Jan. 8th, 2014

seriousfic: (Secret of the Kells)
Obviously, I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter from this show, very divisive, and some of it I agree with, some of it I don’t. I did think the first episode back was weak. After being gone so long, they spent a lot of time on fanservice and teasing the fandom; not something I have a problem with. In fact, I quite like the way they did the “Sherlock jumps” reveal. They tell you how it happened, while at the same time admitting that no answer could please everyone or live up to every expectation (“but at least he didn’t kiss Molly!”).

No, the issue I have is this: so far this season, they’ve eschewed the mystery of the week angle to focus very heavily on character relationships and character development. That’s fine by me; it resulted in a very strong second episode, which is traditionally where Sherlock falters. However, in the first episode, the story is entirely focused on this question of whether John will forgive Sherlock and how Sherlock will earn his forgiveness (oh, and something about a terrorist plot by, err, someone?) (Is England at war with North Korea, now that they tried to blow up Parliament?). And then they don’t stick the landing. Sherlock misbehaves again, John forgives him anyway, back to the status quo.

In The Sign of Three, though, it’s not Sherlock being a jerk, it’s Sherlock as someone who has a case of Aspergers like whoa, doesn’t understand social conventions, yet is making an honest effort to be nice. And as much flak as the BBC Sherlock takes for not being the kinder, gentler JLM Sherlock (who is only mean to evil bankers), the show has never been about Sherlock being an asshole, it’s been about his journey away from that. You can see a clear progression from the first season where he has no friends, doesn’t want any; to the second season where John’s his only friend; to the third season where he has this makeshift family of people he genuinely cares about—not just John; not just John and Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson; but John and Lestrade and Hudson and Mary and Molly and even Irene.

And the ending of Sign, where Sherlock has come all this way and redeemed himself so much for his early behavior, but is still going to lose his best friend… that’s an angst that is earned and justified, not “MY PARENTS ARE DEEEAD!”

Another thing I really liked was how they handled the character of Mary Morstan, especially as compared to the nonsensical way the RDJ movies did—you know, Sherlock and John are gay for each other, but we’re supposed to root for them to break up with each other so John can get with Mary and Sherlock can be happy for them; I’d be pissed if that’s how a femslash ship were handled (hell, it is how Bering & Wells ended up, and fuck that). But in the BBC version, Sherlock quickly accepts and approves of Mary, she likes him, and they form a new and very entertaining dynamic. It’s like Mary’s been there all along! So that really keeps things from getting stale and it also reminds me of something about my dear departed Terriers that I really liked on the creative side, which is that one of the two leads had a girlfriend, but instead of making her a nagging no-fun-haver, they made her part of the gang who delights in our heroes’ crazy shenanigans.

Think that paragraph was long enough? I think that paragraph was long enough.

One more thought that’s been buzzing around the old noodle. As countless people have noted, if you’re not the Doctor’s companion on a British TV show, you probably look more like a ‘normal’ person than on American TV where everyone has six-pack abs and a square jaw. “I’ll work twenty-four hours a day to find my wife’s killer… except for when I need to hit the gym for a few hours and then a tanning salon! But I won’t even shave my artful stubble otherwise!” And on Sherlock, everyone except the professional dominatrix looks like you’d see them eating at a Wendy’s. In the hero’s case, they’re even a little odd-looking. Whereas on Elementary, even Mrs. Hudson was canonically some sort of sexy kept woman thing.

Now I’m not going to take issue with that, unless an actor is cast who clearly has more to offer in the abs department than the acting department (not to mention the “being white” department; let’s face it, this is why Blake Lively has a career). The American model of being more escapist and fantastical is fine, as is the English model of being more realistic and true to life. What does bug me is that a lot of the Elementary stans and Sherlock haters make fun of Sherlock for the cast’s looks, especially Benedict Cumberbatch’s (because men don’t have body image issues!), and then very hypocritically get upset at Martin Freeman for making an obvious joke about Lucy Liu being ugly.

My point is, on an American version of Sherlock, do you think Mary Morstan would ever look like Amanda Abbington, or would she be a supermodel?

Also, I don’t know what to make of the scene in Sherlock’s second episode where Peter Capaldi showed up, grabbed Benedict Cumberbatch’s character, and absorbed his flesh into his own, saying in a clear but loud voice “NO. NO MORE SHERLOCK. ONLY DOCTOR WHO.” Well, I guess we don’t really need a third episode of Sherlock anyway. I’m looking forward to the next season of Doctor Who, which will air live, tomorrow night, with the threat of Peter Capaldi’s punishment spurring on the writers to come up with something good. Capaldi is love. Capaldi is life.

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