Sherlock Holmes: What is in a Name? Supplebutt Splatterback Edition

by November 26th, 2010 - Culture »

Image copyright BBC

And so, I have now viewed the entirety of the new Masterpiece Anthology series Sherlock, the modern updating of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Having enjoyed all three stories several times, my strongest complaint is that there are only three of them and shall not be more for at least a year. The writing, aesthetic, casting, and the the warbling socipathic traits of the main character have me in such a junkfood frenzy that I demand a bottomless pit of stories that I may readily drag my grubby mitt through, stuffing full seasons into my dripping maw before I’ve even begun to swallow the previous handful.

Clearly, my viewing habits could be critiqued, but so too should the BBC and its too cautious decision to only order a series of three stories…

…that also happens to end on a cliffhanger…

…elements of which may be my only other complaint.

Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ somewhat phantom arch-nemesis in the original tales, here takes a much stronger lead, masterminding all three mysteries leading to a rather clever reveal in the final episode. While I enjoyed the build-up through these three stories, I would be somewhat disappointed if each subsequent installment were simply a trumped cartoon confrontation of “Holmes vs. Moriarty”. There should be other interesting mysteries that would entertainingly distract Sherlock to buffer that back-story rivalry.

I am also undecided about this particular incarnation of Jim Moriarty. It does strike me as an interesting contrast of the psychopath, Moriarty, against the sociopath (with morality+) that is Sherlock Holmes. Perhaps an interesting contrast, but I think I would prefer the grayer shades of two geniuses who enjoy the game, upholding or transgressing against a core concept of justice, rather than a creeping specter of emotional morality grabbing hold of Sherlock. However, it’s hard to judge this relationship fully until the continuation of the somewhat sloppily forced cliffhanger of the final episode “The Great Game” at some indefinite time in the future.

Not having read much of the original stories and only seeing parts of the original BBC installments starring Jeremy Brett, I still find it safe to say that I enjoy the current incarnation more than I would the old. Not simply a case of flashier filmmaking and the modern environment, it is more the rhythm of the storytelling that better attracts me as there are only very fleeting moments when the main character is not on the screen, the chief reason for buying a ticket. No matter its necessity for building a mystery or advancing the plot, when bland, less intriguing characters are in a scene sans Sherlock, I become as irritated and distracted as when some random Dick and Jane would interrupt an otherwise spectacular Marx Brothers romp with some schmaltzy love scene or some dutiful song and dance number…or when porn is interrupted by any attempt at plot…

A fickle pickle am I and may only be just so that I have excuse to update you on the upgrade to the birth name of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch. Originally Butterscotch Nipplesnatch, the voices in my head do indeed inform me that Supplebutt Splatterback is much more delightfully absurd…

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