Friday, October 31, 2014
Murder Rooms Week: A Fandom I Love that Doesn't Get Nearly the Acclaim It Deserves
BLOG PARTY for the great miniseries/book series Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes. If you've not heard of it, or if you have, come join me and may you come to love it as much as I do.
Do you ever have those moments when a fandom feels like it was only yesterday? When in reality it was 10 years ago? Because I have those moments, frequently, whether it's grieving the all-too-short run of Moonlight, the best ever vampire drama on television, or aching for the days when Lord of the Rings websites, blogs, and forums abounded online. Somewhere along the line, years passed, other people moved on, and I am left to remember in silence those beautiful stories that I loved for what felt like decades, but was, in fact, only a few years before everyone else found something new to love.
That's how I feel about Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes. Not just the brilliant miniseries starring Sir Ian Richardson before his untimely and much-grieved passing, but also the book series that the screenplay writer brilliantly penned before interest in his idea petered out. Murder Rooms only had 1 season. If you can call 4 episodes a season, which I don't, and a made-for-tv movie that would have been better how they used the same actor as they later used in the miniseries.
But what exactly is Murder Rooms? I can hear that question on the tip of your tongues and I'm going to kindly give you the answer. It is the story of Arthur Conan Doyle, the inspired creator of Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. Joseph Bell, the man who was the inspiration for the aforementioned character. The series cleverly pulls in moments of Holmes' genius from various short stories, giving them to Dr. Bell in unique ways that are a little like the originals, but not entirely, lending a uniqueness that avoids outright plagiarism.
What can I say? Ever since I joined the Sherlock Holmes fandom, and yes I am a much, more recent fan than you might suppose, I've enjoyed tracking down varying adaptions of the Holmes stories. But I had never seen anything like Murder Rooms. And what made it brilliant, you might ask? Why, Sir Ian Richardson is the easy and simple reply. I love that man. He was a confident actor, entirely immersed in his role as Dr. Joseph Bell, a man who might have been impossible to bring to life for any other actor. But it is, in fact, the character of Dr. Bell that intrigued me so much that I not only watched and loved the miniseries, but also read all 3 of David Pirie's books as well, my favorite being The Dark Water, the last book in the series and the only Pirie story that didn't make it into the miniseries since the series was canceled before a certain plot thread was neatly tied up.
I'm adjusting to television shows popping up and being gone 10 episodes later. I still don't like it, but I'm getting used to it. I would much rather that networks would give shows a chance of at least a full season, maybe even 2 full seasons, before deciding whether they're worth risk. Not everything is brilliant from the get-go, but gets to that point over time. I can only imagine what Murder Rooms would have been like if it had been given more than 1 movie and 4 episodes to tell its story. It was brilliant to start with and its magnificence would have only grown if given the chance. Ah well, life is full of what-ifs, and we must learn to move on from them, but not so far that I can't still look back with affection on a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon of 2001 that never quite filled my longing and questions to capacity because it ended entirely too soon.