Saturday, June 29, 2024

Sherlock & Co. -- A Textbook in Friendship

 "You have attempted to tinge it with romanticism, which produces the same effect as if you worked a love story or an elopement into the fifth proposition of Euclid."

-- Sherlock Holmes on Watson's fanfic

Following a Sherlock & Co. meetup for those lucky enough to be close to London or have travel time and funds available, the podcast's writer, Joel Emery put out a very thoughtful Twitter thread. It became obvious that the question we all knew was out there got asked: Are Sherlock Holmes and John Watson going to be a full-on couple? It may have been seven years and our bodies might have possibly regenerated all of their cells, according to some, but you can't stop the Johnlock. Someone plainly asked, and seems to have asked in the manner of "Why aren't you doing this thing you plainly should be doing?"

"We want listeners to feel like they're best friends with Sherlock, Watson, & Mariana," Joel Emery wrote. "The way we do that is by having them build a loving, powerful friendship between all three of them. A physical relationship between any of them changes that dynamic. (imo)"

I kinda loved that. It's what the podcast was actually giving us, the feelings that I was getting from the show's primary trio. Their Mrs. Hudson brings so much to the Holmes/Watson dynamic that we were already comparing them to Kirk, Spock, and McCoy from Star Trek. And it's a big part of what makes this new adaptation great.

It's interestingly ironic that adding a woman to the traditional male partnership formula makes it more friendship-oriented, almost like she's a talisman against Johnlock or a chaperone. But Marianna has grown into such a fully formed part of the 221 Baker Street team in this adaptation and so much more than any previous "Mrs. Hudson" that trying to define her as anything so small is impossible. (And for those of you who still haven't gotten into the show -- since Marianna was representing a realty firm called "Hudson's" when Holmes and Watson first met her, Sherlock started their whole relationship by constantly calling her "Mrs. Hudson" instead of her full name, Marianna Ametxazurra.)

Marianna has become such a key part of the team that a recent episode actually included the fact she wouldn't be in the episode as a trigger warning. And suddenly it was interesting to see how Sherlock and John were without her. John, for example, suddenly feels comfortable making allusions to an old girlfriends' bra size in that sort of "guy talk" that is a foreign language to Sherlock Holmes. But it isn't what Marianna keeps from coming out in their Baker Street agency that makes her great, it's what she brings to the table.

With Marianna serving as the practical, common sense part of the team, we get to see much more personality from John Watson. At the same time, she mediates the rough edges of the John/Sherlock contrast we saw in BBC Sherlock, and allows Sherlock to be a bit more Sherlock without John getting quite so peeved at him. But there's more to it than that, and will be still more as the podcast goes on -- this is a story of evolving characters, not static cut-outs who reset each week.

Sherlock & Co. is wonderful about bringing other characters along for the ride without hurting the stories. Stamford showing up every now and again as he did in "Dancing Men." Wiggins proving useful when things get a little more criminal-oriented. Relationships continue on, as they do in life. And Mariana "Mrs. Hudson" Ametxazurra being a regular part of the boys' lives and friendship brings so much to these new adaptations of the original sixty stories in ways that shipping any two of them (or all three, as happens in fic) would undoubtedly spoil.

And it all keeps its listeners coming back for more each week, even though some of us have these stories printed on our souls at this point. The show seems to have found its groove and gone from really good to REALLY really good. as we approach the end of the Canonical sixty's first quarter.

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End Note: I based the title of this post on Christopher Morley's Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: A Textbook of Friendship, which really didn't give lessons in friendship either, just told you how good the stories were and then reprinted the stories.

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