Tag Archives: sherlock holmes

Sherlock follow-up

when I wrote my last post about Sherlock I’d only seen episode 1. Have now watched the grand total 3 episodes, and some of my thoughts about the series have changed.

I loved the portrayal of Watson in ep 1 as a war veteran who seeks the thrill of an underground, underhanded kind of war in London. He was made particularly poignant by a very reserved performance from Martin Freeman, who usually plays dorky, comical characters.

So here’s a disappointment: in the next two episodes, Watson has been reduced to his usual bumbling, side-kick status. Except for the moment he finds himself – er – all wrapped up at the end, Freeman falls back into his usual performance and Watson is made to look a bit dim in comparison to Holmes.

(His devolution is all there in the haircut, which gives away his army background to Holmes in the first episode and has grown long and tousled by the second.)

For me, this lost the tough, human character they’d created so wonderfully in the first episode – with all its potential for shaking up the Sherlock Holmes mood. Watson doesn’t react to his circumstances like a trained soldier looking for action. He reacts like an eejit.

And, yes, as per my hunch, Watson gets a girlfriend. I really liked her – the characterisation and the actor. Except for one thing. Her first date ends with her life on the line in pretty horrific circumstances. And yet Watson’s glib “The next date won’t be like this” seems to go down just fine.

Um…wouldn’t any sane lady never want to see him again? It would at least give him something to overcome, romantically.

The other downer from her presence is that, yes, it kills off the homoeroticism – but it means that when they bring the insinuations back, it turns the theme into a punch line. A joke.

Let me stop here and say that special k declared he hasn’t enjoyed a tv show so much in years. Because I know a rant when I see one, so I apologise.

Now, where was I?

Cat made a very good point when we were chatting about it: House is really the modern Sherlock Holmes. The tv show Sherlock isn’t modernising the concept or the character – it’s performing a neat optical illusion.

 

a new day, a new tv show.

I just watched the first episode in the BBC’s 3-ep mini-series Sherlock. It’s Sherlock Holmes, but in 21st Century London and with a couple of gadgets he never had before. And a riding whip.

He’s kinda mean, too. Meaner than I remember. But I think it works. They’re riding the sociopath/psychopath line with him – the “what will happen when he gets bored?” line.

Which made for one of my favourite exchanges in the episode.

Watson is really well-drawn. Better than I’ve seen him in any other rendition – much more morally ambiguous and more a character in his own right, rather than simply existing in relation to Holmes.

So Watson has just been left in the lurch by Holmes for the first time, and a police detective who really doesn’t like Holmes warns Watson off him. She explains that he’s a sociopath – that he gets off on murder, and he has no friends for a good reason.

And the gorgeous thing is that it reads like the best kind of romance novel. She thinks she’s warning him off, when in fact she’s stoking his interest and his sympathy.

This is something I love about this adaptation: Because it’s set in the modern day, they approach the homoerotic question head on. You know, that one academics have been going on about for years. The homoerotic v homosocial one.

They’re sitting in a restaurant and Watson starts asking questions about Holmes’s love life. He rules out women, then broaches the question: “Oh, do you have a boyfriend? I mean, that would be fine–”

“I know that would be fine,” Holmes interrupts, looking at him with a kind of withheld skepticism.

These boys have loads of chemistry. No doubt Watson will be given a girlfriend in the near future.

thanks to Shin-Ichi for the great fan-pic up the top

 

what football, good writing and Sherlock Holmes have in common

I watched the last 20 minutes of the AFL grand final today. I’m not a huge sports person, but I was doing that mad thing people do when they watch sport, where they leap around and laugh in disbelief and yell at the tv – when there’s no one else around.

It redefined nail-biting.

So what it has to do with writing is this: When it’s so tense, and the teams are alternating the lead but never moving much beyond one point’s difference, you’re desperate to be released from the tension. But then, when a game is too one-sided – the outcome too obvious – it becomes boring.

Andy Griffiths spoke to our class recently, and he was cautioning against listening too hard to what readers say they want. “No kid would say ‘What I want from a story is to be terrified for half an hour’, but they love it.”

A friend of mine was talking about the pitfalls of publishing her novel online in sections. She said her readers were pestering her to resolve the unresolved sexual tension in the plot. But as she pointed out, they don’t really want her to do that. It would kill the forward motion of the book dead.

And lastly, watching Sherlock Holmes last night, the following exchange struck me as true:

Langdon: “Oh so many people, so little purpose – that’s God’s conundrum. If only we mortals could answer that!”

Holmes: “Then your life would have no meaning.”

There is something we want to solve or see resolved, but the reading/watching/living happens in the solving, not in the solution.