Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Murder by Decree

Murder by Decree is now available (as is Young Sherlock Holmes I believe) to watch for free on Amazon prime..

So, I just started to watch it. Be prepared to discuss it in a few days, when you are not getting over all that turkey.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #30 - The Watson's - Ian Fleming

Continuing with our Watson's as if they had not been Watson's to find a Sherlockian connection.

This week, Ian Fleming. No, not that one, the other one.

Ian Fleming - (1888-1969)

was in 1935's The Riverside Murder

which also featured Basil Sydney - (1894 - 1968 )

who participate in 1945's Caesar and Cleopatra 

of which Stewart Granger (1913-1993) also took part

and if you remember, he played Sherlock Holmes in 1972's Hound of the Baskervilles

So, there you have it, there you are.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Interesting. . .

Is this the real Dr. Watson?



Elementary Season 2 - Episode 9 - "On the Line" - the best one yet.

A young woman commits suicide to frame the person she believes kidnapped and killed her sister.
Holmes and Watson are convinced she is correct, but butt heads with the police, which makes it difficult to prove their case and catch the killer, who seems to be one step ahead of the pair of detectives.

For me, this was one of the tightest stories in the series yet.
It had a good story line, good acting, convincing plot and good ending.
The Canonical references were not over done, and in some way, worked with the story.
Miller was much more in character as Holmes, and Liu's Watson, although still involved, played more the way we expect our Watson to be.

I really liked the show.

Miller's Holmes was more restrained than we have seen for a few weeks, keeping the idiosyncrasies more Holmes like. Nothing went to over board this week. No jealous fits, no overly weird habits, no sibling rivalry.

Liu's Watson played the spark more than the illumination, which is, to me, much more acceptable.

I liked the confrontation between Watson and Holmes over his treatment of the cops he has to work with.
Instead of the drugs being the crutch that Holmes must overcome, in this episode it was his treatment of others. And just like Watson in the Canon, she is unwilling to give up on Holmes overcoming this addiction also.  We see in this episode Watson believing he can change and not be so abrasive.

Aidan Quinn had more to do this week as Gregson.

Troy Garity as Lucas Bundsch did a stellar job playing the emotionally contained psychopath

I thought the show moved along well with some very good twists.
It was also good to see Holmes wrestle with his need to solve the case and his willingness to frame the murderer.

Miller's Holmes' still had some quirks, but they were held in restraint. I think they found a real good balance in this one.

The few Canonical references I caught;
- Of course THOR
- The hidden room, NORW
- Not working well with the local police
- knowledge of chemicals
- doesn't want to clutter is mind with anything that does not pertain to his craft

I have to give it

because I thought it the first really good episode of this season.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Man Arthur Conan Doyle Called 'America's Sherlock Holmes'

Passing this on from 'Sherlock Holmes' on G+

The American Sherlock Holmes

The Watsonian - another review (discussion) #5 - "How the Speckled Band" Really Began" by Ann Margaret Lewis

Well, I am just going to have to read some of her books.
Although her little piece doesn't really add much scholarly, she sure can spin a yarn.
Very easy to read and a very comfortable Doyleian style.
Considering the purpose of the piece was to write a short piece based on an assigned phrase, she did a fantastic job.
Plausible and makes us think of Watson before Holmes.

Great work!

Another fine entry in the inaugural edition of The Watsonian.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #29 - The Watson's - Robert Duvall

I came to Robert Duvall as Watson and the film The Seven Percent Solution pretty late in my Sherlockain discoveries. For many years I didn't like the fact that it seened to be playing up on Sherlock's drug habit.
But I was lucky enough to attend Gillette to Brett III with Nicholas Meyer attending, and a showing of his film, and fell in love with it. And Robert Duvall did an outstanding job.

So, again, to celebrate the Watson's, we are doing Robert Duvall this week. We are, again, going to see if we can make a connection from the actor to Holmes along a path that does not include his roll as Watson.

Robert Duvall as had such a prolific career that I think there would be several paths to Holmes for him.
So I started in his early career.

Robert Duvall (seen here as Watson) - (1931)

took part in the 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird 

which also featured Frank Overton (1918-1967)

who also took part in 1964's Fail Safe 

which featured a young Larry Hagman (1931-2012)

who played Sherlock Holmes in 1976's The Return of the World's Greatest Detective

So there you have it, there you are.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Blood Is Thicker' - season 2 - episode 8 - a review.

Well, Elementary-wise, last weeks episode was just a bad dream and I woke up and real Elementary was back last night.
I also noticed this morning that several other blogs I follow have already posted comments about this weeks episode. I have not read them yet, but I am taking that as a good sign. (However, I am not expecting much from one of them.)

This episode opens with a body falling on top of a delivery truck, but not being found till later. Shade of BRUC in this canonical reference.

The murdered women turns out to be the estranged daughter, from a one-night-stand, of a dying billionaire.
She had been asked to come back into his life as a blood donor for the very sick man.

It is first assumed that she is his mistress, which is thought to be the reason for her death. That turns out not to be true, so Holmes and Watson have to find another motive for her death,

I found this to be a very good episode, with it's flaws about the same as usual; not enough deductive work by Holmes, Watson taking on to much of the detective roll, and although less in this episode, the animosity between the Holmes brother.

The strengths were better than the last few episodes.
The case had some very interesting twists and turns, and although the motive was a little disappointing, it did hold up OK.
I thought the clue about the paint chip splatters in the truck was good.
I though the missing tree on the balcony was a good clue.
It was good to see the childish jealousy gone in this episode, and a little hint at a better relationship between the Holmes brothers.
While I was a little disappointed last week that Diogenes was just going to be a restaurant, it seems there may be more to it than that. MI6 cover? Moriarty cover? ( I hope not.)
Holmes the younger still doesn't seem to trust his brothers motives, which the end of the episode would suggest may be a good thing. Something deeper is going on.

I was hoping the boy, in the beginning who liked new words, was going to have something to do with the story, but alas. . . . .

Canonical references I caught were;

- once again, single stick
- BRUC, with the body on the van
- Holmes down on the floor looking for clues
- comments about Mycroft's weight, indicting that he was once heavier
- using many contacts from past cases as help
- avoiding food when on a case
- his love of London (we often heard that London was where he was most comfortable
- Diogenes Club
- another possible reference to BRUC in that the criminal is taking care of the one suffering from the crime

(Come on buddy2blogger and James, help me out here.)

And in cases you don't believe in Moose Cheese.

I enjoyed seeing Margaret Colin in the show. If you remember, she once played Watson in 1987's The Return of Sherlock Holmes (she was Jane Watson)

Although I can't give it. . .

. . . because Holmes didn't do enough of the work.
However, I won't give it . .  
because I though it better than usual

So I am giving it. . . 

because of the stronger story, less bickering and the Mycroft twist at the end.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A rather quick survey. . . .

It has been said that Basil Rathbone loathed the fact that he was primarily known as the actor who played Sherlock Holmes to the greater public. Disappointed that some of his better works were not the reason he was best remembered.
We, as Sherlockians, know of Basil Rathbone's other works, as I am sure do most film historians.
But probably not the general public, if they know him, now, at all.

I did a quick check, using the list on wikipedia, to see how many actors who have played Sherlock Holmes over the years, were introduced as 'being best known as playing Sherlock Holmes' or some wording close to that, within the first one or two introductory paragraphs.

It is surprising, out of that list of well over fifty, how few actors are first introduced as 'being best known as playing Sherlock Holmes.'

Of the rest, many are great actors who are known for other rolls.
Others are actors not all that well known for anything memorable.

Now the question I have is: As an actor, would you want that to be your claim to fame, 'the actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes'? Is that how you want to best be remembered? Or is it something you come to accept?
Does being remembered as such usually mean your performance as Holmes is accepted as an accurate or note worthy adaptation of the original?

Most of the ones that do share that claim to fame are ones that are still discussed as some of the best Sherlock Holmes portrayals seen on film.

Interestingly, at least for me, of all the actors, the only one I really have any knowledge of other notable film rolls happens to be Rathbone. All the others on the list I would have to research their other rolls.

Here is the ones I was able to pick out as being introduce as 'an actor now known best for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes'. The list was done quickly, so may not be totally complete, but I think it is fairly close.

Jeremy Brett - not publicly known for other major film works
Nicholas Rowe - not publicly know for other major film works
Douglas Wilmer - in the 50's and 60's known for other works perhaps, but remembered as Holmes
Arthur Wontner - not known for other works
William Gillette - to long ago for most to know him for anything else (but was a major contributor to the world of Sherlock Holmes on stage and film.)
Ellie Norwood - again, maybe to long ago, but now best known as Holmes
Hugo Flink - Austrian actor known as one of the earliest actors to play Sherlock Holmes
Basil Rathbone -

Vasily Livanov - it is noted that his greatest success came at playing Holmes, but he is not introduced, yet, that way.

I have only hard that Nigel Bruce never regretted his association with one of Doyle's characters, but I have never heard of a Holmes actor that felt the same way. Although I get the feeling Douglas Wilmer may feel that way now. But did he as a younger actor.
Rathbone seemed to embrace the association later in life. But I get the feeling it felt like a burden for many years.

I don't think it will happen with the three current actors portraying Sherlock Holmes. Is that because their other work is better than their Holmes work?  Or is because their Holmes aren't that good?

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #28 - another tribute to the inaugural edition of the Watsonian

Once again, as a tribute to the new Watsonian and The John H Watson Society, we will be taking a look at actors who played Watson, but see if we can make a Sherlockian connection by some other route other than their role as Watson.

Again, the two that follow turned out to be easier than I was expecting, but I shouldn't have been surprised.

I started with David Burke, not expecting to be done so quickly.

David Burke, one of my favorite Watson's  (1934)

had an early appearance in a Sherlockian presentation when he appeared in The BBC's  BERY in 1965 starring Douglas Wilmer ( 1920) as Holmes . . 

Well, that was short and sweet.

So, it was on to Edward Hardwicke, again a favorite in the role of Watson

Edward Hardwicke (1932 - sadly only 2011)

participated in 2001's Enigma 

(A little trivia about Enigma;)

The film was produced by Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones. Jagger makes a cameo appearance as an RAF officer at a dance. He also lent the film's design department a four-rotor Enigma encoding machine he owned to ensure the historical accuracy of one of the props. The festivities around the London premiere of the film are shown in the 2001 documentary Being Mick. (source Wikipedia)

which featured the very lovely Kate Winslet (whom we have already connected with), but more importantly for our purposes, Nicholas Rowe (1966)

who played Sherlock Holmes in 1985's Young Sherlock Holmes

We made quick work of that one.

So, there you have it, there you are.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Illustration of Watson and the story behind it.

Several years ago, one of my favorite cartoonist/illustrators was running low on work. He was offering to do sketches of fans favorite characters for ten dollars each. They would be original and unique, signed and sent to you.
I first asked for a Holmes, which he did, and he sent and I thought was terrific.
He did lots of others for other people, and they all turned out great.

When he came low on work again, he put out the same offer.
I asked him to do a Watson. It never arrived. We emailed back and forth several times, he always assuring me the work was done and would soon be sent. At one point he posted the drawing on his site, to prove that he had done it, which I downloaded till the real deal arrived.

It never did.

It was only ten bucks, and I did get to see the idea he came up with, but I never got the original.

Oh, well. It still turned out good.

And I did get the Holmes.

Watson by Les McClaine (google his other works, his jonny crossbones is fantastic)

The Watsonian - Review number four - 'Doctor Watson, Detective?' - by Dan Andriacco

I must admit, I was almost quality of theorizing "before (I) had all the evidence." I was jumping to conclusions, expecting to give Dan my first 'bad' 'review'. Neither the word 'bad' nor 'review' would be entirely correct. Just because I don't agree, doesn't make it bad. And just because I read it and say something about it, probably doesn't constitute a review.

Just my opinions in an effort to foster discussion.

Let's just say I almost started out expecting to give less then my so far usual five pipes.

Part of that comes from liking the place I have Watson firmly planted in.
He is the most British of the duo. Stalwart, loyal, brave, head strong, tenacious, a little naive, to trusting and the rock that is everything English.
The moral compass.
I don't think he is dumb by any means. And while I agree he could be very observant, I think he would have fallen more into the Lestrade detective category than the Holmes one.
Watson is the reason I read the books
But, while I agree there would be no Holmes without Watson. I also believe there would be no Watson without Holmes. No Stanley without Livingston. No Laurel without Hardy. No Lone Rancher without Tonto.
I was afraid Mr. Andriacco was going to try to convince me otherwise.

I follow Dan's blog and have read some of his works, so I knew he loves his subject and is a very capable writer.

He had all the right arrows in his quiver.

He seemed to have all his ducks in a row at the beginning of his piece. He seemed to be leading up to some grand argument that if we only listened to what Holmes and he  had to say about Watson, we would have to agree with him about Watson's abilities as a detective.

I really didn't want to go any further, but I was hoping to find a flaw in what I though his argument would be.

He even quoted, several times, HOUN.
My favorite.
Sure, I to think Watson did a pretty good job in HOUN. But HOUN was pretty fairly about following one clue to the next. Not really figuring something out as a theory and then developing it into a case. Holmes as always been about finding a theory or two on what he knows or hears, then eliminating the theories that don't fit the facts.

I had to force myself to go on.

And I am glad I did.

Dan turned a corner and started to remind me how good Watson was at observing. Seeing things. Maybe not the same way Holmes did, but in his own way, he didn't miss much. Well, I guess you kinda have to be to be a doctor or a writer, or biographer. I just said as much about Watson in my last review, stating how much he says in so few words. Maybe more like an artist, who are also great observers.
He never did argue that he thought Watson would also be a great detective. His stance was that Watson was also good as an observer.

Watson is very head strong, we see it many times. Times when he wants to rush into action, when something more subtle is required. With a temperament like that, I argue, he would not be able to see the smaller nuance's of a situation. In this way he would be more Lestrade like.
His form of detection would take the more plodding path, with great energy when the blood hound was nearer it's pray. Action more than thought. And that is way he was so valuable to Holmes.
While not completely opposites, they were near enough to attract.

And gosh darn it! That's the way I want my Watson.

Thanks Dan for not trying to destroy my image.

I liked the way Dan brought his conclusions together towards the end of his piece, coming to, I think, the same conclusions I have about Watson, (although he said it a lot better than I could.)

Holmes wouldn't have the patience's to chronicle his cases in a way people outside the detective field would want to read. Watson the observer, not detective, does. Watson is more the artist of observation, while Holmes is the scientist.

But they are both equally important to the team. Being equal doesn't mean being the same. Jesse Owens and Mary Lou Retton are both equally great athletes, but they are not the same.

It is one of the things I think the new TV show 'Elementary' is going to eventually have trouble balancing; making Watson Holmes' equal.

Dan, thanks for making me sit up and take notice, and then allowing me to settle back down into my comfortable chair.

Glad I was able to still light up

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Watsonian - A Review number 3 - All about down memory lane.

When someone writes a reminiscence it has to do one of two things for me, I either need to be taken down a path that makes me remember something similar or it needs to be something so different from my experiences that I  am 'Wowed!'

We are all like that. Something takes us back to hopefully pleasant memories that we want to relive. (They can also take us back to pleases we don't want to revisit, but I don't think this is the forum for that. We will stay with the pleasant path.)

A favorite place we visited or spent time at. A person that lift an indelible mark on our lives.
Or if it is the Wow! factor, it has to leave me with a feeling that they have just told me an extraordinary tale that I can't imagine in my experience.

I enjoy the Sherlock Holmes stories because of the atmosphere Watson (Doyle) creates in his short but descriptive proses. He can say so much with so few words. I like the images of the moors, or the stately homes, or the fog shrouded streets of London. I am not in it for the mysteries. Give me the atmoshpere.

And that is what Ron Lies did in his remembrance of his discovery of Sherlock Holmes in his Watsonian piece, 'A Love Story'.

He sent me on a pleasant trip back to when I first really discovered Holmes and Watson.

Mine was in a place of pleasant isolation, without phones or electricity, the nearest town some twenty plus miles away requiring a boat ride.

Rathbone and Bruce's Holmes and Watson were of my fathers generation, and I of course knew of them, but had not yet discovered the real Holmes and Watson. It was kinda like the time I met John Denver. Sure, I knew his music, and liked his stuff. But it really came into focus when I met him and could finally put a personal experience to the music.

I am going to save the whole story (well both of them actually, Holmes and Denver)  for another time, but will say that books would turn out to be my only form of evening entertainment for several weeks. (No, I was not in prison.) And one of the books would turn out to be Sherlock Holmes, thirteen stories. I knew they were (duh) set in London, my father's home town, and much of the rest of England (where the rest of my family comes from) and I wanted to read something that celebrated my English heritage.

Ron took me back to my discovery of that book, and then on to the books that followed. Many have great stories of their own and how I came across them.

Like him, I still have them, and many are very worn and have been replaced with newer copies. I have copies I will make notes in, and copies just for the collection. Most I have read. Some are still on the pile to be read.

My two copy Double Day, my second Sherlock Holmes books, is very tattered and much loved and holds a proud place on my bookshelves.

I am very glad I came across Holmes first in books. Most people now a days probably have some other introduction. But I hope they eventually make it to the books, because no matter what else has come along, so far, they are really what has kept this love affair going for most of use.

So Ron, thanks for taking me back to that old logging camp in Maine and. . . wait I am giving to much away!

Thanks for the memories Ron.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Elementary Season Two - Episode #7 - 'The Marchioness'

OK, I really liked about one minute and forty-five seconds of this episode.
The first minute, till Holmes spots Holmes.
And about the last forty-five seconds where Holmes and Holmes seem to be about to get beyond their problems and moving on.

Sadly to say, the rest of the episode really fell apart for me.
Sure, it was loosely based on SILV, but the story wasn't good enough or well written enough to make up for all the other flaws.

Sherlock acted the most immature he has so far, almost bringing tears to my eyes, and not tears of joy.
Any good detective work was over shadowed by the bouts of jealousy and moodiness coming from Sherlock.

Watson was well under her game on this one, lacking any real focus and strength.
And for me, I almost turned it off when we found out she went to bed with Mycroft.
The relationship had not been going on long enough for that to become a sub-plot in the show.
We are not really finding it to our liking the fact that Millers Sherlock will jump into bed with just about anyone, and to make that a trait also for Watson is taking it to far. Watson is suppose to be the moral compass of the pair.
I'm sorry, but that just did not work for me, and lowered her character a bit.

I like Rhys Ifans performance as Mycroft so far, but the story line they have him in is not holding up.

The whole thing with the finger prints in the tree was just the writers needing somewhere to put in some deductive work, because nothin' else was working.

Now we know why the dog didn't bark in the night, . . . he was embarrassed.

The Canonical connections were obvious and weak.

-Of course we had SILV
-We also had the use of Diogenes which I am pretty sure we all hoped would be put to better use than a restaurant.
-We also had Holmes using past clients to help him find out information
-Mycroft finding some one else to be the chef suggests Mycroft's un-energetic side.

I hope Buddy2Blogger comes up with some connections I missed.

I must be in a bad mood or something, because I really want to be hard on this episode, and I am doing my best not to sound like Snarky Tour Guide.

And don't even get me started on the body under the tree!!!

Out of five pipes, I can only fairly give it,

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Watsonian - review number two - 'A Long Afternoon: John Watson's Youth', by Robert S. Katz

Most of the time, when movies are made or books are written about historical facts, or people or events, a certain amount of license is taken to fill in details that may not be known about these facts, people or events.
Usually it is explained away as being done to add dramatic effect. And for the most part, we have come to expect that as normal. After all, if we only wanted the facts, and not to be entertained, we would watch more documentaries or sticking to non-fiction.
Some circles call it 'artistic license'.

This insertion of dramatic license to help fill out 'facts' quite often comes into play whenever Sherlockians Play the Game.

For, after all, if we are Playing the Game, when we explore the world of Holmes and Watson, we are stating, at least for a short period of time, that, in fact, Holmes and Watson are real. And that just like with any other 'historical' individuals, when facts are not known, we take a little dramatic license to fill them in.
This is most often done when writers create pastiches or novels (or screenplay's)  about Holmes and Watson dramatizing events or times that Watson eluded to, but never wrote about.

The other time this is done is when a writer is trying to piece together tidbits of facts, like trying to piece together a puzzle, to create a clearer picture of an event or person. Example; We know a person visited town 'A', and then traveled to town 'L', and that took three days, and they stopped at least two nights and they traveled by train. Therefore, knowing the train traveled along this line, the others towns they could have stopped at, based on what we know, could be towns 'H' and 'K'. If the writer can come up with enough details, and facts and clues that make this a convincing possibility, then this new narrative sometimes becomes attached to the facts as common lore. As an example; We do not in fact know that John Watson's middle name is Hamish. But enough of a convincing argument has been suggested that in some circles, while Playing the Game, this has become attached to John Watson's biography. We do not know for sure when Holmes was born, but it has become commonly accept by many as 1854, because someone made a good case, derived from clues and hints, that this date was a very good possibility. And this to as become accepted by many as a real possibility.

The more clues the writer has and the less 'filling in the blanks' he has to do, the more credible his claim becomes. The more substantiated the facts and possibilities collected to add to the actual 'historical' facts, the more the new 'dramatization' is accepted, or at least considered with some relevance.

One of the only other things that can hinder the writer and his claims, even when just 'playing the game', is when the path he or she chooses to take Holmes or Watson down goes entirely somewhere the reader or reviewer does not want to see them go at all. Then the conclusions have very little chance of getting accepted.

And that brings us to the second article in the new The Watsonian I am going to 'review', 'A Long Afternoon; John H. Watson's Youth', by Robert S. Katz.

Mr. Katz wonderfully starts his piece off by reminding us how little we really do know about Holmes, and more importantly, for this publication, how even less we know about John H. Watson. And that how much we have come to 'know', is actually speculation. ( I know I have fallen into that pit before.)

Mr. Katz finely examines what few clues there are about Watson, and puts together a credible argument for his case about where Watson spent much of his youth.
Unfortunately Mr. Katz has very little to work with, so much of his case is built on speculation.
But he does an excellent job explaining his stance, taking us from the gold fields of Australia, to the coal mining counties in Pennsylvania.  And along the way he explains what could be the reasons for Watson's share affinity for Henry Ward Beecher and  Gen. Charles Gordon. I had once done a paper comparing the slavery issue as seen by Beecher and Gordon, so I found this part very resonant.
From the coal fields Mr. Katz eventually follows Watson's path The Twentieth Maine Regiment and it's involvement in the Battle of Gettysburg.

Although Mr. Katz builds a very strong, and appealing case, there are unfortunately, through no fault of his own,  not enough 'facts' to work with, and most of his case, again unfortunately, is built on wonderful speculation. Even if we want it so, it doesn't mean it is. (Maybe a few mine companies that used English engineers or were owned by British companies.)

I liked the path he chose to explore for Watson's youth, and it makes for a compelling back story, and you can tell Mr. Katz did his homework, and, like the rest of us, he loves his subject.

It is a very well written piece, and done so in the best spirit of 'Playing the Game', so therefore I could not let myself give it any less than;

out of a possible five.

These first two articles have set a high bar for the rest of us.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Watsonian - a review of 'Watson in the Twenty-first Century', by Linnea Dodson

Well, I guess saying it is a review is all wrong. Although I am going to say what I like and don't like about it, I am really trying to start a discussion and not just give my opinions. I hear them all day.

Like I said in the earlier post, I am going to 'review' each chapter and hope to get others thoughts on them also.

So, here goes.

The one I want to talk about today appears on page twenty-seven in the first edition of The Watsonian.

It is the one called "Watson in the Twenty-first Century", by Linnea Dodson.

Dodson first starts out by comparing the Canonical Watson to the decades long performance by Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson.

I thought her tone on comparing the differences between the two really set the tone for her piece. Where she described, in my opinion, the Canonical Watson as an articulate, intelligent man, and by comparison a bumbling inarticulate shadow of Watson in Bruce's performance, or as she said it best, "loyal as a dog, but also about as intelligent."

And she suggests Bruce's performance inspired the image of Watson throughout the rest of the twentieth century. Her arguments on this point are strong, even discounting the portrayals of Burk and Hardwicke as not being able to over-shadow the 'damage' done by the Watson as portrayed by Bruce.

This would probably be the only argument I have with her article.

While stating, and which may be true, that Bruce's performance still may have suggested the appearance and behavior of Watson in both Young Sherlock Holmes and The Great Mouse Detective, both of which were produced early in Granada's run, I don't think either of them had the Holmesian clout to carry the image created by Bruce through to the end of the twentieth century. The Great Mouse Detective, a fun film, was basically a remake of a Rathbone/Bruce film, with the two main characters now just living in the basement.
(Remember, they even had Rathbone's voice in the movie.)

I think by the end of the 1980's both Edward Hardwicke and David Burke had set the new standard for Watson portrayals, and are now the ones to be compared two.
To many of my fathers generation, who were not Sherlockains, it could be argued that Linnea's point would hold true.  But I think both Burke's and Hardwicke's portrayals were so low key and deftly handled that they made a much large impression than she may think.

After this, Ms. Dodson moves on examine Watson as played by Jude Law, Martin Freeman and Lucy Liu.
And for the rest of her piece, I think she is spot-on.

Her examination of Jude Law's Watson as 'arguably the closest to the original' would hardly find many dissenters, stating that while placed in more of a steam punk action film, Watson remains an active medical man, has a love life, and a publishing career. As she so aptly points out, 'Laws Watson is, in fact, the only modern Watson to have any kind of personal success outside is relationship with Holmes.'.
This is sort of the way I felt about it, but she was able to put it into words where I couldn't.
She doesn't fail to point out the darker sides of Watson's life in Law's performance either.

After Jude Law, she moves on to Martin Freeman's performance in Sherlock.
Not being as big a fan of Sherlock as many are, mainly because of the writing, I was surprised at how much more I appreciated Freeman's Watson after reading Ms. Dodson's piece. I always though he was a good choice for Watson, but her insight and observations made, for me, his performance even better.
Again not being a big fan of Moffat and Gatiss, I am glad she pointed out an observation they made that can really put into context modern adaptions of Holmes. They 'pointed out that Doyle was not writing historical mysteries but modern-day adventures for his readers.' We all realize that, when we think about it, but sometimes must be reminded to view them as such.

We next visit the set of Elementary and Lucy Liu as Watson.
Again, Ms. Dodson gets beneath the discussions of Elementary not being really about Sherlock Holmes and that it is not very Canonical, and really examines Liu's performance as a viable portrayal. And although I feel Ms. Dodson finds this Watson the least Canonical, she does give a fair assessment of the performance.

I get the impression that she appreciated Law's performance more than the rest, but really had a lot of respect for Martin and Liu. Without even stating whether or not she actually liked Sherlock, Elementary or the RDJ  movies, she was able to examine the performances objectively, the same being true for Nigel Bruce.

I really enjoy her article and came away with many new insights and many affirmations of things I believe about cinematic Watson's.
She made a strong case, and was very respectful of her subject. Or, comparing it to what one reviewer said about Rod Stewart's book, it makes to want to sit in a pub with her, have a pint and talk about it.

Thanks Linnea Dodson.

In my now world recognized rating scale, I give her

out of a possible five.
Well done! You made me want to read more. Really good writing. Thanks.

I have received my copy of the Watsonian

When it first arrived I wanted to rush outside and do my best Steve Martin and yell "The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here!", but daughter and wife restrained me.

What a stellar first edition, content and container. I have started reading from the beginning and so far I am loving it. Well done publication staff!

So, over the next few days I am going to review each article in the book and tell you what I think or what I come up with.

Look for the first review later today.

Again, good job all.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

I missed this one - Nigel Davenport died Oct 25 2013

Although he never played Holmes, he did play Doyle on PBS and he was in Without a Clue.

This is rather fun .. . .

Hollywood Raj

Have you ever seen Sherlock Holmes Baffled

You can here:

Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - #27- a tribute to the inaugural edition of the Watsonian

I thought it might be fun, to celebrate the John H. Watson Society and the first edition of their publication The Watsonian, to disregard any direct connection actors have to their roll as Dr. Watson, and make a connection to Holmes excluding those rolls. I other words, can actors who portrayed Watson be connected to Holmes as if they never took those parts.

So I though we should start with the Watson that, for good or bad, all other Watson's seem to now be compared to in some way. Whether you liked his portrayal as Watson or not, he was a well respected character actor, well loved thespian and WWI vet. For someone who is some times described as the 'Not Watson' of all Watson's,  he sure left his Holmesian mark, and got to act along side some of the greatest actors in showbiz.

I love the guy, if not his Watson.

So here goes.

Nigel Bruce (1895-1953)

starred in a little film called The Scarlet Pimpernal in 1934

which also starred Leslie Howard (1893-1943)

who is one of my favorite all time actors, and this is the way I wanted to go with the Seven Degree connection, but. . . . I found a shorter connection, so went with. . . 

Also starring in that great film was another great actor, Raymond Massey (1896-1983)

who played Sherlock Holmes in the 1931 film, The Speckled Band

As it turns out, whether I had gone with Leslie Howard or Raymond Massey, there are just so many film and theater connections to Holmes.

So, even if Nigel Bruce had never played Watson, he would still have had many connections to Holmes.

A little trivia about one of the actors who starred in The Voice of Terror (if I had used the Leslie Howard connection).

Actor Reginald Denny; 

He served as an observer/gunner in World War I in the Royal Flying Corps,[1] and in the 1920's he performed as a stunt pilot. In the early 1930s, Denny became interested in radio controlled model planes. He and his business partners formed Reginald Denny Industriesand opened a model plane shop in 1934 known as Reginald Denny Hobby Shops.
He bought a plane design from Walter Righter in 1938 and began marketing it as the "Dennyplane", and a model engine called the "Dennymite".[2] In 1940, Denny and his partners won a US Army contract for their radio-controlled target drone, the OQ-2 Radioplane. They manufactured nearly fifteen thousand drones for the US Army during World War II. The company was purchased by Northrop in 1952.[3]
Marilyn Monroe was discovered working as an assembler at Radioplane. A photographer assigned by Denny's friend, Army publicist (and future US PresidentCapt. Ronald Reagan, took several shots and persuaded her to work as a model, which was the beginning of her career.

Source, wikipedia

Reginald Denny also took part in the 1922 film, Sherlock Holmes.

So that saves me from having to do a Marilyn Monroe connection.

So, there you have it, there you are.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Which one are you, where do you fit in?

As with anything, we usually categorize our place in what we do and the things we enjoy and hope are good at.
Whether it is a hobby, a skill or a job, we rank somewhere. It may be a self ranking, or it may be placed on us by someone else. We may place ourselves in the same place that other people place us, or we may place ourselves higher in rank or lower.
In sports we have different rankings by how big your school is, or by region. We also have amateur (who's lines are somewhat blurred) and professionals (who are sometimes beaten by armatures.)
Some groups or organizations have set up lists of standards that determine where we stand in certain rankings within said group.
Some groups just decide whether or not we are ready for whatever rankings they have determined qualify us to be part of their group, and may even change their system to exclude individuals.
There may be one group that participates in something you like that thinks you deserve a very high ranking in their eyes, while just around the corner another group participating in the same, may think you deserve lower.
Unless it is a mathematical equation deciding the ranking, it's mostly just a point of view.
But, none-the-less, we as humans participate voluntarily in some sort of ranking system whether we realize it or not.

Sherlockians have lots of rankings, and can usually be pretty vocal about it, especially if someones ranking system differs from their own. We rank our favorite stories. We rank chronologies. We rank what makes good scholarship and what makes bad. We even rank what counts as Sherlockian scholarship. Some of us can even get offended if the ones doing some of the rankings don't see our work fit to be included.
It's all a matter of context.

But let's play anyway and see where we set ourselves.
This is by no means anything more than fun and my opinion, which is apt to change whenever someone else presents a point I like better than my own.

For most Sherlockian observers, the highest Sherlockian or Holmesian ranking, or recognition, most would agree would be being accepted and invited to join a group like the Baker Street Irregulars. I think this would be especially true for anyone who has a more scholarly interest in the Canon of Sherlock Holmes.
But even up at these lofty heights can be found even more seemly hard to obtain heights. 
Here would be the purists, the ones who consider the works of Doyle and the study of Holmes only possible at a literary level. How the works hold up as literature. No 'Playing the game' for them. The books are all about the content and how it applies to Doyle. 
I don't think I know any of these. At a scholastic level, they are way above me. I dangle way to many participles and use way to many comas to travel in that rarefied air. My hat is off to them however. They keep the works pure and true and are a wonderful back bone to all of us who travel near by.

Just below them can possibly be found the Sherlockian/Doylean Purists.  These are the ones who have made there name in the world of Sherlock Holmes by Playing the Game. But playing the game only as far as facts that can be proven. No speculation. Just the facts, man, no filling in the blanks. 

Just below them could be the Sherlockians who are willing to speculate a little more about details not completely factual. This perhaps would be the most populace group. They would perhaps suggest that if we can find enough clues close enough to our theories then perhaps we must be right or it could be so. But to be on this level you must have a talent for presenting things in a scholarly manner. (Separating the wheat from the chaff as it were.)
This group would probably be the harshest on people who don't see eye to eye with them.

And of perhaps equal but different ranking are the Sherlockians who have found a scholarly why to explore the world of Sherlock Holmes in other media besides the books, yet are recognized as authorities, enough so as to get them invite to join the BSI or like minded group.
Also in this group would be those who have been recognized for contributing in some other why to the world of Sherlock Holmes or Doyle that sets them apart from others, i.e actors, politicians, etc.

At this point our ranks starting falling out of the ranks of groups like the BSI.
Next we find the group that aspires to make it to the BSI. These are the ones hoping some day to prove they have what it takes. They run scion societies. They start other scholarly groups. They organize major events.
They collect rooms full of books and memorabilia. ( I think many of us fall near this group, even if we won't admit it.  ??) They can be at it for years and still never make it. Many find their energy is well spent, eventually.

Just below this group would be probably the largest single group, (well at least till Benedict Cumberbatch came along) and that would be those who are really involved in the world of Doyle and Holmes, but on a more local level. They are content in the world they participate in and don't wish to achieve loftier heights, so to speak. Or know their own limitations. They enjoy Playing the Game for the games sake, in a social no-expectation atmosphere. 
They can even have their own levels within their groups. Some Playing the Game a little purer than others. Some willing to accept all things Holmesian, while others have their limits. Some are flamboyant in their participation, while others reserved. (I think I place myself mostly here.)

Next would be, perhaps, the group that is now being called 'fans'. The ones who have come along recently on the tails of the RDJ movies or the popularity of 'Sherlock'.  They are only in it for what their chosen source material suggests. Many, hopefully will move beyond this level and start realizing the real works of Holmes and Watson. But if they don't, that's OK also.

I must admit, I am not sure where I would place cos-play Sherlockians, I am to unfamiliar with them.

This is rather a simplified investigation of Sherlockian levels, and within each one, they can be broken down even more.

Let me know your thoughts and I may yet add more.

Whatever level you place yourself at, I hope you are having a lot of fun with it.

Friday, November 1, 2013

'An Unnatural Arrangement' - Season 2 Episode 6 of Elementary - A review

Every one had plenty to do in this episode, even Gregson and Bell.
The episode opens with Holmes and Watson at the police departments holding cell. Instead of a morgue this time, Holmes is using the holding cell to further Watson's observation and deductive skills. (I wanted to know about the Yorkies!)
While there, Watson is asked to help investigate a case an officer is having trouble solving involving robbed falafel sellers. Eventually Holmes solves the case without talking to Watson first, causing a minor rift between the two. (At least, it turns out,  Holmes was not sleeping with the falafel dealers, right Snarky Tour Guide?)
The episode then moves to a scene of a woman coming home to find a killer in her house. She escapes her killer, wounds him in the process and calls the police as he flees. We come to find out she is Detective Gregson's estranged wife. Apparently the killer was out to get her husband, which we soon find out is not the case. The case soon involves antiques, army buddies and murder.

Although this episode lacks deductive investigations to the degree most of us Sherlockians would like, I think it was a very well acted episode, involving all the key players to a degree that had not happened yet.
One of the problems this show is always going to have is that what we have come to expect as Holmes' gift and talents; his observational skills and deductive powers, are now common procedures we see in most police procedural's and it is going to be hard for the writers to come up with believable and amazing things for Holmes to catch.  (Not that they shouldn't keep trying!) Any show like CSI , Bones or The Mentalist are now using coroners and crime scene investigators, and dare I say it, consultants in a way that was sort of developed and invented by Holmes (Doyle).
It will be hard for any writer to give a modern Holmes something that has not been done. Sherlock is getting away with it by;
One, not having as many episodes.
Two, covering up the cases with off-the-wall personalities and quirky over the top performances.
And three, making the cases more psychological  than criminal.
Four, Benedict Cumberbatch
Just my opinion. (But I still love the show).

But now, back to Elementary.

Canonical connections I found were;

- Holmes' comment on the human condition being found in the holding cell is kinda of reflective of Holmes comments in the books about flying over London and lifting off the roofs and peering inside.
- Holmes' comment on Watson helping on cases the cops are stuck on
- Holmes observations about Gregson's wife perhaps no longer loving him by his (Gregson's) habits being different than they once were. This comes from BLUE. (She gets a dog, instead of a goose!)
- Watson coming up with the wrong answers looking at the same clues as Holmes
- wounds and tan marks indicating a deployment to Afghanistan (We were wondering how they would get that one in when not having Watson there.)
- of course, the curious incident of the dog in the night
- reference to unsolved cases
-and when Holmes brings out the trunk at the end and gives it to Watson reminds me of this image in MUSG
And although he doesn't say they are unsolved, he does state they are his older cases before Watson came along.
(What a great image! Look how youthful they look.)

I hope I missed some more that buddy2blogger or someone else will point out.

In this episode we once again see a Holmes that is becoming, thanks to Watson, more 'human'. A softer Holmes who is more aware of his affect on other people, but still not sure how best to handle it.
Watson is still holding her ground, but also notices the change in Holmes. I am liking the more 'human' Holmes.

Another thing I think Elementary is doing well, is filling in the gap in Watson's life from the time she fell from grace as a doctor until the time she either goes back to doctoring or completely becomes his partner.
In the canon, again because of the format of one case, one story, Watson does not need to explain to us what he does, other than going to his club and betting, when not involved with Holmes. Eventually, in the Canon, Watson goes back to work and gets married and we can better imagine what takes place in his life between cases. But for the first few years, we get little detail. (Even in the Brett series, we see little of Watson's life out side of Baker St.)
At the end of two years of Elementary the show will have covered almost as many cases as appeared in written form, and as viewers, we expect more back story and growth from the characters.
With that said, the show may not be filling the gaps in Watson life the way we would like, but they are filling in the gaps. Again, Playing the Game.

Both Gregson and Bell have become a little deeper, especially Gregson in this episode. And I think that makes the show more appealing.

I liked this episode, so, out of a possible five, in am again giving it.