Sunday, November 6, 2016

About Sixty: The Comeback Trail.

Act two. The sequel. The return.

Getting back into my front row seat for About Sixty: Why Every Sherlock Holmes Story Is The Best after a climactic bout between "The Final Problem" and The Hound of the Baskervilles is slow going. This tournament of Canonical champions has been going on for a while now, the popcorn in the arena is getting a bit stale, and . . . there's still half of the Canon to go? Holy crap. One is almost tempted to leave Holmes dead at the bottom of Reichenbach falls this late on a Sunday eve. But I see some friends up ahead, so I get back to business.

Was everything after Reichenbach just one big serial sequel for Sherlock Holmes? Team 1800s Canon had a pretty solid performance in the ring, and Team 1900s Canon already seems to have spent their best contender. What is "The Adventure of the Empty House" going to bring?

Well, if you listen to William Walsh, everything that came after. "Empty House" comes to play as the hero that brought every remaining contender to the dance. But like it's villain, Sebastian Moran, "Empty" comes off as a champion whose glories we've heard second hand, and when all the talk of what happened off-stage is done, the actual fight "Empty House" puts up isn't winning me over. Still, you've got to give it credit for getting this Battle Royale back on track.

Vince Wright runs "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" into the ring to hit his predecessor with a clever trick we haven't see yet: tag-teaming it to A Study in Scarlet with Baring-Gould's blessing! But Vincent W. Wright does not have the prevarication skills of Vincent K. McMahon, and eventually admits he might not be as enthused about his contestant as he could be. Which gives Randall Stock a leg up on calling in "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" right after.

Randall runs the stats down on "Dancing Men" and gives it the authentic Conan Doyle quote "strong bloody story" bounce. Ah, but "Dancing Men" always comes down to that cipher, doesn't it? Either you're into that particular dance, or you're not. And when a Sherlock Holmes story is fighting for dominance amongst its brethren, code-breaking skills may make you a special lad, but they ain't gonna keep you in the ring long.

This battle is getting rougher on the participants all the time. Hate to think what it'll be like by the time my guy gets here.

But things are about to get really Violet . . . "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" is ushered in by Lisa Burscheidt. And if you think I was just making a pun on "violent" with that "Violet," well, I was and I wasn't . . . "Solitary Cyclist" has both a great Violet and some enjoyable violence, and Lisa has her competitor showing off both those attributes, making it the strongest contender since Sherlock Holmes's comeback. And for a story about a girl on a bike, this one is a brawler. A Holmes-in-a-bar-room brawler.

With "Solitary Cyclist," things are finding their stride again with these stories all vying to be judged "the best." Where does it go from here?

More of the best, I'm guessing.

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