Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Games They are A'Changing

I guess "A Study in Pink", the first episode of Sherlock, which I finally got around to watching last night, may be the closest A Study in Scarlet has gotten to being filmed. But rather than a long detour in the second act describing the diabolic practices of those barbaric Mormons off in America, Sherlock ends with a rather disappointing game of Guess the Poisoned Wine similar to the one Wallace Shawn and Cary Elwes play in The Princess Bride. Still, I did enjoy the show. Written by current Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat, it does actually feel a bit more like Doctor Who than Sherlock Holmes, despite attempts to include Holmes' deductive process updated for modern technology.

Holmes' deductions about a pocket watch--which was also recently used in the Guy Ritchie film--are here updated to be about a smart phone entertainingly. But it's probably unfair to expect anyone, even Steven Moffat, to be able to construct stories of Holmes' deduction process as brilliant as Arthur Conan Doyle's--Holmes is only able to figure out how to locate the killer in "A Study in Pink" before anyone else simply because he happened to have seen an e-mail address on a suitcase before anyone else. But it seems like the show is focused more on the adventure elements of Sherlock Holmes stories along with some psychological exploration of the characters.

It's remarkable how well Watson's status as an Afghanistan war veteran easily translates to the modern era and the decision to discuss more how those experiences made the man he is when he meets Holmes, I thought, was a good decision and Martin Freeman does a good job. I think the idea of a soldier experiencing a lingering passion for violence rather than going to the usual post traumatic stress disorder could use exploring in fiction. I talked to an Iraq war veteran at school earlier this year who loved talking about the war and adjusting to life at home--he talked about how often he got road rage now, how since coming back his reflexes have been more keyed up and how everything seems duller. He told me nothing can now match the feeling of busting into a house and not knowing if there's someone inside who's going to shoot at you.

Similarly, Holmes' lust for his work and coinciding insensitivity is explored and Holmes intriguingly refers to himself as a high functioning sociopath. Benedict Cumberbatch has a great voice--very deep, sort of Tom Baker-ish, the sort of voice I've been hoping the twelfth Doctor shall have. I'm not sure if Cumberbatch would be at the top of my list of preferred actors for that role, though. Maybe it's just that I'm comparing him to Jeremy Brett, but Cumberbatch, while being decent enough most of the time, doesn't quite have the visible layers of performance Brett had. He's closer to Robert Stephens in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes--he delivers well enough material that's an interesting take on the character, but doesn't display much else.

I was glad to see that, like the Jeremy Brett series, Sherlock is using the actual 221b Baker Street for exteriors. Even the floor plan of Holmes' and Watson's flat looks the same as the one seen in the Brett series.

Twitter Sonnet #314

Ties without stars start to funnel inward.
Absent beans meanwhile expand to dots.
Splitting blades of grass then grasping skyward,
Stash sycamores in department store pots.
Square tusks soon dissolve in the circle bath.
Metal apples crunch fake police to paste.
Grey eyes slice across atmospheric wrath.
Whole alternate Iowas are lain waste.
Lightsaber stripper poles benefit none.
Graffiti fountains ennoble blank brick.
White walls remind us the runners have won.
Hot air gum balloons make explorers sick.
Unrealistic health envelopes the gin.
Albatross screams hold the handwriting in.

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