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07 September 2014

Will anyone geek out with me about Sherlock? [More:]I'm just now binge-watching the series and, even though everyone told me how good it is, I'm gobsmacked at how GOOD it is. I say that from the perspective of someone who was really drawn into the stories at a tender age, and then into the fascination of The Game, fostered by a pre-internet networked fan base. I never imagined that any interpretation could exceed Jeremy Brett's, let alone a modernized one, and initially dismissed this whole thing as probably about as crap as that recent movie was. Well, I was wrong. This show completely and totally exceeds all expectation - true to the spirit of Doyle, loaded down with references and yet told through creative and clever reimaginings, and just full of rewards for the fanchild. It's not just an extension of, but a sly seductive revival of, the original. I wish I could find some folks to just roll around with in a giant pile of geekery about it.
Is this the show with Benedict Cumberbatch?
posted by Obscure Reference 08 September | 08:32
Ha ha ha... don't go on tumblr. All it takes is one analysis of how terribly sexist Steven Moffat's writing is (plus that whole Yellow Peril episode... really?) to either turn you off the series entirely or vindicate the uneasy feelings you got from watching it.

It's very slick, but underneath it all, very regressive/anti-progressive. I haven't watched the show, but supposedly Elementary is the polar opposite; very unspectacular production but with female (and trans*!) characters who are not flat, 2-dimensional cardboard cutouts.
posted by Eideteker 08 September | 09:02
I certainly don't miss the misogyny (or xenophobia and racism) but kind of expect that in my mass-market Western pop culture. And, in any case, same is true of the stories.

Also, Tumblr is a big place - are you referring to something specific? I looked up a couple of essays, which really seem to center around one that ran in the Guardian and then 100 people clamoring to say the same thing, but no, it doesn't put me off the show or give me an "uneasy feeling." It is what I think it is. I agree with the writers about the lameness of one particular episode, but I'm not shocked or anything. Sexism is around me all day every day; this isn't some enormous surprise. (I mean, I have a feeling not everything you watch would pass the Bechdel test, either). If I couldn't enjoy any popular entertainment with a whiff of sexism to it, then I couldn't be a Bruce Springsteen fan, couldn't listen to the Beatles or the Stones, couldn't watch SNL or Star Wars, etc. It's possible to critique something and still enjoy aspects of it, especially when that critique is so endemic to our culture that almost every cultural production is tainted with it.

In the end, this is TV. There are some elements that are lame and disappointing, but obviously I find some redeeming good qualities in it, or I wouldn't bother, would I. There's plenty of empty trash I ignore; the plotting and storytelling in this show are very interesting, though. I don't find the whole show ruined because the writer can't really understand the world of women - if I were used to writing stuff off totally for that reason I would not really have anything left to watch in my entire lifetime. Maybe Sesame Street, but probably not.

But anyway, I was hoping someone else might have gotten into the show and want to talk about it from the standpoint of how it creatively reinterprets the canon, and you have to watch it to be able to talk about that. I should probably go looking at some other online fora dedicated to that kind of thing.
posted by Miko 08 September | 17:28
There's crippling amounts of stuff online about Sherlock, but i was greatly amused with China calling them Curly Fu and Peanut.
I'm not a Sherlockian, but one of the creators is (Mycroft) and they liberally sprinkle in the in the know bits, which i enjoy the detailed recaps of. This version is the first to make me genuinely interested in Doyle since childhood, which led me to get The Sherlockian, because the idea of the most famous mystery writer in the world working on crimes because they couldn't refuse him is ridiculous and true.

The key to the show is Martin Freeman. Benedict Cumberbatch is delightful, but much more so in combination with Freeman.

If you haven't burned forward yet, I think it's good to take a break between season 2 and 3. The beginning of season 3 is so much of a reaction to the increasing frenzy of the ever growing fan base and having to wait two years. Otherwise, Sherlock is perfect for binging because i think it works best when you just let it wash over you without too much picking it apart. When i finally got to see the first episode of season three, I can't think of anything I have enjoyed that much in ages, because it was gleeful in trying to "give the people what they want" and I desperately wanted it. Now i've seen it too many times and the effects that looked so fresh a few years ago look dated and flawed, but i love hearing the cast and crew talk about it. I'm also a sucker for a super intelligent misanthrope. And Rupert Graves.

I'm not sure why people are so into Elementary because i don't see any brilliant acting or nuance in the main characters or the interpretation, but I do like the side bits like Rhys Ifans and Clyde.

The movie wasn't about Sherlock, it was about Robert Downey Jr. and editing.

I think it would be hard to find new fans at this point. It is an awarded global sensation. When I first saw it, I really liked he details, because a show called Sherlock needs to pay attention to details, dammit. That Sherlockology blog I posted ages ago had a link to the wallpaper at Baker Street, which has more than tripled in price. It's also fascinating to look at Cumberbatch's parents because he's got one of those cut and paste faces merging their features.
posted by ethylene 08 September | 19:16
When i finally got to see the first episode of season three, I can't think of anything I have enjoyed that much in ages

I absolutely agree, and I did rush right in. It's just so well done, even though you know what's going to happen, pretty much.

I'm not a Sherlockian, but one of the creators is (Mycroft) and they liberally sprinkle in the in the know bits

Good to know. For me, the sly references are the best thing about it. You feel really rewarded for having known the books first.
posted by Miko 08 September | 21:19
The good thing is you don't need to find "new" fans - Holmes stories get new fans all the time. Since the whole phenomenon is bigger than this show there are always those geeks to talk with.
posted by Miko 08 September | 21:40
I will say, however, that the RDJr movies had the UTMOST casting coup with Stephen Fry as Mycroft. Oh, that was delightful.
posted by Madamina 08 September | 23:08
New fans of Sherlock. Although, since one can knock them off in a day, the newness is very fleeting.

Most of the in jokes are wordplay, references and quotes that would be bandied about by people in the know of canon, frequent enough that I catch them better than any Dead lyric thrown at me from the past company of 'heads. The number of stairs at Baker Street, etc. but they cram in Doyle stuff as well, like Janine ripping out the beehives. Both creators are very big on source material and keeping it fresh and lively like the original intention while drawing on the many interpretations since. I hoped they'd avoid the hat, but they really, really didn't.

Supposedly they have ideas plotted out for three more seasons, but they are definitely set for season four.
posted by ethylene 09 September | 01:15
I'm inspired. Will start season 1 tonight.
posted by Obscure Reference 09 September | 07:42
I guess what I'm saying, ethylene, is that there are always new fans of Sherlock Holmes as a genre, who will explore any piece of Sherlockiana even when it's no longer current. And each new piece of cultural material that the phenomenon generates stays interesting to that crowd. So it's possible to get into debates about Basil Rathbone vs. Jeremy Brett and so on and so on, and for me, that's the central joy. This show may not be a pop culture sensation any more (it's kind of crazy that thousands of people - YOUNG people - in deerstalker hats met up to create a Sherlock flashmob in London not long ago; no way is that going to last), but it will be part of the whole cultural complex for a long time and people will continually rediscover it along with all the other interwoven material around the character and story-world.

I mean, for a lot of people it's just another TV show that's entertaining and they'll immediately forget about it. And for a lot of other people it is the focus of their unhealthy fan culture that has them tweeting hostile things to actors because they don't like the plot twists. But there is a longer tail of Sherlockians who are going to be interested forever. And there are always new ones being made, like me, reading the stories in the 80s and never forgetting them.

So yeah, it's the puns, reinterpretations, and thick references that are enjoyable for me, leaping out from every episode like a whole basket full of Easter eggs, along with the fact that I think they got the mood right, and I also think they produced new insights into Watson's character and the Holmes-Watson relationship dynamic (and I'm not talking about the stupid are-they-gay-or-aren't-they jokes which is one of the shallower elements).
posted by Miko 09 September | 08:10
I certainly don't miss the misogyny (or xenophobia and racism) but kind of expect that in my mass-market Western pop culture. And, in any case, same is true of the stories.

Oh, but you're wrong:

It’s pretty ghastly when a story written over 120 years ago has better gender politics than its modern reimagining. With BBC’s Sherlock, this is exactly what happened. The most recent episode, A Scandal in Belgravia puts a modern spin on the Holmes story A Scandal in Bohemia, and manages to engage in a horrifying mess of feminism-fail by the end. @

Far from existing only to help male characters, Adler has her own goals and isn’t shy about going after them. Even though Adler does spend most of the story trying to get married, she’s marrying a character who only says a few lines in the whole piece; if anything, he’s the one stuck in her shadow. There is never any question that Adler is chasing her own happiness, not living for anyone else.

Finally, Adler changes the mind of Sherlock Holmes, a misogynist even by 19th-century standards, about women’s intellect. Though Watson, narrating the story, insists that there was never anything romantic between the two of them, Holmes still keeps a picture of Adler over an emerald ring as payment for the case. Furthermore, Watson testifies, “[Holmes] used to make merry over the cleverness of women, but I have not heard him do it of late.” @

Doyle paints a dim picture of this person with scraps of information and lets the other characters’ misconceptions fill in the gaps. And it’s because of his own prejudices that Holmes loses in the end to Adler’s extreme BAMF status. Because even the great Sherlock Holmes can make faulty deductions when he’s subscribed to a faulty way of thinking (grit in a sensitive instrument much?). The story isn’t about a hidden photograph, or the one that got away, or How Holmes Lost Because He Was Distracted by Sexy Lady Parts. The story is about a woman who demanded respect and when she didn’t get it, decided to go ahead and just take it. Yes, Moffat’s right, she does run away with her husband, but how is that not empowering? She does all this and chooses to be with a man she loves—after being rejected by another man and then just moving on to something better because Irene Adler don’t care, Irene Adler just takes what she wants—and runs away in order to protect her family. She’s taken on the very masculine role of protector! That feminist enough for ya?! And she rides in her own damn cab to her own goddamn wedding, hell yeah! @

And that's the big twist in the Irene Adler case — that she's a completely honorable person. Even the King, who has every reason to fear her, has complete faith in her decent nature once she's promised to him that she won't interfere with his life. This is what launches Doyle's story well ahead of its time. Much is made of Adler outwitting Holmes, and that's fair enough. What's more impressive is Doyle showing that unconventional habits, self-determination, and a history of impressive romantic conquests — Doyle makes a point of mentioning that Irene Adler enchants just about every man in sight — are just that. They do not imply low character, criminal tendencies, or inferior intellect. They aren't the tools of a gold digger or an opportunistic seductress who's waiting to unleash her apparently lethal sexuality on the hero. A clever, unconventional, take-charge, and seductive woman is, unreservedly, a good thing. @

Irene’s victory was very much a feminist victory. She left a relationship that wasn’t working for her, and she moved on with her life. It was the prince who, in his paranoia that Irene would stoop so low to get back at him, hired people to follow her, to intimidate her, and to even break into her home to try and retrieve the picture. The prince was more or less hiring people to stalk Irene and to bully her into capitulating and giving him the photograph. Sherlock Holmes was intelligent enough to see this, and his understanding of Irene’s situation led to a mutual respect because she proved herself his equal. Not only this, but Irene had the guts to leave a dysfunctional relationship for a healthy one and, while she had no real ill will toward the Bohemian prince, she had no problem calling him out on his horrible behavior and not giving him what he wanted. In the end, she did win, because she took care of herself first, made her own choices, and stuck to her guns and did not bend to anyone’s will but her own.

And that is what’s called a feminist victory.@

and pretty much everything claudiaboelyn's written (or reblogged) on the matter.

And just
  • queerbaiting
  • bisexual erasure
  • disempowerment
and more and more and more
posted by Eideteker 09 September | 15:26
Yeah, I had already read most of that, as I referenced above. When you said "look on Tumblr" I had a look around. Meh. I'm relatively unswayed, it's low-level criticism, mostly rant, lacking context. First of all, it takes a really strong imagination (and lack of historical reference) to consider the original Adler story a "feminist victory." It's as tired a trope as anything in this show: one exceptional woman is intelligent enough to make an impression, unlike the rest of her cowlike species; she's so unusual that she can't be a woman, she's the woman, because no others could possibly come close the masculine standard; she's a freak of nature. And she's the only fully fleshed female character in the entire body of work. Meanwhile, I don't understand how you can quote a comparison between the Adler show and the stories as if it's true, if you haven't read the stories or seen the show, and had no opportunity to develop your own interpretation, which might actually not agree with the bloggers'. Mine doesn't. Their is freshman-year stuff.

Second, the original is one story amid 59 others that are chock-full of British xenophobia and period sexism. I recognize that a bunch of bloggers don't like the show, but I'm not that interested in having the conversation they want to have about it. They're welcome to, but my interest in the show does not indicate a moral failing on my part, nor are their arguments sufficiently well-developed to command my agreement. Pit them against a 19th-century Americanist and I think there would be some fast withering.

I really do know the stories back to front - so pack away your "oh, but you're wrong." Let's assume I know the stories better than the bloggers do, as is evident to me. What I bring to this is an informed interpretation. Yes, I was also disappointed in the lameness of the Adler storyline, and how it had been tweaked from the original to go in less interesting directions; it was unambitious and unimaginative. But I was not annoyed enough to write umpty-nine paragraphs about my take on it and attempt to blow up the blogosphere. It's just not at that level of significance. It was still an episode that had some great intrigue, and even noting and thinking about the differences and how they came about is an interesting way to do some armchair cultural criticism. Doesn't make the show awful, or unwatchable, in its entirety. Again, any random episode of CSI is way more misogynist than this.

What puzzles me here is you. What are you getting out of this? You haven't even watched the damn thing, but you're going to pass judgement based on something some people on Twitter said about it? Have you read the original stories? Do you normally only watch material that is utterly free of all forms of cultural bias?
posted by Miko 09 September | 17:50
I loved the first season (series) of Sherlock, tolerated the second and absolutely hated the most recent.
posted by octothorpe 09 September | 22:23
I've read all the original stories. And yes, I expect contemporary media to do better than 19th Century media, not worse. I have indeed watched the show, but gave up after the 2nd season, for the above-mentioned reasons. No one's perfect, but Moffat doesn't even show any interest in improving.

I haven't watched Elementary, but I'd love to hear your reactions if you do (I only brought it up in case you wanted to compare and contrast).
posted by Eideteker 09 September | 23:02
I don't know that Moffat's sexist as much as he's really schlocky.
posted by ethylene 09 September | 23:53
I don't know that Moffat's sexist as much as he's really schlocky.

I agree, ethylene - his sexism results from laziness and lack of ambition.

I've read all the original stories.

I kind of doubt it, or you might remember misogynist lines like:

"...women are so inscrutable...How can you build on such a quicksand? Their most trivial action may mean volumes, or their most extraordinary conduct may depend upon a hairpin or a curling tongs."

“Women are naturally secretive, and they like to do their own secreting.”

""the most winning woman I ever knew was hanged for poisoning three little children for their insurance-money"

I expect contemporary media to do better than 19th Century media, not worse.

As someone with a degree in nineteenth-century American literature, I find this unsupportable. First of all, to make the contention that contemporary media is "better" than 19th century media, you first must employ a lot of privilege, and then disregard masses of evidence to the contrary. The late nineteenth century - a time, incidentally, when the "new woman" was being envisioned and national women's conferences were organizing activism on domestic and political issues related to women - was not perfect. But no C19 woman had to see anything like this pop up on her Facebook feed. No woman had to contend with seeing images of people like her broken, bleeding, raped, eviscerated on video games. No woman had to sit through major horror and action movie trailers fetishizing expressions of female fear at the hands of men. No women was the target of slurs or epithets, let alone doxxing or threats on her life, because of things she said on Twitter.

Moffatt is, if anything, better to woman than Arthur Conan Doyle (who, incidentally, advocated against giving women the vote. Doyle's women are props, foils. They are by turns weak, weepy, naive, untrustworthy, insipid, generic, and silent; Holmes' very celibacy is presented as a commentary on the profound intellectual unsuitability of women as his companions. No women are fully fledged characters. The Irene Adler plot depends on depicting her (incidentally, crassly American) as an unusual exception to the general run of the female half of the species. Besting the low expectations of a serial misogynist does not a feminist hero make.

Elementary doesn't sound appealing to me. I never liked Lucy Liu.

I suppose it was naive of me to try to have a conversation here at the level I'd really like. It's not the right audience, is it. And I get a strong whiff of bad faith and anger, which I don't really get and don't want. So in closing, I will sign off with this quotation:
posted by Miko 10 September | 22:27
"Women are never to be entirely trusted; not the best of them." - Doyle, The Sign of Four.
posted by Miko 10 September | 22:38
I keep meaning to tune into Sherlock, but husband isn't interested, and it's hard to find time. Argh.
posted by gaspode 10 September | 22:56
I'm sure what you are looking for is more a Holmes/Doyle fan base, miko, and i bet there are lots of them very into Sherlock, but the behind the scenes stuff very clearly talks about their inspirations and sources from movies to books, down to lines and scenes.

I don't think it's laziness in most cases. Moffat seems to genuinely revel in schlockiness. There's an adolescent glee to how he likes setting things up and moving known pieces around, so his running the two oldest media properties around is kind of fitting. I'm not a fan of his Who, but he has come up with some interesting long arc ideas even though the bits generally fall apart. He's good at running with a creepy idea or two. He may be Jeff from Coupling.
posted by ethylene 10 September | 23:34
There's something really interesting in seeing different versions and interpretations of a work, but once you really connect with one, it's hard to return to any kind of objectivity because there's something to directly compare it to. I recently had this issue with Great Expectations. The version with Gillian Anderson is the best one I've every seen in terms of sticking to the story and the individual parts being wonderfully cast and executed. I've tried to watch the one with Helena Bonham Carter, but it just seem so crap in comparison, a movie against a miniseries. Because of the various endings and many oft omitted details and characters, you never know what one version will be like to the next, though.

I've got a third version of The Bridge to see (The Tunnel) but so far I like the original the best.

Sherlock is the most lively version of Holmes i've seen and i can't see going back to a stogy or formulaic Holmes again. Elementary seem too predictable in their interpretations of trying to be "current." Ooh, Holmes is a junkie, Mrs. Hudson's trans, and the Diogenes is a restaurant. Blah.
posted by ethylene 10 September | 23:56
I'm sure what you are looking for is more a Holmes/Doyle fan base, miko, and i bet there are lots of them very into Sherlock, but the behind the scenes stuff very clearly talks about their inspirations and sources from movies to books, down to lines and scenes.

Really, just people familiar with both and able to draw some connections/contrasts between the literature and its adaptations in other media and have an enjoyable exploration of the whole thing. But you're right, that's not this place. The unfortunate bit is that neither are fan-culture boards about the show, so you're back to the same old Sherlockians, not the worst thing in the world I guess. I should have known better but have at least seen people capable of discussing other programs here, so I got overly optimistic. I will bring my enthusiasms elsewhere in future.
posted by Miko 11 September | 07:40
First of all, to make the contention that contemporary media is "better" than 19th century media…

Who made that contention? It should do better: more progressive, not less.

I suppose it was naive of me to try to suggest a counterpoint to Steven Moffat's well-established misogyny here. It's not the right audience, is it? And I get a strong whiff of bad faith and anger, which I don't really get and don't want. So in closing, I will sign off with this quotation:
posted by Eideteker 11 September | 13:07
Quibble. I meant the contention that it "should" be. Should is a happy land, isn't it. Land of wishful thinking, unsupported by evidence. My text there contained a lot of links (to horrifying misogyny in contemporary media) that MetaChat's cutting-edge backend could not manage and fucked up. So reread the comment, understanding that it's an argument that just about nothing about contemporary mass media is superior to Victorian/Edwardian mass media. You can either trust me, or spend a few years actually studying 19th century media like I did, or start having an actual look around at how progressive and pro-feminist contemporary media is. (?!)

Besides which, my actual argument is that people who think Irene Adler, in the stories, is proof of Doyle's progressivism and that the character is a feminist hero are deluded, or cherrypicking,or both. It's a lame-ass argument that stands up to no scrutiny at all. We know that Doyle was flat-out not a progressive. This is uncontestable fact. He advocated against feminism. It's just that women are used to having to scrape up heroes in the sorry scraps of what the writers of the canon, in their profound limitation, have left for them. But I'm sorry, one story out of sixty in which a woman is almost depicted as human, but only to add interest to the male central character, to emphasize the negative qualities women are supposed to have (wiliness, theft, manipulation) and to justify the contrast with the 59 stories in which women are cardboard cutouts, objects of contempt, damsels in distress, inconveniences, or worse, really is not a triumphal feminist narrative that has been somehow wrongly twisted in contemporary hands. It was massively problematic in the original, and only a shallow criticism could ignore all that.

But nope, I'm not the audience for this junk-food criticism. You got that bit right. I'm a good audience to have a real critical conversation with, Eideteker, but I suggest you actually maybe know the material before you try to do so, rather than throw a bunch of cut-and-paste chunks and outrage-roundups from some random blogs that seem to sort of appeal to you at me while not even having (a) watched the show in question or (b) read the original material the shows were based on (at least not in any way that convinces me that their content at all adhered to your consciousness, or you simply could not mount the argument you have with any consistency, let alone defend it). Copying the opinions and criticism of others does not constitute having opinions or criticism of your own, and it's notable that you've mounted none of your own criticism here. Not a peep. Just parroting. That might fly in your general online hangouts but, you know, it's ...elementary for me.

I have a good friend who's been fond, lately, of looking at the profound limitations of the internet as a social realm. She often says "fuck the internet." To your endless stream of copycat, knee-jerk ranty posts in minor eddies of the throwaway internet about how horribly misogynist Moffatt is - and to whatever ugly little impulse has arisen in you and is motivating you to push them at me - I say "fuck the internet."
posted by Miko 11 September | 22:45
I've watched Sherlock, btw. Got disgusted with it. I just came in casually sharing some thoughts about the show. Yeah, I assumed the sexism and racism would chafe you like it did me. You're fine with it, and that's fine. That's your decision. (I said I haven't watched Elementary when I first mentioned it; maybe that's where you're getting confused?)

My original point stands. The show is racist, sexist, engages in queerbaiting, and is just poorly written (everyone falls in love with Sherlock… just because? What is this, bad fan fiction?). Discussion of the source material is just academic quibbling and misdirection that serves to make you feel very proud of your extremely precise specialization in 19th C. American (maybe you meant to say English/British?) literature, but does not change the nature and content of the current show, nor my personal inability to enjoy it any longer.

And if you want me to rewrite perfectly good articles that already exist, you can pay me for my time and output. I don't feel like spending a lot of time on restating critical analysis that you're not going to read anyway; not for free, at least. I'm sorry that providing links to things in a discussion taking place on the Internet is not good enough for you or somehow a show of bad faith.

You're free to consume television without a critical eye, but that's not for me. Yes, problematic stuff is ubiquitous and seems inescapable, but that's all the more reason to view it with a critical eye. In my opinion. You're free to be a passive consumer.
posted by Eideteker 11 September | 23:23
I just came in casually sharing some thoughts about the show

It might be an enlightening moment for you to go back and cast a cold eye on what your "casually sharing' looks like. Your first move: obnoxious, negging put-down. I mean, you began with "ha ha ha." I dont' know if you're back to wanting to come off like a total asshole, or whether you truly can't understand how condescendingly dismissive that opener was. Either way, it smells in here.

As to my confusion, you said:

It's[Sherlock] very slick, but underneath it all, very regressive/anti-progressive. I haven't watched the show[Sherlock], but supposedly Elementary[brand new referent] is the polar opposite...

In that paragraph, the noun phrase "the show" refers to the subject of the paragraph, "it," which signifies Sherlock. It does not signify "Elementary," which had yet to be introduced as a new subject. So of course, being an English speaker, I understood you to be saying you hadn't watched Sherlock. This was an entirely reasonable assumption, and is down to you writing an unclear sentence.

19th C. American (maybe you meant to say English/British?)

No, I didn't meant to say that. I'm an Americanist; I'm just careful not to misrepresent my expertise. But you can't do 4 years on American 19C lit without reading the Brits, as well, and without understanding transatlantic Victorian culture. Anyway, I earned my knowledge and am proud of it; you're asking me to be ashamed of it, or of talking about it, but there's no reason to. It was hard-won, I have this knowledge, and there's no reason I should feel at all bad about claiming it, especially when it's the broadest and most relevant knowledge available here. My understanding of the literature of the period and its context is quite strong; by all observable evidence, superior to yours. Counter to your assertion, to me, the originator of this thread who introduced the topic, the point of this entire discussion is the source material; the examination of the choices made in adaptation and how they relate to the source, and what they reveal about the creative process of adaptation, the zeitgeist, and the adapters' own predilections. It's not some ancillary topic, some "academic quibble," unless your entire experience of all culture, the limit of your imagination, is how it comes off on TV. If that's all you want, mazel tov. You'll get that on Tumblr.

you can pay me for my time and output

This would be my turn to say: ha ha ha. Posting anything here is my break from writing a fucking book. Consider it all a gift from me, courtesy of my publisher. But to your point: Yeah, why converse at all? Why not just exchange cut and pasted comments from discussions already had elsewhere? Why not just have your bot drop shitty-ass things into every thread to keep your presence visible? There's something odd about this sense that it would be a bad use of your time to actually engage at an individual, thoughtful, relevant, original, personal, human level with people who are supposed to be your peers on a community blog. That's just too hard, isn't it. What a waste of your valuable time.

You're free to be a passive consumer.

Dude: nice gaslighting. You're the passive consumer. You haven't the least grasp on this material. You're cribbing from bloggers who have just as paltry a grasp. You've accepted a popular interpretation amongst your chosen crowd. You don't actually care about this topic very much. You haven't voiced one single original reaction. You have just taken a thread that was brand new and shiny, and crapped all over it by copying and pasting the opinions of people who I guess you feel are more astute and articulate than you (though apparently blind to the fact that their critiques are pathetically inadequate to their topic; like "here's a bunch of layabouts whose blog posts will undoubtedly change your considered, informed opinion!"). And you don't want to engage in that discussion (I suspect because you actually lack command of the relevant material). And obviously, my contestation of their premises is just simply a moral failing on my part - am I getting this right? The only acceptable option is total condemnation, and if I don't join in it's because I'm not a good enough feminist, in the eyes of Eideteker? Just making sure it's that, my personal failings, and not possibly, in some crazy alternate universe where people actually care to talk to each other, an opener to a deeper discussion of why our perceptions differ, that takes in some reference to the actual work in question and our own original interpretations of it. But...that sounds like work. I actually asked for a critical, comparative, thoughtful discussion; if you can't see how you immediately poisoned this thread by assuming your shallow interpretation was going to be welcomed with open arms as superior, and assuming that I would change my opinion based on your crap links, you are simply unable to take part in this discussion at the level I had wished for. It boggles the mind that you could possibly read this whole incident as me being "uncritical" - it's such an attempt at ...internet smart. Like I said, fuck that. Get something to say.
posted by Miko 11 September | 23:56
Yeah, you read my first comment a lot more harshly than I did.

I guess my opinion is somehow invalidated by me coming online and finding out that someone else has said it better? Or by the fact that I won't take time out of my day to basically restate the same points that someone else has made?

• Steven Moffat is sexist [I provided a citation, with sourced quotes from Moffat himself!]
• There are significant problems with how he depicts women in his programs [also provided a citation, which was well-stated, from a fan (not a hater), and clearly stated by the commentator to be just the tip of the iceberg.]
• He actually undermined the character of Irene Adler — Here we disagree; you say that despite the fact that the new Irene Adler lacks her own agency (she is just a tool of Moriarity), has lost her independence (she falls for Our Hero because ???), and the entire element where Sherlock realizes he is the villain in her story. But uh, she's now a dominatrix so A+ work SteMo?

This last part is the only one that has any bearing on the source material, and, as I said, was the point at which it became uncomfortable for me to watch the show (well, the Yellow Peril episode was, but this solidified that that was not a fluke) regardless of the source material (which I love; I read the entire corpus end to end when I was 8 — not boasting about how precocious I was, just indicating my enthusiasm). I was hugely excited for Sherlock, and hugely disgusted and let down by the actualization. My point in referencing tumblr is that I've found a lot of criticism through there that has really highlighted how these are clear patterns in Moffat's work, most especially on the very popular Doctor Who. I thought it might provide food for thought (clearly it hasn't, you're too dug in) that you would find interesting, even if you didn't ultimately agree.

Look, I'm sorry I have a contradictory opinion to yours, or that you feel guilty because I pointed out the problems with a show you really like and now you have to spend thousands of words somehow justifying the cognitive dissonance. I understand that it's hard to entertain another viewpoint when you're used to always being right (or people letting you think that because it's not worth it to them to argue a minor point to the death); I've struggled with it, too. And, y'know what? It's OK to like a show that's problematic, and it's also OK if I can no longer bring myself to watch that same show because it's too problematic for me.
posted by Eideteker 12 September | 09:17
Yeah, you read my first comment a lot more harshly than I did.

Unfortunate side effect of communicating in text. I am feeling hurt because of a quite reasonable interpretation of your tone.

I thought it might provide food for thought

It might have had you not opened with an expression of pure contempt. But it's also OK for me to say of it what I did say: most of the essays are not great criticism.

This last part is the only one that has any bearing on the source material

The point of my post is that they all have bearing on the source material. They're all highly referential, structurally and in fine detail. If you can't see it, then maybe eight years old was too young to really understand and remember the content, which is why just one or two things would jump out at you as related.

that you feel guilty

This is an example of rhetorical bad faith. You are not sorry, and I do not feel guilty. That is a manipulative statement, and I reject it.

It's OK to like a show that's problematic

Exactly. But if you believe that, then in what way did you read my post as an invitation to come here and explain exactly how terrible you thought it was? What was it in my clearly positive post framing that drove you to decide that the thing you most wanted to do today was poke a hole in that enjoyment, and attempt to make me feel bad?

Shall I go into your off-Broadway thread and tell you how much your interests suck?

Honestly, had you opened without the snarky and condescending "ha" thing, I would have been interested to hear your (or, well, the bloggers' you like) perspective.

What is going on with you? Can you tell me some more about your disdain and dislike for me? Can you help me understand when it started, and why? Because I sincerely am not getting it.
posted by Miko 12 September | 09:51
I wish I could find some folks to just roll around with in a giant pile of geekery about it.
That's a hilarious way of phrasing. :-)

To me the charm of the series lies mostly in the trope of the "formidable opponent"; master brains squaring off in an Olympean confrontation.
It's as if you set up a story as "Goethe and David Foster Wallace meet and try to outwit publicly and humiliate eachother; what happens next?"
I can't help being intrigued and feel like a boy again reading some archaďcally phrased yellowed adventure novel. (Paul d'Ivoi was the particular weakness of my brother and me)

Another thing I enjoyed was the cinematic incorporation of mobile phone messages.

I could go on and on in mentioning details I enjoyed. (while glossing over weak episodes and details) But I guess the thing about enjoying something is that the enjoyment can't be traced back to fundamental inherent features of goodness that can be proven to others. You simply feel a similar joy while watching or you don't.
posted by jouke 12 September | 12:56
Another thing I enjoyed was the cinematic incorporation of mobile phone message

That was particularly strong. And the way it's blended with text that gives you read-access, as it were, to Sherlock's observations. Much of the way they use it neatly solves the tough part of transitioning from text on a page to the screen, while still creating a (very compact) narrative about his keenness.

It's made me think a lot about the general pleasures of the detective story. It's hard to believe that they had barely even become a genre when the original stories were written. They're so often looked down on as a juvenile category of literature (it's something I was thinking about when I read a couple mystery books in a row this summer - well, one was Rebecca, which is sort of a mystery (also deeply misogynist, yet an awesome ride) - and realized that, plagued though the genre is with pulp and bad writing and stereotyped characters and all of that, it can still be so satisfying to read). There's something so delicious about the process of the unknowable becoming known, the punctuated revelations, the struggle with a puzzle, the satisfaction when all its pieces are seems to strike something fundamental in the human psyche. Part of it is that adversarial relationship between the person who seeks to deceive and the person with the power to uncover the deceit being evenly matched (or nearly so), the 'formidable opponent.' In general people seem kind of uncomfortable with the unknowable - maybe that's behind the hook that pulls you on to completion.
posted by Miko 12 September | 14:32
Re genres: Sometimes a writer comes up with storyline that resonates so much with our collective narrative consuming nature that it becomes the start of a genre. The detective, the vampire novel, or more recently the serial killer + profiler thing. It's an amazing thing when that happens.

Btw this video gives an impression of what I liked best about the Sherlock series: the slyness of Moriarty, the build up to the robbery of the crown jewels and the ensuing sequence accompanied in an electrifying way by Nina Simones Mr Sinnerman.
posted by jouke 13 September | 05:38
A couple of touches I love, that refer to the originals but reimagine them with very good analogues to the way they'd be read in the late Victorian/Edwardian era:

-Bringing in a framing of modern psychology, which (for me at least) suddenly renders much of what was quizzical recognizable. Sherlock as functional sociopath, Watson's wound as psychosomatic -- which deepens his character and neatly explains away the inconsistency in the stories about whether he was injured in the knee or the shoulder -- the characters are lent a set of motivations and constraints that post-Freudian watchers can map onto their known worlds.
-Watson as a traumatized/PTSD vet, explaining why he was having trouble functioning alone in society and also why he would put up with Holmes' adventuring; there was no language for this in 1880--1930, so it did not figure largely in the explicit writing, though I'm open to the idea that what Doyle did provide would have been enough for a contemporaneous person to understand Watson as shell-shocked
-Appropriate age. For some reason, most adaptations place Holmes and Watson in late middle age. This version finds them both in their 30s/40s prime - actually what the stories refer to.
-Really careful design of the 221B apartment set. Many other adaptations have made it a clubby-chic apartment. This series has a mix of dated and shabby technology, castoff furniture, hobby equipment, squalor and a really nice kitchen that make Doyle's descriptions of Holmes and Watson's retreat much easier to see with the eye of a person from the period.
-Expansion of Mycroft's character, which is all consistent with the limited details provided stories but goes beyond it to hint at the repulsive side of the workings of government agencies, something we are all too familiar with today (but again, is surely not new). Also, their sibling rivalry - another motivation for Sherlock's otherwise hard-to-understand relentless competitiveness and need for social dominance
-The street urchins become the 'homeless network' - a real network which is legitimately able to communicate, act, and spread information while going relatively unnoticed
-All the quotations, casual mentions, and puns that create a thick web of canonical references to events in the stories, just placed there in the dialogue for no reason other than to make Doyle readers smile
-"the game is on" = "the game is afoot"

posted by Miko 13 September | 21:37
It was also nice how the disappearance with uncertain outcome in the Reichenbach Falls was transposed very effectively to a fall. Still a herculean standoff.
(Even though the revelation in the next season was disappointing)
posted by jouke 15 September | 12:09
Scenes from the Bunny island. || Mr. Zeek the streak