Saturday, August 31, 2019

Our widening orbit of Baker Street

It occurred to me this morning, after working on a Sherlockian podcast that doesn't mention Sherlock Holmes, reading a Sherlockian tweet about a book that has the name "Sherlock" nowhere in it, and seeing a promo for Sherlockian seminar about building an archive of a club's history, that there is a point for the fan of Sherlock Holmes where the friendly confines of 221B Baker Street get left far behind.

I mean, we all start at 221B. Here's Sherlock Holmes! Here's Doctor Watson! Baker Street! London! Yay!

But as time goes by and we circle around the old Holmestead time after time after time after time, the orbit of that fixed point can start to widen. The Afghan War. Joe Bell. The Strand Magazine. The Mormon faith. The fiction of Clark Russell.

A bit more time passes, the orbit widens further. Lily Langtry. The Hammer Dracula films. Christopher Morley. The Boer War. The TV show Supernatural.

And eventually you find yourself in a place where your friends and co-workers say something like "You are into such a strange mix of things!"

And yet it all started at that one fixed point, that one placing of the sharp end of a jointed compass, when we found ourselves in orbit around the two occupants of a London flat. The magnetism of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson tethers us to them, makes us unwilling to let go. But as time passes and we reach out for new stimulation, new interests, new rabbit holes to fall down with one hand, the other clings to our friends at Baker Street.

The result could be shown almost as a genealogy chart of subjects, moving from one, to all those things connect to it, to all those things connected to them, picking out what interests us most or is the most fun to play with, and continuing on. Like the rings on a tree stump, you can probably tell the age of a person's Sherlockian hobby by the not-exactly-Sherlock interests they've added as time passed.

Of course, at some point in all that, you just wind up pondering Sherlockiana itself, and here we are.

Enjoy the orbits.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Back to the Nigel Bruture

Tonight I read an article about scientific advances with organoid cells, then followed that with a few minutes of a TV show called Just Tattoo of Us. It made me consider how the human race is running on parallel tracks these days . . . one seemingly getting smarter and smarter, and the other sinking into an unbelievable mire of idiocy. We seem poised to have the most incredibly advanced technology with its use being directed by the stupidest people imaginable.

And it made me think of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

That Holmes and Watson pairing has endured a lot of criticism for matching a brilliant-as-ever Sherlock Holmes with the biggest boob that ever had the title "Dr." affixed to his name. Why would they be friends? How could Sherlock Holmes tolerate a John Watson that's such a goof?

Well, maybe of all the Holmes/Watson pairings, this is the one that is actually our guiding light for our future. A "Nigel Bruture" of a future.

If mankind is going to continue to advance and fall backwards at the same time, the geniuses and the idiots are going to need to be friends. It's the only way this is going to work. I mean, I could pretend to do the false equivalency thing, and say, "Because we're all stupid sometimes, and we're all smart sometimes." Which is true. But on average, some have an overall average more like Basil's Holmes, and some have an average that's more like Nigel's Watson. Which one are you? Does it matter?

Bruce-Watson was clear-headed enough to recognize when Rathbone-Holmes was right about something. Rathbone-Holmes was empathic enough to see that Bruce-Watson had worth. The two incarnations of our favorite pair were friends, and worked well together as friends, enough for fourteen movies.

Even in the movies, one would occasionally get irritated with the other. (And if we consider those two characters non-movie everyday lives, it had to be much worse.) But somehow they made it work. They didn't wind up repeatedly punching the other one or otherwise abusing each other, the way some of our more recent, closer-to-equal Holmes/Watson pairs. And maybe there's something in that.

I don't know. Maybe one of these days I'll stroll back through that series of movies with such a thought in mind, so see if there is inspiration there. But for now, the thought that there was such a Holmes paired with such a Watson and they prospered . . . well, it's a little ray of hope for our future.

Just as Sherlock Holmes should always be.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


What makes a long-term fan of something?

What brings a person to a particular table of myth that they then never leave?

And, in this particular context, what makes a warhorse?

It's easy to take joy in that thing everybody's talking about. The Super Bowl, the last season of Game of Thrones, the music of a band that's coming to town next week . . . when a thing is currently present in your life, everybody's loving it, and you're feeding off each other's excitement . . . it's the easiest time to be a fan, and a level of fandom that almost everybody hits about something at sometime. It's the fandom of the moment. Years pass, you might even forget that one.

And then there's the fandom of the phase . . . the thing you really got into for a year or five, and then drifted away from (or grew out of, if one can write that without insulting whatever that fandom is). You always have a certain nostalgia for that time, still think of yourself as a fan but maybe not quite as much a fan as some others. The books may stay on the shelf as trophies of that time, but you don't pull them down anymore.

But there are also those books you never stop touching. They don't gather dust. You refer to them again and again, not for the simple pleasure of entertainment, but to recharge your mental stores of what they hold. Because what they hold are things that are always with you. Blocks you need for building your next inspiration, your next game, or your next simulation. At which point, you enter the realm of the warhorse.

Warhorses were determined creatures, responding without the reins needed to guide most of their kind. They were so familiar with the being they carried into sheer chaos that they almost merged into one creature in the heat of their charge. And they kept on until they finally fell, which makes this metaphor all sad when you think about horses, so let's get back to people.

The warhorses of a fandom. Those people who keep pushing ahead with a thing, even when those next to them fall away. What bonds a person that closely to something that might be a temporary diversion to most? 

One would think a person would know the answer to that question after four decades of being around just that sort.  At this point, I'm still wondering, though. There are more than a few warhorses out there though, still charging after all these years, so whatever it is, it works.

Opportunity and the stray Sherlockian

I don't know if you ever saw one of those 1950s short films about the future, and all the labor-saving devices headed our way. "Life will be so easy as technology handles all our cares!" seemed to be a running theme. Well, as the clock runs down to the year 2020, the future is here, and what has all of our future technology done for us? Is life the carefree paradise that was predicted by ye olde promoters of machine convenience?

Well, to be honest, lately I kind of miss typewriters, snail mail, and all those impediments.

Why would anyone think such a thing, you might ask. Why favor a machine that printed letters on a single piece of paper, require physically obscuring mistakes with tape or white paint, and used pressure-sensitive ink-paper as your only way of creating a back-up copy, if you weren't just going to risk sending off your ONE COPY in the U.S. Mail . . . that sounds insane, at this point, to miss all that.

But here's the thing: Because it was so hard to write and get published, you really had to want it. You had to want it badly enough to get past every one of those obstacles, and many more. And that, my friends, meant you had to make some choices. You most likely had to focus on the one thing. You were working at a slower pace, and so was everyone else. Opportunity was a very limited thing.

And then, eventually, comes 2019. Creative opportunity is everywhere. Anything you write can go somewhere, reach an audience somehow. Publishing a physical book can literally be done in under a week with under five hundred dollars, if you don't need that many copies, but you don't even really need print any more. If you've got an internet connection and a device of whatever sort to use that connection, the primary limiter of your opportunities to create is probably just going to be you, be it your own fears or your own abilities, or fears of your abilities or possible lack of same.

For someone who came up in a time when opportunities were limited, 2019 is an all-you-can-eat buffet in front of a stray that grew up hungry. And if you've ever owned a stray pet that grew up hungry, you know what they tend to do: Eat anything and everything, even to the point of making themselves sick. But "sick" from a binge of goal-setting, content-creation, or just taking on too many roles is a little different from simple indigestion. Stress on any system is apt to bring out the familiar weak spots, and on a human system, insecurities, fears, self-doubt, you name it!

Tech upgrades always bring new challenges, and Sherlockiana has, like the rest of the world, had one helluva tech upgrade since the 1980s. We've had a few folks in our midst who tried to remain Amish-like as long as possible, and newer folks who grew up app-friendly. The challenge is there for everyone, though, and how we accept it, deny it, or just plain bathe in it is all up to us.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but at this point, just need to stop typing . . .

Sunday, August 25, 2019

And on the podcast cutting room floor . . .

There are those who might say that The Watsonian Weekly podcast gets a bit silly at times, as I get to playing around with voices and audio. Of course, even I have limits, especially when it comes to audio engineering. And this week, with a bit of a cowboy theme as the John H. Watson Society's August "Treasure Hunt" has inspired themes each week . . . and excuses for a bit more silliness . . . one might have noticed the episode starting out with a parody of the Rawhide theme that doesn't go on for very long. Sometimes the loyal listeners just have to be spared.

And so, for those who are just curious as to how the rest of that song went, here are the lyrics to the full song:

Watson, Watson, Watson,
Watson, Watson, Watson,
Watson, Watson, Watson,
Low tide!

St. Claire has gone missin’
His wife ain’t got no kissin’
They found his clothes, now listen . . .
Low tide!

Among those opium addicts,
Not there for just kicks
Soon you’ll be sleepin’ Surrey side!

Your wife might be a lighthouse,
But she’ll be missing her spouse
Cuz Sherlock Holmes calls you to abide.

Go to jail
(Find Hugh Boone)
Wash his face
(Find St. Claire)
Solve the case
(Clear the air)
Low tide!

Sure it’s a minor detail,
It’s low tide not a narwhale,
But it rhymes with Rawhide
Low tide!

It’s how they found St. Clair’s coat,
Like Birlstone’s old moat
But there Holmes used an umbrella.

Because moats aren’t tidal,
I guess that isn’t vital,
This song should be coming to an end.

Stop it now!
(Sing some more!)
Stop it now!
(Sing some more!)
Stop it now!
I want more . . . . Low tiiiiiidddde!      LOW TIDE!


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Meeting May Lamberton Becker

Sometimes another whose life has been touched by Sherlock Holmes just falls into your lap.

That happened to me tonight, as I picked up a copy of Profile By Gaslight to take to the Sherlock Holmes Story Society after work for our closing reading of Starrett's "221B." Out fell a newspaper clipping, folded in quarters, with a book review from May Lamberton Becker entitled "The Immortal Sherlock Holmes."

The browning newsprint's acid had actually stained pages 124 and 125 of the book it had been buried inside, the last page of "The Coat of Arms of Sherlock Holmes" and the first of "Genealogical Notes on Holmes," but I didn't care a whit. This was not pristine copy and a find is a find.

The review was not just any review, but May Lamberton Becker's review of the Sherlockian triple event of 1944: The publication of Christopher Morley's Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Edgar Smith's Profile by Gaslight, and Ellery Queen's The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes, all collections edited by the men in question, and a set sure to set any occupant of 1944 on a course to red-blooded Sherlockian in just three books. The first, with Doyle originals. The second, full of articles by studious Sherlockian experts. The third, all pastiche and parody by the best of authors. And May Lamberton Becker was here writing wonderfully of all three.

In the course of her review, one learns that Mrs. Becker hasn't just read those three books either. "What 'Baker Street Studies' began and Vincent Starret's masterpiece of pseudo biography brought to full flower, this 'irregular reader' enriches." May Lamberton Becker has read at least five core Sherlockian classics at the time of writing this review. It is not at all surprising that six years later she would write the introduction to another Holmes collection, The Book of Sherlock Holmes. (Did I immediately order a copy from a bookshop? Yes, I did.)

Her references to Stanley Baldwin, Sairey Gamp, and the Stork club might require a wee bit of reminding, but that's half the fun of finding a beautiful little time capsule of a review like Mary Lamberton Becker's work. With our magic lamp of Google at hand, enlightenment is but seconds away on any of these mysteries, and another era starts to emerge.

Born in New York and dying in Surrey, Mary Lamberton Becker was a pro-Britain American at a time when England needed a friend, and the end of her review gives you a real idea why; ". . . if properly spaced in reading, this book of 'pastiches' should see you through the war." In 1960, T.S. Eliot dedicated London's National Book League reading room to her, for inspiring and guiding readers with her reviews and anthologies. And given her review, "The Immortal Sherlock Holmes," from some unknown 1944 newspaper, tonight I learned that she surely inspired more than a few people in Sherlock's general direction.

Mary Lamberton Becker

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

When Baker Street was silent but for the puff of a cigar

There is something very dull at the start of "The Six Napoleons." Interesting to such a fan of Holmes that the minutiae matters, but quite mundane when fully played out in one's head.

"It was no very unusual thing for Mr. Lestrade, of Scotland Yard, to look in upon us of an evening," Watson writes. Okay, no Netflix, America's Got Talent, AO3, Facebook . . . name your poison . . . looking in on someone was probably a major form of entertainment. So let's get to the details of what the residents of 221B got on "Lestrade Tonight."

"On this particular evening Lestrade had spoken of the weather and the newspapers. Then he had fallen silent, puffing thoughtfully at his cigar."

Like I said, they couldn't exactly discuss this week's Game of Thrones. Politics probably went nowhere as a topic of discussion, since Mycroft Holmes was not someone easily spoken of. Lestrade is sitting with two of the most interesting people he knows (and he knows cops), and is doing most of the talking, about the June climate in London, and what he read earlier in the day. Holmes and Watson aren't talking, which is interesting.

Once silence falls, Holmes asks Lestrade about what he always wants to hear about from Lestrade: Crime. The one thing Lestrade has to tell, curiously enough, is described with "But in my opinion, it comes more in Dr. Watson's line than ours."

Lestrade seems to be paying special attention to Watson, like he feels the doctor has been especially silent during the preceding parts of the visit. Holmes has spoken, we know that at least. But Lestrade seems to be drawing Watson out.

Have Holmes and Watson been fighting, with Watson the aggrieved partner in the dispute?

When one considers the usual way Watson starts a case, writing about Sherlock Holmes, and the way he begins this one by writing about Lestrade, one starts to suspect that even the memory of that evening that "Six Napoleons" began is still pushing his buttons. Is this our usually patient Watson on the verge of what Holmes called deserting him for a wife?

Sometimes the spaces where silence lives speaks as much as a whole conversation, and I can't help wonder about that opening to "Six Napoleons," the story we'll be discussing Thursday night at the Sherlock Holmes Story Society at Peoria's North Branch Library, starting at 6:30.  And if past discussions are any measure, we'll be wondering about a few other points as well.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The specialized Sherlockian weekend

I'm a little bit fascinated, of late, by the November conference being held by the Baker Street Irregulars. Called "Building an Archive," the weekends focus, aside from the history of the BSI itself, is archiving and collecting, featuring a host of speakers related to that theme. It's a very specialized theme for a Sherlockian weekend, and makes me wonder if it isn't the shape of things to come.

During the Sherlockian "boom" of the late seventies and early eighties, there were few enough Sherlockians that gathering under anything more targeted than "Sherlock Holmes" probably wouldn't have gathered all that many attendees. Now that we've seen professionally-run conventions centered around a single Sherlock Holmes TV show, it's definitely a different world. (Sorry if "things are different now" is a recurring theme in this blog -- you live long enough, it's what you've got.) Things were bound to get more specialized.

Collecting Sherlockiana seems a little retro to me at this point, something from the John Bennett Shaw days when we were all doing it. But my bias stems in part from my age, I think, as many a younger Sherlockian is still gleefully adding another book to the shelves instead of going, "Now where am I going to put this?" Are there less collectors now? I don't know. But what I do know is that there are a helluva lot more writers.

So many people have a published Sherlock Holmes story. So many folks have even made it to the goal of published novel. And I'm talking both print and online publishing here. We seem to be awash with Sherlockian writers these days, which makes me wonder something else:

How long until we have a weekend conference that's just completely a Sherlockian writer's workshop?

221B Con is marvelous in that area, and fiction writing has been a core part of its attendees celebrations of Sherlock Holmes. Yet it is marvelously an "everything Sherlock" convention, and much too social for stopping to write more than a bit. But what if one was to run a specialized Sherlockian writer's conference with the entire goal of coming out as a somewhat improved writer? Maybe publishing a collection of the works of attendees. (And don't say the words "round robin novel" to me. Often fun in the practice, usually not a fun read.)

I'm only thinking along those lines because, when all is said and done, I am a writer. Sherlockians with other specialties might have their own dreams of a weekend devoted to their area of fun with the great detective. And the world is probably big enough for all sorts of them at this point.

One can hope, at least.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The man who stands outside of time

Last evening, after a certain movie failed to hold the attention of the good Carter and I, we slid down to the next thing on Amazon Prime and starting watching an early episode of The Carol Burnett Show from 1967. The they-are-so young stars, the dated mini-skirts, the clunky pop tunes sung by the show's host, the insanely sexist acceptable-at-the-time bits ("Are there any questions from the audience?" "What are your measurements?") might have provoked nostalgia in someone else. In me, they just spawned the thought, "How am I this old without being dead?"

Carol Burnett and her peers seemed an eternity away in that captured hour of entertainment. Her show was a thing of the moment, now a curiosity where some bits of the show have held up over time, but so much had not. And I could not help but compare it to the one entertainment that has been with me since those days and actually remained the same: Sherlock Holmes.

Jonny Lee Miller and Elementary just ended, things of their time like Carol Burnett's show, as much as a fan might like to think of them otherwise. Brett, Rathbone, Gillette were the same. But Sherlock Holmes, the man from Conan Doyle's sixty tales, stands apart from all those incarnations of him, just as he always has.

He's a man who stands outside of time.

When we visit Sherlock Holmes and John Watson at Baker Street in "The Speckled Band" or some other of those original tales, we are looking in at the same folks Sherlockians have looked in of for generation after generation. Those men, that sitting room . . . it's like Doctor Who's TARDIS, a place that lets time flow around it while the passengers inside remain unaffected. When we join Sherlock there, we can even be his companions for a while, as the Doctor would take for a brief time, and travel with him to Victorian England, Basil Rathbone's Hollywood, Christopher Morley's New York, or Speedy's Cafe in London. That Baker Street sitting room connects us to places and time periods that we'd never visit without Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock is taking me to Portland in October, a place I've never been before, and might not have ever considered going to, without him. New York, Santa Fe . . . I am not, by nature, a traveler, but Sherlock Holmes actually got me to those places. Books don't just transport us mentally, sometimes they inspire physical transportation as well. And while they can't actually move us through time, they can get us to look hard at other eras with our handy deerstalkered guide pointing the way.

Like the Doctor, Sherlock Holmes can appear in so many forms. But that special place he holds, just outside of time itself, connects them all, just as it connects us all . . . and you know what else? Makes us feel young as a result if we let him, with all of his new stories and new incarnations.

It is a grand thing to follow a man who lives outside of time, which is probably why so many of us have.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Elementary Season Eight only needs one episode.

The final episode of Elementary actually set up a pace of story-telling in which one more episode will be all the Elementary one ever needs. From its three-years-later starting point to its one-year-later last few minutes, it showed that one could make a single hour of the show for its seasons eight-thru-forever and tell all the story you could ever want. Given that, I had to try it out.

Season eight of Elementary begins.

One year later . . .

Mycroft Holmes returns, having faked his death like everyone else, pointing out that he really was smarter than everyone and was secretly running the organization behind Morland Holmes's organization all along, without their father's knowledge. He also reveals that while Joan Watson thinks she adopted Arthur, an unrelated child, the boy is actually her and Mycroft's son, conceived during their night of passion and secretly stolen as an embryo and implanted in a surrogate mother.

Two years later . . .

The late Sebastian Moran's sister is on a murder spree and the victims turn out to be Jamie Moriarty's agents and Moriarty has tricked Joan Watson into catching sister Moran without Jamie actually ever appearing on screen. Mycroft reveals this when he's stopping to pick up Arthur for his weekend shared-custody agreement.

Three years later . . .

Joan is on TV to promote her book How Watson Learned the Trick, which she wrote for her friend, the now Queen Catherine's upon King George's coronation. Sherlock Holmes has been knighted, which George only did to try to convince him to take over the CID. Sherlock pretends to think about it for a while, and Joan tells him he should go, but he winds up staying in New York to work as a humble consultant for Marcus Bell who is now deputy chief.

Four years later . . .

Sherlock is missing and Tommy Gregson is out on the golf course with is daughter when they catch up to the party in front of them, which has a wacky caddy they discover to be amnesiac Sherlock Holmes. Joan Watson decides she must now become the master and make caddy Sherlock her student to bring him back to his former abilities. Jamie Moriarty, who never appears on camera, sends an assassin to kill the now-stupid Sherlock since she can't love an idiot, and a near-fatal headwound removes the tumor that was causing Sherlock's amnesia. The whole incident reminds Joan how important surgery is and she decides to return to her former profession, knowing NYPD is safe under Sherlock's consultations once more.

Five years later . . .

Kitty Winter arrives from London with Clyde, whom London Animal Control wants to put to sleep after he supposedly killed an entire family on a drug-fueled rampage. Watson refuses to let Clyde stay in the house with Arthur, who actually thinks Clyde is cool, so Sherlock puts him up with Miss Hudson and Alfredo Llamosa who now run an animal halfway house together.

One hundred years later . . .

Beth Lestrade is chasing a man who turns out to be an agent of the never-seen clone of Jamie Moriarty. She goes to a certain New York brownstone to find the honey-filled coffin of Sherlock Holmes and revive him. Also, Joan Watson is a robot.

As Captain America says, "I could do this all day." But lunch to have, a Sherlockian to meet, so for now, adieu, eight season Elementary.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Elementary, Season Seven, Episode Last: Brad swears at the end.

And now we come down to it. The final Elementary.

How best to celebrate this final episode?

"Would you like some heroin?" to quote our most recent Watson, from Holmes and Watson. For it was heroin that brought Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson together, as well as Morland Holmes, who also, one could propose, was also the one who finally made them come apart. (With his death and the aftermath, at least.) But we probably should find something appropriate to raise a glass with, and I'm choosing . . . Mexican Coke. No corn syrup for Elementary, just the sweet, sweet cane sugar.

I also can't celebrate Elementary's end without a Parthian shot or two, given the fun it gave me early on, poking at it. Since its ongoing ardent admirer over at Screen Rant said this week that the show should "be regarded as the best Sherlock Holmes adaptation," I do feel obligated to point out that it was less adapted and more "inspired by." And, not to pick nits, the thing it was initially inspired by at CBS corporate was definitely BBC Sherlock and not Conan Doyle.

But seven years is one helluva an accomplishment, getting Jonny Lee Miller's Sherlock in the record books under several headings. And the notion that Joan Watson had more TV episodes than any John Watson is a fun fact indeed. She got more seasons than Joan of Arcadia, The Joan Rivers Show, What About Joan? and that 1950s classic I Married Joan, so she not only beat out Watsons, she beat out Joans!

In fact, I know most folks don't think we're going to get Jamie Moriarty tonight, but t'were this show to end perfectly and true to its series-long arc? Joan Watson has to take down Jamie Moriarty. Because, all in all, it's her show. Sherlock has been addicted, damaged, orphaned . . . yes, he's had many trials to overcome. But it's been Joan who has risen to the challenges and climbed the mountain that meeting Sherlock brought into her life. And what's at the peak of that mountain? The thing that triggered the addiction she came along to help break Sherlock of: Jamie Moriarty.

So let's get down to some SPOILERS-y talk and see what the show brings. Time to make my popcorn, pour my Mexican Coke, and warm up that outdated TV tube.


Here we go.

WHOOOOAAAA!! The pre-title-sequence on this one is a real ride. Three years later, Odin Reichenbach is going to jail forever for everything BUT the death of Sherlock Holmes. The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Joan Watson has been published. Marcus Bell is the captain at NYPD. Joan has a son named Arthur. She's just solved her "Dying Detective" case. The "late" Jamie Moriarty has sent her lawyer, Ronald Adair, to give to Sherlock, and . . . guess what? Joan has known Sherlock was alive all along!


Afghanistan. Bees. Tibet. The Pope. Sigerson. Coal-tar derivatives. This episode is dinging and flashing like a pinball machine. Mmmm, Mexican Coke.

Ha! Good old Elementary! The other three lead characters have never let their Sherlock get away with too much, and it seems they have been their only little team in his absence.

What! A commerical for Lucy Liu's next TV show! Good on you, Lucy!

And Sherlock is calling himself "Gareth Lestrade" from Scotland Yard. Nice callback to a character long gone. And someone's been cheating at cards, Ronald Adair is dead, and somebody is definitely not Moriarty . . . who could that be? I wonder . . . .  *wink*

Mmmm, Mexican Coke. So cinnamon-y!

Our local news just teased that a franchise is going to start selling CBD oil in Peoria -- EVERYBODY sells CBD oil in Peoria! That's not news. But I digress.

I've actually been enjoying the hell out of this episode. Someone else in the household, who's never watched Elementary before, is not so impressed. I'll spare you exact quotes, but they're hitting a weakness or three that have always been there. But wait . . . the show is actually going from "Empty House" to actual "His Last Bow" in one episode? Wow.


You don't tease Moriarty, then forty-five minutes into the finale, give us CANCER!!!! Man, if people paid this show the attention they paid to Game of Thrones, this finale would be eviscerated. Ah, well. Elementary dies as it lived, with another weird turn that doesn't have the lasting impact of a developed . . .  MOTHER-FUCKER! One year later, and this better not be what I think it is, which isn't . . . I KNEW IT!  It's not even a real Moriarty death! And we're back to the status quo.

Okay, out of respect for my Sherlockian peers who find this show a beloved mainstay, I'm going to stop now. Toodle-oo, Elementary. It's been real, and it's been fun.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"Stand with me here upon the brownstone terrace . . ."

Tonight* will mark the final episode of CBS's Elementary, after a tumultuous seven season run.

Is "tumultuous" the proper word to define these last seven years? Perhaps not for the average Elementary viewer or consumer of CBS procedurals. And maybe not for those Sherlockians who have remained faithful to the show since day one. To me, however, it was the first word to come to mind.

Elementary has always been one of those things I only consumed because of the name "Sherlock Holmes." That name, always a lure, can dependably make a curious Sherlockian come out to see what might be going on with it this time. But with Elementary running a full seven years, at some point we were all forced to choose: Worth the time investment? Pushing those "Sherlock Holmes" buttons like we want it to? Just going to finish it out of compulsive completism? Or letting it go?

Many a Sherlockian took a taste and went back to their favorite Sherlock. But you know . . . you know! . . .that this very night, this very week, some Sherlockian somewhere is going to proudly state: "I am proud to say I never watched a single episode of that show!"

Never even gave it a look. Some people are weird that way.

But here's the thing: In spite of observing what I saw as flaw after flaw after flaw in Elementary (and perhaps pointing that out a little too often for a time), I am glad the show made its way through the tangled web of American network TV. For a show that wasn't pushing the limits of the weekly procedural all that hard, it certainly had no qualms about blowing through Canonical traditions like they weren't even there. The stupid Mycroft. The two-faced Moriarty who actually went to prison . . . and stayed there. A Watson who wasn't a soldier, wasn't wounded, didn't get married, and actually left Holmes for a career in consulting detection of her own. And after the faithful adaptations that Granada's run of Sherlock Holmes was famous for, we need our boundaries pushed now and then.

While its British predecessor went out of its way to surprise and delight its viewers, only to maybe try a bit too hard and alienate some fans, Elementary remained on a steady course, getting better at doing what it did along the way. Those who liked what it did had no complaints. In a way it was the TV series Watson to BBC's Sherlock, if one was to compare the overall personalities of the show.

So tonight, this seven year run of broadcast network American Sherlock Holmes comes to a close. He's lived past his Reichenbach, gone on his great hiatus, and somehow combing "His Last Bow" with his "Empty House." It's going to be interesting to see how that works, just as it's been interesting to see where this show was going from day one.

It seems like the end of the Downey/Cumberbatch/Miller era in a way, even though Downey will be back in a couple years, and I'll wager Cumberbatch cannot go the rest of his life without one more shot at it. I can't even help but think Jonny Lee Miller might be back in the role again one day. It's the benefit of such young Sherlocks -- plenty of time for an encore.

But tonight we enjoy one last bow, Elementary's second final episode, actually, which is a Canonical point in its favor. Conan Doyle ended his series a couple of times as well.

On to the party.


* Okay, here's where it gets weird. Maybe once a year, I have to work on Sunday. That was this week. So I wind up being a day off kilter. So tonight, I actually sit down to watch the last episode of Elementary and Seal Team Six comes on. And I'm suddenly going, "HOLY CRAP!! CBS WAS SO DISAPPOINTED IN THE RATINGS THAT THEY PULLED THE SERIES FINALE?!?!?" And for about three whole minutes, I'm debating on whether to be outraged, or just going to check the CBS paid streaming service to see if they just decided to charge or it like they do Star Trek, knowing fans will pay, or what? But eventually I remember, "Oh, yeah. It's still Wednesday!" So, back to this, tomorrow night.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Surviving the Sherlockalypse

Okay, word of warning. I'm about to go dark with this one. If you're feeling a bit "not up for worst-case-scenarios tonight," leave it be and go have fun. This one's entertainment for the gloom-and-doomers.

Last November I sensed a disturbance in the Sherlockosphere, and asked the question "Be the Sherlockalypse nigh?" And just over a month later, an event took place that one speaker at a highly-esteemed Sherlock Holmes conference recently called "the worst thing that's ever been done to Sherlock Holmes." And yet . . . and yet . . . in this time of "worst" things, when never-before-seen extremes seem the prevailing trend, we have yet to reach the true Sherlockalypse.

Recent reading of a Mad Max style novel, a fanfic current of apocalypse-stopping ethereal creatures, and even a big archiving seminar planned for November all seem to be putting me in mind of that dread hypothetical event, and like a Ghostbuster told not to imagine the form of the destroyer, I can't help but envision the possibilities.

Sherlockalypse Scenario One: The culture turns, whether by political will or religious fervor, and Sherlock Holmes, being a.) British, or b.) Non-reproducing, or c.) a science-guy, is declared verboten and the Sherlock-a-purge takes place. Prominent collectors are found via newspaper and web feature archives and raids are staged, before the very newspaper articles identifying them are redacted from the news archives themselves. Those quiet accumulators become even more quiet, and entire rooms are sealed off, ala "Norwood Builder." Certain countries become havens for known Sherlockians who make it out of the country, and hopefully one of those is still England. But the resistance can surely find tools of use in the Canon.

All things considered, at least with that option, you get some hope for a return to normal Sherlocking. Because there's . . .

Sherlockalypse Scenario Two: The dusty, dirty one. For some reason, everything goes dustbowl, all the electronics go down, and we're not only back to print media . . . we're isolated in little pockets of humanity where the nearest actual Sherlockian is a hundred miles away and nobody will loan you a horse. You have to start converting locals if you want to make sure any of your books outlasts you, but not so well that you seem to be starting a cult that threatens the established local government. (Unless you quickly overtake the local powers-that-be and start a Sherlock-based territory, where mysteries get solved and step-fathers are kept under close watch.

But maybe, eventually society rebuilds? Unlike . . .

Sherlockalypse Scenario Three: The new ice age. Books are fuel. Yes, yes, you can say "Never!" all you want, but as your newly extended family holds you down and throws that two-volume Baring-Gould complete into the hearth, nobody's listening. "Drunk History" is no longer a show on Comedy Central, it's now the way the actual stories of the Sherlockian Canon get passed along. But you're probably not drunk at that point, because the good liquor had to be used for fuel or pain meds. You still have DVDs though, just nothing to play them on. And those pewter Sherlock Holmes statuettes may last a while, so you can use them to tell your stories with. Don't have any pewter Sherlocks? Well, Detective Pikachu action figures may last a few decades, but the kids are going to have a weird idea of Sherlock a couple of generations on.

I know that the Sherlockian collections of the University of Minnesota are housed in an archival vault situation, but I wonder if there are any Sherlockian survivalists out there, combining their collecting with doomsday-prepping, and what that even looks like. We can't all journey to the ancient underground archives, and hope to find the treasure vaults, after the Sherlockalypse. Some of us will just have to get by with a sturdy travel-Canon as we roar around the wasteland with our punk-mutant tribe of nomad ne'er-do-wells, who'll shoot a guy in the shoulder just to make him our Watson.

Ah, Sherlockalypse! So many possibilities to deal with, as Sherlockianly as possible.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Post "Reichenbach Falls" quibbling

If you still haven't seen the penultimate episode of Elementary, "Reichenbach Falls," and don't want to be spoiled, today's ramble isn't for you. Come back after you've watched it.

But if you have, or you just don't care, I have a quibble to discuss with you.

At the climactic moment of the episode, we are led to believe that Sherlock Holmes has just decided to kill Odin Reichenbach as the only solution for dealing withc him. He gets Reichenbach to come alone to a remote and lonely bridge with no traffic and no bodyguards (improbable situation number one). He also needs to have Watson and the police arrive right at the moment to take in the scene exactly as they need to (improbable situation number two). Both of those things are merely improbable, so we'll let them pass. Here's the real quibble:

When Sherlock Holmes pulls the gun on Odin Reichenbach, he's at least five feet away from the billionaire. They are both well away from the outer rail of the bridge, and I believe that bridge even has a pedestrian walkway with a second rail.

We don't see exactly what happened between Holmes and Reichenbach after the gun is pulled, but what we are expected to believe is that the two men fought over the gun, Holmes was shot, and then Sherlock Holmes fell over the side of the bridge to his death. Given all of the distances and rails involved, there is no way that Holmes choreographed the fight with Reichenbach in any way where his foe would a.) cooperate, or b.) believe he was at fault.

Indeed, the only way I could see the results we're given from the beginning of that scenario is that Sherlock Holmes jumped the inner railing of the bridge, stood atop the outer railing, shot himself, was able to go "Here, catch!" and toss the gun to Reichenbach, who then had to catch it, and then fall over the side of the bridge.

As classic Sherlock Holmes was always fond of saying, once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. In this case, however, I might substitute the word "goofy" for "improbable." There's no way that Elementary could have shown us the events between Sherlock pulling the gun and Watson seeing his body fall into the river without the whole thing looking as goofy as hell.

And what about that body, anyway? Are you telling me that NYPD, on the scene when it fell into the river, never recovered it? And, with either no body or some not-actually-Sherlock body, they were going to win a murder case against a well-connected billionaire?

One more episode of Elementary left for us to see how this drama plays out, but while the acting and moments have been good as the show moves toward its end, the show's knack for off-camera deus ex machinas remains one of its weaker elements.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sherlockian failure

Okay, Sherlockian blogger-guy, let's cheer ourselves up.

But let's be honest, guys. It's been a week.

There are so many bad and dishonest actors in the world out there, folks who can't seem to deal with actual problems or tragedy in any kind of meaningful way, that it's easy to lose heart. On top of that, we all have jobs we're responsible for, work to do, families to care for. It can take a lot out of you. And then you come back to your happy place, Sherlock Holmes land, and . . .

Let me just say this: If you have a friend who is missing some Sherlockian event, stick with "We miss you," and not "Why the hell aren't you here?"

One is a warm fuzzy, the other, kind of an accusation of failure, isn't it?

And let me tell you, my friends . . . because who else would read this somewhat self-indulgent Sherlockian blog but friends (and hate-readers, but c'mon, you know you guys must like me a little bit too, just to keep coming back here) . . . after decades and decades of being a Sherlockian, you can pile up an impressive record of failure.

Just like Sherlock Holmes.

This is one more thing I love about Sherlock Holmes: The guy fails!

First novel, A Study in Scarlet: "Old woman be damned!" The great observant Sherlock Holmes is fooled by what might have been a guy in drag, but he never really knows. And never does find out who that was. Ever.

In the first short story, "A Scandal in Bohemia," Irene Adler completely defeats him. Four stories later, in "Five Orange Pips," he gets his client killed. Killed! No wonder one of the first things he ever said to Watson was, "I get down in the dumps at times, and don't open my mouth for days on end." That sounds a lot like depression, and you can understand why he might have reasons for that.

We all have our reasons for things, just as the world outside also has reasons for its failures.

But we can always look at Sherlock and go, look how great he did while still failing all those times. Even if you go, "But he's fictional!" you can always switch your view to his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- he failed big as well. Sherlock failed, Sir Arthur failed, we all have those moments of complete and utter failure. And then, we pick ourselves up and try again, even if picking yourself up requires reaching out for help. Getting a little help is just one other way to try again, after all.

So, my dear Sherlocks, it's time to get up and try again. A new week awaits, very soon.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Elementary, Season Seven, Episode Twelve: Where's Suzi Meiringen?

The rare 6 AM on-demand viewing. Reserved for only the most critical of night-before television shows. And this morning . . . "Reichenbach Falls."

Spoiler time! Oh, yes, spoilers!

As we all surely recall from last week, Morland Holmes, the father Elementary created for their Sherlock as a combo Moriarty/Mycroft figure, has been killed by Odin Reichenbach, their Moriarty stand-in for the final season. His body is the body that pops up in the pre-theme-song part of the show. Sherlock is observant enough to clear the crime scene before we get to see it however, as it's in an exploding stolen car. And off we go!

Captain Gregson confronts Reichenbach, who is just as smarmy and confident as you want your villain to be. He's no Moriarty, though, but . . .. wait . . . Odin Reichenbach is a mathematician? Well, maybe he is a Moriarty. Odin and Morland both exist as reminders of what some might call Elementary's early sins, mistreating Moriarty and Mycroft in ways that took them off the show early.

Of course, with all this high-level plotting by super-geniuses going on, an Odin Reichenbach flunkie still is stupid enough to take an expensive watch off his victim and fence it. Like all tech billionaires, Reichenbach plainly doesn't pay his ground-level employees enough. But when that trail leads to a backyard incinerator full of human bones, an echo of "Norwood Builder" flashes into my head. Forensics happens quicker than at any time in history, TV or otherwise.

"Guy made my phone for crying out loud!" Eugene the medical examiner is really on it this week.  "Don't worry, I used Google." Eugene Hawes is one of Elementary's characters who probably only appears when a particular writer writes him in, as the poor fellow appears in about only as many episodes as their are seasons. Nice that he got to come back for season seven, as so many familiar faces have. Wish they all could have popped up more on a weekly bases, but this show has always been about the very economical basic four cast members.

Sherlock pops up at the school of Reichbach's pocket employee from the NSA to shake that particular tree, and Odin Reichenbach, in return, wants all NSA internet resources in his pocket as well. For a guy who named his Google-clone "Odker," Odin certainly has big goals. And, luckily, he likes jogging through the woods with his bodyguards so no one had to construct a super-villain lair for his scenes. He's a bargain super-villain.

Reichbach's latest murderer in the chain is an aged cancer patient, whom one wonders how he had the strength to drag multiple dead bodies around. He's a dead end, ironically.

"I'm the only Holmes left now," Sherlock says, just as I find out that Reichenbach's lieutenant Antonia is played by Rachel Holmes. And then he starts talking to Joan about doing the non-investigative thing to deal with Reichenbach. And then Sherlock Holmes and Odin Reichenbach meet on a bridge, alone.

"Some problems only have violent solutions," Sherlock tells Reichenbach, the man whose entire scheme for the world was to solve problems with violent solutions. "We're the opposite poles of the magnet, we're repellant to each other . . . you can't justify murder by inductive inference." So much neo-Holmes-Moriarty dialogue. "Living with the past, that's what justice is, that's what this is."


Sherlock isn't there to kill Reichenbach. He's there to somehow make it look like Reichenbach killed him as Watson and the cops arrive. We see a body fall off the bridge. But as the post-shock commercial plays out, I'm wondering how anyone could ever think a "here's what will happen after I die" scheme could ever work. The world is just not that easy to control. But we do know that Sherlock Holmes doesn't ever die from falling off of of things. That's a law of nature. Bridge, building, waterfall, castle balcony over a waterfall . . . doesn't matter. Sherlock Holmes is invulnerable to falls.

So Gregson has Odin Reichenbach right where he wants him: In that NYPD suspect questioning room we've seen so many times before. "You killed a good man tonight. You killed my friend."

Odin points out that billionaires aren't so easy to convict, but Gregson has three words for that: "He trusted me." By the time we get to Marcus Bell and Joan Watson trying to come to grips with Sherlock's death, fall-invulnerability quickly becomes forgotten, as they're all really on it.

Ah, but then the fall-immunity kicks in and we get an Italian realtor showing a mystery person around a new home. That client's eventual name? Signor Altamont!  ZING!

One episode left, Reichenbach still has to be put away and Sherlock's in Italy. What's the series finale going to bring next week? The previews are only showing us past episodes, so who knows?

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Your own idea of the game

We don't visit The Valley of Fear nearly so much as the short stories, which is a pity.

I have worked with Mr. Holmes before," said Inspector MacDonald. "He plays the game."
"My own idea of the game, at any rate," said Holmes with a smile.

"Were these Americans -- Californians?"

"But what's the game, Mr. Holmes--what's the game?"
"Ay, what's the game?" my friend repeated thoughtfully.

Such fun little quotes, perfect for an August where the game is definitely afoot. (And the line about Californians just strikes me funny.)

I like that Holmes starts a sentence with "Ay." I also like that while MacDonald consider Holmes a fellow player of the game, Sherlock Holmes was definitely making up his own rules.

Sometimes we all wind up on our own path, whether we like it or not. Tonight, many a Sherlockian arrives in Minneapolis/St. Paul for "Dark Places, Wicked Companions, and Strange Experiences," the 2019 incarnation of the Norwegian Explorers/U of M Libraries triannual weekend event. I've already taken a little grief from friends for not being present, but then again, none of them made it to 221B Con this year. Like Sherlock Holmes, we all play our own idea of the game, with every choice we make.

I truly hate missing the Minneapolis this weekend. New York may not be my kind of town, but there's something about the Twin Cities I enjoy whenever I get up there. The the Explorers and the Collections put on one of the best shows in traditional Sherlockiana. Why would anyone miss such a thing? Reasons, of course. The price might be inconvenient, other responsibilities might take precedence, some triggering moment might just have never happened. When it comes to all the game pieces and cards and even the board itself of our own version of the game, others might be left in the place of Inspector MacDonald, going "What's the game?" even after he just claimed to recognize some who played the game.

"You must play your cards as best you can when such a stake is on the table," Holmes said in a particularly trying situation. I always like that Sherlock Holmes's words portray him as more of a card player than a chess aficionado. Card games are games of the moment, where decisions must be made without full knowledge of what lies ahead in the deck. Chess is for those who need a more securely visible playing field, the Mycrofts and Moriartys. But perhaps we relate to Sherlock Holmes just because he is more like us, playing what cards he has.

I pulled those quotes from The Valley of Fear a few nights ago, before the "missing a big event" feeling of tonight hit, but they make for a very useful base for musing upon the thing.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Brain dump update

From Monday, and it's now Wednesday . . .

Okay, a half an hour until I pick up the fried rice and head north to potluck night. I have just enough time to write a blog post. I should be doing about, literally, five other things right now, but this is the one that comes out easiest. So what am I about to blog about?

All the things.

Sit back and relax, because this is the part where I let the alien thought parasite just have everything in my head and his little alien brain goes KAH-splort!

I just got reminded of a fic I started, a sort of opening chapter to a Sherlock/Fast & the Furious crossover, which featured Sherlock, with the second part already in my head that was John hanging out in a garage with Dominic Toretto still unwritten. (And after Hobbs & Shaw, is there going to be a Molly/Luke Hobbs scene after that? An Irene Adler/Hattie Shaw scene after that? Goodness!) Which, just going back to the link on A03 reminds me of the "cookies & cream" series where I did the cream but didn't get to the cookies, much less the part where the cookies and cream got together, and then ... a two-instance pattern starts to form: Do I have a problem with my Watson second parts?

Which worries me because I'm doing The Watsonian Weekly podcast now, and I do need to start editing things for the print Watsonian any second now (and I'm blogging? Shame!), but there is the John H. Watson Society Treasure Hunt and my team-mate is working SO hard, and I have to catch up at least a bit pretty soon here. This of course completely ignores the John Watson book idea I had over the weekend, because, hey, why not? Which completely ignores the Sherlock Holmes book idea that I'm actually how many chapters into, except it's a little dark for the way the world is just now.

Side note: Have you seen the world? Yikes. Did the Rapture come and take the five or six actually good people and we just didn't notice?

Anyway, there's a talk I'm giving in Portland come October that is cooking up really nicely, but I like the topic so much that it's throwing sparks as it spins round and round and the sparks keep trying to catch fire when the talk is supposed to be the bonfire I'm building, and, wait, did I just have a trans-Atlantic video call? Is this the future? Cool, I made it to the future! Now I just have to go back to the past and fix a few things, but this is the future's past, so I probably should work on the things now, and ...

I should give up on ellipses, because I want to put spaces between the periods and I don't think that's correct. But, with that, I've left Sherlock and John behind for the moment. Time to go have some Korean BBQ, fried rice, and whatever else the potluck group comes up with.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The circle of Sherlockian life

Comedy is always good for insights, and this morning one came along from Amber Ruffin, who, among other things, does the "Amber Says What" segment on Late Night with Seth Meyers. In her most recent bit, Amber made a point about diversity casting of Marvel movies and those who consistently whine about change. Her point? It's the circle of life. You know, like the Lion King song.

This really hit home with me from a Sherlockian perspective, as in any fannish community, we're often hit with people's personal favorites as decrees from on high about mandatory Sherlocking. Especially from those older members of the community who have locked in their favorite lists from constant repetition so much that the words almost come out on autopilot. The enthusiasm is understandable, but the expression of it often gets a little too "qualification for being a proper Sherlockian."

We all have our lifelong favorites. For me, it will always be The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, whose movie trailer I saw in a theater just as my newborn Sherlockian eyes first opened wide enough to understand who Sherlock was. My inner baby Sherlockian stared at that movie screen, went "Mommy?" and the bond of attachment was set. So many of us latch on to our lifetime favorites around the time of the onset of puberty, even those things that we might later view and go, "Oh . . . that wasn't really as good as I remember." But if we're lucky, the work holds up.

Every generation has its Sherlocks to attach to, determined by sheer availability as much as anything, and as the years pass, those Sherlocks change. If William Gillette were to take the stage today, most of us would probably go, "Yeah, he's okay, but I like Benedict Brett Junior." Yet there might be a thirteen-year-old in that audience for whom the reincarnated Gillette becomes their Sherlock. The circle of Sherlockian life continues. Nothing stays the same.

The circle of Sherlockian life is one of those undeniable forces of nature that just needs to be accepted at some point, if you love the community. It's easy to lock yourself in with a few buddies of your generation and fight the "Rathbone is king!" battle until you slowly get picked off by death like characters in an Agatha Christie classic that was remade as a Sherlock Holmes movie and called A Study in Scarlet and at least one Sherlockian falls asleep while it's on TV.  (Ramble much, Brad?) But at some point, you have to just accept that they didn't make Sherlock Gnomes for you, and that somebody had a great time with it.

It's an easy subject to discuss using single movies or Sherlocks as reference points, but the larger, cultural changes in Sherlockian culture can be a little more challenging. Even what it is to be a Sherlockian shifts over time. As much as some elder Sherlockians pooh-poohed online fic with the rise of BBC Sherlock, you can't separate the wave of online fic from the massive rise in pastiche publication and Sherlockians writing fiction over scholarship or quasi-scholarship, however those things are defined in Sherlockian circles. The number of writers in our numbers has risen remarkably, and that is undeniably world-changing.

Podcasts, cons, art forms we never saw coming . . . and along with that, enough of us to treasure it all. We aren't going to lose the Old Series Baker Street Journal just because some Sherlockians never come to even know it exists -- we have those Sherlockians already, and will surely continue to have enough of them -- we love finding a niche and burrowing into it. Sherlockians to whom Three Patch Podcast holds a core place in their downloaded digital library can be here as well. Share what you love, discover those who love it as well, and delight in the fact that Sherlockians with other loves are holding their particular plot of Sherlock-land with just as much care.

There's a reason the ear-worm that is The Lion King song "The Circle of Life" gets stuck in our heads so easily. We all have our time. Others will have their time as well. And our Sherlockian life, well, as any Sherlockian will tell you it's definitely life.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Elementary, Season Seven, Episode Eleven: Morland v. Reichenbach?

There's something truly Mycroftian in the fact that CBS's Big Brother is on before Elementary. Almost like the true Mycroft wants to remind us that the show made him an idiot restauranteur in early seasons of the show, then killed him.

But Big Brother is over quickly enough, and (SPOILERS TIME! And seriously, this is one of Elementary's best episodes, you might want to consider watching it before my recap/review drivel.) Sherlock and Joan are back, and dealing with Odin Reichenbach's plottings of "organized vigilantism." And Joan, in particular, has had enough of Reichenbach's shyte.

And it's Daddy Holmes time!  Morland Holmes is here, and a jovial "Shall we attack it together?" is the kickoff for the theme music. Morland is a curious mix of Mycroft and Moriarty, so one can't be sure if this is going to be a joyful all-out team-up, or a source of more friction and dead bodies than Sherlock or Joan would care to see.  Two more episodes left and tonight's "Unfriended" is directed by Lucy Liu, as well.

No distracting side-cases tonight, just trying to pin a murder on Odin Reichenbach so Morland's "higher grade" of government flunkies can cancel Reichenbach's out and send him away.

"Stewart Pringle" is a new online identity for Sherlock, a potential mass shooter persona built to lure Reichenbach's machinations in. While that goes on, Morland is cozying up to a fellow power broker. It's kind of great to see an Elementary tale that isn't following the usual path. No Bell, Gregson, or that depressing precinct and its interrogation rooms. Just Sherlock catching one of Reichenbach's people in his trap and Joan with a new associate searching her apartment.

Joan and Sherlock are like a two-headed hydra of detection, and Joan is carrying most of the load at this point, which really shows how far she's come in seven seasons. She's got one of Reichenbach's agent's victims figured out, just in time for the first commercial break!

And Sherlock is here to explain Joan's deductions to the killer after the break, he gives her full credit, so it isn't really mansplaining. Sherlock seems to be the one who is doing more sympathizing with woman they need info from, and then walks in on Joan doing the weird activity that actually has a detective purpose. It's an interesting flip-flop of the usual Holmes-Watson dynamic.

Sherlock is, however, still the one who has kidnapped a woman and is holding her in the basement against her will . . . which is pretty much a crime. He must think Reichenbach is a Milverton level crime. It's fascinating to see the horseshoe crab blood murder trail, which might be woven into a more normal Elementary tale, but this time it's about Odin Reichenbach, who is looking to take a fall, as Holmes and Watson connect him to the crime, while Morland gathers forces to kick Odin out of his own business empire.

Next week's episode is the one entitled "Reichenbach Falls," but man, that guy seems like he may be down by the end of the episode. And hey, it's Marcus Bell, and the precinct, and Odin Reichbach slumming in the cop shop's conference room. Even though they've met before, this is the Holmes-Moriarty meeting of this tale. Reichenbach warns Holmes off, Holmes doubles down, Reichenbach doesn't back down. Are they going to wind up in a high place, ready to take a dive together?

Lucy Liu directs herself into a badass confrontation with Reichbach's agent. Morland starts pulling some "good Moriarty" moves. Sherlock admits he didn't think his father would come and help him, and Morland's reply gives us what might be this whole series's arc:

"Don't I always."

Morland is there for his son. When Sherlock's addiction got the best of him, Morland had him in rehab and sent him Joan Watson. Morland, basically, created this whole show. I'm starting to worry that he's not going to survive the rest of the series, with all this goodness coming from him. It's like he's being set up for a good eulogy. Uh oh. Something is coming.

Morland is old Moriarty. Reichbach is new, techno-Moriarty. Well-played, Elementary!

Got a feeling this one is going to be a big cliff-hanger at the last commercial break.  Wait, why is my screen black . . . what is the local affiliate . . . phew, they're back. Sherlock is bringing in Gregson's help, who hasn't been in on the Reichnbach business at all thus far. And Captain Gregson is taking it personally. Nice.

And here it comes. Yep. Watson and Bell don't even have to say the name.

This just got personal for everybody.

Good job, Elementary. I mean it. Two episodes left.

Time for treasure . . . and torture!

Sometime as the sun was poking its head over the horizon, I awoke for no known reason. I delighted in the fact it was still early enough to enjoy my bed a bit more and rolled over with the intention of returning to happy slumber. Thoughts began to bubble up at random from the previous day, and then, for no apparent reason, wrestler John Cena's ring entrance music started to play in my head.

When the John Cena brass section fanfare plays, it's definitely time to get up. Check for new podcasts (Hmm, no Three Patch yet.). Check Twitter, and . . . WHAT?

Margie and Paul are already looking at the John H. Watson Society 2019 Treasure Hunt!!!

It must be August first.

 As I feed the cat, I grumble silently about how much I hate quizzes. I reflect upon the time quizzes almost destroyed our local Sherlockian society, those Sherlockians who have foresworn the vice, and those who have taken it to extreme levels. Quizzes, bah!

And then I find the announcement tweet, click the link, and answer the first question as soon as I've read it. Oh, Michele, you devious, devious quizmater. As the saying goes with any addictive substance, "The first hit is free." Without even realizing I did it, I've already started the month-long trial that has become the August ritual since I first discovered it.

This year, I feel a little better about it, as I wisely took up a team up offer from someone who is currently one of the sharpest Sherlockians out there. But even with that kind of back-up, I know I'll have to struggle through every single question now that the challenge has been laid down. Why?

For those of us who didn't acquire testing trauma during our school days, the Sherlockian quiz offers just one more way to wander through our favorite stories and discover or revisit those thousands of beautiful little details that make those stories so grand. It's tempting to use such things as a yardstick to measure your Sherlockian worth against others, but just don't do that. You'll get a momentary buzz, perhaps, but in the end, you're setting yourself up to be taken down by some future young gun, just like the old West gunslinger. (This, by the way, is the part of the blog where I am really just talking to myself, and trying to quell my competitive demons.) There is joy enough in just wandering the Canon, which is why it's called the "Treasure Hunt."

So the annual worldwide Watsonian version of The Wacky Races has begun. Tires are squealing and Dick Dastardly has surely chained someone to the starting post already. (Or, maybe some of us just have to go to work and chomp at the bit for eight or nine hours.)

Good luck to all the brave souls across the globe about to undertake the challenge!