Monday, April 6, 2015

S3E18 - 'The View from Olympus' - taking on the gods?

With the exception of the 'sex blanket' I enjoyed the opening of this episode. The repartee between Holmes and Watson, the mention of previous cases was well done and well played.
We know the show is going to try to shock us with references to Holmes sexual habits, so we are no longer surprised or shocked when it does.

But, at least this time the romp in the sex blanket served a purpose other than well . . . .

We have also come to accept 'Elementary' as another police procedural, with perhaps just a little more to offer, because it has to at least at some point attempt to make some reference to its source. (Was Brett's Holmes a procedural? Is Poirot a procedural?) A show, this show, can only focus on Holmes methods for so long before it becomes repetitive. Had 'Elementary' reach that point yet, showing Holmes methods? Probably not.

But 'Holmes' can only throw himself on the floor so many times. And after a certain point we have to just accept that Holmes has great observation skills. Even, if we think about it, watching Brett, it was not about the methods that kept us involved, it was the fact that the show adhered closely to the Canon and  more importantly, it was Brett's portrayal of Holmes idiosyncrasies that set the tone that modern adaptation are having to measure up to.
Even the popularity of 'Sherlock' can in great part be attributed to Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of Holmes more unusual habits and manners.

Unfortunately for 'Elementary', to most Sherlockians,  the Holmes that comes out of Miller's portrayal is not as likable as the Holmes we all have pictured in our minds. Most of us come away feeling we are watching a Holmes that is much more dysfunctional than our image from the Canon. Even when watching 'Sherlock', Holmes almost comes off as an enjoyable caricature of Holmes. In Elementary we are forced, if we accept the show in the first place, to examine if not the darker side of Holmes' personality, at least parts we may not normally think about.

That doesn't mean Canonically that there is no value in the show.

I do not claim to be an expert on anything, much less an expert on all the Canonical discussion centered around 'Sherlock'. But I would argue that 'Sherlock' has generated less conversation about Holmes personality and back story than 'Elementary'. For the most part it seems most of the conversation about Sherlock's personality in 'Sherlock' centers almost entirely around his sexuality and whether or not he is a psychopath or sociopath. 'Sherlock' is fun, but it does not make me want to examine Holmes.

'Elementary' has created a deeper, darker Holmes than we see in the Canon. Something that a visual media can afford to do, and has the time to cover.

And that is what I got most out of this episode.

Once again, although topical and timely, the mystery is not all that important and shows several errors.
It does make a good social statement and the couple of times Holmes comments on the access companies have to our personal information are very well done.

The real story this week is once again about Holmes' growing as an individual and the influences his past has had on his present.

Canonically we get very few references of how others perceive Sherlock, especially his anti-social behavior (which is probably not quite as acute as either Elementary or Sherlock's portray). For the most part Stamford is the only one that gives us much insight to how Holmes may appear to others less accepting than Watson;
 “It is not easy to express the inexpressible,” he answered with a laugh. “Holmes is a little too scientific for my tastes—it approaches to cold bloodedness. I could imagine his giving a friend a little pinch of the latest vegetable alkaloid, not out of malevolence, you understand, but simply out of a spirit of inquiry in order to have an accurate idea of the effects. To do him justice, I think that he would take it himself with the same readiness. He appears to have a passion for definite and exact knowledge.” and “You mustn’t blame me if you don’t get on with him,” he said; “I know nothing more of him than I have learned from meeting him occasionally in the laboratory. You proposed this arrangement, so you must not hold me responsible.” and a couple more.

In this episode of 'Elementary', Holmes is asked to father a child with one of the irregular Irregulars. A women Holmes as worked with before and who in the past has been mutually agreeable to an uncommitted relationship.
Between her own desires and Holmes' fathers interference (he wants a heir to the family name) she asks Holmes to offer his 'issue' in the production of an offspring.
This forces Holmes into distraction and personal insight.
This on its own would be rather a dumb side story to an already weak plot.
But, it offers us as viewers some insight into the inner turmoil into the life of someone who has such an active mind. a mind feels he has very little control over it at times.
We get glimpse's of this at times in the Canon when Holmes is without work or something to stimulate his mind, but the Canon soon finds something to occupy Holmes. Is the 'brown study' and reference to his office color or state of mind? (Don't answer that, it's a joke.)

Miller's Holmes decides not to participate in the production because he does not wish upon anyone else the troubles he wrestles with to control his over active mind. It seems he does not consider it a gift, but more a burden.

Canonically what I got out of this mostly was; What would Holmes have been like without Watson? What were his personal struggles when consumed by boredom or inactivity? What would the Canonical Holmes perhaps have been reduced to if not for an influence like Watson? Did Holmes' personality change after the great hiatus?

We hear very little about Holmes' early life in the Canon. Just a couple of nods here and there. Nothing about his father, and very little about his mother. We know the relationship with Mycroft does not come across as one of affection, but more as one of mutual respect for each others mental skills.

'Elementary' bravely keeps examining a troubled relationship between father and son.

Very few of us are ever going to really love Miller's Holmes. We probably do not hopefully imagine him someday wearing a deerstalker and portraying a more period Holmes. Buy he does make us explore sides of Holmes we don't normally go to deep into.

Sherlock Holmes would never be a popular today if the stories had not been written as short stories, not allowing for much detail. 'Playing the Game' would not be any fun if Doyle had told us everything. Speculation is the back-bone of Canonical discussion.
Miller's Holmes is one view of that discussion. Where we find absurd written debate acceptable Canonical discussion, we should also find 'Elementary' as such.

Although I found several good discussion points, once again it lack Canonical references and an okay plot, but I can only fairly give it;

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