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Sherlock vs Elementary

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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2012 6:13:00 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 25, 2012 7:17:43 PM PST
Hikari says:
Very interesting analysis of male friendship & our Baker Street pair.

I think in any relationship between two people, there will be a more dominant party and one who gives way, not just men, though jockeying for position may be more blatantly obvious in male culture. Who is dominant and less so at any one time may be situational, and the parties take turns, or the dominant-submissive dynamic may be more or less permanent, like with a boss and a subordinate. In a friendship of alleged equals, it can turn toxic if one is always dominating the other . . it really depends on the motivations of the personalities involved.

In the original Final Problem, Sherlock's disappearance wasn't pre-meditated; he went over the Falls in a life-or-death fight with Moriarty, survived by chance, not cunning, and decided after that fact that it was expedient if everyone thought he was dead. In our modern take, Sherlock's ruse is a lot more calculated, and he's playing Watson like a puppet on a string, to the point of allowing his friend to 'bury' him. Any way you slice it, staying away for three entire years is cold, even if the initial ploy is for Watson's own safety. I'm on tenterhooks to see the 'reunion' between our BBC pair; I really have no idea how they are going to explain how Sherlock pulled off that body in the last episode, or where he's been.

Watson has definite skills which have been invaluable to Holmes besides his friendship; in the last set we saw John asserting himself more in the partnership. Watson is, in his normal environments of the battlefield and the surgery, a natural leader. He was an army officer and is a very good doctor. One does not get to be either of these things by being a shrinking violet or lacking confidence in his abilities. But when he met Sherlock, John found himself giving way to a superior force. Sherlock Holmes just kind of steamrolls over everyone else with his intellect and his charisma that knows few boundaries of polite convention. It's easy to slip into thinking of Watson as the weaker of the two, but he's rather just the less showy one. Watson has guts for 2 men and Sherlock's last stunt is going to test every ounce of his fortitude. They are an endlessly fascinating study in interpersonal dynamics, and I think that's why this partnership has endured for more than 100 years. Seems that we never tire of Holmes and Watson.

Sherlock will have an eminently rational explanation and 'reason' for what he put John through . . I think the 'betrayal' in John's eyes will not be the elaborate ruse, but the fact that he was never 'read in'. Watson is not, contrary to Holmes' favorite insult, 'an idiot.' That is what Sherlock is going to have to overcome. Watson forgave him for the Baskerville episode, but the Reichenbach stunt was much, much worse.

In the final analysis, I think John Watson has always been the one that cared more and invested more, no matter which incarnation he is. Sherlock Holmes is not wired up to care about anything, or anyone, so deeply as he cares about solving a problem. He is the elusive object of everyone's regard or derision, but what he himself thinks about it all remains somewhat opaque.

Watson has made his peace with his friend's singular nature, but it's always nice to get confirmation that we do not care in vain. You remember the bit in 'The Adventure of the Three Garidebs', where Watson sustains a leg wound?--
"You're not hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you are not hurt!"

It was worth a wound -- it was worth many wounds -- to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.

This is the kind of loyalty that is waiting for Sherlock when he decides to come home. John will get over it, but I'd like to see a few scenes of righteous anger . . maybe some pummelling. He deserves it after what he's put up with.

An aside to Mr. Smith--Note Sir Conan Doyle's use of the word 'love' in reference to Sherlock Holmes. He used it first; I was only echoing the master. :)

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 5:55:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 6:43:35 AM PST
Hikari says:
@Mr. Smith
I read Rex Stout's essay last night. Surprised he didn't use the quote above, Watson using the sticky word 'love', in support of his thesis. Surely only a chick would employ such verbiage, not a stiff-upper-lip, combat-hardened Victorian military/medical man.

Well, I believe in his own way, Watson is also an extraordinary man--extraordinarily in touch with his anima, for any time, but particularly for his.

Mr. Stout's essay was entertaining, particularly the ingenious application of mathematics to canon titles to come up with the 'real' name of 'the Watson person'. But his entire thesis seems to rest on Watson's knowledge of what time Sherlock gets up and eats breakfast. This is not 'proof' of anything except that two people sharing a domicile tend to know each others' habits and also tend to share meals. Why does Watson have to be Sherlock's wife because they eat breakfast together? Breakfast time is when the papers arrive. Holmes and Watson are both great ones for the newspaper. On another occasion Watson complains to Holmes that his pipe smoke has completely filled the sitting room. Could be a nagging wife--or just a roomie who'd like to be able to breathe oxygen in the sitting room. On yet another occasion, Watson 'whines' that he must be the most long-suffering of individuals. Well--considering that he lives with Sherlock Holmes, that is merely a true statement irrespective of gender.

Interesting that in canon, Dr. Watson is actually a year younger than Holmes, 26 when they meet. For a 26-year-old, what a storied career he's had! Already a qualified physician, Army officer and campaign veteran. I can only think that medical school was quite a bit shorter back then. Our modern doctors aren't fully qualified until they are 30 or more. Three years of med school after undergrad followed by at least 2 years of internship and 5-7 years of residency . . . yes, the modern medical man is nearly a decade older than Watson was in ASIS before he gets properly underway with his own practice. Every incarnation of Dr. Watson we've had portrays the good doctor as older than Holmes. Our current pair has a 5-year age gap, but Benedict C. looks young for his age.

By the way, I have purchased myself a blue wool scarf so I can look Sherlocky as I go about town. His is nicer; his also costs $250. Mine cost $15.

Mr. Stout scandalized the Sherlock Society when he gave that speech in 1941. Do you suppose, had he posited instead that Holmes and Watson were gay lovers that it would have been more scandalous, or less? A blogger called 'S.H.' has gone through every single story in the canon and deconstructed them all for gay subtext. The document is more than 300 pages long. Now *that's* dedication!

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 6:07:29 AM PST
I haven't seen any episodes of Elementary, so I can't really add to the discussion. The recent BBC Sherlock is good, though.

I just couldn't let a discussion of Sherlock go by without bringing up this again:

Shadows Over Baker Street

The best story is Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald," naturally, but several of the others are good too.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 6:29:38 AM PST
Reeder says:
US Elementary is fairly interesting on it's own, but has no correlation to the real Sherlock.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 6:50:05 AM PST
Hikari says:
Thanks for the recommendation. I have looked at that title before. The amount of Sherlockian homage out there is truly enough to make one's head explode.

There's another series about 2 attorney brothers sharing office space at the former 221B Baker Street; they get the building with the stipulation that the fan mail addressed to Holmes that regularly arrives at the address be answered promptly.

The Baker Street Letters

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:01:11 PM PST
LK: I question your theory of dominance.

In fact, I question the entire psychology of your post.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:05:00 PM PST
H: I will still maintain that your interpretation is tinged with sentimentality. Watson's stiff upper lip does quiver a bit there, true.

And when Sherlock 2.0 returns--no pummeling. It is abundantly clear that Holmes did what he did from necessity, without malice.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:05:54 PM PST
H: It's a jeu d'espirit, and needs to be taken as such.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:53:02 PM PST
Ms. Brentano says:
@jandtkey - If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes you really should try to catch the BBC version. It's clever, funny, sometimes sad, and inventive. Plus, I love the acting. As of now it consists of 2 seasons ( three 90 minute episodes each) which I recommend should be watched in the proper order. It's available for streaming on Netflix.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 1:54:41 PM PST
Ms. Brentano says:
P.S.- The first episode is A Study In Pink.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 2:02:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 2:03:37 PM PST
Ms. Brentano says:
@Cilantron - I was intrigued by the title you mentioned (Shadows Over Baker Street). As I am a fan of both Doyle's and Lovecraft's stories I ordered a used copy. Look forward to reading it. Thanks for the tip.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 4:19:55 PM PST
Hikari says:
Ms. B.---
Welcome to our salon of all things Sherlock.

You are preaching to the choir because we love the New Canon (ie, BBC Sherlock). Well, Mr. Smith objects to the word 'love' used, especially in this manner. So let us say that we heartily approve the BBC Sherlock. I do hope they don't cave into the fandom and show Sherlock and Watson kissing or such because that would spoil it. Just keep it burbling under the surface where it belongs. I am satisfied to call it a bromance for the ages--Clothes stay on. Though if Sherlock would care to lounge around the flat in only a sheet again, I wouldn't mind.

Psst--I have Benedict Cumberbatch's autograph. He's had to streamline it--imagine writing all those letters a thousand times a week. No good.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 4:53:13 PM PST
H: "Hearty approval" fits fairly well with my view of Sherlock 2.0.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 6:09:25 PM PST
Ms. Brentano says:
@Hikari - actually I'm not new. I'm the one who posted this discussion. I just decided to no longer use my real name, that's all (-:

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 7:03:27 PM PST
Hikari says:
Aha--well, mum's the word.
I was having a perfectly fine evening here until I went and spilled cream tea on Benedict Cumberbatch. Not the autographed picture; another one.

Not quite what Sherlock had in mind when he told Henry, "Have a cream tea on me." He'll be all right, but I'm nonplussed at myself. Or as Sherlock would remind me, 'Stupid, stupid!!'

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 10:12:31 PM PST
Ms. Brentano says:
Well at least it wasn't autographed one. I have Alan Rickman's autograph and I would be very upset were I to spill anything on it. I don't know what that has to do with this topic but... Actually, come to think of it, he did play Sherlock Holmes on stage when he was younger.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:38:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 10:11:57 AM PST
Hikari says:
How interesting then that he and Benedict share a similar vocal quality. I have read Ben's voice likened to a cross between Alan Rickman's and Jeremy Irons'. Ben is not unaware of the similarity; in fact, he does a patented Alan Rickman impression on demand.

In fact, here it is!

Benedict is actually NOT Sherlock, in case you were wondering. He is quite the chat-show fixture and seems to love being around people. In this interview, he was in his "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" haircolor. When he is blond, he reminds me very much of Ralph Fiennes.

I haven't heard this yet, but I had to include it because it promises to be epic:

"Benedict Cumberbatch Singing Candle in the Wind in the style of Alan Rickman"

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 11:05:11 AM PST
C. J. Vasta says:
Andrew Scott's Moriarty was what Moffat and Gattiss wanted. He seems to be patterned on the Joker (The Riddler in the Great Game.) There seems to be Batman villian motif as their Irene Adler was basically the Cat Woman without the Catburglary. Personally, I think the original Irene Adler was a more complex and interesting Character.

>". there's just not a whole lot of depth we can get into in 43 minutes per episode, and I think that would be fairly glaring

I think shows like Once Upon a Time and Revenge dispel that notion. Having more episodes allows for more complex storytelling. I would say that Doctor Who has more complex storytelling than Sherlock which has the equivalent of three episodes of Columbo or McMillan and Wife. I haven't seen much of that element on Elementary as of yet. The biggest subplot is Holmes past with this version of Irene Adler.

Lucu Liu seems to have matured as an actress since Charlie's Angels.

Sherlock seems to lean heavily on "A Study in Scarlet" for its characterization of Holmes as an arrogant borderline sociopath. Later stories showed a nuanced view of Holmes who underneath was revealed to be a proper Victorian Gentleman who sometimes neglected the social graces due to absent-minded refection.

The Elementary Sherlock seems to draw less inspiration from the literary Holmes. He's a weathy kid who has issues with his largely absent father (no brother mentioned yet) and seems to have a fairly anarchic anti-authoritarian worldview. He also seems to make frequent use of prostitutes. He tends more to be more "ADHD" than Apergers.

In an episode, where he takes the rare private client, a wealthy corporation, he makes it a point to lavishly make use of expense account to soak them for all of their worth. At one point he orders a very expensive bottle of wine, which his sober companion says he can't have. He responds that the wine is meant for a down-at-the heels gentleman across the restaurant who's about to propose to his girlfiend. An act of empathy beyond the BBC version.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 11:44:17 AM PST
C. J. Vasta says:
The essay is more of a parody of outlandish fan theories. The Baker Street Irregulars were the first hyper-fans. Long before the Trekkies. There are numerous reinterpretations of classic stories. Oddy man of which claim Holmes nailed the wrong killer or jumped to the wrong conclusion.

Stout essentially argues that John Watson and Irene Adler are the same person, and uses all sorts of "textual clues" to make this case. Her argues that the wedding Holmes winds us witnessing in "A Scandal in Bohemia" was in fact his own.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 11:55:34 AM PST
C. J. Vasta says:
But that's even more true of henpecked husbands.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 1:00:39 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Pace Stout, but do Watson and Irene Adler ever appear in the same "scene" together in Conan Doyle? I don't recall, but if they do I wonder how Rex Stout reconciles that with his theory.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 1:08:13 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 1:13:28 PM PST
Hikari says:
Indeed. If Sherlock encountered 'The' Woman to end all women as far as he's concerned, it does seem that he'd want to lock her down as it were, if only so he can keep a better eye upon her activities. If any other woman besides Irene Adler would just bore him silly, he might have taken the plunge. The BBC's dominatrix Adler doesn't seem to be much of a woman of letters, unless those letters can be squeezed into the length of 140 characters or less. Conan Doyle's Adler would have been capable of writing the stories. If Mr. Stout's tongue-in-cheek theory is correct, then Irene (or rather Sir Arthur writing on her behalf) went to Herculean lengths to disguise her identity, giving her a medical degree, three wives & a war injury from the Afghan campaign. Well played! She reads for all the world like a ex-soldier/doctor named John who is inordinately fond of firearms. A mustache and everything! ;-)

Our current Watson Martin Freeman should on no account try to grow a mustache. As for Sherlock, I'd like to see more in the way of disguises from him next season. He's already been horsewhipped and drugged by a dominatrix, exposed to hallucinogenic gas, been forced to jump off a building and fake his own death. What are a few stick-on mustaches compared to that? Actually, I've seen Benedict in facial hair. Big nopes, better do something else. I don't suppose they will have him pretend to be a buxom gypsy woman with gold teeth or anything that outlandish. Transforming Benedict into a buxom gypsy woman would stymie the most talented makeup department.

Are you familiar with the novels of Laurie R. King? Ms. King creates an alternate Sherlock, who during his retirement years on the Sussex Downs, meets, mentors and marries an Oxford undergraduate named Mary Russell. There is at least a 40 year age gap between them, but a Sherlock Holmes in his 60s is as energetic as ever. In all arenas--his 20-something wife has no complaints about his performance of certain husbandly duties. The Holmeses may be apart for months at a time but the reunions are always more than cordial. Mary is at once a stand-in for Adler, John Watson, and something of a female junior Holmes himself--they have very similar minds, though their areas of expertise and interest are divergent. Mary becomes Sherlock's able deputy on cases but she is a scholar of ancient Middle Eastern history and mysticism. Much more of an academic than Adler.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2012 6:19:30 PM PST
Hikari says:
Well, BBC Sherlock did throw a thuggish American who'd roughed up his landlady out of a two-storey window a few times . . does that count as empathy? I'd say at least to Mrs. Hudson, if not the American thug. And this struggling-to-be-ex-smoker Sherlock who filched the Queen's ashtray from Buckingham Palace might have been doing his bit to help Her Majesty pack up . . . maybe there's a drop of empathy, light-fingered as it may be.

I particularly enjoy the bits where Sherlock really displays that his mind does not work like other people's in the emotionality quadrant. Elementary Sherlock has a 'sober companion'--this Watson functions kind of as Sherlock's 'neurotypical coach' as they navigate the world together:

In A Study in Pink, Sherlock's quizzical response to a mother grieving the death of her daughter 15 years prior:

S: That was ages ago! Why would she still be upset?
J: (look)
S: . . . not good?
J: Bit not good, yeah.

In 'Hounds of Baskerville', Sherlock encounters two little girls in his flat.

Girl: They wouldn't let us see grandad. Is that 'cos he went to Heaven?
S: People don't go to heaven when they die. They're taken to a special room and burned.
J: Sherlock . . .

Sherlock is spinning like a top in a field, overcome with giddiness at the puzzle to solve:

S: (throwing hands in air, practically whooping) Ah . . this CASE!!!
J: Sherlock . . . .
S: (stops short) . . .not good?

He is genuinely puzzled in these moments. Hard not to find it a bit endearing.

In 'The Reichenbach Fall', Sherlock is presented with a set of very expensive cufflinks from a grateful client:

S: (mutters to John) All my cuffs have buttons.
J: (to man) He means Thank you.
S: Do I?
J: Just say it.
S: Thank you.

Sherlock and John are on their way to the Old Bailey for Moriarty's trial.

J: Remember what I said--keep your answers short and to the point. No showing off.
S: Showing off is what we DO. Heaven forbid the star witness be intelligent.
J: Intelligent, fine. Let's give smart-a$$ a wide berth.
S: I'll just be myself.
J: Are you LISTENING to me?

Sherlock is humming to himself as he scrapes luminescent footprints off the floor:

J: Having fun?
S: Starting to.
J: Maybe don't do the smiling . . .missing kids?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 6:32:20 AM PST
Hikari: You do need to polish your Britishisms.

One cannot spill a cream tea--since one never, ever, puts cream in tea. Only milk, and that only in India (not China) tea. A cream tea is a specific variation on afternoon tea, which by definition must include scones, clotted cream, and strawberry jam. Also known as a Devon tea (since clotted cream is a specialty of that region) or a Devon cream tea.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 6:43:19 AM PST
CJV: A few points:

To assume that Batman, in any incarnation, is a source for Sherlock 2.0 strikes me as nonsense, and egregious nonsense to boot.

Dr. Who more complex storytelling than Sherlock? I really have to question on what planet--nay, in what space-time continuum--that might be true.

The point, which you seem to have missed, is that Elementary is as best a bastardization of the Sherlockian Canon, and therefore to be shunned. Even ignoring the many sins it commits against the Canon, and taking it de novo--it's a badly written bore.

Re: Ms. Liu--if you think that walking around like a Botoxed zombie constitutes good acting--good luck, paisan. Ms Liu's best work to date was for Tarentino in in Kill Bill 1.

I have written at some length the view that pathologizing Holmes is completely unCanonical. ADHD? Pish posh. Holmes is the most focused and concentrated individual on earth.

I fear you are demonstrating some want of taste and good sense.
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