Episode 47: No Serial Sherlock

The other I’m talking to a guy through Facebook and he mentions something about Sherlock Holmes. I suddenly remember that good old super detective is part of my reading lists. So, I started going at it knowing that the first book A Study in Scarlet wasn’t serialized but the next books do count so consider this the analysis of Book 1.

The first thing that happens with anything that has been done and redone a milion times before is that the original is completely affected by its predecessors. The serial reading experience of its time of publication had none of this, you just had character growth over the different books. Contemporary forms of readership know have to reverse engineer how the original characteriztion was presented. Consider the two most common forms of depicting Sherlock: Thanks to the most current movies and the people that actually the DVD extras of House that showed that he is based on Sherlock, we see a hyper intelligent Magnificent Bastard who might have Asperger’s. In other versions, especially in movies beyond 20 years ago and some of the animated cartoon versions have him being incredibly aloof and distant that solves problems without too much of a sweat. Think Spock. Wait no they actually did it better in Star Trek The Next Generation where Data the android in a few episodes would use the holodeck to act out Sherlock Holmes stories. The second version was reinforced when I called my grandmother today and she mentioned how there was an old movie where some apparently famous actor played Sherlock and she characterized the performance as “detached, you know how you always imagine Sherlock to be.”

With these two frames of thought in mind, I read for myself to see which image of Sherlock Holmes best fitted. Somewhere by the end of the first chapter I remembered that a good friend of mine had read the same story a few years ago and mentione how the second part just goes into a crazy story of Mormons. I tried to dismiss this notion/spoiler but I couldn’t stop wondering how or why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would do that. Back to the actual story. Now the whole thing is narrated by Watson, whom after being horribly ill after a stint in Afghanistan went back to England and his further time of bedrest ends up agreeing to share the rent of a big apartment with the Sherlock he literally just met. Besides the legendary greeting of Holmes deducing Watson’s biography by the time of their first handshake, there is a very interesting moment where Sherlock actually says I may not be the best roommate because I do these particular things. An admittance of not being perfect is something not very Spock or House like so this was very interesting find.

Other cool stuff: Watson is shown to be almost fascinated by Holmes being Holmes. At one given moment he basically writes up a character sheet saying what his friends attributes, skills, and proficiencies are. You get a lot of Holmes declaring something to be true and then visibly sighing when he has to explain stuff to the actual detectives and Watson. A lot of information is deferred to further points in the story, which is weird considering that everything is flashback being narrated by Watson. It’s easily handwaved as just Sherlock knowing what’s going on and being several steps ahead of everyone. If chapters were done as installments then you could say there were a lot of as pulls that were left to be resolved and explained later. And yes, the transition into crazy mormon story to give the killer a better sense of identity was non existant. Last chapter of part one is, and we suddenly have the murderer. Part 2 chapter 1, guy and a little girl are walking to Utan and are saved by mormons. It’s not until a little later that some names from before start getting thrown around. You could just as easily set it up as the murderer confessing and giving a lengthy backstory, which is what he does anyway.

Let’s see how the next Sherlock Holmes adventure turns out.

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