fictional incarnations of Sherlock Holmes in the public eye at any one time, there are now thousands. Literally thousands. Writers working on coming up with their own personal vision of Sherlock Holmes, with greater or lesser success.

At the top of the food chain, you see Moffat and Gatiss, or Dougherty, pulling millions of eyes to their twists on Holmes. At the other end of the spectrum, you'll find an internet writer with a couple of hundred hits on a web-story. But every one of those creators is trying to use Sherlock Holmes to tell a different story. And in order to tell a different story that many thousands of times, Sherlock must become a very different person sometimes.

The old pure Sherlock will always be there, like that good old recipe for plain yellow cake. Other "green velvet sparkle cake" recipes may rise and fall in popularity, but when you really want some good old yellow cake, it's still there, waiting for its simple pleasures to be enjoyed. At the same time we get to amuse ourselves analyzing the question, "Why the heck do we need green velvet sparkle cake?"

And on Sherlock Holmes goes.

Friday, May 8, 2015

E3:23. It's murder, I tell ya! Murder!

Murder, murder, murder . . . .

Murder, murder, murder . . . .

Remember how Sherlock Holmes inspired the creation of entire generations of detectives? Detectives that were written about in books like Murder Ink? The one thing that so many of those detectives took from Holmes was that they needed to solve murders. Not just fascinating crimes of all types, but only that most sensational and capital of crimes . . . murrrr-derrrrrrrr.

Only one of the cool things about Sherlock Holmes was that he solved mysteries of all sorts. Not just those involving dead bodies. So it was a little disappointing when this week's Elementary started with the police station wrap-up of what sounded like an interesting crime . . . a great scheme involving a Raggedy Ann flash mob . . . that might have made a good robbery, something else cool and classy, but no, it's a murder. And after that murder is wrapped up in a minute or two, we're treated to a bit in beehive country that results in a dead body lying among the hives. Murrrrr-derrrrr.

And an excuse to get Mr. Elementary hanging out with bees, haranguing Monsanto's stand-in corporation for causing bee colony collapse, and wander through this week's multi-stage murder investigation.

Meanwhile, we're left wondering about Captain Gregson being promoted out of his current job due to all the success Mr. Elementary and Joan have brought him. Of course, his promotion brings the possibility that a wiser replacement might not feel the need to constantly have all these unofficial consultants under foot. Since the showrunners don't seem to want to come back to that subplot, I have a feeling it's their setup for next week's season finale and the necessary cliffhanger there. So it's back to murrrrr-derrrrr.

Maybe it's just me, but Mr. Elementary and Joan even seem a little bored by it all as they wander around talking to bee-related folk. One of them seems a bit testy . . . I'm guessing she's the murderer . . . or possibly her man-person.

"You keep checking your watch . . . " Mr. Elementary says to Joan. Yeah, I bet.

It's no wonder Sherlock Holmes saved bees for his retirement, when he didn't seem to need the mental stimulation quite so badly. Mr. Elementary and Joan don't seem all that stimulated by this bee business, despite its environmental crisis aspects.

But eventually, we get back to Captain Gregson's possible promotion, which seems to just be an excuse for him to get time alone with Joan. They seem almost romantic in their discussion of his possible departure:

"You know, I know a thing or two about big career changes, maybe I can help." (Yes, Gregson, you should leave the police force and become sober companion to a person with a magical income stream. That's what Joan knows about big career changes.)

"I love what we do . . ." (He covers by adding a bunch of stuff about whatever it is the rest of the people on the show do as well, whatever that is, but that's sure not what it seemed the way he said that to Joan.)

"Whatever decision you make, I have no doubt, it will be the right one." (Sure, Joan, because you thought "sober companion" to one guy was more useful to the world than just another surgeon for everybody else. Your judgment isn't questionable.)

But, back to the bee mystery, that cranky woman and her man-guy are hauled in to that shabby interrogation room they always use to be identified as the killers. You know the old saying, "If a man is serious and ambitious about his work, he's 'assertive.' If a woman is serious and ambitious, she's a 'murderer.'" Or a kidnapper, as . . . ooooo, hot Polaroids of Miss Cranky. The layers of sexism in this show just keep on coming.

She's a murderer AND she likes to have sex! Lock her up!

And, of course, Gregson is passing up his promotion because he loves working with Joan Watson. (Yeah, he says he loves his job, but after that scene earlier . . .)  But this can't be over so close to finale time -- there's suddenly something suspicious about the reasons he was offered the job to begin with. Something funny is going on here. And there's also the preview for next week's finale. Hey, look! Heroin is back! Mr. Elementary's supposed drug addiction is always a season-end topic to tease. Oh, no, he's going back on the horse! False alarm, he was just trapping Moriarty or hanging out with Kitty!

Same old, same old for Elementary. It's macaroni and cheese television, but I suppose macaroni and cheese exists for a reason.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fics and recs, fics and recs, what would we do without fics and recs?

The latest episode of the Three Patch Podcast came out this week, and even though they are mammoth beasties nigh three hours in length that could seem fearsome to the average Sherlockian of the pre-Cumberbatch era, I waded into it with great eagerness.

It featured their reportage on and during 221B Con, among other delights, and I looked forward to one last look back at that grand event. The thing I would mention, however, to any other pre-Cumberbatcher who has not yet acclimated themselves to this new world of Sherlockiana, is that much of the creative impulses of these new Sherlockians center around fan fiction.

Fan fiction. It's a place where many a first-time writer finds their voice and others, sad to say, a bit of writerly disappointment, as in any field of literature. I don't claim to be an expert on the genre, being a fellow who finds himself standing on the edge of that great sea, poking the occasional toe in to test the water. But I've spent enough time looking out at that sea of late to realize what those who keep it at a distance may have missed: it is no small, nor unimportant, thing.

Consider the way our world is going. Intellectual property rights are being tied up by corporate entities left and right. Economic factors are eating away at the middle class, leaving more and more of us without excess funds to spend on luxuries. Put those two things together and you get a prime driver for fan fiction being one of the next great areas of literary development.

Because it's free. It's all free. Free to do what you want, free to read, free to write. Free, free, free.

And that means open access for both artists and audiences. True, we may one day look back on this era as the wild West before the corporations cracked down on their intellectual properties, only allowing fan fiction by licensed entities or the like. But for now, we have a marvelous terrain where entire generations of wordsmiths can sharpen their pens.

That said, one must not make the mistake of viewing this great sea of new literature as amateur clap-trap, not worth the bits and bites that store it. Because where you hear of fan fiction, you'll soon hear of recommendations. Fics and recs, coming together like salt and pepper, Bonnie and Clyde, tisket and tasket . . . .

Because writers aren't just writing fan fiction. Readers are reading fan fiction. And loving it. Hard.

Sherlock fandom literally has fandoms within the fandom, enthusiasts for particular stories and novels within its genres. And it has genres within genres, worlds within worlds, which is what makes it anything but some boring little fandom dead-end one can just write off. (Solar Pons societies, anyone? Sorry -- I'm sure there must be one or two of you Pons fans still die-harding it out there.)

The Three-Patch Podcasts continue to delight, humble, and exhaust me with all the thought and energy that goes into them, and their latest episode is no different. I suppose I should have written an actual review of it here, but the thing about Three-Patch . . . if you give them an open-minded listen, they will certain make you think. And that's where I wind up wandering off with a blog on a larger view of fan fiction, as "We knew that!" as it might be to fans of greater depth than I.

Onward, happily, onward.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

S&D Fanfic #4: "The man was either a lover or . . ."

EDITOR'S NOTE: We continue to interrupt our regular blogging for a brief interlude of fan fiction from the world of Asylum "Sherlock Holmes," a.k.a. "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs." If it ever gets to an actual sex scene, I'll be sure to warn you.

"You Really Are An Automaton!"

A memoir of Anesidora Ivory

Chapter Four: "The man was either a lover or . . ."

"During the days after Thorne's death, before you came to live with me, Miss Ivory, I met a man who would change my life," Robert Sherlock Holmes abruptly confided in me, one night as we sat opposite the autumn hearthfire at 221B Baker Street. "Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle."

"Ignatius, Robert?" I asked rhetorically as part of a subroutine to stimulate human conversation.

"Yes, unfortunately," Holmes replied. "Watson reported that some gossips of the London medico-naval community enjoyed calling him 'Iggsy.' To me, however, he was always 'the Doctor.' Watson would later refer to him with a more distant 'Conan Doyle,' but then, a touch of jealousy might have played a part in that."

"Jealousy?" Same subroutine running as always. I rose to walk slowly and methodically toward the hearth to tend to the fire, and along the way, higher functions kicked into gear, quite literally.  "Are you about to go into a 'Gloria Scott' or 'Musgrave ritual' sort of storytelling?"

Sherlock Holmes pulled out his gently curved pipe, tamped some tobacco in it, and  lit it with a match, a wordless answer to my question.

"Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was a three-tour ship's doctor. His first job was that of ship's surgeon on a Greenland Whaler. His second a trip to Africa that saw him down with fever, nearly eaten by a shark, with the ship catching fire on the way home. But none of that was as bad as what happened on his third job as a ship's doctor.

"Back from the Africa trip in January of 1882, he intended to get on a South American boat at first, but had a fine opportunity on a government treasury ship bound for the West Indies. That trip went perfectly, until that dark night in May when it was coming up the English channel, and the kracken took it."

"Your brother's kracken? Doyle was on the H.M.S. Coronet?" I asked. "But Midshipman Stiles was the only reported survivor."

"There was one other," Sherlock Holmes said grimly. "And he is another reason Watson will never write up that tale."

"After Thorne's mechanical kracken destroyed the Coronet and was killing everyone visible in my brother's periscope in that dark water, Doyle hid himself under some wreckage that contained enough space for him to still catch breath while not being seen. The kracken submersible eventually left the wrecked ship with its stolen gold, and the ship's doctor spent a long night trying to keep himself afloat on bits of wreckage and looking for the coast.

"Dawn came, and the desperate doctor saw the shores of Newhaven in the distance. He began swimming that way, fighting exhaustion every second of the way. By the time he reached the shore his limbs were so useless that he just let the waves push him to shore like driftwood. As he washed in, he saw a man halfway down the shore's cliff-face -- Dr. Watson, whom I had gotten to climb down and look for clues.

"'I see you,' he heard Watson cry out to him, 'I'll get help! I said I see you!'

"Doyle rolled over on to his belly to attempt to crawl up on the beach with what little strength he had left. Dr. Watson, deciding that he could better help Doyle from the top of the cliff, tried climbing back up, and was so distracted by a rope break during that climb that when asked what he saw, Watson gasped, 'Nothing! Nothing! It's an empty ship!'

"Doyle saw Watson look back out over the sea from atop the cliff, as  Lees, the rope-man, and I walked away, but he was too weak to call out. He spend the better part of the day laying on that beach, before the man Lees, returning to get his own look at the wrecked ship, found Doyle there.

"After getting some brandy and water in him, Lees got Doyle on a late train for London and brought him to Baker Street to tell me his story. The trip had very well taken what spirit was left from the man, and after Lees, Mrs. Hudson, and I got Doyle up to our rooms, I installed him in my bedroom to recover . . . the place where Watson would discover him in the morning, having been out when the ship's doctor found his way to our door.

"Watson was very petulant at breakfast the next morning, never mentioning the half-naked stranger in my bedroom with a moustache so much more impressive than his own. He just stared at me in silent reproach. You could see it in his temperament the rest of the morning until we confronted the dinosaur, as if he was certain I had taken liberties with our houseguest."

"Had you taken such liberties?" I broke into his tale to ask. "That sort of hurt-comfort scenario has been known to lure lesser characters into its manly embrace."

"My blushes, Miss Ivory, my blushes," Sherlock Holmes replied.

"But you clearly said Watson was jealous," I told him.

"Jealous of Doyle's writing skills, surely," he answered back. "I'm certain that Doyle will be writing up a tale of dinosaurs long before Watson does."

"And that was the same day when Doctor Watson asked me to go to the opera with him . . . an obvious retaliation. No doubt if you had not called him away that night, I would have wound up in a bedroom in Baker Street as well, just to punish you."

"In the very room you now occupy," Sherlock Holmes laughed.

"Some nights," I replied. "On some nights."

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Random bits from a lazy Sunday.

An Illustrious Client passed through Peoria today, but why meet a Sherlockian for lunch in Peoria when you can share some poutine in Kickapoo?

It's that kind of random day, so it seems like a good point to just blog up some thoughts that have been twirling around the Brad-o-sphere this week, even though none of them are really large enough to fill a single entry.


Anesidora Ivory, the automaton female lead from Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs, almost supernaturally foreshadowed Ava from the film Ex Machina. Both characters are just enigmatic enough to make us unsure of where they're headed at movie's end, which either has to do with  the nature of technology or femininity or both. If my ongoing Anesidora fanfic ever reaches a conclusion, perhaps the two can meet . . . along with those two Cylons in Times Square at the end of [NAME WITHHELD FOR SPOILERAGE].


I was reading a December 26, 2014 issue of Entertainment Weekly, their "2015 Preview" with a collage of 2015 hot media buzz-pics: Game of Thrones, Jurassic World, Star Wars, Avengers, etc., etc., and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. This was there due to a piece on new and exciting TV shows expected to come out in 2015, all of which were brand new, except for Sherlock. Since there's only one episode of Sherlock that could even possibly appear in 2015, and just barely at that, one has to conclude that Entertainment Weekly's marketing department has discovered that Sherlock Holmes -- the Sherlock one -- is popular enough to sell a few more magazines. Me, I just wonder if we should quite calling Sherlock a TV series and just accept that it's a series of movies with a really freaky release date schedule and screen-size problem.


And speaking of things that we should just accept are something other than what they get categorized under, this week I actually had a moment where I wondered why I'm blogging about Elementary, when the accepted mission of my blogging is that it's Sherlock Holmes-related. This is not meant to be a knock on that show, just a report that between its own story development and my own use of the names "Mr. Elementary" and "Joan," I've managed to put it in a totally different wing of my mind palace than Sherlockiana, where it went quietly and without protest.


That said, I still managed to also come up with on more theory on Sherlock's statement by Mycroft Holmes: "You know what happened to the other one." Could Mycroft merely have been talking about Jonny Lee Miller's character from Elementary, Scott Holmes, a brother so far down a drug-addled path that they convinced him a scuzzy restauranteur was Mycroft and that his girlfriend was Moriarty and ditched him in NYC? (It's like one of Watson's continuity puzzles -- I still want to make that oddly shaped Elementary piece fit into the Sherlock universe. It's a dominance thing, I guess.)


Well, that's enough laziness for this Sunday. on to Reichenbach week! Happy diving!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

E3:22. The road most travelled.

Before the opening titles in this week's Elementary, we are introduced to two cases for Mr. Elementary.

One, involving the possible theft of the Stanley Cup.

The other, a man who is stabbed on a subway platform.

Now, if John H. Watson were chronicling the cases of Sherlock Holmes and choosing the most interesting for publication in The Strand Magazine, I suspect the former case might have been selected for write-up.

But as Joan Watson isn't picking Mr. Elementary's cases for publication, and the CBS network is just letting the procedural faucet flow, we're going to be treated to a detailed analysis of the subway stabbing. The Stanley Cup business seems to just serve as a comic reason to interrrupt Joan's morning shower at first . . . but wait! The Cup reappears, giving it possible sub-plot status, a role usually reserved for the folks in Joan or Mr. Elementary's social and/or sex lives.

Oh, wait . . . the Stanley Cup subplot is segueing into a Marcus Bell social and/or sex life subplot.

Really? Another boyfriend or girlfriend we'll never see again, even if they make it to a second episode? This show. Tsk.

Here's another thing about Elementary besides its formulaic nature that's always bothered me. Despite all the ballyhoo about a female Watson, it is sooooo sexist. Even anti-women.

Case in point: In a nice male bonding moment at the end of the episode, where Marcus Bell and Mr. Elementary spend an evening pitching playing cards at the Stanley Cup. (Does it get any more male than that?) Mr. Elementary states he'll be having sex in an hour and offers to get a woman for Bell as well. We don't know if the women involved are prostitutes or more of those magical "women who just want appointment sex with no relationship, thanks to mental compartmentalization" that Mr. Elementary lines up to satisfy his urges. In either case, it's pretty much women as commodities, especially when offered to Bell.

Well, even if the main mystery was, as usual, not that compelling, it is always nice to see the Stanley Cup. Few trophies have the personality or legend of that pedestaled punchbowl.

Go Elementary.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Meanwhile, back in Ye Olde Printed Canon.

"Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust that we shall soon have some good news for you. And good-night, Watson," he added, as the wheels of the Royal brougham rolled down the street. "If you will be good enough to call tomorrow afternoon, at three o'clock, I should like to chat this little matter over with you."

So sayeth Sherlock Holmes in "A Scandal in Bohemia." Let's break that down.


"Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust we shall soon have some good news for you."

Holmes took a deep breath, preparing to say something else. The King ran out of the room and practically fell down the stairs to get to the ground floor, out the door and into his Royal brougham.

"GO, CURSE YOU! GO! SHERLOCK HOLMES HASN'T FINISHED HIS STATEMENT!" the King shouted to his driver. The coachman's whip cracked over the horses's heads and the carriage started to move.

Sherlock Holmes opened his mouth to speak again.

"And good-night, Watson," he added as the wheels of the Royal brougham rolled down the street. "If you will be good enough to call tomorrow afternoon, at three o'clock, I should like to chat this little matter over with you."

Watson silently treaded after the King, accepting Sherlock Holmes's primary importance to the story.


Now, just in case you haven't read the original tale in a while, all the non-bold stuff is mine. Fan fiction has always been around to supply that which we aren't supplied in the mainstream entertainment at its source.  So why not fill in the weird temporal gaps in the original Doyle-agented work? But the above is a little weak in the "added interest" department.

So what else can we do with that little time-jump where the King magically makes it down to his carriage and starts riding off between the period in his good-bye and the capital "A" in Watson's good-bye?


"Then, good-night, your Majesty, and I trust we shall soon have some good news for you."

"And good-night to you, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," the King of Bohemia said, wrapping one Herculean arm around the thinner man and drawing him in for a hearty, full-mouthed kiss. The King then released the dazed detective and headed for the stairs.

"European customs can be so . . . unexpected," Holmes said, trying to recover his composure.

"Is duelling one of Bohemia's customs?" I remarked, the blood rising. "I think I shall have to lay down a challenge to the man!"

"Good of you to defend my honor, Watson, but I think it would be better served by simply leaving it out of your eventual chronicle of this matter."

"I still think the matter needs reprisal of some sort. Just because a man is a noble, it doesn't mean he can . . . ."

Sherlock Holmes wrapping one of his own long, sinewy arms around me, and drew me in for a completely European kiss.

"And good-night, Watson," he added as the wheels of the Royal brougham rolled down the street. "If you will be good enough to call tomorrow afternoon, at three o'clock, I should like to chat this little matter over with you."

"Good-night," I found myself stammering, as I fumbled at the door and made my way down the seventeen steps in a daze.


The Canon of Sherlock Holmes has always been ripe for expansion and embellishment, whether in historical exploration or solving little mysteries of continuity. There's an aspect to it all that's something of a "Mad-lib" where your own personality can fill in the gap. (Not that I'm all that into boy-kissing, but looking into fan-fiction lately had definitely made that a genre worth using as in example.) I may have just worked "a love-story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid," as Holmes might have criticized. 

Of course, who really knows just what Sherlock Holmes was doing in those narrative gaps, anyway? 


(All of the above was composed while waiting on a Doyle to finish their work, ironically enough.)