Sherlock: His Last (Abominable) Season

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes looking shocked and horrified with hands covering mouth and nose

Oh, the humanity… Honest, it’s just laying there, a mass of smoking wreckage.”

Some folks have asked if I’m planning to review Season 4 of the BBC’s Sherlock.  the caption above is a quote from the Hindenburg Disaster broadcast. I thought it appropriate…  I’m going to borrow from a comment I just posted on the Timey-Wimey-Wibbly-Wobbly post:

I haven’t seen Season 4. I have not even read any fan reviews, though a friend did tell me she was underwhelmed and confirmed two of my guesses as to what happened in episode 1. I do have a recording of the episode, but I’ve not been inclined to watch it given the condition of the world right now (including the Brexit and U.S. election votes). I suspect this will be the last season until Freeman and Cumberbatch decide they need the money and some suit at BBC wises up. Though by then, there will probably not be a PBS broadcasting in the U.S. any longer and any corporate suit who is looking for a surefire nostalgia success will want to reboot with younger actors.

You’d think Moftiss would realize that what people really want is the Hope that the original Sherlock Holmes stories brought, that smart, good individuals did exist, cared, and could bring about justice for even the poor. We can already see the stupid, cruel, and rich crushing the middle- and poorer-classes while making an obscene gesture to the altruistic and enlightened concepts like “Truth, Justice and the American Way”, as the old Superman TV series put it. Though, in fact, it was also the British Way first.

Yes, I am depressed and despondent over the political and social climate, and the descent of Sherlock into soap opera Shock schlock. In our unenlightened, racing-to-the-Dark-Ages, post-fact, (i.e. stupid and ignorant) society we’ve also devolved into a brutish, cloddish, crude, rude, adolescent male, post-taste culture, if it can be called “culture” except in the social science sense.

As for my review of Season 4, I’ll copy my comment in the You’re Disappointed With Me post on the Season 4 pre-release Christmas episode:

I confess I’m not certain I’m going to bother with my review of “The Abominable Bride” because it was so…abominable. The short review is that Moftiss have made it clear that they are no longer interested in doing what made “A Study in Pink” such phenomenal television and storytelling, capturing the spirit of the original Sherlock Holmes stories while updating them to contemporary mindsets and technologies. This is too bad because the first half presented a lovely re-creation of the Gothic story still in vogue in Victorian England about the time Sherlock Holmes first appeared. Alas, Abominable Bride was a very unfortunate look into the Medieval Gothic minds of Moftiss while using the formula of Dr. Who. As the friend I was watching it with said, “I liked the first half when it was spooky Sherlock Holmes and then it just became this excuse to explain away everything that happened in the first half by making it all a dream, or rather a drug-induced hallucination. All the clever lines and bits were int he first half.”

Which, as some know, is my complaint with Dr. Who where something is set up in the first half and the second half is just emotional manipulation before coming up with a timey-wimey wibbly-wobbly “solution” to the problem (often involving a likable character’s not-real or temporary “death” — and Sherlock has now “died” at least 3 times). My friend later sent me a link to a Tumblr(?) post arguing that the symbolism in Sherlock’s “Mind Palace” sequences explains away everything else, including the sexism inherent in the episode, as being not real and simply representing Sherlock’s own messed up interior perceptions. I replied with a link to a review that stated that the “mansplaining” (a really horrible term for so many reasons) wasn’t the most abominable thing about “The Abominable Bride.”

Both Moffat and Gatiss have stated that they don’t feel that Sherlock is about re-telling the original stories or even solving mysteries, but about the characters, thus freeing them to do whatever they wish. Unfortunately, what they wish is not to tell good, let alone great, stories but to show how clever they are at manipulating plots and pandering to the interest of a small group of people. And by pandering, I’m talking about repeating things that were fresh and popular before, such as Andrew Scott’s Moriarty, the little boy from “Sign of Three”, Janine, the cute-meet of Holmes and the riding crop, the cruel banter relationship between Mycroft and Sherlock, Mrs. Hudson complaining, Molly Hooper, Mary Holmes being smarter than her husband, and so forth. Rather than put their minds to it and work to create something fresh, they simply repeat what was popular before as they do on Dr. Who. (And yet, when they do bother to create something fresh and entertaining on Dr. Who, it becomes a big hit…whereupon it is usually done to death in subsequent episodes… This is called hack writing.)

I didn’t bother to go see “The Abominable Bride” on the big screen and even though I have a DVD with the aired episode, I haven’t watched it again, and doubt I ever will.

Though, if I thought it would help return Sherlock to its original genius, I’d consider donning a tasteless purple Klu Klux Klan outfit and, for no apparent rational reason, meet “secretly” with other fans at an abandoned, de-sanctified church lit by bonfires viewable throughout the countryside in the wee hours chanting nonsense words (rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb). It says something when I found the psychopathic young woman pretending to be an abducted child episode of “Elementary” not only more faithful to the spirit of Sherlock Holmes but more enjoyable (even with the unnecessary Watson soap opera subplot).

Oh, and I used to do reviews back in the 90’s of a couple of other shows in the voice similar to the one used by “Joe Bob Briggs.” Mofftiss should be glad I’m no longer using that voice to show my disdain for condescending to their audiences. 😉

I’m still working my way up to some reviews of the Sherlock Holmes pastiche novels I‘ve been reading, but work and life have been getting in the way. And to be honest, what’s happened with BBC Sherlock, Elementary and the news of a re-boot of the Robert Downey, Jr.-Jude law version (something completely unnecessary except for greed and the short attention span of much of today’s audience), combined with some of the appalling fiction using characters named “sherlock” and “Watson” but bearing no understandable connection to Doyle’s creations, has left me disinclined to spend much effort on the site. Sorry about that. Perhaps I’ll feel better after I get through re-reading the Canon this year.

I do wish you a New Year filled with Peace, Prosperity, Joy, Good Health, Happiness, and some stimulating puzzles to solve.

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2 thoughts on “Sherlock: His Last (Abominable) Season

  1. Jane

    Hello there!
    Understandably the current state of the outside world is enough even to distract the biggest of fans from the object of their attention, and while I know that you’re no longer a fan of the BBC Sherlock – as many people I see you think it’s been circling the drain for a while, and are more than entitled to that opinion – I take it you’re still a fan of Sherlock Holmes as he was originally written. Still, the state of the world is enough to tear anyone away from things they enjoy in order to focus on the absolute mess that is current political, economical and sociological disaster occurring. I’m not here to get into that though, lamenting – while somewhat cathartic – will do no good.
    I’m actually here to ask about the continuation of the Holmes boys series. While the show itself is dwindling in quality, I’ve been feeling rather sentimental and returned to the first fan fiction I ever read in Sherlock. I was just wondering if it was a decisive ‘no’ on continuing it, which of course would be understandable, but I just can’t help but ask.
    Thank you.

    1. JH Watson Post author

      Ooo-oooh! Thank you. That’s so sweet, Jane. Well, to borrow from Sean Connery’s wife, never say never. The biggest reason I haven’t been able to bring myself to work on any more Holmes Boys stories, aside from the debacle of Mofftiss’s egos ruining the series, is that it seems the only fan fiction folks are wanting these days are “erotica” and “slash” (or “shipped” as it’s now called). I write neither. I’ve got an email addy for you now, so if I get around to doing another Holmes Boy piece, I’ll let you know. (I’ve got one started that explains the rift between Mycroft and Sherlock.) I confess I’m also in a time crunch these days. Scrambling to get a new business launched and master a couple of new skills while juggling finances. Isn’t that always the case though. 😉

      Again, thank you for the kind words and your support!

      Oh, and I hope to get some more non-BBC Sherlock material up this fall, because I’m still a fan of Sherlock Holmes.

      And for any Cabin Pressure fans, they will appreciate that I had a Talisker for my ceremonial drink in the Criterion Restaurant and Bar where, not only did the suffragettes meet and form there at tea, but it’s where Watson first hears about a potential roommate so he can stay in London. (Although an older, American woman asking for a Talisker whiskey straight up instead of high tea did cause some scrutiny…)

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