Thursday, January 28, 2016

Elementary S4E9 - 'Murder Ex Machina' - Falling into stride

This episode involves the murder of a Russian crime boss, a valet and the murders themselves.

This episode also suggests that at least for this year 'Elementary' as found itself a comfortable routine and is staying the course.

Although there are still at times hints of outlandish behavior from Miller's Holmes, for the most part it is kept in check.

The plot had some good turns in it, and the observation of some of the clues were Sherlockian like.

The side story involved Holmes' father getting in touch with Joan seeking her professional advice.
Joan deduces that there is more to it than that.

I enjoyed the line from Holmes's father about Holmes' eating habits and the reason he eats.
The observations on the effects of street lighting on the color of cars was good.
That scene also showed Holmes' knowledge of his city, much like the Canonical Holmes does of London.

This is the second or third episode this season I believe where Joan is not in on the conclusion of the case. While Canonically Watson is present in most, he usually only takes the roll of observer and not fellow detective. Is this 'Elementary's' attempt to put more emphasis on Holmes skills as an individual and not a team.

It will be interesting some day if an annotated 'Elementary' is ever produced to see how many of the plot lines involve industrial espionage. The plot line is starting to get a little over used.

One good discussion point that could come out of this episode is how timely were the topics in the cases of the Canonical Sherlock Holmes. Doyleockian, would do you say?  We know some were definitely; submarines, international interests, etc.
Many of the topics in the cases on 'Elementary' can often seem to be covering things recently in the news. The remote control of cars computers was a topic not to long ago on one of the hour long news programs.

It was nice that there was at least one wild car ride to make the guest from 'Dukes of Hazard' feel at home. Although he was not in that scene.

As has been a problem with this show all along is how to bring in things we expect from a Holmes like character without out making it a costume drama involving deerstalkers and capes. And without making it seem a copy of other adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. Miller can obviously not be Brett and he has to also avoid coping things seen in 'Sherlock'. I think the show is getting better at it this year, but is still not quite there.

For all the above reasons, having still enjoyed the episode I can fairly give this one;

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Inspired by IHOSE - Seven Degrees of Sherlock Holmes - Elmo Lincoln

Inspired by the recent post on IHOSE I though I would do a SDofSH featuring the first on screen adult Tarzan.

Elmo Lincoln - 1889-1952

also made an un-credited appearance in Tarzan's Magic Fountain -1949

which featured Evely Ankers 1918-1985

who was in 1942's Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror

There you have it there you are.
It is also interesting to note that the actual person to first play Tarzan on the big screen, child actor Gordon Griffith, had a Seven Degrees connection to Peter Cushing.

Holmes or Tarzan - by the numbers, which one is it?

As is pointed out in the linked article, many Sherlockians are also avid readers of the workers by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I know I can be included in that count. Tarzan got me into reading, Holmes kept me there.

In this fun read at IHOSE, by the numbers is explained.

I also found the authors review of Philip José Farmer Holmes/Tarzan crossover much to my liking. I too thought it one of the worse pastiches ever written. It's ashame because I think it could make a good book idea if done right.

As always, check out IHOSE

Friday, January 22, 2016

I hate the phrase 'Mind Palace' - my thoughts on The Abominable Bride

During my second viewing of "The Abominable Bride' I tried to mark down each time I went from liking the episode to not liking it by placing a little tick in one category or the another on a note pad.
I soon found that the categories were keeping pace with each other as I went back and forth.

This exercise had started out as an attempt to find a different way of examining the episode that may not have been done before.

Most times when we watch a TV show or movie, or for that matter, when we see a play or read a book, we find that we either like it or we don't. Many times we can still like something while finding something in it that we don't like, but still on the whole giving it more thumbs up than thumbs down.
Example for me, the first Lord of the Rings movie.

And the opposite can also be true. We can on the whole not like something while still finding something within that we do like. Example for me, The Hobbit movies.

I did not finish my second viewing with my little list of check marks. I found that once, after the first viewing, we learn the whole episode was just a trip into Sherlocks 'Mind Palace' the experiment was a waste of time.
One can hardly find fault with the episode if it is just viewed as a trip into Sherlocks unconscious mind. Most of us have had dreams that make no sense or that can be taken many different ways by whom ever may wish to interpret them. They could just be the result of a little under cooked beef or a tiny bit of mustard.
And just like with Sherlock, must of the times when we visit our 'Mind Palace', the journey ends right before we get where we really would like to see it go;)

The check list attempt actually proved rather disappointing in that for every time I was starting to like the show I would end up equally let down by some turn of event.
While one mount enjoying the dialog, the next disappointed in a flip response or an out of character turn of phrase.

In my post on Jan. 13th I asked the question; "Without a Clue, Part Deux"?  And while 'Without a Clue' at times tried to have serious side to the story most of it was clearly played for the humor.
As has often been the case with 'Sherlock', we are never clear which way it wants to lean and for me is not pulling either one off as well as I would like. 
Most times when fun or funny things happen in our lives they blend in with our 'story line'. And in most dramas when humorous occasions happen they in no way attempt to confuse the fact that we are watching a drama.
'Sherlock' is always blurring those lines in an almost slapstick kind of way. (Many may find that appealing.)
Again, the episode took place in his 'Mind Palace', so we can hardly fault it for being confusing.
Any attempt to navigate my 'Mind Palace' would be equally confusing.

I must admit that I fall into the camp of "hoping for a Victorian Sherlock Holmes tale starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman" to hold us over till the regular series gets filmed again. But I fear, which my be fair, that this episode left a lot not caring if the show continues, but okay if it does.
The story arc was not advanced. Mostly it was just about putting a teaser out there again, like they have been doing for the last couple of years.

There were some wonderful nods to the Canon, the Granada series and Paget drawings.
The sets were wonderful. And I was not bothered by the flash back scenes from 221B to the crime scenes. It was inventive and worked okay with that part of the story.

Much of the dialog was witty and very inventive. It was mostly appealing if you accept the story line as, once again, taking place in a 'Mind Palace'

I found the scene where Watson first finds Holmes in the morgue rather disturbing and once again seems to prove that the producers want to prove Holmes is indeed a sociopath.

I have never liked the portrayal of Moriarty in this series and believe that portrayal only adds to the sociopath explanation.

While we have come to expect a deerstalker making an appearance in most Sherlock Holmes adaptations, it does not suit the Holmes in 'Sherlock'. Something about it always looking to new or to pressed. I think it can also be said about the Iverness.

I have never considered myself a 'scholaly' Sherlockian. I don't put myself in those ranks.
I would rather find a beer connection in the canon than spend time researching find out how old the pig would have to be for the harpoon to go in so far in BLAC.
I find myself more likely to read The Strand than the Baker Street Journal.
I read the stories more for the atmosphere than for trying to add stuff to my 'Mind Palace'.
And while I am at it, I must admit that it was only after reading several other reviews that I actually caught some of the things they talked about. Many of them I agree with, some I do not.

But it was not until I watched 'Elementary' this week that I really realized what it was that I really did not like about thiss episode and in some ways 'Sherlock'.
I have come to realize that the Holmes in 'Sherlock' is not someone I would really like to meet.
I find his character a little disturbing and very borderline. Where Canonically, as well as in 'Elementary', we see the relationship between Holmes and Watson as good for one another. In 'Sherlock' I can see the relationship dragging Watson down.
Brett as Sherlock Holmes did not suffer well fools. Cumberbatch's Holmes would rather make someone feel the fool.
There is a manic quality to 'Sherlock's' Holmes that seems un-fixable or un-changable or lacking in the ability for growth. He seems damaged beyond repair many times.

It may be a product of our time, the anti-hero being the hero. The more damaged you are the more appealing you become as the hero.

As has been the case since the early episodes, The Abominable Bride was written for the fans of 'Sherlock', not the fans of Sherlock Holmes.

And although 'Mind Palace' is a historical phrase, when used as it is in 'Sherlock' it appears more Fanfic than Sherlockain.

But with all my complaints about the show, I still think Cumberbatch and Freeman are two of the best things to happen to Sherlock Holmes in a very long time. And I still enjoy the show for it's 'Playing the Game' exercise.

I do not however consider this episode to be a respectful nod to the Canon of Sherlock Holmes.

But I can only fairly give it;

To bad it wasn't Elementary:)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Elementary S4E7&8 - 'Miss Taken' and 'A Burden of Blood' - two reviews for the price of one, and about time.

Seasonal activities and the lack of time has kept me from blogging here as much as I would like lately.
Also, coming up with a review for the latest episode of 'Sherlock' (which I have yet to do, but will do soon) has made me want to avoid reviewing anything for a little while.

But last night I had the chance to relax and watch the two latest episodes of 'Elementary'.
Episode 7, 'Miss Taken' was about a murdered former FBI agent who was still investigating a missing persons case (and a couple others which prove to be irrelevant) several months after the missing person was found. What is left of the FBI agent is found in a wood chipper.
The missing person, Mina Davenport had escaped her captor several months earlier and Holmes and Watson need to find out why the retired agent is still investigating.
Side story has Watson, thanks to Gregson, discovering that a book has been written about Holmes and her, thinly disguised as fictional characters. She does however know her step-father wrote the book. She also discovers he will soon publish another.

This to me has been one of the better episodes of the whole run of the show. A big part of that has to do the the spot-on performance of Ally Ioannides as Mina/Cassie.
It turns out that she is not really the missing daughter named Mina but indeed a con-artist named Cassie who looks enough like the missing girl to convince the grieving parents that she is their daughter returned after ten years a captive.

Reviewing a photo of the ten year old Mina and the returned 'Mina' Holmes discovers that the ears of the two girls are not the same and that grown 'Mina' is an impostor. Ioannies is very convincing first as the returned daughter then as the con-artist murderer. Enough so that Millers Holmes has trouble in the end finding out the complete truth. I could see her as a returning character that 'Holmes' has trouble actually finding proof to convict. (Maybe see will come back as the next incarnation of Milverton?) The last exchange between Cassie and Holmes in the cell was really well done I thought.

Millers Holmes in this episode gets the closest I believe to what we will see in this show to a Canonical similar Holmes. His observations and habits are convincing and his treatment of the other characters is not without charm. The observation of the clues and Sherlockian quirks is also convincing. Watson although involved is much lower key in the actual investigation.

I also found the story line of the book being written about Holmes and Watson a good touch.
It was well done writing Watson as the offended one in the case of the books publication, with Joan commenting on how mad Holmes may be since he is such a private person.
It also served as a good commentary on who the Canonical Watson would sometimes 'flower' up the stories to make them more readable and not just a scientific observation.
My only problem with the story line (which may just go to show what I expect from the show) was with; Why and how Cassie found the real missing Mina?

Episode 8, 'The Burden of Blood' was also a very strong story. A young women is found murdered and is also found to be pregnant. First it is believed that her husband murdered her once he found out she was having an affair since he was unable to have children and the child could not be his.
Then we are led to believe that it may be her lover once he found out she was pregnant and that would cause him problems with his marriage.
We soon find out the murder victim is the daughter of a serial killer who is serving life in prison for his crimes.
Listening over and over again to the victims last phone call, Holmes soon learns who the actual criminal is.
Side story in this episode is Det. Bell's studying for his sergeants examine, which Holmes does not believe he really wants to do.
Again, in this episode, we see a Holmes played as Canonically close as we are likely to see, played by Miller.
The annoying quirks of the first few years have mostly, at least for the time being, disappeared (okay, except when it comes to Watson's love life or not) and 'Holmes' is a more focused individual. The story line twist and ending were well done and made for a good story, especially since we didn't want the victims brother to be the guilty party.
Canonically we see Holmes allowing Lestrade to take credit for solving cases, with Lestrade usually not making the connections of clues Holmes gives him. Here we saw Holmes, and Watson, helping Bell in such away that Bell solves a case and recognizes his own skills.
We find a Holmes more welling to accept friendships in these new episodes.

I enjoyed both of these episodes and watching them helped me figure out why I was having so much trouble coming up with a review of the newest 'Sherlock'.
So I give both these episodes;

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Seven degrees of Sherlock Holmes - Alan Rickman - one of the big screens best villains.

An incredible actor remembered mostly for all the great bad guys he played. He was however a classically trained actor and had a fantastic presence in the Harry Potter movies.

Alan Rickman 1946-2016

Starred in a movie from 2006 called 'Perfume'

which also featured Rachel Hurd-Wood (1990)

who was in 2004's 'Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking'

There you have it, there you are.

And Thanks to IHOSE, Rickman also played Holmes on stage at one point in his career.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My review of 'The Abominable Bride'. . . .

is yet to come. I was, or am, looking for a way to review it that hasn't been done yet. Or at least that I have seen. Not being as great a wordsmith as most reviewers, or as I would like to be, I needed to come up with something simple, like my way of enjoying Sherlock Holmes.

So, last night as I started to watch the episode for the second time, I had a pad of paper and pencil with me and made two columns.
One column was marked 'Like' and the other 'Not liked' and each time something would change in the episode or an event would happen that to cause a reaction I would make a mark in the appropriate column for my reaction.
Some scenes the reaction would go back and forth.
About half way through the second viewing I am a little surprise that the two columns are pretty close in ticks.

In my post on Jan. 8th I tongue-in-cheek asked the question of  The Abominable Bride (can we abbrivate it 'ABOM'?) "With out a Clue, Part Deux"?  I am still leaning that way.

A couple more evenings and I should be done with my second viewing and will post the results here.

Friday, January 8, 2016

I love these lines from the most recent IHOSE posting. . .

"For many people this parallel Holmes is often more true than the original version. Without parallel Holmes, the detective would lack many of his most characteristic features: the deerstalker, the curved pipe and the line "Elementary, my dear Watson." The deerstalker was of course put there by Sidney Paget – and that’s definitely connected to the original Holmes – but without William Gillette’s use of it, Holmes would have had no characteristic hat, and his easily recognizable silhouette would be less easily recognizable."


As always, it is worth the read.

I have finally started watching 'The Abominable Bride'

I am a little over half-way through this episode and am having mixed reactions.
Parts are incredibly fun, and parts are irritably annoying.
There are some well done nods to the Canon and some that seem placed within just to get in as many as possible.
While this episode is very much a study in patience's, I am having a lot of fun following it. And by the next review we will see if we have done a very good job of.

While I have read some other reviews, I have not yet read any that have given away any spoilers. So it is all if not fresh, at least new to me.
"With out a Clue, Part Deux"?

Let the game continue.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

On a more postive note. . .

In 1893, author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle shoved detective Sherlock Holmes off a cliff. The cliff was fictionally located in Switzerland, over the Reichenbach Falls. But Conan Doyle did the dirty work from his home in London where he wrote. “It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr Sherlock Holmes was distinguished,” narrator Dr John Watson says in Conan Doyle’s story The Final Problem, which appeared in The Strand magazine in December 1893.
Conan Doyle himself seemed a little less emotional in private. “Killed Holmes,” he wrote in his diary. One can imagine Conan Doyle, slicked-back hair shimmering in the candlelight, twirling his ample mustache with glee. He later said of his famous character: “I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards paté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day.”
The public reaction to Holmes’ death was unlike anything previously seen for fictional events.
Conan Doyle may have thought, at the time of finishing Holmes off in print, that that was that. If he did think this, he did not understand fans – particularly fans of Holmes – very well. The public reaction to the death was unlike anything previously seen for fictional events. More than 20,000 Strand readers cancelled their subscriptions, outraged by Holmes’ premature demise. The magazine barely survived. Its staff referred to Holmes’ death as “the dreadful event”.
Legend has it that young men throughout London wore black mourning crêpes on their hats or around their arms for the month of Holmes’ death, though that has recently been questioned. (Some Holmes aficionados have suggested the story could have been an exaggeration perpetuated by Conan Doyle’s son in interviews.) Outraged readers wrote to the magazine in protest: “You brute!” one letter addressed to Conan Doyle began. Americans started “Let’s Keep Holmes Alive” clubs. Conan Doyle stuck to his guns in the face of the protests, calling the death “justifiable homicide” – referring, presumably, to his own justifications, not Moriarty’s.
This sounds, of course, like just another day on the internet in 2015. But at the time, Conan Doyle had every reason to be shocked by the torrent of vitriol. Fans simply did not do this before then. (In fact, they weren’t even called “fans” yet. The term, short for “fanatic”, had only recently begun use in reference to American baseball enthusiasts.) Readers typically accepted what went on in their favourite books, then moved on. Now they were beginning to take their popular culture personally, and to expect their favourite works to conform to certain expectations. They seemed to actually expect a reciprocal relationship with the works they loved.
Fan frenzy
Sherlock Holmes’ avid readers helped to create the very modern practice of fandom. Interestingly enough, Holmes’ intense following continues to this day, spawning endless reimaginings, such as the US crime-solving series Elementary, which started its third season in November, and the BBC’s Sherlock, which returned with a highly-anticipated special on New Year’s Day, its modern-day Sherlock and Watson returning to Victorian times.
Because of Holmes, Conan Doyle was, one historian wrote, ‘as well-known as Queen Victoria’.
Holmes first appeared in 1887, in the novelette A Study in Scarlet. He was popular from the start – so popular that soon Conan Doyle began to regret having created him, since Holmes stories so completely overshadowed what Conan Doyle considered his serious work, such as his historical novel Micah Clarke. Readers lined up at newsstands for The Strand on publication day whenever a new Holmes story was to appear inside. Because of Holmes, Conan Doyle was, one historian wrote, “as well-known as Queen Victoria”.
Holmes fans were truly the emerging middle-class, the exact sort of group whose tastes would be denigrated by snooty critics as populist for more than a century to come. They were the ones priced out of concerts, the ones who had to wait for the cheaper versions of popular novels. Historian David Payne describes them as “largely the lower-middle and middle-middle classes of the cities, the non-intellectual, non-public school, hardworking, rising… people – the first true mass moderns.” The Strand targeted them with what we’d now recognise as exciting, high-concept genre stories – mysteries and science fiction – from writers such as HG Wells and Jules Verne.
The demand for Holmes stories seemed endless. The Strand would pay Conan Doyle nicely for whatever he could give them. But he hadn’t meant to spend the rest of his life inventing and solving fictional crimes. He’d meant to make some money to support his real art, novels full of what he felt were important ideas and political statements. 
In 1903 he went one step further, resurrecting Holmes with the explanation that only Moriarty had died in the fall.
By 1893, when Conan Doyle was 34, he’d had enough. He wanted to be Sir Walter Scott. So he had the evil Professor Moriarty push Holmes down the falls. It took eight years, but by 1901, however, public pressure grew so great that Conan Doyle wrote a new story, The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring Holmes before his fall. In 1903, in The Adventure of the Empty House, he went one step further, resurrecting Holmes with the explanation that only Moriarty had died in the fall, while Holmes had faked his own death. Fans rejoiced.
Life after death
Holmes fans have only grown more obsessive since then. The only difference is that now we’re used to super-fandom. Even so, the BBC series Sherlock, in particular, has stoked the most passionate strand of Holmes fandom in some time. Fans of the show, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a modern-day Holmes, frequent the London sandwich shop favoured by Sherlock and his Watson (Martin Freeman), Speedy’s Café. They crowd the streets when the crew films on location, to such a point that it has caused production problems. (Nearly a thousand once showed up at the Baker Street location, which is Gower Street in real life.)
In China, fans have popularised elaborate fan fiction positing this particular Sherlock (whom they call “Curly Fu”) and Watson as a gay couple. Japanese fans pore over Sherlock manga. Korean pop group SHINee recorded a tribute song. Cumberbatch fans have their own squad name: ‘Cumberbitches’, known for their Beatles-level reactions to the dreamy star.
As a TV show, Sherlock has maintained a complicated relationship with its fans. Sometimes the producers throw in a scene to wink at fans – or in the first episode of series three, an entire episode built out of fan theories about how Sherlock faked his own death, also a callout to The Adventure of the Empty House. But the show’s co-creator, Steven Moffat, has often been dismissive of fans, while Cumberbatch uncomfortably wrote off Sherlock fan fiction as absurd. Never mind that the show itself could be considered ‘fan fiction’ based on Conan Doyle’s Victorian-age work.
I think Doyle began the idea that super-intelligence comes at the price of some kind of social dysfunction – Steven Moffat
Of course, Sherlock’s ability to cause such intense emotion among its fans is only an indication of how much they love it. What’s remarkable is that Sherlock Holmes fans have been engaging in such histrionics over the fictional detective for more than 120 years, through many, many adaptations.
Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss, who also plays the detective’s brother Mycroft, has credited Conan Doyle for creating characters that transcend time: “I think more than anything, what people have responded to is the fun of the show, which is so much what Doyle’s stories were actually like,” he told Al Jazeera America. “Over years and years of accumulating various versions and Victoriana, people had slightly lost sight of the fact that they’re enormous fun! They’re quick reads, they’re jolly thrilling, blood-curdling thrilling adventures and really, that’s what we wanted to do.”
Gatiss has also pointed out that Holmes is one of the original fictional detectives – most other crime-solvers created thereafter were copies of him or a direct reaction to him: “Everything onwards is people drawing a line from Sherlock and Doctor Watson. Agatha Christie does it explicitly and makes Poirot short and round as opposed to tall and lean. He needs a Watson, so she creates Captain Hastings. Everywhere you go, this is the model. That’s why it’s imperishable I think.”
Just look at the landscape of current TV heroes, many of which play on Holmes’s brilliant-but-damaged formula. “Even outside the world of detection, I think Doyle began the idea that super-intelligence comes at the price of some kind of social dysfunction, something that we’ve grasped as a narrative possibility ever since,” Moffat has said. “He’s a genius, therefore he’s a bit strange. I don’t know how often that happens in real life, but it happens a lot in fiction.”
In other words, pushing Sherlock Holmes off a cliff has no chance of killing him. He’ll always come back, in this lifetime and the next. The fans will see to it.
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I have yet to see the episode myself, but I am finding some of the reviews very interesting. . .

Sherlock's 'mansplaining' wasn't the worst thing about The Abominable Bride

Under Steven Moffat, the great detective has become trapped in an endless hall of mirrors reflecting on his own cleverness

Critics of the latest episode of Sherlock Holmes have attacked the show for "mansplaining" feminism. For fear of actually mansplaining, that is a word used to describe the patronising way that men sometimes explain things, particularly to women (did you get that, dear?). It’s the neologism which birthed this tedious trend of adding "man" to the front of words – see "manspreading" – as a way of criticising those of us with a Y chromosome. If a man is bad at being in charge of a group of people or defending a fortification is he manmanaging or manmanning?
Still, as a show directed by a man, co-starring two men and written by two other men, Sherlock ought to have avoided making jokes about the sometimes token presence of women, or styling feminists as similar to the Klu Klux Klan. On the other hand, it’s good of the BBC to give a nod to the existence of women from time to time: of the eight latest dramas to be announced by the BBC, all of them are written by men. That’s a mystery worthy of a private detective.

Yet this was not even the most egregious thing about the episode entitled "The Abominable Bride" (hereafter TAB), Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote that “mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself," and if this installment had one problem, it’s that it thought that it was much smarter than it was. It was the Douglas Carswell of holiday television: a dim person’s idea of what a clever story would look like. I ought to warn that the rest of this will include spoilers, but that would imply that I believed that there was much enjoyment to spoil.
"This was an over-indulgent guitar solo, showing off talented strumming and fingering at the expense of the song"
Of course Cumberbatch, Freeman, Stubbs, Gatiss, Brealey, Scott and co are all brilliantly good in their respective roles. The sets, costumes and lighting are all shown off by adept direction. The emperor has good posture, but you can still see his noble bachelor shivering in the wind.
For one thing, the BBC has become a little obsessed with people who don’t die but do fake it. This was interesting the first time, but pretend deaths are no match for real ones, and the increasingly well-trodden territory of people who aren’t actually dead didn’t advance the plot of the overarching Sherlock storyline. “Sherlock gets off a plane” would have been a more accurate title. In an episode which drifted away from any pretence of focusing on the solution of crimes, or advancing the overall plot of the series, this drama was an over-indulgent guitar solo, showing off talented strumming and fingering at the expense of the song.
The three pipe problem here is that Sherlock’s writers clearly thought their work was exceptional. Perhaps Christopher Nolan is to blame for making the slick, highly successful but ultimately only half-clever Inception. TAB makes Inception look like it was written by a committee of Nobel Laureates. Sherlock eked out the "it was all a dream" twist –the end of every seven-year-old's creative writing homewrk – like a vehicle running on just the vapours of an idea. Where Inception revelled in the complexities of the dream state, Sherlock held it back as the great surprise. Gasp – the fake death was fake on two levels. Three if you count the fact that it was all a turgid TV drama. It was all so incessantly meta, so self-referential, that you couldn’t be distracted from the emptiness.
Like Mendes’ Bond in Spectre, Steven Moffat’s Sherlock has strayed too far from the source. It’s as if Moffat pointed at an ocean and bet someone that he could water-ski over a shark. Lazy references to Holmes stories like The Five Orange Pips are stretched over a canvas designed to satisfy the particular aims of the creator. When Holmes is ganged up on by versions of women he has mistreated in the past, it has nothing to do with Sherlock, nothing to do with the plot – just the preoccupation of an author trying to defend himself from his feminist critics.
It took great skill to reimagine Sherlock Holmes in the modern day and to successfully tell its stories for a new generation of viewers. I admire the episodes of Sherlock which preceded TAB, and I am still excited for the next series. With any luck, and a dose or two of humility, the show’s creators will go back to telling detective stories. Until then, we’ll just have to keep telling ourselves that this episode of Sherlock just happened in our mind palaces.