Monday, 6 January 2014

More #Sherlock thoughts

I'm afraid to say the second episode of the newest series of the BBC's Sherlock impressed me as little as the first episode did.

Once again, crowds of fawning fans gathered on Twitter, Tumblr and (presumably) Trams to spew several gigabytes of praise and cutesy adulation - and so, once again, I feel duty bound to set out an alternative point-of-view on a Blog which (almost) nobody reads.

My biggest gripe with the second episode of Sherlock is the treatment of Sherlock's personality - specifically, the increasing 'humanisation' of him as a character.  Benedict Cumberbatch has always done a fantastic job of portraying Sherlock Holmes as he is meant to be - not just emotionless but disdainful of emotion, and of anything which is removed from pure logic and reason.  (For example, he never much took to Ableton.*)  However, as I mentioned before, I feel Sherlock's writers are moving further and further away from the original character - I've nothing against different adaptations, of course, but if you start to change the fundamentals of the character, it's no longer Sherlock Holmes at all.

Conan Doyle's Holmes never gets drunk.  (Despite being actually a far greater drug user and smoker than the modern Sherlock, he always knows his limits and would never allow himself to get out-of-control.  Holmes vomiting on a client's carpet? Unthinkable!)  He is never one for public displays of affection.  And he would never make a sexually suggestive comment about handcuffs to a bridesmaid!

But, most importantly, although he maybe aware of his own flaws, he does not see them as flaws.

Holmes may not be keen on emotions, but that does not mean he does not understand them.  He is a very intelligent, highly perceptive man who probably understands more of human interaction than most of the people who actually value it.  This is made particularly clear in The Adventure of Charles August Milverton, in which Holmes becomes engaged - he does so only to gain vital information for his case, of course (he has no feelings for the woman - Agatha - involved) but this just goes to show that he's more than capable of sweet-talking, romancing and gaining the trust of another person, should he so wish.

Holmes knows how to act like a "normal" (for want of a better word person) - and does so when it suits him - but he prefers not to.

In the BBC's Sherlock, though, the eponymous character seems equally aware of his eccentricities - but uncharacteristically embarrassed by them.  He mentions several times that he is aware of how difficult he must be to live and to work with; nothing wrong with that, but this is done in an empathetic way which at times verges on apologetic.  This, to me, is unforgivable - Sherlock Holmes would never apologise for being Sherlock Holmes!

Conan Doyle's Holmes may know that most other people view him as a strange, cold, emotionless being - but he is not ashamed or worried by this.  Quite the opposite, in fact - he believes that this is how everyone should be.

Sherlock, no matter how well-acted, spectacularly misses this point.

* Sorry - that's a music technology joke.


Risha said...

This series of Sherlock has been a huge disappointment (and the last episode was especially poor)- it verges on the slapstick (and there's nothing wrong with *good* slapstick; I just don't think it's Benedict Cumberbatch's forte) and feels far too much like poorly written fan-fiction.

I get wanting to sneak in a sly nod to fans, but this is a whole other level of 'what fuckery is this?'. I was unimpressed by the first episode- especially as I *loved* the Return of Sherlock Holmes. I quite like Benedict Cumberbatch (not as much as perhaps the, er, Cumberbitches *cringe*) but I think Martin Freeman has outdone himself as John Watson. I think it's the only reason I watched the last episode of this series.

While 'Elementary' is a whole other kettle of fish, I think it does much better with the ethos of Sherlock (and infinitely better with how female characters are treated) and I have (surprisingly) grown to like and enjoy Jonny Lee Miller's reading of and approach to Sherlock. Have you watched it? Would be keen on hearing your thoughts, if so?


Kit Marsden said...

Hi Risha! I actually wrote this before last night's episode - but I agree that that one was particularly bad! That was especially disappointing as it started out with so much promise - as an edgy and modern twist on the Charles Augustus Milverton storyline - but quickly descended into an absolute farce, culminating in the apparent return of Moriarty, which is just ridiculous.

I agree with you that Cumberbatch and Freeman are brilliant, but I think the writing is getting more and more convoluted and laughable, though - which is a shame.

I've heard quite a bit about 'Elementary' - that's been recommended several times! I shall try to watch some, and write a bit about it. :)

Cassie said...

I have a secret... I don't like Sherlock.

I have not read the originals. I will eventually, but I haven't yet. I've seen all of the episodes because they're supposed to be so good. But, honestly, they don't hold my attention at all! I just can't focus on them.

Most people, even after watching the show, have no intention of reading the books. I'm glad you've actually read them.

Post a Comment

Feel free to leave a comment - give your feedback, answer a question, start a debate, make a point, or simply hurl abuse... It's up to you! ;)