Tuesday, October 29, 2013

If my mind had anything to say about it - an essay

Which actor best portrays Sherlock Holmes? Stating the obvious, that depends on who you ask. And until science makes it possible for us to clone parts from all our favorites, it will probably always remain so. And even then, we would probably all pick different parts. (And we could let the BSB's have first pick of some of the left overs, if you know what I mean.)

On a recent post, James made a comment about Brett that I found rather interesting.
He said,"The problem with Brett is great performance calls attention to itself." and he added, and I am not sure if this was about his Brett comment, or all Sherlockian actors, "It is rare that I feel like I am watching Holmes. Most of the time I feel like I am watching an actor make interesting choices in how to interpret Doyle's character."
And as with many of James comments, it got me thinking. ( I know, . . but I'll be alright).

Our minds are such that when we read a book, any book, we form images of what is written. Whether it is dialog or scene description, some parts of what we have seen some where else starts filling in those descriptive words. Many sort of images form those pictures. Illustrations we have seen. Photos. Things we have experienced in the real world. Even if the book is a mundane mathematical book, well at least mundane to me (and usually way over my head), we form some picture in our mind as to how it would appear if it were presented to us, not in written form, but as if it were in front of us. Whether that math problem be displayed  on a caulk board, computer screen or tablet, or piece of paper, our mind picks some way to display it to form an image unlike how anyone else would display it and one we are comfortable and perhaps familiar with.

Surely, again maybe stating the obvious, the same should be said for Sherlock Holmes. 
For many of the early readers who first experienced Holmes from early illustrations by likes D.H.Friston or Sidney Paget, those drawing played a big part in how they saw Holmes.
For Americans we could also add F.D. Steele to that list of image makers.
And than along came actors portraying Holmes on stage and screen and for the next hundred plus years we have had many images to chose from. And depending on who you saw first, or who had the greatest impact or presence we all end up with 'our' image of Holmes.
And for the most part, no matter who we accept, none of them are quite perfect. Everyone one of them have something that is just not quite Holmes. Except, maybe, Brett. Just my opinion.
Let me explain, please.

My first Holmes was Rathbone, and still is one of my favorites. The only thing that spoils Rathbone for me, is the material he had to work with and the Watson they gave him. As with Brett, there probably is a big crowd of people out there that wishes, somewhere in time, that both Brett and Rathbone are being allowed to do a complete series of all the canonical stories, just the way they were written.

I have not seen all the Rathbone Holmes movies. Like James, I like my Holmes in Victorian England. So I have never been comfortable watching him chase Nazi's. I don't want Holmes, until very late in his life, to be driven around in a car.
But with that said, Rathbone had a strong enough presence for me to fill, for many years, my minds image of Holmes when I read the stories. And still competes with Brett, sometimes winning, for that roll still.

But Brett for me was the first actor that made me take a look at the kindness and humor that could be Sherlock Holmes. And his portrayal  even made me notice it more in the books, or at least chose to interpret it that way.

What I found interesting about James' comments, "The problem with Brett is great performance calls attention to itself.", is that I had never looked at it that way, and I can now see why he feels like that.
To say the least, Brett could at any time be reserved as Holmes or flamboyant, all within the same scene.
He could be mocking and uninterested. But behind it all, I always sensed a little twinkle in his eye, suggesting, as Holmes, he knew the effect he (Holmes) was having on people around him.
Addressing James' comment, I think Bretts performance of Holmes was one of the first times we saw a really animated Holmes. A Holmes personality that was acted out, and not just a personality described on a page.
I think in other actors we saw a possibility of that, but never a complete creation.

There have been other actors who I have enjoyed in Holmes shows or movies, but none of the others have taken over, for me, the image that plays when I read the books. And I think that is how a performance, portrayal or image should be judged. When you read the stories, who comes to mind? Is it a Paget or Steele drawing, or is it some actor? Or have you created someone completely yours?

RDJ, although a great actor, I don't think will form many peoples mental image of Holmes. (Although Law will probably be debated about as Watson, for good reason.)

Same goes for Jonny Lee Miller. As much as I am having fun with 'Elementary' and Playing the Game, Miller will never be Holmes.

We could also argue about how good Peter Cushing was for many years as Holmes..

I love Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, but wonder, and fear, if the writing, the time period, the slapstick, and the irreverence will only leave him represented as 'Sherlock' and not Sherlock Holmes. And since we will never see him in a period Holmes piece, we may never know. (And I love all his other work also, so as not to be seen as picking on 'Sherlock')

Time has probably eroded many great former Holmes actors from filling the modern viewers (readers) image of Holmes, and that is to bad.

But, for now, Brett forms most of my image.

James, who forms, for you, the image of Holmes? Is he any one actor or image you have seen, or is he wholly of your own creation? Which ever it is, I am sure it is great.

And thanks for making me think about it.

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #26 - Ken Berry, also a Disney Connection again.

Song and dance man who came along a little after the big song and dance movies, so his talent was never really appreciated as much as it could have been. But none-the-less, he has done all right for himself.

Ken Berry - 1933 - of 'F' Troop fame

was a regular in the short run series about WW2, "Twelve O'clock High" - 1964-1967

starred actor Robert Lansing - (1928 - 1994)

who also starred the another short run TV show - 'The Man Who Never Was' - 1966

which also featured Murray Hamilton - (1923 - 1972)

who took part in the James Garner film, 'Darby's Rangers' - 1958

which also featured the well connected Sherlock Holmes actor, Reginald Owen - (1889 - 1972)

who we know played Watson in 1932 and Holmes in 1933

So there you have it,. . . . wait!

Or we could just link Ken to Leonard Nimoy (1931)
who did a national tour as Sherlock Holmes in the 1970's

under who Ken Berry served, in the early 50's, while in the Special Services Corp while in the army.

  • Ken Berry (1953–1955), dancer, actor, singer, was in the Artillery and Special Services divisions at the close of the Korean War. Rank of corporal.
  • .
  • Leonard Nimoy, actor, writer, film director, poet, musician, and photographer was in the Special Services division and was sergeant over Corporal Ken Berry.
source, wikipedia.

Now,. . . So there you have it, there you are.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Four generations. First time since Sherlock Holmes was around.

Four Generations

Elementary Episode #5 - Season 2 - 'Ancient History'

Those critics who were finding Watson's (over?)involvement in the solutions of the cases should be somewhat silenced a bit by this episode. Although still well involved with case and story line, Holmes did the brunt of the work.
Lots of twists and turns in this episode, and I found the ending a little disappointing. I did however like the episode, with only a few minor distractions.

Holmes is short on meaningful work, and is not interested, seemingly, in a case Watson brings him.
His connections at the morgue allow him to check out bodies for crimes maybe missed by the authorities.
He finds an accident victim who has injuries unrelated to the accident and decides to investigate.
The victim turns out to be an ex-hitman who's method of killing was garroting, deduced from the injuries on his hands.
The story then goes from murder to self-defense and involvement with the Russian mob.

The canonical connections I found were;

- Of course, the use of bee's again.
- Holmes finding some cases beneath his abilities
- Holmes becomes a recluse and a homebody, with dark moods when not involved with a case
- a long time between cases
- his ability to be tender towards the opposite sex when the need requires it.
- Deducing that the truck had not moved because there were no tracks after a recent rain storm
- his comments about his abilities being superior to the police's (Marshall's)
- his knowledge of tobacco
- a reference to authorities missing clues that may otherwise indicate a crime
(an addition) - buddy2blogger made some great points about VALL

I think there were some nods to BRUC in that the injuries of the accident masked the crime.
I am still working on a SECO connection, it just isn't coming together yet. Maybe having someone's past play a part in the crime. But that happens in several cases.

Although I found the ex-prostitute killing her ex-hitman husband to avoid losing her elder-care business sort of a weak ending (probably because it seemed the actress did such a good job of playing innocent), but if you look at SECO and other cases, avoiding a scandal about ones past is a common theme. But then again, why involve people who ruined your life in the murder of your husband. Arguable points all.
I didn't buy the repentant hit-man line much either, to Road to Perdition for me. But if nothing else, just like in the Canon, we find a case is sometimes much more mundane in it's conclusion that we might expect, or even hope for. Of course in BLAC, we found a former criminal turned good accused of a crime he did not commit.

Although I think the sex part with the best friend was played for humor, it does sometimes seem like Miller's Holmes has a new addiction.

I am hoping they will continue with Watson starting to write down the cases, which they left out this week.

I also think they found a good balance for Watson's involvement in this episode.

I did however enjoy the show, and for that reason I again give it . .

out of five.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An important number!

'We are delighted to have you as a Charter Member. You are our 100th' 

From the John H. Watson society

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #25 - Disney version - James MacArthur

Since we took a break at Disney for the week, it seemed only right. . . . 

One of my favorite Disney actors and Hawaii Five-0's 'Dano' James MacArthur - 1937-2010

was in Disney's 1958 Light in the Forest - 

which also featured Disney alumni Fess Parker - 1924 - 2010

who also participated in 1952's Springfield Rifle - 

which the great Lon Chaney Jr.1906 - 1973

who also took part in 1952's The Black Castle

Which starred 1939's Sir Henry Baskerville Richard Greene -

There you have it, there you are.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Here are my comments to Starky Tour Guides rant about PBS. . . since he hasn't accepted my comments for a while.

'You probably hate puppies and kittens also.
Why blame PBS for providing something people want?
Why not blame BBC America for not providing it sooner?
Yea, it sucks to have to wait, but isn't that someone else's fault, not PBS? You think they own that big of a share in the production?

Well, at least we have Elementary till then.'

Elementary Season #2 - episode #4 - 'Poison Pen' - a review

Just returning late last night from vacation and trying to get back into the swing of things, Holmeswise.

The past comes back, in a way, to haunt Holmes.
When becoming involved with a new murder, Holmes comes across someone from his past.
What turns out to be a possible return of a past murderer soon turns into copy cat killing.

I thought it was a very good story and well acted with some good twists. And, I find surprising, I was a little more comfortable with Watson's involvement, which I will go into more in a bit.

The connections I found were these;

- Tracking down the make of clothes to where they were made. (Holmes often uses a persons clothing to solve crimes or identify where someone works.)
- Deep knowledge of past criminals and cases.
- Knowledge of poisons and how they mix with other liquids.
- A connection to what got Holmes started on his life of fighting crime as in Gloria Scott. ( It is interesting to note, depending on the year you believe GLOR took place, that Holmes was the same age when introduced to his career, 15. )
- His boxing ability.

I think this episode was a step up from the last couple and I did enjoy the twists and turns.
I think the time restraints don't allow for some of the development I would love to see take place, but that can't be helped.

What I am however finding interesting; some of the biggest complaints about the show, from some reviewers, especially Starky Tour Guide, is that the show is filling in many of the things, in the writers opinions, that Sherlockians have made their reputation on. In other words Playing the game.
While not all well regarded, and those not so well regarded, have not made there name on playing the game, many have and still do.

Part of playing the game is about coming up with explanations for Holmes and Watson's behavior and personalities and filling in detail about their past. And many noted Sherlockians have made their Sherlockian reputations by doing just that.

So, although we may not like how the writers in Elementary are playing the game, I think they are at least being faithful to the game. I think in this episode with the connections to GLOR, they did a pretty good job. They not only brought in the modern theme of bullying and how it can affect ones life, but also how it has changed over time and why Holmes may have developed an interest in the martial arts.
As we are aware, conditions especially in British boarding schools were probably pretty hard on any one that was a little different and out of the norm.
I don't understand how some people can find high Sherlockian Scholarship in BSB's discussion of their Sherlockian fetishes while finding fault in the flaws of Holmes as done in Elementary. While we all may find some of the traits not to our liking in the TV Show, they are, after all, just Playing the Game.

As to Watson and why her continual increase in involvement doesn't bother me as much as it once did;
I think if Watson doesn't become more involved the show would have a tendency to be 'dumbing' down the character. We all believe Watson to be smarter than the one played by Nigel Bruce, but do we also only want Watson to be capable only of a certain amount of growth. If we assume Watson is not going to pick up much by working with Holmes, then are we not assuming she is not as smart as we would like to think? "You know my methods Watson! Use them."
 We can't have it both ways. Canonically, Watson as just a biographer worked wonderfully because he could frame the stories in such a way as to make Holmes appear to be that much smarter and the format worked well for that approach.
But so much more is expected of doctors now a days, and I don't think an unthinking biographer would hold up well in modern stories.
Can it be taken to far? Sure. Will it be? Maybe.
But remember, although Watson found the tablet, Holmes put her on the trail.
I think we would grow tired of Watson just following Holmes around astounded all the time with a blank look on her face. Instead we have a Watson who is smart and capable of growth.

I will try to come back and fill in a few more thoughts once recovered from fifteen hours of driving, but for now (and I haven't got my pipes handy) I give this episode four (found them!)

out of five pipes.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Elementary - season Two - episode three a review

We are at the house of mouse and on the road so this my not be as good as I like posting from an ipad.

'We Are Everyone' a review.

I found the strength of the episode the same; good acting by the leads and some good dialog.
The weakness's were also the same, and that for me right now is Watson becoming the detective.
aim sure that is because Lucy Liu would not have signed on to be just a side-kick. The case, although timely was not perhaps best suited for a holmes story.

As for the references I came up with. . . . .

I liked the fact that Holmes would not start the case till his Boswell was present

It started Baker St. and the client met them there. .   Well their flat.

Holmes' disinterest in the regular police forces findings by dismissing Bell with a "I vaguely recall . . ."

Reminiscent of Hound when they followed the client from 'Baker St.'

Holmes stating to Watson that she had a 'closer to a productive thought than you (she) realized'.
I believe that was a reference to Watson not being the light, but maybe the spark.

Holmes staying up all night to work in a case, which has been used before.

Where our two heroes were un-done by the hackers felt a little like Moriarty's spider web, a reference to his (her) reach.

I may fill in more when I get to a better computer.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #24 - Dan Aykroyd

Again, I didn't think this one would go as quick as it did, but it does have an interesting side note..
So here goes.

Dan Aykroyd - (1952)

was in the 1979 film '1941', or was it the 1941 film '`1971', well anyway. . .

which was directed by Steven Spielberg (1946) (much to John Wayne's and Charlton Heston's dismay).

who we have made a connection with several times for his involvement in the production of 1985's
'Young Sherlock Holmes".

But did you know that Dan Aykroyd is a Spiritualist, as was his dentist Grandfather, who corresponded with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

So Dan may have some connections that are even closer, if you know what I mean.

So, there you have it, there you are.

Friday, October 4, 2013

'Elementary' Season Two - Episode Two - 'Solve For X' - a review

After the euphoric anticipation of season two and the good start with the first episode last week, this week came as somewhat of a disappointment.

And I so wanted to write another good review.

I am hoping it was just me having a down week, and that there were a lot more connections than I was able to pick up.

The references I picked up were.

1. Soto used as a name. Perhaps a reference to Sholto.(Which I could not hear well, so it may have been spelled differently)
2. Consulting detective (this time however used to describe Watson)
3. Holmes' acute sense of smell.
4. Reference to Watson sort of being a little 'Victorian' in her behavior
5. Encryption and hidden messages.
6. mathematics (perhaps a reference to Moriarty)
7. Holmes lack of respect for the abilities of  the police (Scotland Yard) to use observational skills.

(help me find some more)

The episode lacked any great deductive reasoning, and the crime itself was almost second fiddle to Watson's personal issues in this episode. Although the death of two great mathematicians could have made a great story it was not written has well as it could have been. It seemed a walk through for Holmes to solve. The only real good find was the hidden writing.

The gal playing the murderer (Lynn Collins), who has normally quite substantial acting chops, was unconvincing as a math professor and well respected mathematician. I did not believe she was in competition for a great math discovery. And considering she had already solved the mystery of the math, she was far ahead of the others, and only needed to find a coder.
Maybe that is why she needed the money. Well anyway, she can celebrate her discovery in prison.

It was nice to see the relationship developing between Holmes and Watson as a good friendship based on respect. Holmes handled the issue with Joey very well, giving Watson his advice but allowing her to make her own decisions.
And those how complain about Holmes being a spoiled man-child can not complain about that behavior in this episode. Although lacking in deductive things to do, he did carry his part of the partnership this week.

I have to say I now agree with those who say they are taking Watson to far as a partner and not a side kick. Watson's deductions are almost overshadowing Holmes'. I like it when Watson is an inspiration or catalysis, but not the detective. They still need to find that balance yet.

The episode did not have quite as much quirkiness to it, which was good. The only real one was the shirtless mathematician.

I think Miller did some good acting, but did not have much Sherlockian to work with.
Lucy Liu seemed a little flat this week.

Did anyone else notice a theme with the number 2 this week. Maybe I'm reaching.

Two times was said, "I don't want any trouble."
Two murder victims.
Two times Joey asked for Money.
22,000 dollars.
2 false suspects.

I don't know, I guess I'm reaching.

So, after a great start last week. . . I can only give it. . .

this week.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Well I never. . .

made the connection before.

But Dr. Mortimer in Brett's 'Hound' is played by an 

seen here with Brett.

Shares the same name (well pretty close) as one of my favorite Sherlockian bloggers.

Alistair Duncan

and he to is posting about Hound today.

Tour de Hound - Chapter #15 - it's more about what's not there . . .

It has been fun reviewing the Hound in the way I have over the last month. What seemed to start out as a friendly joint tour of the Hound soon took a detour that required me going it alone.
The Hound being one of my favorite stories, I didn't find this too cumbersome of a task.

I think the first sentence of the chapter pretty well sums up how we feel about the story coming to an end; "It was the end of November, and Holmes and I sat, upon a raw and foggy night, on either side of a blazing fire in our sitting-room in Baker St,"  Who doesn't wish they were there with them!!!

After all, isn't this where Sherlock Holmes stories are suppose to start and end. For the most part I think most of use would be real happy if most Holmes stories took place almost completely within those walls, with just occasional foray's about London. We must at least start and end at Baker St.
That is the one place where we can always find both men as we wish to see them.

Once again while in 221b Watson (Doyle) teases us about cases we will never read.
We hear about a mischievous colonel, but we never get to hear of his crime. (Did this mysterious colonel know Moran?)

What could have been so gross or bizarre about Mme. Montpensier's case that we find her convicted of the murder of her step-daughter.

But alas, we are never to know.

But at least we are back at Baker St. I don't think, probably, that there is a Sherlockian out there that doesn't, at least at some point in their Sherlockian career, wish they had the money and resources to build and furnish their own version of 221b. Most of us have to settle for one or two little items that we can imagine Holmes or Watson may have had.

Most of the chapter is taken up with Holmes finally explaining to Watson all the little details he did not know at the conclusion of the adventure in Dartmoor. After all they couldn't talk about it on the train back because Lestrade was with them.

After almost a month, Sir Henry, who we thought was built of sterner stuff, still has not recuperated from his ordeal and must take a long voyage to get better. (I don't think it took Lestrade as long to bounce back.) Personally I think he is accompanying Dr. Mortimer who is splitting from his wife and needs some man time with a friend.

What became of the lovely Beryl, and although we know Holmes had more contact with her, we learn nothing about what happens to her.

For me the ending didn't actually come in the story until the very end when Holmes invites Watson to go out for dinner and a play. Once again we are back to the familiar and known.

It is interesting to note, as I am sure many Sherlockian scholars have already pointed out else where,
that one Edouard de Reszke performed several times in London in the opera Les Huguenots between 1888 - 1900. These were at the Royal Opera House at Coven Gardens.

See ya next tour. 

(Did anyone actually count how many times Watson checks his gun in the Granada HOUN?)

Trivia question of the dayweekmonthyear for today

Give me a Sherlockian connection to Angela Lansbury, CBE (1925)

Oct. reading - a busy month by anyone's standards

Chris Miller

RESI - 1881
NOBL - 1887
HOUN - 1889
REDH - 1890
VEIL - 1896
THOR - 1899


MUSG - 1879
RESI - 1886
NOBL - 1886
SECO - 1886
IDEN - 1887
REDH - 1887
VEIL - 1896
THOR - 1900

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #23 - Halle Berry

A quicker one than I thought.

Halle Berry, beautiful and talented (1966)

had her film debut in 1991's 'Jungle Fever'

which featured Samuel L. Jackson (1948)

who was in 1993's 'Jurassic Park' 

which was directed by Steven Spielberg (1946)

who was executive producer of 1985's 'Young Sherlock Holmes'

There you have it, there you are.