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Sherlock

So I have watched Sherlock, everything including The Abominable Bride. Saying "watched" seems a bit paltry, because I think fell face-first into fannish enthusiasm for it, especially the whole "consume everything about it" thing. I've been rewatching (as I watched it with other people and we commentated over it) and watching the commentaries and looking at gifs on tumblr and even starting to look for fic. Which, aghgh, it has been so long that I have felt motivated to look for fic - and even longer since there's been a whole bunch of fic there. Sure, I am late to the party, but on the plus side there is tons of fic and thousands of gifs.

But first the show. I love it. (Obviously.) I absolutely love how they have handled the modernisation of the stories. Personally, I love historical fiction - both the kind that are written now and set in the past, as well as the ones set in the present, but because of time has become the past. The latter gives a really neat effect when read now, because of the intervening history - for example, Agatha Christie's mysteries interest me (in addition to being really good) but also because she's been so influential that subsequent detective fiction have been influenced by her no matter their intentions. But I also think it's fun to experience a great modernization, because done well, it's like what Doyle's audience would have felt. Holmes is a modern man; he uses the technology he's got available to him to solve cases. Hell yeah if he lived now, he'd be all over useful technology.

(I feel like I should clarify here in case anyone cared, why I request only what-if and canon-divergent AUs in fic exchanges when clarifying my preferences regarding AUs. I like modernizations and stuff like "in spaaaace" wholesale transplanting of settings, but one, all settings are not created equal and I'm rarely interested in coffeshops or high schools, and secondly, AUs like that are an examination of characterization - what would this character be like if they were born in this set of circumstances? I am picky and I want nine one-and-a-half-hour episodes of film. That is unfair to ask a fic writer who's been assigned to write me 1000 words of fic, so yeah, I say no modern AUs. )

So that's the central conceit, which I already love. I also love the characters that inhabit this modern adaptation: Sherlock and John. See the first name basis there - they are not quite the same characters as the stories. Sherlock is a lot colder than Holmes; both of them are laser-focused on their work, but Sherlock is out-and-out rude and caustic, sometimes because it is more expedient, because he's distracted, or doesn't care. (Very rarely is it because he doesn't realize, I think; he's a very good actor - see how he gets information out of all sorts of people via playacting what they want; he's less good at understanding underlying motivation, but the surface stuff he has very well covered). Holmes is a lot gentler and less abrupt, though he's predisposed to saying things that to him are entirely self-evident and not clarifying for ages and ages. Watson is less sarcastic, more earnest than John, but I think the change is good and fits with Sherlock. And the two of them play so beautifully together. You can see why Sherlock would want John at his back - he's staunch, and an excellent shot, willing to wade into the fray, nerves of steel, and even more than that, cares enough about Sherlock that he'll do things like tell Sherlock when he's gone too far ("bit not good, yeah", on several occasions). And the reactions John has to Sherlock are pure gold.

I enjoy Sherlock enormously. He's so delightful in so many ways. In the very first episode I think the moment I fell in love was when they were visiting Baker St, and a police car pulls up, and Sherlock realizes that there is an interesting problem to be solved, and does this leap of joy while clenching his fists in triumph. It is adorable and hilarious - I love Mrs Hudson's line not long after, as they're leaving, "Look at you, all happy. It's not decent." but with a smile. I love the whole bored sequence, and the sulky flop he does onto the couch.

Ugh, I don't even know where to start. So far I think the second season is my favourite; as I think either Moffat or Gatiss said, they filmed the three stories that seem to have the greatest resonance with readers: Irene Adler, Baskerville, Moriarty. And they talked about it as Sherlock dealing with love, fear, death. I'm not really sure how to feel about the Blind Banker, but otherwise I do love seasons 1 and 3 too.

A Study in Pink was fantastic at setting up the characters and also introducing the visual cues. I love the way the deductions and texts appear on-screen, and how sometimes they also interact a little or move a little. For example there's the fantastic part in A Scandal in Belgravia where Sherlock deduces the meaning of the string of text that is airplane seating, and Moriarty is texting Mycroft to taunt him about it: "A Jumbo jet, Mr Holmes. Dear me." And as though watching his text message fly off into the air, he watches it go and blows a loud raspberry as though to send it along. Or when Sherlock is clocking the number of dog hairs on the man's trousers and revises his expectations from one dog, to two dogs, to three and the numbers are slid down the screen as he sees more (or when he's looking at RACHE and quickly rolls through the alphabet before settling on L). Some of those deductions are talked through but I love it when the visual detail provides explanations instead. Or even when John gets a text in the Great Game, while he's in the security guard's apartment, and as the camera pulls away you can see that the text of the post is projected on the wall. THAT IS SO COOL.

Visually too some of the parts of A Scandal in Belgravia was so, so, so much fun. The transition as Sherlock slowly lowers himself and the scene transitions from Adler's living room to the valley where the hiker died, plus a few additional bits of furniture like the couch. Or the bed coming up from the ground and we realize it's Sherlock's dream as it transitions back into his room in Baker St. (The bed was literally lifted up on hydraulics and I assume all the pillows and such were nailed on or something; Cumberbatch slowly lifts the sheet in front of him as the bed comes up. It is such a neat effect.) I really, really, really love all the visual aspects of the show. It pulls a lot of story-telling weight and it also gives the show a distinctive look.

Sometimes the scene transitions are distracting, but I think it's made up for by a lot of some really awesome wipes. For example, there is the clients scene in Hounds of Baskerville, where the camera is looking at the various clients coming in, and Sherlock walks by calling "boring!" as they tell him their problem, and after he walks past (blocking the chair from the camera briefly) the chair is empty. When the three young men are talking about their odd predictive website (LOL at the Geek Interpreter, I love all the puns) Sherlock is already walking past, ready to dismiss them too, and the seat is already empty, when they say that what they're writing is becoming true. He pauses and walks backwards, says "oh, interesting" and the boys reappear as he steps out of the way.

Moriarty is present from the very first episode, and he casts a shadow over the whole series, despite only appearing a little here and there. (A good choice, in my opinion.) He is played so beautifully by Scott, though; he sells the character fantastically. It's the sort of character you can imagine doing anything and it's terrifying. And Moriarty is an excellent actor into the bargain - he's first Jim from IT, then Richard Brook, both entirely harmless. And then you see the pool scene - that was chilling. Well-chosen location too; the rippling water, the lighting, and then the appearance of first John, then Moriarty. For a minute I fell for it, and thought in complete horror that they hadn't made John Moriarty, had they?! I wondered at John's words ("Bit of a turn up, isn't this?" etc) before realizing it was Moriarty's words again.

I think the Reichenbach Falls were done beautifully. The reference to the painting was excellent. And I am so glad that they showed the actual confrontation. It is a little anti-climactic when it's just Watson showing up and seeing the footprints in the wet mud! The back and forth between them was perfect. The delivery of, "You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you," kills me. With the more caustic Sherlock portrayed in this show, it's a question of whether or not he is a (as Lestrade mentions) a good man. For much of the first few episodes, you wonder whether or not Sherlock is solving cases only for the intellectual stimulation, and nothing else; he's quite capable of faking friendship or feeling to get his results. It's not that he doesn't understand emotion or feeling, generally - well, maybe not the why - but he doesn't care about the person having them usually, and is generally indifferent about hurting them after he's gotten what he wants (see the woman in charge of the school, whom he yells at for the sole purpose of getting information faster. Yes, there are kidnapped children on the line, but that would really have only saved him a few seconds. Or the way in the Great Game he's angry that he lost re: the old woman being killed, rather than that she got killed - yes, it's because she started describing him, but John is upset, and for good reason.) And okay, I just got distracted reading the transcript. But I love the line because all throughout the first season it has been ambiguous, Sherlock's motivations. And I believed him for a minute. And the delivery was fantastic.

Argh, I probably need to do a season-by-season breakdown, but I really want to talk about how much fun it is to watch Sherlock. The character and all the other characters, I mean. One of the things I like about the show is that it often cuts to closeups of the actors' faces to see their reactions (see all the thousand John reactions!) and seriously, it's as though their expressions were in print across their faces. It's beautiful. I love it. Kudos to all the actors! And Sherlock himself is a joy to watch. He would drive me mad in real life, but on-screen, larger-than-life, running around London solving crime and rattling off deductions - so much love. The character differs from Holmes, but I think someone living in today's time wouldn't be quite the same either; it's like how Lizzie Bennet in the LBD is a lot more sarcastic - I absolutely buy that in the 21st century, she would be. Especially on her own vlog! Anyway, I was saying the deductions were so much fun - easily one of my favourite parts from the original stories (and I don't think this is unpopular). I know Cumberbatch has said that those rapid-fire deductions are really hard to do because it's a huge chunk of text that has to be spoken very quickly, but man, they are so great.

And finally, since I should really post this and get to work on other writing, I love the mind palace bits. It's another way to get into Sherlock's mind, instead of only just blurting out information all at once in the deductions, and I love how they are often so metaphorical. Like in The Sign of Three, when he assembles all the possible victims of the Mayfly Man in the council chamber and then mentally checks them off, and then tries to determine the similarities between them (while simultaneously in real life bent over half-a-dozen computers talking to them). It is much more elegant than the words-and-pictures-float-past in the Hounds of Baskerville (and also, the words floating in space thing is done when Sherlock sizes up someone). The council chamber has organization, occupies space with room for people to stand, and carries associations of being official, where people might present information, etc.

Oh. And I came out of the series shipping...Sherlock/Irene (this is a very old ship for me) and also, Sherlock/Moriarty (this was a surprise.) I love Mary and want them to become the TRIO OF CRIME SOLVERS running about London. I think that would be tons of fun. Now there are two crack shots good under pressure to help Sherlock handle difficult situations! :P Can season 4 feature the three of them solving crimes please?


Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/173788.html.

Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
hamsterwoman
Feb. 13th, 2016 06:00 am (UTC)
I have not watched series 3 yet or the Christmas special, but as you mostly talk about 1 and 2 (and I'm spoiled for everything else anyway):

Blind Banker was the weakest episode for me as well (and it seems that most people I've talked to agree with that). I'm not sure if I'd say s1 or s2 is my favorite... the Irene episode is my favorite (much to my surprise! it is not my favorite story in the ACD canon, not even out of the ones adapted, and I was very skeptical about the dominatrix thing before I saw the ep), and I liked the Baskervilles one, too, but while I appreciate what this Moriarty is doing (and realize he works beautifully for a lot of people), I just don't really like this take on Moriarty. I think it's a very interesting one, and I agree the actors does a great job portraying the character, but it's not a character I enjoy watching, sadly, which makes season 2 work less well for me.

It took me a little while to get used to all the visual tricks, but I came to really like them. It definitely gives the show a very distinctive feel!
silverflight8
Feb. 18th, 2016 09:00 pm (UTC)
I feel like the fandom had a bit of a disappointment with s3 - at least as far as I could tell, since it was all before I watched and so I wasn't paying much attention. I think it was definitely an advantage I didn't have to wait 2 years!

I totally get you on the Irene as dominatrix thing. I get why people are upset, but personally I LOVED Irene. I've always liked her in ACD and I was so, so mad when the Ritchie films killed her - an adaptation that kills Irene automatically goes on my "bad adaptation no biscuit" list. But I thoroughly enjoyed her trickiness and she really almost had everything over on even Mycroft - there was just one tiny mistake. (Though I wonder if they ever mentioned or referenced Geoffrey Norton?) I definitely think Tovey sells the Baskerville episode: it's his full on terror that really propels the episode - I had guessed a deliriant drug before.

I can see why if you didn't like Moriarty you wouldn't enjoy the series as much though! He really starts from the very beginning and is sort of in everything :p Are you more of a fan of the academic mathematician Moriarty?
hamsterwoman
Feb. 23rd, 2016 12:42 am (UTC)
Yeah, one of the reasons I haven't rushed out and watched s3 is that fandom seemed pretty mixed-to-negative on it. I do plan to catch up, but there wasn't as much pull as with the earlier seasons.

I was so, so mad when the Ritchie films killed her

I was convinced she wasn't really dead in the Ritchie movies, because it's such a waste if she is! But I guess we'll never know if there isn't going to be a third movie... (Shroedinger's Irene? :P)

I definitely think Tovey sells the Baskerville episode: it's his full on terror that really propels the episode

Yes to that! and the episode in general was really well done, and almost too creepy for me to be able to fully enjoy, heh.

Are you more of a fan of the academic mathematician Moriarty?

Yep! My mother was a math teacher and I'm married to a math professor, so mathematician supervillains are sort of an automatic draw. Wait, that came out wrong :P (Neither my mother nor my husband are supervillains, honest!)
silverflight8
Feb. 24th, 2016 09:38 pm (UTC)
True! I feel like fandom's reactions are usually not that good a guide for me though; I think as far as the LJ/DW/AO3/tumblr crowd go we have different preferences - I prefer books over live-action or animation, I overwhelmingly ship het or femslash, fannishly speaking I tend to be more interested in adventure/action gen instead of romantic fic (and I am so picky about those!) Also I didn't read most of the reactions at the time, since I wasn't interested, and so what I actually read were all the people reacting against the dislike XD For the record, though, I found the episodes very fun and the first two a lot lighter in tone compared to Reichenbach. As an adaptation of ACD I think the tone is appropriate - there are a lot of frankly bizarre stories! :) And I very much enjoyed Mary. So I definitely rec the third series.

True - so long as there isn't more proof I am pretending she is alive; the fake your death gambit is like, the most basic one. (I also imagine Maya from Iron Man 3 is alive. I mean, she was one of the scientists who created Extremis, which has super-healing and regeneration, etc.) I am not sure there will be a third SH movie; they did kill Moriarty so I guess the next will be a variant on the Empty House. It does seem kind of awkward to not finish out a trilogy; two movies just seems odd.

I love the part in Baskerville when he's awake and the motion-activated lights come on. That is so creepy because it's so realistic. The lights go on and even though it's a false alarm you just get this jolt of fear of "but what if?!"

Makes sense! I am surprised that they didn't put in reference to mathematics, or the book on astronomy and mathematics that Moriarty wrote. (That or I've missed them.)

By the way I love the icons! They are so perfect. I have been saving icons on my hard drive for when I can upgrade my account again, but yours are awesome. That line especially was just perfect.
evelyn_b
Feb. 13th, 2016 07:54 am (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! My feelings about Sherlock are a lot more ambivalent (a lot) but there's plenty to like, too, so it's good to see a positive review. I've just finished s3 and will see "The Abominable Bride" . . . eventually. Probably soon! I'm still looking forward to seeing everyone in their 19th century getup.
silverflight8
Feb. 18th, 2016 09:01 pm (UTC)
Ahahaha I had gathered - I think a lot of people were meh on the third season. I am a pretty uncritical TV-watcher, though :)

It's sort of profoundly weird to see them in Victorian England but Sherlock has a pipe in it bwahahaha
fiddlingfrog
Feb. 13th, 2016 03:22 pm (UTC)
I'll echo what evelyn_b said above: I'm glad you liked it, there's a lot to like with it, and it's good to see a positive review. For me, the long gap between when I saw series 2 and when I saw series 3 dampened some of my enthusiasm. Also, between series 3 and "The Abominable Bride" Gillian and I mainlined Elementary on Hulu and finished the entire series in about a month. After exposure to both modern Homes adaptations, I think I like Elementary just a bit more - I find the plotting and characterizations more believable and sustainable. On the other hand, Sherlock/i> is clearly the superior show in terms of cinematography and style. It employs a heightened reality that works best in the mini-movie format. And I've always had a soft spot for Steven Moffat and Martin Freeman, so I'll definitely keep watching as long as they keep making them.
silverflight8
Feb. 18th, 2016 09:10 pm (UTC)
I definitely think not having to wait two years really helped; the fan reaction reminded me a lot of the Harry Potter fandom when they had to wait three years - tons of speculation, fannish output, activity, and having a definitive canon episode kind of destroys all the theories except the now canonical one, the characters are put in new situation so the characterization changes to incorporate that, etc. I think the showrunners partly did the three explanations (and really, zero explanations) in part to try to avoid this; the real noodle incident just isn't nearly as satisfying as the speculation, but they have to answer the speculation somehow. I had checked out the DVDs of season 2 and 3 so the next night I watched the resolution and felt quite satisfied.

I liked Elementary a ton too! It scared me way too much though - I am so bad at watching these things, I don't watch a lot of TV and had to quit partway through, but I really liked the Sherlock and Joan of Elementary. (I watched Sherlock with family, so we could commentate over the scary bits :P) I do wish Elementary was set in London. You can move time, or space but both at once...I'm not sure.

Yes, I think the stylized reality that you mention definitely work for the show; Sherlock himself is sort of larger than life and the style really works for that.
sherrilina
Feb. 15th, 2016 03:11 pm (UTC)
Lolll I guess we have very different tastes on this one. ;) The Baskerville one is the only one I've ever managed to complete in one sitting of my own accord, they're all just too damn long in my opinion and not nearly engaging enough.

A Study in Pink was fantastic at setting up the characters

See I completely disagree here, at least where Sherlock is concerned. When you are trying to set up someone as a genius, making them act like a complete moron far less clever and observant than the TV viewerviewer (re: the identity of the killer as a cab driver) is not very effective at all. Apparently this happened because Moffat decided to push back the reveal...which goes to show one of my major problems with Moffat. He comes up with a plot first, and is then perfectly happen to bend the characters into whatever OOC contortions are necessary to fit the plot--rather than organically figuring out how the characters would react and behave in light of the circumstances. (He does this in DW too). Also some of the modernizations don't quite translate; scratches around the place you plug in your phone are because you were plugging it in when it was dark or you weren't carefully looking (because it can be hard to get exactly in), not because you're drunk! :p (So that deduction doesn't really work).

But still, having a new fan obsession is always fun, so enjoy. ;)
silverflight8
Feb. 18th, 2016 08:32 pm (UTC)
Fair enough! We seem to watch similar things and come away with different impressions, lol :P I did keep thinking the Scandal in Belgravia was going to end (the usual guide of "the mystery will be wrapped up" wasn't reliable) but I think it was more because of the many twists.

I guess I give slack in some of the points re: the phone because actually that's directly from ACD - in Study in Scarlet it's a gentleman's watch which would have been rewound every night. And your objection regarding darkness and accuracy also work for that case. But it's sort of a problem generally with the deductions, that there's quite a leap of faith required to believe/suspend your disbelief regarding the exact trail of the deduction. Holmes can deduce the most likely outcome but with such skimpy clues, like you say, there are always alternative explanations. So unfortunately I think that level of "wait...what?" is already built in.
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