goldvermilion87: (Default)
"Courage is not one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."  -C.S. Lewis

The same could be said of humility, for humility and courage are similar to one another, and perhaps even two ways of looking at the same thing.


DISCUSS.
goldvermilion87: (Default)
"Courage is not one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."  -C.S. Lewis

The same could be said of humility, for humility and courage are similar to one another, and perhaps even two ways of looking at the same thing.


DISCUSS.
goldvermilion87: (Default)
Thinking about Sherlock as twist a Miltonic satan type figure.

I KNOW REALIZE WHY I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH!  THIS IS MY FAVORITE TOPIC OF RESEARCH!

BRACE YOURSELF FOR POSSIBLE BLATHERING
goldvermilion87: (Default)
Thinking about Sherlock as twist a Miltonic satan type figure.

I KNOW REALIZE WHY I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH!  THIS IS MY FAVORITE TOPIC OF RESEARCH!

BRACE YOURSELF FOR POSSIBLE BLATHERING

Scandalous

Jan. 5th, 2012 02:47 pm
goldvermilion87: (Default)

Since I watched A Scandal in Belgravia, I’ve been reading reviews on my f-list and elsewhere, and discussing it with friends.  I am interested by the split in fandom between people who adore it  and people who deplore it (and I am already bursting at the seams with explanatory theories).  But there is something that I’ve seen in nearly every review – positive or negative – and it’s been bothering me.  Enough so that I’m writing my own post about it.  So this is not a review, just an extended comment on one issue:

Spoilery (and incomprehensible) if you haven't seen A Scandal In Belgravia )

Scandalous

Jan. 5th, 2012 02:47 pm
goldvermilion87: (Default)

Since I watched A Scandal in Belgravia, I’ve been reading reviews on my f-list and elsewhere, and discussing it with friends.  I am interested by the split in fandom between people who adore it  and people who deplore it (and I am already bursting at the seams with explanatory theories).  But there is something that I’ve seen in nearly every review – positive or negative – and it’s been bothering me.  Enough so that I’m writing my own post about it.  So this is not a review, just an extended comment on one issue:

Spoilery (and incomprehensible) if you haven't seen A Scandal In Belgravia )
goldvermilion87: (Default)
NB:  I know I do not see eye to eye with everyone on my f-list on every topic. In this essay I both mention and affirm traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality. However, that isn't the point of the essay, and people who disagree with me on this particular may still agree with the essay's point as a whole.

Thanks.  :-)
goldvermilion87: (Default)
NB:  I know I do not see eye to eye with everyone on my f-list on every topic. In this essay I both mention and affirm traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality. However, that isn't the point of the essay, and people who disagree with me on this particular may still agree with the essay's point as a whole.

Thanks.  :-)
goldvermilion87: (Default)
I've noticed more and more classics-major types in the Sherlock fandom recently.  I don't know if this is just me happening to notice them, or if there really are a lot.  I also don't really know how different this is from other fandoms.

But my mind just wanted to make a connection, and I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on it.

I, personally, put Sherlock Holmes into the category of myth.  This is what I mean:  Mythological stories and characters are sort of up for grabs creatively speaking.  They give us storylines, themes, character-types, etc. and authors can, and do, take them and weave them into their own tales, whether that be the comic book Thor, or C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces" or all the details from various mythologies that Rowling used in Harry Potter. 

Somehow, in the space of 100 years, Sherlock Holmes became that, in my estimation.  He is Batman, he is recast in The Great Mouse Detective, and he is placed into a new setting in Sherlock.  He is an image we all have in our imaginations.  He is the basis for detectives on primetime television.  I don't know if I'm making my argument very well, but there it is.

So, the connection/question--are classics people drawn to myth in particular?  And is this why they are drawn to the Sherlock Holmes fandom?  I know I personally love and have always been obsessed with mythologies--particularly Greek and Roman, but I like them all.  I was only a "classics-lite" major, but maybe that is why I like Sherlock Holmes so much?

And finally, additional thought which I might blog about at some point--is Sherlock Holmes a myth for the age of science?  I wonder if any of the ancient myths can possibly be satisfying to one who accepts (particularly if he is aware that he accepts) the scientism inherent so much of western culture.  Does Sherlock Holmes fill that gap?

/End incoherent ramblings.  I'd plea being sick in bed, but I know I have a tendency towards incoherency anyway.
goldvermilion87: (Default)
I've noticed more and more classics-major types in the Sherlock fandom recently.  I don't know if this is just me happening to notice them, or if there really are a lot.  I also don't really know how different this is from other fandoms.

But my mind just wanted to make a connection, and I'm wondering if anyone has any thoughts on it.

I, personally, put Sherlock Holmes into the category of myth.  This is what I mean:  Mythological stories and characters are sort of up for grabs creatively speaking.  They give us storylines, themes, character-types, etc. and authors can, and do, take them and weave them into their own tales, whether that be the comic book Thor, or C.S. Lewis's "Till We Have Faces" or all the details from various mythologies that Rowling used in Harry Potter. 

Somehow, in the space of 100 years, Sherlock Holmes became that, in my estimation.  He is Batman, he is recast in The Great Mouse Detective, and he is placed into a new setting in Sherlock.  He is an image we all have in our imaginations.  He is the basis for detectives on primetime television.  I don't know if I'm making my argument very well, but there it is.

So, the connection/question--are classics people drawn to myth in particular?  And is this why they are drawn to the Sherlock Holmes fandom?  I know I personally love and have always been obsessed with mythologies--particularly Greek and Roman, but I like them all.  I was only a "classics-lite" major, but maybe that is why I like Sherlock Holmes so much?

And finally, additional thought which I might blog about at some point--is Sherlock Holmes a myth for the age of science?  I wonder if any of the ancient myths can possibly be satisfying to one who accepts (particularly if he is aware that he accepts) the scientism inherent so much of western culture.  Does Sherlock Holmes fill that gap?

/End incoherent ramblings.  I'd plea being sick in bed, but I know I have a tendency towards incoherency anyway.
goldvermilion87: (Default)
I woke up inhumanly early this morning, so I watched Star Trek VI, which I'd never gotten around to, to get me into a state of non-zombie-ess.

I enjoyed it, HOWEVER...

If I had all the time in the world (which I don't) I would show it to my class as an example of how not to do literary allusions. It was a classic example of quoting Shakespeare for the sake of quoting Shakespeare in my humble opinion. In Chang's case it might have been okay (I guess it was just his character? But while I loved Khan channeling Ahab "FROM HELL'S HEART I STAB AT THEE! FOR HATE'S SAKE WITH MY LAST BREATH I CURSE THEE" (or something like that...I'm going to reread Moby Dick in about 30 minutes, so I'm not checking myself right now) because Khan WAS a Milton's Satan/Captain Ahab figure, I really don't see what incessantly quoting bits of Shakespeare had to do with Chang.). However, I thought the allusion of the title was AWFUL!

Kirk says "General what's-his-face called the future "the undiscovered country."

Okay. Quick Hamlet lesson, folks:

To be or not to be, that is the question
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
or to take arms against a sea of troubles.


etc. again... not looking it up and that's as far as I can remember at the moment

But here we have Hamlet deciding whether or not he should kill himself.  Should a person just take the troubles that come or (to quote Blackadder) "just top himself". 

Hamlet does not kill himself if Act I.  Why is this?  We must go on farther in the speech.


To die to sleep, perchance to dream
Aye, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death
what dreams may come must give the something or other pause
For who would fardles bear...blah blah proud man's contumely, etc.
when he could his quietus make on a bare bodkin
But for that:

(here we come to the important bit for my discussion)

THE FEAR OF SOMETHING AFTER DEATH
THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY FROM WHOSE BOURNE
NO TRAVELER RETURNS MUST GIVE US PAUSE.

So ignoring the fact that I just massacred Hamlet's most famous speech, we see the point.  The "undiscovered country" is DEATH.  And it is the thing that makes us all scared, not a hopeful future!

But then, that's the point of the movie, isn't it. That they're all scared of the future, because they don't know what it is, and they have to accept it just like Hamlet does in his "There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow" speech.

I just talked myself into appreciating the allusion.  Oh my. 

Well, I should do silly stuff like this more often.  It obviously helps me think stuff through.

I also need to add some words to my vocabulary so that I don't say "stuff" so often.

I still object to General Chang, though.  Give me Khan any day.

KHAAAAAAAAAANNNN!!!!!!!!

(One of these days I should actually apply myself to memorize that speech.  I think I know almost all the words, but not in order...  It wouldn't take too long, right?)
goldvermilion87: (Default)
I woke up inhumanly early this morning, so I watched Star Trek VI, which I'd never gotten around to, to get me into a state of non-zombie-ess.

I enjoyed it, HOWEVER...

If I had all the time in the world (which I don't) I would show it to my class as an example of how not to do literary allusions. It was a classic example of quoting Shakespeare for the sake of quoting Shakespeare in my humble opinion. In Chang's case it might have been okay (I guess it was just his character? But while I loved Khan channeling Ahab "FROM HELL'S HEART I STAB AT THEE! FOR HATE'S SAKE WITH MY LAST BREATH I CURSE THEE" (or something like that...I'm going to reread Moby Dick in about 30 minutes, so I'm not checking myself right now) because Khan WAS a Milton's Satan/Captain Ahab figure, I really don't see what incessantly quoting bits of Shakespeare had to do with Chang.). However, I thought the allusion of the title was AWFUL!

Kirk says "General what's-his-face called the future "the undiscovered country."

Okay. Quick Hamlet lesson, folks:

To be or not to be, that is the question
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
or to take arms against a sea of troubles.


etc. again... not looking it up and that's as far as I can remember at the moment

But here we have Hamlet deciding whether or not he should kill himself.  Should a person just take the troubles that come or (to quote Blackadder) "just top himself". 

Hamlet does not kill himself if Act I.  Why is this?  We must go on farther in the speech.


To die to sleep, perchance to dream
Aye, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death
what dreams may come must give the something or other pause
For who would fardles bear...blah blah proud man's contumely, etc.
when he could his quietus make on a bare bodkin
But for that:

(here we come to the important bit for my discussion)

THE FEAR OF SOMETHING AFTER DEATH
THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY FROM WHOSE BOURNE
NO TRAVELER RETURNS MUST GIVE US PAUSE.

So ignoring the fact that I just massacred Hamlet's most famous speech, we see the point.  The "undiscovered country" is DEATH.  And it is the thing that makes us all scared, not a hopeful future!

But then, that's the point of the movie, isn't it. That they're all scared of the future, because they don't know what it is, and they have to accept it just like Hamlet does in his "There is a special providence in the fall of a sparrow" speech.

I just talked myself into appreciating the allusion.  Oh my. 

Well, I should do silly stuff like this more often.  It obviously helps me think stuff through.

I also need to add some words to my vocabulary so that I don't say "stuff" so often.

I still object to General Chang, though.  Give me Khan any day.

KHAAAAAAAAAANNNN!!!!!!!!

(One of these days I should actually apply myself to memorize that speech.  I think I know almost all the words, but not in order...  It wouldn't take too long, right?)
goldvermilion87: (Default)
I really am going to get from Havergal to Sherlock, and it will be a logical progression.  But that means this post will be really rambly.   Just bear with me.

We sang this hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal in church this morning.  I love it so  much.  Not, perhaps, as poetic as some (I LOVE YOU, COWPER!!!!!!) but simple and straightforward:

Take my life )
My favorite line in the song is "Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose."  On the one hand it's a scary thought--giving up something I treasure as much as my intellect--but on the other hand, but on the other, it's a wonderful reminder that being a Christian is not giving up your intellect period.  It's using it for God. 

Anyway, I was thinking about that line, and I remembered this wonderful letter from William Pitt the younger to William Wilberforce, after Wilberforce was converted to Christianity, and seriously considered leaving politics, and living his life out in retirement.  I am posting the whole thing, because it is a wonderful letter (why does no one write like that anymore?  WHY?) , and because with my kindle, I was able to copy the whole thing out of a book, instead of typing it...which would have taken too long, and because there is something so charming (to me, anyway) in the notion that an 18th century soon-to-be Prime Minister of England called one of his friends "Bob."  The only really important quotation is the lj-cut text: "If a Christian may act in the several relations of life, must he seclude himself for all to become so? Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple, and lead not to meditation only but to action."  But if you love old letters, as I do, you can read the whole thing below it. 

If a Christian may act in the several relations of life, must he seclude himself for all to become so? Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple, and lead not to meditation only but to action.  )In the movie Amazing Grace, the directors dramatized the meeting Pitt asked for in the letter, and he says that line "Surely the principles..."

I said this would eventually ramble it's way around to Sherlock, no?  Well, if you watched Amazing Grace, you might know the connection already.  Hehe.  Benedict Cumberbatch played William Pitt the younger in Amazing Grace and he plays (to my mind the BEST EVER) Sherlock  Holmes in the new BBC TV series, Sherlock. (and Ioan Gruffudd played Wilberforce.   *sigh*   SO MANY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN THE SAME MOVIE!)

You know, that's not the first time my fangirlishness has managed to worm its way into church.  I was sick at home one Sunday a few weeks ago, so I watched the church service from my home church, which they started streaming live recently.  One of the pastors grew a goatee, which I hadn't seen, of course, since I'm away at school.  There was only one thing that came to mind when I saw it (so I had to print-screen it):

mirrorspock

Tell me he doesn't look like Mirror!Spock with that goatee! 

It was sooooooooooooooooooooo distracting.

Oh well...
goldvermilion87: (Default)
I really am going to get from Havergal to Sherlock, and it will be a logical progression.  But that means this post will be really rambly.   Just bear with me.

We sang this hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal in church this morning.  I love it so  much.  Not, perhaps, as poetic as some (I LOVE YOU, COWPER!!!!!!) but simple and straightforward:

Take my life )
My favorite line in the song is "Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose."  On the one hand it's a scary thought--giving up something I treasure as much as my intellect--but on the other hand, but on the other, it's a wonderful reminder that being a Christian is not giving up your intellect period.  It's using it for God. 

Anyway, I was thinking about that line, and I remembered this wonderful letter from William Pitt the younger to William Wilberforce, after Wilberforce was converted to Christianity, and seriously considered leaving politics, and living his life out in retirement.  I am posting the whole thing, because it is a wonderful letter (why does no one write like that anymore?  WHY?) , and because with my kindle, I was able to copy the whole thing out of a book, instead of typing it...which would have taken too long, and because there is something so charming (to me, anyway) in the notion that an 18th century soon-to-be Prime Minister of England called one of his friends "Bob."  The only really important quotation is the lj-cut text: "If a Christian may act in the several relations of life, must he seclude himself for all to become so? Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple, and lead not to meditation only but to action."  But if you love old letters, as I do, you can read the whole thing below it. 

If a Christian may act in the several relations of life, must he seclude himself for all to become so? Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple, and lead not to meditation only but to action.  )In the movie Amazing Grace, the directors dramatized the meeting Pitt asked for in the letter, and he says that line "Surely the principles..."

I said this would eventually ramble it's way around to Sherlock, no?  Well, if you watched Amazing Grace, you might know the connection already.  Hehe.  Benedict Cumberbatch played William Pitt the younger in Amazing Grace and he plays (to my mind the BEST EVER) Sherlock  Holmes in the new BBC TV series, Sherlock. (and Ioan Gruffudd played Wilberforce.   *sigh*   SO MANY BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE IN THE SAME MOVIE!)

You know, that's not the first time my fangirlishness has managed to worm its way into church.  I was sick at home one Sunday a few weeks ago, so I watched the church service from my home church, which they started streaming live recently.  One of the pastors grew a goatee, which I hadn't seen, of course, since I'm away at school.  There was only one thing that came to mind when I saw it (so I had to print-screen it):

mirrorspock

Tell me he doesn't look like Mirror!Spock with that goatee! 

It was sooooooooooooooooooooo distracting.

Oh well...
goldvermilion87: (littlejohn)
John: So why do you put up with him?
Lestrade: Because I'm desperate, that's why. And because Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day, if we're very lucky, he might even be a good one.

--Sherlock, Episode One, "A Study in Pink."

If you know me and have had any sort of conversation with me in the past few weeks, you have probably heard me mention the BBC television show, Sherlock, a modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. It was in the works, as far as I am aware, for quite a while. I certainly knew that it was being made and that Martin Freeman would play Watson before I left for grad school in August 2009--possibly even a year before that.

Let me just get this out of the way, before I actually review. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes is GORGEOUS. (Can't believe I didn't notice him so much in Amazing Grace...but then, 18th C. wigs aren't particularly flattering, and Ioan Gruffud (sp? I can say it, but can't spell it) outshone him.) Yes, Martin Freeman as John Watson is ADORABLE, and very Sam Gamgee-ish. (So many Sam Gamgee moments!) I admit it. But let us move on.

What I'm interested in is what I see as one of the most important of the themes that run through the show, and which I think is encapsulated in the quotation at the head of this post. But to discuss what is interesting about it, we need to go back to Arthur Conan Doyle's work.

The Sherlock Holmes stories are (almost) all narrated by Dr. John Watson, an army doctor who was invalided out during the Anglo-Afgan war. Watson admires Holmes to no end. He is occasionally put off by/makes reference to Holmes's exasperating vanity and incredible pride, but in general he sees Holmes, as Holmes seems to see himself--a super-humanly intelligent and all-around awesome dude. His interest in Holmes and Holmes's work originally seems to stem from boredom, but quickly turns into single-minded hero worship. (Now, I am overstating the case a bit. I am making Watson seem more like the Nigel Bruce bumbler than he actually is. But at times he almost portrays himself as such, and we have to read between the lines to see that he isn't.)

I think that Holmes and Watson have a great friendship, and that's what draws me to the books (rather than the mysteries themselves) but it is Watson's devotion to Holmes, rather than Holmes's to Watson that makes it memorable. There is one very special moment in "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" in which we do get a glimpse of Holmes's affection for Watson. It makes every fangirl's heart go pitter patter. Here it is in full.

The scene: Holmes and Watson are waiting for an American gunslinger [must write about America as "the other" in Victorian fic some time. A very amusing topic, in my opinion] named "Killer Evans." Evans walks into the room where they are hiding:

Clearly our moment had come. Holmes touched my wrist as a signal, and together we stole across to the open trap-door. Gently as we moved, however, the old floor must have creaked under our feet, for the head of our American, peering anxiously round, emerged suddenly from the open space. His face turned upon us with a glare of baffled rage, which gradually softened into a rather shamefaced grin as he realized that two pistols were pointed at his head.

"Well, well!" said he coolly as he scrambled to the surface. "I guess you have been one too many for me, Mr. Holmes. Saw through my game, I suppose, and played me for a sucker from the first. Well, sir, I hand it to you; you have me beat and..."

In an instant he had whisked out a revolver from his breast and had fired two shots.

I felt a sudden hot sear as if a red-hot iron had been pressed to my thigh. There was a crash as Holmes's pistol came down on the man's head. I had a vision of him sprawling upon the floor with blood running down his face while Holmes rummaged him for weapons. Then my friend's wiry arms were round me, and he was leading me to a chair.

"You're not hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you are not hurt!"

It was worth a wound--it was worth many wounds--to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.

"It's nothing, Holmes. It's a mere scratch."

He had ripped up my trousers with his pocket-knife.

"You are right," he cried with an immense sigh of relief. "It is quite superficial." His face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face. "By the Lord, it is as well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive. Now, sir, what have you to say for yourself?"


I have found this moment to be fascinating ever since I entered the world of Holmes and Watson. It is of course an "awwwwwww! Holmes cares!" moment. But it is more than that. One of my pet topics is the cost of friendship, which goes back to the *cough* Rankin/Bass Return of the King. *cough*...

In that masterpiece of 80s cinema, which I may or may not have written a whole post on a year or so ago, there is a song that says "If you never say hello, you won't have to say goodbye." And that line, in connection with the sadness of Frodo leaving has meant a lot to me. I suppose by now I could be more sophisticated and quote "Shadowlands" (not C.S. Lewis--a misattribution as far as I can tell): "The pain then, is part of the happiness now. That's the deal."
But however you want to put it, love makes you vulnerable because you will experience loss eventually. In fact, one real Lewis quotation, from The Four Loves, because it is such a great one (and then I don't have to feel too bad about the Rankin/Bass quotation):

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

This may be fangirl heresy, but I will dare to say that Conan Doyle's Holmes really did wrap his heart around with hobbies and little luxuries. He did his best to lock it up safe in the casket of his selfishness. He did not completely succeed, but if Holmes's life is not characterized by selfishness, I don't know what is. I'm glad he had hidden some love for Watson deep down inside--Watson earned it. But I am afraid that as readers we have to at least ask ourselves if Holmes's facade of indifference does not go more than skin deep. (See also his behavior in "The Empty House" and "The Dying Detective.")

I find it very sad and pathetic that all of Watson's relationship with Holmes leads up to that one moment where for an instant he sees that Holmes actually cares. But Watson doesn't seem to feel that way. He just accepts Holmes as a great man, and while he is made incredibly happy by this tiny moment of humanity, he doesn't really quesition Holmes's goodness. Greatness is enough.

Now, I said this was a review of the BBC show, Sherlock, and it is. And I've finally gotten back around to it. :-)

John, as portrayed by Martin Freeman, is very much the Watson we know and love. He is awestruck by Sherlock. Every time Sherlock makes some kind of deduction he says "That's incredible" or "that's amazing"--something to that effect. In fact, here is a really cute exchange where Sherlock is rattling off facts about a dead woman. John has peppered the conversation with little exclamations (Freeman is so good at making what could sound very silly or forced sound perfectly genuine):

John: That's fantastic!
Sherlock: Do you know you do that out loud?
John: Sorry, I'll shut up.
Sherlock: No, its...fine...

And as in the original books, Sherlock partly wants John around because he is so appreciative. At one point he says (speaking of a serial murderer) "That's the frailty of genius, John, it needs an audience." I don't think he's self-aware enough to know he's describing himself, but he is.

Unlike the books, however, the TV show brings the issue of Sherlock as a human being, not just a calculating machine, into the open. From the beginning, Sherlock's insensitivity due to his brilliance is highlighted. It's often funny--when the girl who has a crush on him asks him "would you like to have coffee?" He says "Yes please. Black. Two Sugars. I'll be in the lab."--but it keeps coming back, and even as the first episode progresses becomes more serious. The victim had scratched the name "Rachel" onto the floor while she was dying. The detectives found out that "Rachel" was her daugher, who had been still born fourteen years earlier. Sherlock has been thinking out loud, and John suggests that the murderer (who somehow forced the victim to self-administer poison) used her daughter against her somehow. Sherlock says, "But that was ages ago! Why would she still be upset?" and the whole room goes quiet. Sherlock realizes he messed up from their reactions. And as an audience member, I don't think you despise him for it. John sets him straight, but you (along with John at that moment) feel more pity for the Sherlock who cannnot feel, than you feel disgust at the Sherlock who does not feel.

At the end of that episode, Sherlock risks not stopping the serial killer in his desire to prove himself right, and it is John who saves him.

As the second episode progresses and the third begins, it is becoming evident that Sherlock may be more capable of emotion than he lets on. Or rather, that John expects him to show emotion and to feel, regardless of his professed inability to do so. John becomes more vocal about pointing out to Sherlock when he is being mean or insensitive, and he continually asks him to think about the victims in the case as if they were people.

Moriarty is holding people hostage for set periods of time, while Sherlock has to figure out the mysteries Moriarty sends to him before the time runs out or the hostages (who are strapped to bomb) are exploded, usually in a densely populated area. While John is still amazed by Sherlock's powers of deduction, he is clearly personally offended, as well as offended on principle, by Sherlock's careless attitude towards human life in favor of his obsession with facts and proving himself more intelligent than Moriarty. John reaches a breaking point after an old woman (along with many people in her apartment complex) is killed, and Sherlock is only fascinated by Moriarty's evil genius:

John: So why is he doing this, then? Playing this game with you? Do you think he wants to be caught?
Sherlock: I think he wants to be distracted
John: I hope you'll be very happy together
Sherlock: Sorry. What?
John: There are LIVES at stake, Sherlock, actual human lives! Just so I know, do you care about that at all?
Sherlock: Will caring about them help save them?
John: Nope.
Sherlock: Then I'll continue not to make that mistake.
John: And you find that easy, do you?
Sherlock: Yes. Very...Is that news to you?
John: No...no
Sherlock: I've disappointed you.
John: Good! That's a good deduction. Yeah.
Sherlock: Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist, and if they did, I wouldn't be one of them.

But Sherlock's nonchalance about human life is challenged, when suddenly the man strapped to the bomb is John. (Another brilliant acting job. Cumberbatch somehow manages to portray Sherlock's sudden fear and vulnerability, while preserving the mask of self-confidence towards Moriarty. That's not a good description...you have to see it...but then you should probably watch it before reading this anyway...) His only friend is in mortal peril, and he is confronted with his brilliantly evil enemy, and he starts to see things John's way:

Jim Moriarty: I have loved this--this little game of ours...Playing Jim from IT...Playing gay...Did you like the little touch with the underwear?
Sherlock: People have died.
Jim Moriarty: That's what people DO!
Sherlock: I will stop you.

This was Sherlock at the beginning of the episode:

John: Try and remember there's a woman who might die.
Sherlock: What for? This hospital's full of people dying, doctor. Why don't you go cry by their bedsides. See what good it does them.

Can you spot the difference?

I end this rambly review-ish thing with another observation.

At the end of "A Study in Pink," Sherlock is about to take the pill. He is compelled to eat it, because he needs the rush to stave off the boredom of living as a genius among lesser mortals. He has been goaded into it by the serial killer cabbie who taunts him with the possibility that he has been outwitted. He is facing possible death. And his hand shakes.

At the end of "The Great Game," Sherlock has his gun trained on the explosives near Moriarty. He is ready to blow up himself and John because it seems they are doomed, and he needs to take Moriarty out as well. He has looked to John, and received a short nod of approval for the action he is about to take. He is facing almost certain death. And his hand is perfectly still.

Now I can only wait for the next season (Fall 2011!?!?!? WHAT?!?!!?!) to see what happens. Will they be saved in a Mycroft ex Machina? Or will we have a Reichenberg Falls-esque opening, with John in the hospital and Sherlock assumed dead? However the screenwriters write everyone out that sticky situation, my main interest is Sherlock's character. Was this just a crack in the facade, as in "The Three Garridebs"? or has Sherlock changed from just a great man, to a good one?

Sherlock

Oct. 14th, 2010 04:02 am
goldvermilion87: (Default)
Sherlock ramble/review-type thing.

Mainly a discussion of Sherlock Holmes as a Great man? or a Good man?

Note that it assumes you've seen the show.  I could just say "spoiler alert" but it's not so much that I give away important plot points (which I do) but also that it probably won't make sense without any background.

_______________________________


John: So why do you put up with him?
Lestrade: Because I'm desperate, that's why. And because Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day, if we're very lucky, he might even be a good one.

--Sherlock, Episode One, "A Study in Pink."

If you know me and have had any sort of conversation with me in the past few weeks, you have probably heard me mention the BBC television show, Sherlock, a modern day adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. It was in the works, as far as I am aware, for quite a while. I certainly knew that it was being made and that Martin Freeman would play Watson before I left for grad school in August 2009--possibly even a year before that.

Let me just get this out of the way, before I actually review. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes is GORGEOUS. (Can't believe I didn't notice him so much in Amazing Grace...but then, 18th C. wigs aren't particularly flattering, and Ioan Gruffud (sp? I can say it, but can't spell it) outshone him.) Yes, Martin Freeman as John Watson is ADORABLE, and very Sam Gamgee-ish. (So many Sam Gamgee moments!) I admit it. But let us move on.

What I'm interested in is what I see as one of the most important of the themes that run through the show, and which I think is encapsulated in the quotation at the head of this post. But to discuss what is interesting about it, we need to go back to Arthur Conan Doyle's work.

The Sherlock Holmes stories are (almost) all narrated by Dr. John Watson, an army doctor who was invalided out during the Anglo-Afgan war. Watson admires Holmes to no end. He is occasionally put off by/makes reference to Holmes's exasperating vanity and incredible pride, but in general he sees Holmes, as Holmes seems to see himself--a super-humanly intelligent and all-around awesome dude. His interest in Holmes and Holmes's work originally seems to stem from boredom, but quickly turns into single-minded hero worship. (Now, I am overstating the case a bit. I am making Watson seem more like the Nigel Bruce bumbler than he actually is. But at times he almost portrays himself as such, and we have to read between the lines to see that he isn't.)

I think that Holmes and Watson have a great friendship, and that's what draws me to the books (rather than the mysteries themselves) but it is Watson's devotion to Holmes, rather than Holmes's to Watson that makes it memorable. There is one very special moment in "The Adventure of the Three Garridebs" in which we do get a glimpse of Holmes's affection for Watson. It makes every fangirl's heart go pitter patter. Here it is in full.

The scene: Holmes and Watson are waiting for an American gunslinger [must write about America as "the other" in Victorian fic some time. A very amusing topic, in my opinion] named "Killer Evans." Evans walks into the room where they are hiding:

Clearly our moment had come. Holmes touched my wrist as a signal, and together we stole across to the open trap-door. Gently as we moved, however, the old floor must have creaked under our feet, for the head of our American, peering anxiously round, emerged suddenly from the open space. His face turned upon us with a glare of baffled rage, which gradually softened into a rather shamefaced grin as he realized that two pistols were pointed at his head.

"Well, well!" said he coolly as he scrambled to the surface. "I guess you have been one too many for me, Mr. Holmes. Saw through my game, I suppose, and played me for a sucker from the first. Well, sir, I hand it to you; you have me beat and..."

In an instant he had whisked out a revolver from his breast and had fired two shots.

I felt a sudden hot sear as if a red-hot iron had been pressed to my thigh. There was a crash as Holmes's pistol came down on the man's head. I had a vision of him sprawling upon the floor with blood running down his face while Holmes rummaged him for weapons. Then my friend's wiry arms were round me, and he was leading me to a chair.

"You're not hurt, Watson? For God's sake, say that you are not hurt!"

It was worth a wound--it was worth many wounds--to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.

"It's nothing, Holmes. It's a mere scratch."

He had ripped up my trousers with his pocket-knife.

"You are right," he cried with an immense sigh of relief. "It is quite superficial." His face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face. "By the Lord, it is as well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive. Now, sir, what have you to say for yourself?"


I have found this moment to be fascinating ever since I entered the world of Holmes and Watson. It is of course an "awwwwwww! Holmes cares!" moment. But it is more than that. One of my pet topics is the cost of friendship, which goes back to the *cough* Rankin/Bass Return of the King. *cough*...

In that masterpiece of 80s cinema, which I may or may not have written a whole post on a year or so ago, there is a song that says "If you never say hello, you won't have to say goodbye." And that line, in connection with the sadness of Frodo leaving has meant a lot to me. I suppose by now I could be more sophisticated and quote "Shadowlands" (not C.S. Lewis--a misattribution as far as I can tell): "The pain then, is part of the happiness now. That's the deal."
But however you want to put it, love makes you vulnerable because you will experience loss eventually. In fact, one real Lewis quotation, from The Four Loves, because it is such a great one (and then I don't have to feel too bad about the Rankin/Bass quotation):

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

This may be fangirl heresy, but I will dare to say that Conan Doyle's Holmes really did wrap his heart around with hobbies and little luxuries. He did his best to lock it up safe in the casket of his selfishness. He did not completely succeed, but if Holmes's life is not characterized by selfishness, I don't know what is. I'm glad he had hidden some love for Watson deep down inside--Watson earned it. But I am afraid that as readers we have to at least ask ourselves if Holmes's facade of indifference does not go more than skin deep. (See also his behavior in "The Empty House" and "The Dying Detective.")

I find it very sad and pathetic that all of Watson's relationship with Holmes leads up to that one moment where for an instant he sees that Holmes actually cares. But Watson doesn't seem to feel that way. He just accepts Holmes as a great man, and while he is made incredibly happy by this tiny moment of humanity, he doesn't really quesition Holmes's goodness. Greatness is enough.

Now, I said this was a review of the BBC show, Sherlock, and it is. And I've finally gotten back around to it. :-)

John, as portrayed by Martin Freeman, is very much the Watson we know and love. He is awestruck by Sherlock. Every time Sherlock makes some kind of deduction he says "That's incredible" or "that's amazing"--something to that effect. In fact, here is a really cute exchange where Sherlock is rattling off facts about a dead woman. John has peppered the conversation with little exclamations (Freeman is so good at making what could sound very silly or forced sound perfectly genuine):

John: That's fantastic!
Sherlock: Do you know you do that out loud?
John: Sorry, I'll shut up.
Sherlock: No, its...fine...

And as in the original books, Sherlock partly wants John around because he is so appreciative. At one point he says (speaking of a serial murderer) "That's the frailty of genius, John, it needs an audience." I don't think he's self-aware enough to know he's describing himself, but he is.

Unlike the books, however, the TV show brings the issue of Sherlock as a human being, not just a calculating machine, into the open. From the beginning, Sherlock's insensitivity due to his brilliance is highlighted. It's often funny--when the girl who has a crush on him asks him "would you like to have coffee?" He says "Yes please. Black. Two Sugars. I'll be in the lab."--but it keeps coming back, and even as the first episode progresses becomes more serious. The victim had scratched the name "Rachel" onto the floor while she was dying. The detectives found out that "Rachel" was her daugher, who had been still born fourteen years earlier. Sherlock has been thinking out loud, and John suggests that the murderer (who somehow forced the victim to self-administer poison) used her daughter against her somehow. Sherlock says, "But that was ages ago! Why would she still be upset?" and the whole room goes quiet. Sherlock realizes he messed up from their reactions. And as an audience member, I don't think you despise him for it. John sets him straight, but you (along with John at that moment) feel more pity for the Sherlock who cannnot feel, than you feel disgust at the Sherlock who does not feel.

At the end of that episode, Sherlock risks not stopping the serial killer in his desire to prove himself right, and it is John who saves him.

As the second episode progresses and the third begins, it is becoming evident that Sherlock may be more capable of emotion than he lets on. Or rather, that John expects him to show emotion and to feel, regardless of his professed inability to do so. John becomes more vocal about pointing out to Sherlock when he is being mean or insensitive, and he continually asks him to think about the victims in the case as if they were people.

Moriarty is holding people hostage for set periods of time, while Sherlock has to figure out the mysteries Moriarty sends to him before the time runs out or the hostages (who are strapped to bomb) are exploded, usually in a densely populated area. While John is still amazed by Sherlock's powers of deduction, he is clearly personally offended, as well as offended on principle, by Sherlock's careless attitude towards human life in favor of his obsession with facts and proving himself more intelligent than Moriarty. John reaches a breaking point after an old woman (along with many people in her apartment complex) is killed, and Sherlock is only fascinated by Moriarty's evil genius:

John: So why is he doing this, then? Playing this game with you? Do you think he wants to be caught?
Sherlock: I think he wants to be distracted
John: I hope you'll be very happy together
Sherlock: Sorry. What?
John: There are LIVES at stake, Sherlock, actual human lives! Just so I know, do you care about that at all?
Sherlock: Will caring about them help save them?
John: Nope.
Sherlock: Then I'll continue not to make that mistake.
John: And you find that easy, do you?
Sherlock: Yes. Very...Is that news to you?
John: No...no
Sherlock: I've disappointed you.
John: Good! That's a good deduction. Yeah.
Sherlock: Don't make people into heroes, John. Heroes don't exist, and if they did, I wouldn't be one of them.

But Sherlock's nonchalance about human life is challenged, when suddenly the man strapped to the bomb is John. (Another brilliant acting job. Cumberbatch somehow manages to portray Sherlock's sudden fear and vulnerability, while preserving the mask of self-confidence towards Moriarty. That's not a good description...you have to see it...but then you should probably watch it before reading this anyway...) His only friend is in mortal peril, and he is confronted with his brilliantly evil enemy, and he starts to see things John's way:

Jim Moriarty: I have loved this--this little game of ours...Playing Jim from IT...Playing gay...Did you like the little touch with the underwear?
Sherlock: People have died.
Jim Moriarty: That's what people DO!
Sherlock: I will stop you.

This was Sherlock at the beginning of the episode:

John: Try and remember there's a woman who might die.
Sherlock: What for? This hospital's full of people dying, doctor. Why don't you go cry by their bedsides. See what good it does them.

Can you spot the difference?

I end this rambly review-ish thing with another observation.

At the end of "A Study in Pink," Sherlock is about to take the pill. He is compelled to eat it, because he needs the rush to stave off the boredom of living as a genius among lesser mortals. He has been goaded into it by the serial killer cabbie who taunts him with the possibility that he has been outwitted. He is facing possible death. And his hand shakes.

At the end of "The Great Game," Sherlock has his gun trained on the explosives near Moriarty. He is ready to blow up himself and John because it seems they are doomed, and he needs to take Moriarty out as well. He has looked to John, and received a short nod of approval for the action he is about to take. He is facing almost certain death. And his hand is perfectly still.

Now I can only wait for the next season (Fall 2011!?!?!? WHAT?!?!!?!) to see what happens. Will they be saved in a Mycroft ex Machina? Or will we have a Reichenberg Falls-esque opening, with John in the hospital and Sherlock assumed dead? However the screenwriters write everyone out that sticky situation, my main interest is Sherlock's character. Was this just a crack in the facade, as in "The Three Garridebs"? or has Sherlock changed from just a great man, to a good one?

Profile

goldvermilion87: (Default)
goldvermilion87

December 2014

S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324 252627
28293031   

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 06:45 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios