Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Elementary on your mind.

We use to have a family friend who always liked to point out the failings of our English heritage.
Often annoying my dad with his tales about how such-and-such did this better during the war than England, or how so much better it was to do something this way and not the English way.
He was a good friend of my brothers, so we took it all in stride, and my dad, being a better person than I, usually just shrugged his shoulders and moved on. 
It was usually done mostly in jest, but after a while it became pointless and grating.
If he really hated everything English and all that the English stood for, why continue to make it the standard for his comparisons?

I find this to be much the same point with those who do not find any redeeming qualities in ‘Elementary’.
If they find it so bad, and so un-Sherlockian, why do they feel the need to keep using it as their basis for comparison to other shows and other Holmes’?
Why must they use it in every argument they make for how Sherlockian well something else is doing. If you hate ‘Elementary’, why compare ‘Sherlock’ to it. Surely a better argument would be made by comparing ‘Sherlock’ to the Brett series.
Their use of ‘Elementary’, it would seem, would be akin to comparing the USA basketball team to one from, say, Pitcairn Island. What would be the point?
I like ‘Elementary’. Is it perfect? Heck no!
Is it how I would have done it? Again, heck no!
But I find it a truer attempt at making Sherlock Holmes than the Robert Downey Junior one.
Jonny Lee Miller’s ‘Holmes’ is at least, I think, an original attempt to come up with something new.
Where RDJ’s ‘Holmes’ is a cross between a bad attempt at being English, too slap-stick and too un-kept and I believe it fails the character of Holmes even more than 'Elementary'.
Did I like the movies? Yes.
Did I think he did a good Holmes? No.
Am I going to pick it apart in such a way that insults those who liked it? I hope not.
But the point is, I will gladly discuss the movies as Sherlockian, knowing my opinions are not the end all in the discussion. And also knowing I want my argument to come off as sincere, yet still open to others thoughts. I want people to want to discuss Sherlock Holmes with me.
If I really hated the movie, I hope I could still discuss it in a civil way, knowing other people may like the portrayal. If I couldn’t at least do that, I hope I could keep my mouth shut.
Isn’t the whole point of being a Sherlockian about wanting to have discussions and debates about the world of Sherlock Holmes? Wanting people actually to want your opinion?

I don’t know if it was my mother who said it, or Mrs. Hudson, but it still holds true,. . . “If you can’t say anything nice. . . .”.


  1. A noble hope but, I fear, a forlorn one.

    There have always been fans with different opinions but rarely have they been as vociferous as they are today. The RDJ movies, “Sherlock” and “Elementary” have brought out the worst in some fans.

    At the risk of making a sweeping statement, some of the most profound intolerance is coming from the youngest and this can be seen on Twitter, Tumblr and other social media (which I blame to a certain extent for making it easier to be nasty and to be heard doing so). The older fans are not above this kind of behaviour but they have been through this already with earlier adaptations like Brett, Wilmer, Richardson, Cushing etc. As a result most know how futile this kind of arguing is.

    Perhaps the young fans of today will mellow and when an adaptation is made in fifteen years or so, they’ll be able to look a little more objectively and frown at the behaviour of the new fans.

    1. I agree with you and only hope for the best.
      You kind of expect it from the new ones, and are disappointed from the older ones.

  2. Hear, hear, John.

    Awhile back on the Google+ Sherlock Holmes community, someone mentioned they had seen for the first time the 1990 TV movie "Hands of A Murderer" and recommended it. I had posted a comment that I had seen it when it first aired and I didn't like it. I don't believe I expressed my opinion in a condescending way and I used no insults, but my correspondent, Pamela, seemed to take my remarks to heart and I felt very small. I hadn't seen "Hands" since it aired and I had forgotten many details about it, so I hunted it on YouTube and rewatched it. My opinion that I was not very good didn't change, but there were things I appreciated this time around. It is very slow and ploddingly directed; Edward Woodward and John Hillerman are miscast (although Woodward is a fine actor and not a bad Holmes; I've seen worse) but the production values I thought were very good, Anthony Andrews an interesting Moriarty(a father-of-Andrew-Scott's-Moriarty-type of performance) and a few knowing touches like the Egyptian items from Professor Summerlee's recent dig sent to the Diogenes club. Peter Jeffrey's Mycroft is another in the long line of thin Mycroft's--he's certainly thinner that Woodward. Plenty in there to appreciate and discuss and certainly not a hack job. I can see why someone would like it.

    I think there is lots to debate about the recent spate of cinematic Holmes and it can be done in a respectful and thoughtful way. It can be difficult when some actors develop a devoted fan base and a cult of personality--this is an historical problem and not one of recent date.