Monday, January 2, 2012

Sherlock vs. Sherlock Holmes

Per the usual, Sherlock Holmes the movie left me speechless. It takes me about 2-3 days to figure out whether I even like these Holmes films or not. All it took, apparently, was watching the first episode of the new season of Sherlock to help me decide. I'd rather have a quirky Holmes with a brilliant Moriarty than a brilliant Sherlock and a naked Irene Adler. I won't give away too many details on A Scandal in Belgravia other than to say that it did not live up to my expectations. The first season was incredible, with exciting concepts and blazing originality. It left me salivating for more. The new season's debut only left me uncomfortable and grateful that it wasn't airing yet and that I could forewarn my parents against watching the first episode.

I'd rather have them in theaters watching Sherlock Holmes in disguise wearing a bonnet and lipstick than seeing a carefully filmed naked woman parade in front of Sherlock and make not only Watson but the audience uncomfortable.

No major spoilers within, just my brief mention of disappointments and personal warnings.

I believe my sister may be right, after all. Sherlock Holmes is different from any other version. We've seen the perfect and pristine Holmes. Jeremy Brett is my overall favorite of the classic Holmes because I think he epitomized the character. He became Holmes, as it were. The world doesn't need another perfect Holmes. Which is why Robert Downey Jr. is almost a breath of fresh air to the Holmes industry. The movies are weird and quirky and downright bizarre. But they don't really leave me with that uncomfortable sensation in the pit of my stomach that Sherlock gave me tonight.

To prevent giving away too much for those who won't see the episodes for months, I will only say that Irene's characterization proved a highly sexual one and a disappointment. She paraded nude in front of Sherlock and John and was about as far from the original writings of Arthur Conan Doyle as one could get. She became shameful and shameless instead of a wronged woman. For Sherlock to hold any admiration for such a woman upsets me immensely. I thought better of him. He's imperfect, as we all know, which makes him intriguing. But by changing the very basis of Irene's nature, you change the reason why Sherlock admired her in the first place. She was clever and wise and it was that cleverness, her mind, that gained Holmes' admiration. Irene was brilliant and in every way THE woman. This Irene doesn't even come close.

Of the two new Holmes options out there, I'm casting my vote at the moment for the new film. Sherlock frankly disappointed me tonight. Don't get me wrong, I love Sherlock's actors! Benedict Cumberpatch is exquisite in the role of Holmes and Martin Freeman won me over before 15 minutes had elapsed into the 1st season. I like them more than Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law for they fit the ideal characterizations. If only the series hadn't degraded itself to such perverse sexual levels. I'm holding out hope that Irene doesn't return and that I can fully enjoy the rest of the season. With only 2 episodes left, I hope the writers have made better use of their time and skill than the waste of A Scandal in Belgravia.

18 comments:

  1. Ouch.....I have yet to see Series 2 of Sherlock yet, but that does not bode a promising start =(

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  2. Ella - The worse thing is that I can't even recall what I liked about the episode. There were some grand moments between Watson and Sherlock, truly hysterical moments. But they were lost by the smut. As my sister put it, the series resorted to "cheap entertainment tactics" to gain new viewers. Sadly, I'm sure it worked.

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  3. I too was disappointed in the season premiere for "Sherlock." There were some awesome things about it -- like Holmes knocking that villain in the head after he threatened Mrs. Hudson and calling him an idiot while doing it, and then tossing him out the window, him complaining about Watson's blog, and so forth -- but the smut! I'd almost forgotten that Moffat wrote "Coupling," but this brought it all back. It wasn't classy, it was just a major disappointment.

    I used to think Moffat understood Doyle's work, and that he knew how to bring it forward into our time with class, but... wow, he really dropped the ball with this one. It was trashy, and Holmes isn't supposed to be trashy. Hopefully, the final two episodes this season will be better; I don't know what they could possibly do to screw up the Hound of the Baskervilles.

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  4. Here's hoping they don't find new ways to screw up "Hound!" It was such a shame. I was so excited when Caitlin told me she found a place where we could watch it online. We just sat there, totally dumb-founded, during quite a few of the scenes. It was so utterly ridiculous and so not Holmes. I think Moffat lost his mind for a minute. Let it just be for a minute.

    But, wasn't that bit where Sherlock punched John to get him mad absolutely brilliant?! John can be so emotionally predictable at times. Irene was astute, though, in that John didn't hit Sherlock's face. I agree with that aspect of her observational skills. John is fond of his roommate and wouldn't deliberately break bones. That was honestly one of my favorite moments in that episode. If I could edit out Irene, I would happily do it and just leave the un-smutty parts.

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  5. I feel the same way -- leave out Irene (which is sad, since I love Irene in the original story... I think I just found my Literary Woman to write about) and it was a brilliant episode. But the smut was just in poor taste and completely caught me off guard. I thought it might be bad when I found out she was a dominatrix, but I didn't expect nude scenes!

    Also, I'm pissed off that she drugged and beat Sherlock. NOBODY TREATS MY BOY LIKE THAT.

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  6. At least she didn't undress him. The moment I realized he had been drugged, I started worrying, BIG TIME.

    My biggest question is why mess with perfection? The show was perfect the way it was! With no nude scenes (or near nude scenes). And certainly no emotional quandaries for Holmes. He seemed much more fragile in this episode, very unlike himself, and I didn't appreciate the change. It almost felt at times like he wasn't an INTJ. Totally wrong.

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  7. Hmmm... so sad to hear about S2 of Sherlock - hoping it will improve in following episodes. We can wish right, girls!?

    Love the feature films - both are "brilliant." =D

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  8. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the next episodes. I'll still watch them so we'll see.

    The movies are definitely fun and very different. It takes me several days for the full impact to sink in. That's when I realize how much I like them! They're just too quirky, although parts of A Game of Shadows were actually quite sad. They went down some emotional paths that added a depth that I appreciated.

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  9. I suspected that I should give the episode another go, once I worked through my anger over the near-nudity. To be honest, other than that one scene, I really enjoyed it my second time through. That scene still bothers me -- mostly because it doesn't need to be there and takes the class of the episode down a notch -- along with other implications surrounding Irene, but overall it's a funny and interesting hour and a half.

    Where Sherlock stands, I'm conflicted; I do think that Moffat did himself a disservice in having Sherlock sulk and brood once Irene was "dead," because that isn't like him at all -- but the revelation at the end makes me wonder if he was not lamenting the loss of a great mind rather than a female form. Sherlock in the original story respected her intellect in outsmarting him; here, is it less an obsession with her than his fascination with a sharp mind? He clearly does not love her, for as he points out, sentiment and love will bring down anyone, so he chooses (how logical of him) not to surrender to emotion. I... I just don't know. I suppose that's what Moffat intended, for us not to know if Sherlock was attracted to her or irritated because he was drawn to her.

    But therein lies the problem -- other than her being a smart-ass on occasion, WHY would he be drawn to her? Yes, she had common sense and some smarts about her, but is it really any more extraordinary than any other woman? To be worthy of Sherlock's respect, you need to be smarter than the average woman -- and I don't think she was.

    Sherlock was still an INTJ; INTJ's can be emotionally conflicted when they are not certain what they are feeling. They are also not above throwing people out windows who threaten those they love. ;)

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  10. I think because Irene didn't impress me, it made me wonder how she managed to impress Holmes. The first time he saw the woman, she was totally naked. I should have thought that would raise his scorn rather than anything else, being so blatant in her attempt to put him off guard. You're right. She was merely normal in her cleverness with more attitude. That certainly didn't make an equal to Holmes' intellect on any scale.

    I'll probably not watch it again and I'm certainly warned my folks away from the first episode. When something that was previously parent-friendly ceases to be so, it's such a horrible shame.

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  11. It's a shame, but no one has done Irene justice. Moffat had an opportunity to dazzle us with Irene -- to make her not a dominatrix or a sex goddess, but a woman who uses her intellect rather than her womanly charms to fool people. I've read some interesting articles of late from the UK complaining that it's a sad day when the sexism of 2012 is far more apparent than the sexism of Victorian England! In other words, Doyle's Irene was far more of a feminist than Moffat's!

    Also... did she fall for Holmes? If so, WHY? She must have programmed her phone barely after they met. Do you expect me to believe she fell in love with him in the course of one conversation?

    I don't blame you for not wanting to give it another go -- it was a shock, and I think my anger reaction was for the same reason yours was: I watch things not as a viewer, but as a reviewer, and when THAT happened I thought, "Well, there's no way I can recommend this episode to anyone!" =P

    By the way, have you gotten any of my e-mails over the last few days? I've sent several with no response, and I'm wondering if they're getting lost in cyberspace or going into your junk folder?

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  12. *laughs* You're right. We are reviewers. There are some movies and series we can recommend despite moral issues, because those issues are necessary and they never are portrayed in a good light. That's why I actually enjoyed Firelight so much, because it shows you the resulting sorrow of their action and finally a happy ending.

    How did Irene fall for Holmes?! If you ever figure it out, let me know. All I saw was her stalking him and lusting after him for one reason or another, which I never could figure out but which must have been perfectly clear to her. Their attraction to one another made absolutely no sense to me.

    Maybe someday we'll have an Irene who really fits the bill. Say, 30 years from now when they're all set for another round of movies and miniseries.

    I did check my email today and they were there so I sent a quick response. We're on our way out the door right now but I'll send you a full email when I get back.

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  13. Very true. I especially like consequences for bad behavior, as that helps me overlook some serious moral issues now and again. Like "The Painted Veil." It starts out immoral, but through the consequences of her actions, she comes to appreciate the merit of her husband. Even though I hate the ending, it too is a consequence of her sin -- would they have gone to the tropics if he had not been so angry with her?

    Of course, we all make exceptions for things we love (*cough*Dracula*cough*) but all the same, sin is sin, we should never be comfortable with it, and it should always bother and disappoint us, no matter where it turns up. It's when you get "used to it" or dismiss it offhand that you need to take a serious look at your priorities.

    Well, she did say that smart was the new sexy and he was really smart! I mean, my pulse might rise around Benedict/Sherlock too. Just saying... ;)

    Still, does this mean Sherlock can turn a gay woman straight?

    Yay! Thanks! =)

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  14. Amazing post!

    I too would cast my vote for Downey Jr's movies over the BBC series any day. Cumberbatch is great in the role, but is let down by the changes to the characters. Downey Jr's version also is quite different from the canonical version, but is definitely more watchable.

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    1. Welllll, as it happens the more I thought about the new movies the more uncomfortable about those too. There's a bit too much gay innuendo in the newest film to my taste so my opinions have changed a bit since I wrote this post. I will always dislike "A Scandal in Belgravia" but the rest of the season, Moriarty not withstanding, I thought to be quite brilliant. "Hound" especially was amazing and Martin Freeman is Watson to me and I doubt any other will ever beat him. Funny how opinions change even in just a few short months time. :-)

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    2. I too liked "The Hound".

      Have you tried the Russian adaptation with Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin as Holmes and Watson. Solomin makes a great Watson.

      Cheers!

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    3. I've never heard of the version you mentioned. Is it in Russian? I'm also partial to the theatrical production with Frank Langella as Holmes even though he doesn't quite fit the established profile.

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    4. Yes, the series is filmed in Russian language. The entire series can be watched (with English subtitles) online here. If you like a faithful adaptation of the canon, you will most probably like this series :)

      I need to check out the Frank Langella version. I have heard about it before, but have not had the chance to see it.

      Cheers!

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