11th November, No Comments
By John Watson
Mrs Hudson has been out shopping to get the dried fruit and nuts to make her wonderful Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. So here is my list of possible gifts for those who admire Sherlock Holmes almost as much as I do!
To play games [REIG]
Here you can see them explaining the changes and how both games are played.
If we get a “long succession of southerly gales” (as I mentioned in [BLAC]), Mrs Hudson and I could happily distract ourselves with these absorbing games.
By the way, in the past, Gibsons have run various competitions to write new Sherlock Holmes cases and you can see some of these using this link.
To the theatre [BRUC]
There are a couple of films this year worthy of note.
Ian McKellen as Mr Holmes, is based on the book by Mitch Cullin, A Slight Trick of the Mind. As usual, when Holmes has hold of the pen I come in for a bit of stick over what he regards as my additions to his film persona (though I insist I had nothing to do with the deerstalker and the curved pipe!)
Nevertheless, for once it is Holmes who is being forgetful in this film rather than me (I have pre-deceased Holmes apparently) and there is a lot of humour in McKellen’s portrayal that makes for a very entertaining film. It is not often that someone from the Lancashire town of Burnley gets to play Holmes (as my current literary agent never tires of pointing out).
On television, I have to admit that now having watched the first three series of Elementary on DVD (Season One, Season Two, and Season Three as the Americans insist on calling them), it is much better than the initial reviews that I read and I am grateful for the reviews that The Woman did for me which were published here.
The other film of note this year is a very old film, William Gillette’s 1916 film Sherlock Holmes which I am looking forward to watching. I will give a more detailed review later of the copy Flicker Alley (who have produced the disk) have kindly sent to me.
Gillette’s sole filmed performance as Sherlock Holmes, considered lost for nearly 100 years, was recently discovered and restored by San Francisco Silent Film Festival and la Cinémathèque française. By the time it was produced at Essanay Studios in 1916, Gillette had been established as the world’s foremost interpreter of Holmes on stage—having played him approximately 1300 times since his 1899 debut.
The film faithfully retains the play’s famous set pieces—Holmes’s encounter with Professor Moriarty, his daring escape from the Stepney Gas Chamber, and the tour-de-force deductions. It also illustrates how Gillette, who wrote the adaptation himself, wove bits from my stories ranging from “A Scandal in Bohemia” to “The Final Problem,” into an original, innovative mystery play.
This release includes:
- Two complete versions of the film: the original French-language version as discovered at La Cinémathèque française, as well as an English-language version translated from the French.
- “From Lost to Found: Restoring William Gillette’s Sherlock Holmes” – Presented by film restorer Robert Byrne at the 2015 San Francisco Silent Film Festival
- Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900): Courtesy of the Library of Congress and presented in HD, this is the earliest known film to feature the character of Sherlock Holmes
- A Canine Sherlock (1912): From the EYE Film Institute, the film stars Spot the Dog as the titular character.
- Più forte che Sherlock Holmes (1913): Also from the EYE Film Institute, this entertaining Italian trick-film
- HD transfers from the Fox Movietone Collection: Interview with Arthur Conan Doyle and outtakes from a 1930 newsreel with William Gillette showing off his amateur railroad (University of South Carolina)
- PDF typescript of the 1899 Sherlock Holmes play by William Gillette
- PDF of the original contract between William Gillette and the Essanay Film Manufacturing Company
- A booklet featuring images from the film and information about the restoration project.
Note that the versions being released include a region-free Blu-ray version and a region-free DVD NTSC version. The latter will not play on UK PAL DVD players but does play on computers.
There has been nothing new from the BBC Sherlock this year, except for various repackaging of the films from the first three series, and the Christmas special (The Abominable Bride) is not due to be broadcast until New Year’s Day so there’s nothing on my Christmas list for this year.
He looked over his books [STUD]
But the creators of Sherlock have put together a book of what they consider to be the best of my stories.
Sherlock: The Essential Arthur Conan Doyle Adventures contains the following stories – A Study In Scarlet, The Sign of Four, A Scandal in Bohemia*, The Red-Headed League*, A Case of Identity, The Man with the Twisted Lip*, The Blue Carbuncle, The Speckled Band*, Silver Blaze*, The Yellow Face, The Musgrave Ritual*, The Greek Interpreter*, The Final Problem*, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Empty House*, Charles Augustus Milverton, The Bruce-Partington Plans*, The Devil’s Foot*, The Dying Detective, each introduced by Gattis and Moffat.
It is interesting to compare this selection with the twelve that Sir Arthur regarded as the best short stories (he excluded the long stories) and the seven he later added. Those marked above with an asterisk appear in his lists. He also included The Dancing Men, The Five Orange Pips, The Second Stain, The Priory School and The Reigate Squires, but not The Dying Detective. So I look forward to reading the reasons for Gatiss and Moffat’s selections.
From October of last year to April of this year the Museum of London exhibition Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die and this sumptuous book reflects this marvellous exhibition about which one friend remarked that I was “quite criminally under-represented”.
For those who seek their amusement in what Holmes and I might have investigated, the number of pastiches available continues to rise, and here are “five volumes you could just fill that gap on that second shelf. It looks untidy, does it not, sir?” (from The Empty House)
Otto Penzler’s The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories contains eighty-three stories, published over more than a hundred years. Including cases by modern-day Sherlockians Leslie S. Klinger, Laurie R. King, Lyndsay Faye and Daniel Stashower; pastiches by literary luminaries both classic (P. G. Wodehouse, Dorothy B. Hughes, Kingsley Amis) and current (Anne Perry, Stephen King, Colin Dexter); and parodies by Conan Doyle’s contemporaries A. A. Milne, James M. Barrie, and O. Henry, plus cases by science-fiction greats Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock.
There must be something there for everyone, but if not here are sixty more split over three volumes: The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part I: 1881 to 1889,Part II: 1890 to 1895, and Part III: 1896 to 1929
David Marcum, a prolific pastiche writer himself, has put together this three-volume collection, bringing together over sixty of the world’s leading Sherlock Holmes authors. All the stories are traditional pastiches. The authors are donating all the royalties from the collection to preservation projects at Sir Arthur’s former home, Undershaw.
Finally, though not really a pastiche, I am adding Zach Dundas’s The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes.
In this book Dundas carries out his investigation of Holmes from my nearly forgotten first manuscript of A Study In Scarlet to the award-winning series BBC Sherlock. He looks at the history and cultural influence of Holmes and I, weaving investigative journalism with text from my stories. Dundas provides detailed accounts of his travels across London, New York, and Los Angeles, exploring every facet of the Sherlock story, from societies dedicated to scholarly study to a self-trained “mentalist” who Holmes for his uncanny on-stage deductive powers, and includes interviews with Steven Moffat, create of the BBC series, bestselling author Laurie R. King, and others.
So there are quite a few items that could be added to a certain person’s wish list . . .
14th September, No Comments
By John Watson
Once in a while, Sherlock Holmes appears as a specialist subject on the BBC’s Mastermind quiz. On the 11th of this month he cropped up again.
Here are the 13 questions:
- In A Study in Scarlet what word is written in red letters on the wall in the room in which the murder victim is found?
- What is the occupation of Victor Hatherley who comes to the attention of Sherlock Holmes after Dr Watson has treated him for a severe thumb injury?
- Violet Hunter, a governess at the country house called The Copper Beeches becomes concerned about her employer’s strange behaviour and comes to Holmes for help. In which county is The Copper Beeches?
- In The Man With The Twisted Lip Neville St Clair gives up his job as a journalist when he discovers by wearing a disguise he can earn more money doing what?
- After Holmes is proved wrong in The Yellow Face what word does he tell Watson to whisper in his ear if he ever seems over-confident in his own powers?
- The initials “VV” found on a card next to a dead body allow Holmes to identify the real name of the so-called “Valley of Fear” where Birdy Edwards infiltrated a dangerous gang to bring them to justice. What’s the name of the valley?
- In The Sign of the Four Dr Watson’s future wife Mary asks Holmes to investigate the disappearance of her father. What’s his surname?
- What object is stolen from Sir Henry Baskerville when he’s staying at a hotel and used by Stapleton to give the hound Sir Henry’s scent?
- Dr Watson diagnoses that Mr Jefferson Hope, the murderer of both Enoch Drebber and Joseph Stangerson has a specific heart condition by placing his hand on his chest. What condition?
- In The Solitary Cyclist Bob Carruthers tries to protect Violet Smith from a plot to force her into marrying a criminal. What does he wear to disguise his identity along with a dark suit and a cloth cap?
- In the climax of which short story are Holmes and Moriarty believed to have fought at the edge of the Reichenbach Falls and plunged to their deaths?
- What is the value of the Mazarin Stone, a yellow diamond, stolen by Count Negretto Sylvius?
- In The Six Napoleons Beppo has been smashing plaster busts of Napoleon because one of them contains what valuable object?
The contestant on this occasion correctly answered 10 of the 13 questions asked, got questions 11 and 12 wrong and passed on question 5 and unfortunately came last out of the four contestants after the general knowledge section.
How many would you have answered correctly? (Answers to follow at a later date.)
On a previous Celebrity Mastermind, Stephen Fry also answered 10 questions correctly.
Posted in Television
31st May, 2 Comments
By John Watson
In celebration of 100 years of Holmes in 1987, the BBC broadcast a number of programmes relating to his legacy. The Radio Times for the week of December 5th to 11th, 1987 carries a drawing of Holmes on the cover and there are seven pages inside covering “Sherlock – A study in the science of sleuthing” by H R F Keating and other articles. You can see these articles and the cover by the courtesy of Altamont in his Markings.
The programmes broadcast that week included:
- “Centenary, My Dear Watson” on BBC Radio 4 where we follow the men and women of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London who celebrated the centenary with a pilgrimage through Switzerland to the Reichenbach Falls. This programme can be heard here.
- “Food and Drink” on BBC Two in which, as a change from Christmas Pudding, what about Plum Duff, the exclusive recipe of our housekeeper (or is it landlady?) Mrs Hudson
- “The Case of Sherlock Holmes”, a 40 Minutes special on BBC Two (lasting an hour and ten minutes) in which Tim Pigott-Smith, who has played both of us, embarks on an investigation into why Holmes continues to fascinate. This programme can be seen here.
- “The Hound of the Baskervilles”on BBC Two which was Basil Rathbone’s first film as Holmes, and the start of a new season of Rathbone as Holmes films on the BBC
- “Out of Court” on BBC Two which carries out an investigation into vicious and ou-of-control dogs, citing the Hound as “an elementary matter for Sherlock Holmes to unravel”
Add to that a competition to win “a holiday for two near the Reichenbach Falls or a set of the new deluxe Super Cluedo Challenge”!
The only extra I have included here, courtesy of Mrs Hudson is her Plum Duff recipe:
These are the competition questions
- What was Holmes chief adversary called?
- What was Conan Doyle’s profession?
- What nationality was Hercules Poirot?
- Which technical invention caught Dr Crippen?
- Who was Lord Peter Whimsey’s manservant?
- Which of the following is not a character in Waddington’s Cluedo board game? (a) Miss Scarlett (b) Dr Green (c) Professor Plum
I’m afraid the competition is now closed . . .
1st May, 5 Comments
By John Watson
With the British Film Institute’s release of a 4-DVD set of the BBC TV’s Sherlock Holmes series from the 1950s, now is a good time to review Douglas Wilmer’s portrayal of Holmes alongside Nigel Stock’s portrayal of me (which he continued alongside Peter Cushing’s Holmes on television in the 1960’s).
Wilmer is regarded by some as one of the best portrayers of Holmes and certainly watching these again for the first time in many years it is easy to understand why his Holmes is so widely revered. Let us not forget that he was assisted by a very good Watson in Nigel Stock who went on to play opposite Peter Cushing in the later BBC series.
Wilmer first appeared as Holmes in a the first of three BBC series entitled “Detective” appearing between 1965 and 1969. Each episode of this series introduced by Rupert Davies as the BBC was keen to follow up on the successful “Maigret” series. This “pilot” was “The Speckled Band” 50 minute broadcast on May 18th, 1964 at 9:25pm on BBC One and was the third in the first of the three “Detective” series.
- The Speckled Band (Pilot)
- The Illustrious Client (with optional audio commentary)
- The Devil’s Foot (with optional audio commentary)
This disc also contains the following extras:
- Spanish Audio Version of The Speckled Band (for overseas sales to be dubbed onto the video)
- Alternative Titles for The Illustrious Client (again for overseas screening and featuring Peter Wyngarde)
- The Copper Beeches
- The Red-Headed League (with optional audio commentary)
- The Abbey Grange (with optional audio commentary)
The Abbey Grange is a partial reconstruction as the picture and sound from the first reel is missing. Wilmer reads from my original story, with some adaptations to suit the screenplay, and then resumes the original broadcast after Holmes and I return to the Abbey Grange following our discussion about the “incident of the wine glasses”.
- The Six Napoleons
- The Man With The Twisted Lip
- The Beryl Coronet
- The Bruce-Partington Plans
In The Beryl Coronet the villain, Sir George Burnwell, is played by a young David Burke, who was Watson to Jeremy Brett’s Holmes in Granada’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
Only the first reel of The Bruce-Partington Plans exists and so the second half is sound only.
- Charles Augustus Milverton (with optional audio commentary)
- The Retired Colourman
- The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax
This disc also carries an interview with Wilmer “Douglas Wilmer . . . On Television” from 2012 which gives insight into how he decided to play Holmes and why some of the scripts he regarded as “disgraceful”.
The DVD set is accompanied by a booklet comprising:
- An introduction to the Sherlock Holmes stories and their appearance on stage and screen by Nicholas Utechin
- An interview with Douglas Wilmer by Elaine McCafferty
- An introduction to the BBC TV series that starred Wilmer as Holmes (by Jonathan McCafferty)
- A guide to the thirteen episodes on the disks
- A note about the restoration of the episodes by Peter Crocker
Wilmer has also produced his autobiography – Stage Whispers – which was launched at The Sherlock Holmes Society of London’s meeting in March 2009.
Wilmer appeared in a cameo role as a member of The Diogenes Club in the BBC Sherlock “The Reichenbach Fall”.
You will need to read the accompanying booklet to find out about the ambulance crew that attended Sherlock Holmes . . .
Posted in Television
14th November, 3 Comments
By John Watson
It is that time of the year when I look at what might be a welcome gift at Christmas who devotees of the Great Detective.
This year the list is quite short because, although there is a lot of Holmes material about, it is not all of good quality.
Nine years later they achieved it and, though Williams sadly died in 2001, 16 “Further Adventures” recalling some of my undocumented cases were broadcast with Andrew Sachs taking Williams place.
Bert Coules, the series originator and head writer, has updated his book “221 BBC” chronicling the series.
I have reviewed the book in detail here.
Sadly, this complete set of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes is so far only available in the USA (but it is “region free” so should be viewable in the UK) and these are just the same transfers as on the DVD but this time they are in High Definition. All the bonus content is exactly the same as on the DVD set including the booklet authored by Richard Valley.
The packaging is very poor, though with a thin cardboard sleeve holding the stack of “digipacs” each holding two discs.
It has often been said that London is one of the main characters in my stories about Holmes and this unique book to accompany the standard Monopoly game guides you through the idiosyncrasies of the Monopoly board and explains how the chosen properties relate to the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
There is a Sherlock Holmes Monopoly Treasure Hunt that you can play by actually visiting the sites featured on the Monopoly board, solving clues as you go. Besides the excitement of buying and selling, the game is a wonderfully entertaining way of exploring London in the footsteps of the master detective.
The Museum of London has a new exhibition, form now until next April delving into “the mind of the world’s most famous detective”. I have not yet been to the exhibition but when I do I will be reporting on it here.
In the meantime, this is the official book of the exhibition and it uses the Museum’s collection to highlight the features of the London that Holmes and I inhabit in particular its fogs, Hansom cabs, criminal underworld, famous landmarks and streets.
It’s a comprehensive guide to the BBC series. It contains previously unseen material, interviews with the cast and crew.
It covers each episode in detail and has hundreds of illustrations of the artwork, photographs, costume and set designs.
Nevertheless it seems to be doing for New York what my original stories did for London and it’s no surprise that it’s very popular in the USA.
Here are the 24 episodes from the second season.
So that’s this year’s Christmas list and it just remains for me to wish all my readers a Very Merry Christmas!
18th November, 1 Comment
By John Watson
About this time every year, as the shops start to fill up with Christmas gifts, I take a look at what’s new for those who follow Holmes’s adventures.
First on my list is the “official” Sherlock calendar for 2014.
Also, tied in to the BBC Series, the BBC has been publishing sets of my stories with interesting forewords by those involved with the BBC series. On December 5th, two more volumes will be added to the series.
The Return of Sherlock Holmes with an introduction by Mark Gatiss (in which he explains how “Sherlock in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms”) and includes “The Empty House” on which the opening episode of Series 3 is based.
His Last Bow with an introduction by Steven Moffatt (who expects Sir Arthur to ask him to write another story!) includes the last case we worked on together.
It would be nice idea to complete the series with a boxed set containing all nine books (the four novels and the five sets of short stories).
By the way, if you want one of the neat little magnifying glasses that Sherlock uses they are still available.
Later in December (the 23rd, though I do not understand why we have had to wait so long) is the DVD of the first series (my American readers call them “seasons”) of Elementary. I have yet to see any of these though I have become intrigued as I have read The Woman’s reviews on this site so I am looking forward to acquiring this set.
To go with this DVD, there is an unofficial guide, The Immortals, to both Elementary and the BBC Sherlock written by Matthew J Elliott, himself a proficient adaptor of my stories for the radio.
Mary Russell released her latest set of memoirs, A Garment of Shadows, earlier this year. Also available, as ebooks are three little “monographs”, the first of which, Beekeeping for Beginners, details how Russell met Holmes. The second, Sherlock Holmes, written by Russell’s literary agent, gives some insights into Holmes, and me for that matter! The third, Mrs Hudson’s Case, harks back to shortly after Russell’s initial encounter with Holmes and how the redoubtable Mrs Hudson solves a case on her own.
For those wanting to delve deeper into the Canon, Leslie Klinger’s New Annotated Sherlock Holmes is now available on the Kindle, putting less strain on their handling than the original weighty tomes. Volume 1 and Volume 2 cover the complete set of fifty six short stories. Volume 3, which covers the novels, is not yet available on the Kindle but should soon be.
In a lighter vein and again with reference to Mrs Hudson (“I am not your housekeeper”) is a unique insight to life at 221B Baker Street from her diaries that have been found (apparently) in “battered biscuit tin” found in the vaults of the same bank where my “battered tin dispatch box” also resides.
Finally, “the game is afoot” with a new board game with ten cases for you to solve as one of the Baker Street Irregulars.
Plenty to keep you busy until Sherlock returns in “The Empty Hearse” after Christmas. I could drop a few clues here – tea, bus, ball – some of which or none of which may turn out to be true.
A very merry Christmas to all my readers!
8th August, 1 Comment
By John Watson
The Woman finally wraps up her reviews of Season One
Elementary 22 – Risk Management
I should start my review of this episode by mentioning that when I saw Natalie Dormer was to be joining the cast of Elementary, I was delighted although I hate spoilers. I have seen her in The Tudors and of course the epic Game of Thrones and was very pleased that she would be joining the cast. I however, completely ignored that I had seen no mention of anyone being cast as Moriarty…
This episode actually goes back to the dull writing that we have seen throughout this series at times, although it might have been because we were all waiting for that scene. You could just fast forward to the end and have the episode all tied up really. Basically Moriarty is playing with Sherlock and it all leads to a mansion where of course she sits painting…
Episode 23/24 – The Woman/The Heroine
With Irene back on the scene, Sherlock is mainly AWOL from detective work and Watson takes the lead throughout. Through flashbacks we see Irene and Sherlock in London together and how in love and also blind to anything Sherlock is. The same seems to be the case now as Sherlock cannot believe that he has Irene back but does not seem at all to be wary of how this all really happened. It’s a basic love story but missing the whole criminal side of the woman and the detective side of the man… Bit weird really.
Now as this review is super, super late and everyone knows. Irene Adler and Moriarty are the same person in this Elementary series, at the time I hadn’t seen it coming AT ALL. I was on heavy ‘avoid all spoilers’ and I was a bit annoyed that I had found that Dormer was joining the cast. I really liked the way Dormer handled these two massive roles and particularly her voice change really was wow. Dormer is English and the American accent that she had in the first half of the finale was indeed all an act. When her beautiful British accent came through it became believable that she was indeed two people.
With Watson still doing her detective work she had worked on a way to ‘smoke out’ Moriarty using Sherlock’s drug problems. The fake overdose that seemed so real to you and I because this was how much Sherlock loved Irene, and it had been well documented how his life had derailed before with drugs – a lie and Moriarty was caught. I particularly enjoyed the final scene with Sherlock and Watson and how he named a bee after her. They have been on some journey and he knows that Watson is the one he trusts and she also can trust in him too.
Overall Review of the First Season
Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu have both kept this programme going through some rather wayward storylines at times. JLM is a very different Sherlock to what I have previously seen before and he has handled the role as I had expected him to. I’m intrigued to see where they take Elementary from here. I think everyone was cast perfectly throughout the series, even Detective Bell who I previously had disliked a bit had started to win me round.
The best casting because of the major twist was Natalie Dormer BUT I have to also give credit (unbelievably) to Vinnie Jones, his portrayal of Moran was very good. But he is quite a scary, henchman type isn’t he? Some of the episodes throughout the run have been far superior to others and there have also been some episodes to miss. Episode 22 is sadly one of them, except for the big reveal ending. I felt at times possibly due to the uncertain nature of how long a series we would get or whether there would be another season, that they tried to tie up too many loose ends all the time and they didn’t seem to do it very well either.
I have written many times through these reviews and on twitter about not comparing Elementary to the BBC’s Sherlock which I believe I did not do. But I did compare it to other crime dramas that I have watched and whilst it wouldn’t be my pick of a crime drama from choice, it still could have the possibility to get there.
Lastly, the reveal – we have to talk about it. Whilst avoiding all the spoilers going into the final two episodes I’ll admit I was surprised, not shocked by the decision just surprised. Already they had given the Watson role to a woman and now Irene and Moriarty were the same person? Nope. Never saw that coming. It was a brave and some say ridiculous decision but I thought it was in keeping with what Elementary had set out from the start, they were not BBC Sherlock’s twin. They would both co-exist but Elementary would be different, it achieved that and more.
But I know people who *shock horror* have never read the Canon who seemed quite taken aback when I told them that in the books it was not like that. “Oh really, I might have to read them then”
Elementary Season Two should be back around October this year. Meanwhile we are still awaiting a release date for the DVD here in the UK. In the USA it is available from August 27th.
16th June, No Comments
By John Watson
With her penultimate reviews, the Woman returns with her reviews . . . .
Episode 17 – Possibility Two
When Elementary first started we saw the rather over protective nature that Watson would feel to Sherlock. Now that we have got through that it is more of a level ground which I hope might endear more people to Lucy Lui’s Watson. I think she stepped into the female Watson with everything we expected but now that she is off on her cases we can see another side to her character. Don’t get me wrong I really do like the spin on Watson being a female but in recent episodes it became a bit too flimsy. Sherlock was taking centre stage for most of it and Watson deserved some of the limelight too.
I had mentioned how I hadn’t really warmed to the character of Detective Bell but in this episode I started to. Watson and Bell have their own case to solve and I found this to be an intriguing glimpse into what’s next for Watson within her new role working for Sherlock. There were three cases in this episode which each brought the episode to one of its best. The episode did not offer any real plot towards Moriarty or any clues as to what is next in the Elementary story.
It did however bring a bee. A very important bee.
Not saying why until… well, you know when…
Episode 18 – Déjà-vu all over again
As I had mentioned before with Watson now taking on her own cases and also stepping way out of being Sherlock’s sober companion, we now have Watson solving her own case. The episode is not again littered with many Canon references, there was a mention of Holmes Snr but that didn’t really go anywhere.
We see flashbacks from before Watson had met Sherlock and how happy and carefree she looked. She looks absolutely depressed and different if you look at her now, I prefer to think she’s more focused now on the job in hand and has found a life more interesting than she had before. By life I mean Sherlock of course!
With Watson’s first case being a success, it’s evident that she feels more confident in this new role. I also started to see more of Watson being Sherlock’s partner and not assistant. Their relationship has formed a somewhat parallel behaviour to Mulder and Scully from The X Files. I randomly caught a couple of the early series episodes of The X-Files recently and Scully is very much like Watson. They are both intrigued and let’s be honest a bit freaked out by Mulder/Sherlock.
Episode 19 – Snow Angels
The last couple of episodes have offered nothing in terms of Moriarty and it’s clear that the finale is fast approaching but a 24 episode run has possibly been ill thought out through its entirety. That is how TV programming works but I wouldn’t say that the last couple have been the worst episodes that Elementary has had to offer.
This episode I did really enjoy because it gave us two side characters, one of which I hope we will see more of. The other, Pam who is the snow plough driver to help them in their investigations and she is very interested by Sherlock and Watson. The case isn’t one of the best but it does provide more time now for Watson to work alongside Sherlock as a partner rather than sober companion. That said that the case wasn’t one of the best, I did like the way that it was reliant on brains rather than technology to solve.
Also Miss Hudson made an appearance as a transgender woman trapped in an abusive relationship. She ends up staying with them for a bit and cleans the place for them and even puts Sherlock’s books in OCD order. I found this scene to be incredibly funny as Sherlock was at first a bit “What have you done” to “That makes sense”. I liked the resolution that he had with himself.
Sherlock hires Miss Hudson as a cleaner and I’m not sure how much we will see of her but I liked her. Watson was not at first happy with the idea of her staying but she seemed agreeable when Hudson had found somewhere to live and she was pretty bored of asking Sherlock to clean!
Episode 20 – Dead Man’s Switch
Episode 20 brings the best Elementary episode so far and also the best performance by Jonny Lee Miller. This is the first modern update of one of the original stories The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton.
It is Sherlock’s sponsor (Alfredo) that brings the case forward and when Sherlock goes to the Milverton home he ends up being a witness to the murder. With the case unravelling very quickly he has to act fast. There is also a very emotional scene where Sherlock tells Watson that he had a drug relapse, it was before she had come but the scene pushes Sherlock into telling her and Alfredo that he cannot accept his one year anniversary for staying sober. Sherlock ends the episode by tattooing himself, of course…
I liked this episode and not just for the modern day take on an original story but because all the characters now feel like home. We’re used to them more and even I have grown quite fond of Bell! I also liked Alfredo and with Miss Hudson in the previous episode there is a strong back up cast waiting in the wings.
Episode 21 – A Landmark Story
I’ll start this episode review with a comment that many UK readers and viewers will find very entertaining – Vinnie Jones has been in two of the best episodes of Elementary. Yes. Really. First he played Sebastian Moran perfectly in ‘M’ and now he’s back as the Arsenal-loving tough guy in ‘A Landmark Story’.
Sherlock is very different to the Sherlock we saw back in the episode ‘M’ and quite a lot of that can be down to his new relationship with Watson. He seems stronger and whilst he acknowledges that he might go back someday to taking drugs, he needs the trust in that very second of what he is doing.
In Sherlock’s decision to try to decipher some code, when he visits Moran in prison he sets about a chain of events that he cannot stop and inevitably leads to Moran’s violent suicide. Just as Sherlock is about to feel great remorse over his actions, he takes the call.
Although if that’s really Moriarty’s voice, it’s not very threatening… (no spoilers!)
The writing has very much remained inconsistent throughout the series so far, so this episode being so well thought out with plot and character interaction really brings focus. As I have mentioned before, imagine if they had written consistently well throughout? Such a shame.
We now await her reviews of the last three episodes, especially the last two – The Woman and Heroine – but we now have a date for the release of the DVD of the first season of Elementary August 27th in the USA.
27th May, 2 Comments
By John Watson
The Woman is back with her latest set of reviews as we head to the finale of Season 1 of Elementary.
Episode 13 – The Red Team
After all the goings on of the previous episode when I watched this one I had totally forgotten or perhaps not even thought that Sherlock would be suspended from working on cases. Of course he had set out to kill Moran so just getting away with that would have been highly unlikely. So yes, it was probably just not in my thoughts.
This week’s case is about a war game but Sherlock’s input is not required or wanted. His relationship with Gregson is at its lowest again. Bell has never been a particular fan of his so he is happy to turn him away. Of course Sherlock continues with his own investigations and then ends up as part of the investigation itself! The story itself is very twisted and is probably one of the better episode plots that we have seen. Although there were two other parts that I enjoyed more.
Joan’s counsellor tells her that lying about her contract could make Sherlock have a relapse. Joan tries to argue that she doesn’t believe that it’s the case but she seems to be trying to convince herself more than anyone else. I’m not sure that she manages to do it and it will be interesting to see how this information will come out. It has to, doesn’t it?
My other favourite moment was the ending with Gregson and Sherlock and that punch. But at least Sherlock is back on investigations now although he doesn’t tell Joan about the punch, men don’t do that do they?
Another good episode.
Episode 14 – The Deductionist
This episode starts with Sherlock being tied to a chair as two scantily dressed women are robbing him. Yes, really.
Of course it’s all a set up as the police arrive and arrest the women. With Watson still staying with Sherlock she has to check on her flat and visits her landlord about one of the radiators and she is told that her apartment has been used for a porn movie. Joan confronts the man she sub-lets her apartment to and he confirms that he needed the money.
The episode moves to the case, this time a serial killer has escaped before he underwent kidney surgery. He was supposed to be giving the kidney to his sister but he killed all of the surgery staff and leaves a very unsightly scene for Sherlock and Watson. The serial killer Ennis, was captured by profiler Katherine Drummond who has worked with Sherlock before. Sherlock does not think very highly of her and later on find out that they have had more than professional relations.
Katherine profiled Sherlock under the name ‘the deductionist’ and Ennis knows all of her written work and in a phonecall to Gregson just wants Katherine. Sherlock and Watson then look at his own profile that Katherine did and all the inaccuracies and wonder if she made the same mistakes with Ennis. Visiting the house of the sister of Ennis they discover that it seems she is in with Ennis as the food in the kitchen seems to allude that she has been faking her kidney problems.
In Katherine’s book of the Ennis case she had claimed that he was sexually abused by his parents and although she was going to be sued they dropped the case. Instead Ennis and his sister wanted their own revenge and Katherine ends up being stabbed by his sister. It is Sherlock that finds and captures Ennis bringing this case to a close.
As for Watson’s apartment? It is Sherlock that finds some continuity errors in the porn film and her landlord was indeed in the apartment for the filming. This little Watson titbit story was both a distraction from the main story but also another glimpse into the fact that she’s off investigating things on her own.
Episode 15 – A Giant Gun, Filled with Drugs
In this episode we meet Rhys, Sherlock’s former drug dealer and his daughter Emily has been kidnapped. There is a video and a ransom note, he wants Sherlock’s help. Watson is concerned that Rhys could be a trigger for Sherlock’s past addictions. As the case unravels Rhys tells Sherlock that he needs his “meds” and has some cocaine for him that will help him find Emily. Sherlock reacts angrily to the suggestion.
The case soon gets silly and then sillier. I think even the cast got lost where this one was going. The above part was the most important part of the episode that Sherlock isn’t going to take drugs again. But the character Rhys has to have been one of the most intriguing side characters we’ve seen, played by John Hannah he could match Sherlock’s quick wit. The case is probably not supposed to be the focus but instead some time to look into his drug addiction past.
Rhys is unable to support the new recovering Sherlock and Watson is probably right in thinking he could upset how well he has been doing. She confronts him about it and she really fights for Sherlock’s corner and it’s clear that she is incredibly loyal to Sherlock. There has been nothing to persuade me differently from that view throughout but she certainly backed up that theory here. The only sad part of this episode was that whilst Rhys could have been a downfall for Sherlock, he was sent packing. As much as it was good to see a strong side character if only for a short time.
Episode 16 – Details
Bell has always reminded me more of Lestrade in many ways from the Sherlock Canon. Sherlock’s presence in investigations has always seen like he doesn’t deserve or need to be there in Bell’s eyes. Now Bell finds himself at the centre of a case. The episode has a case that although centres around one of its main characters, it is incredibly dull and I’ve found that for every couple of good episodes you might get at least one or in this instance from Episodes 15 and this one, two in a row that are stinkers.
Episode 15 had a good side story but this one I couldn’t feel any sort of feeling for Bell as he’s always been quite a cold character and I really didn’t care what happened. Oops. The clues were as weak as my feelings for Bell and I found that it wasn’t really putting together all of Sherlock’s deductive skills to solve.
Although as a major side story, Sherlock now knows that Watson is staying under her own steed now. At least that was resolved in this episode…
17th March, No Comments
By John Watson
She’s back with her points of view and The Woman seems to think that Elementary is getting better . . .
Episode 11 – Dirty Laundry
This episode was somewhat plot lost but not in a way that it didn’t twist totally into the unknown or unseen but because the clues leading up to it were unsubstantial. This has been a theme with many previous episodes but this one threw me more than the others have done.
When the body is found in a washing machine I did think about a sort of mafia style killing. As I have mentioned before I have watched too many TV programmes over the years and then when we met the family my suspects were getting stronger and then confused. The victim’s husband, Oliver was played by Mark Moses (Desperate Housewives, Mad Men) so I had him down as the culprit. Then we met their daughter Carly, played by Melissa Farman (Lost) and I flitted between the two as being the culprit. Throw in another suspect Geoffrey, played by Jake Weber (Medium) and I was lost as to who this would turn out to be. As I mentioned the clues seemed vague and this seemed to just fall together rather than be put together in any coherent form.
The episode is held together by Holmes, Watson and Gregson even though they are mostly sidelined for this plot. With things gearing up to episode 12 and the “M” episode, there is also how Watson will end up staying with Holmes. The next episode will hold some answers to how the rest of this season will play out.
With this review I thought I’d take a moment to look to the beginning part of every Elementary episode, the opening credits. I’m a terrible fast-forward person and I’ll admit I tend to whizz through credits in the same light but I have never done so through the Elementary opening credits.
The reason I love it? Basil The Great Mouse Detective of course!
Episode 12 – M (WARNING: FULL OF SPOILERS)
First thing about this episode sees us come across Vinnie Jones, yes the very same Vinnie Jones from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch and Mean Machine. He looks to be the villain of the episode and also an Arsenal fan, that becomes very prominent throughout. He also likes to hang people via a tripod device, drain their blood and dump the bodies later. Quite a nice chap!
With Gregson, Watson and Holmes at the location of the victim, Holmes is quick to deduce about the missing tripod and this time his deductions have a method. But this time it’s also because he knows the killer, from London. With Holmes knowing so much he is on hand to lead the case and feeds the past history of M. One of M’s previous victims had been Irene Adler, which still left Holmes cold by the lack at the time of his ability to capture M. His drug addiction had taken hold and he was way lower than he had previously been before. He sees this as his big opportunity to get M but Gregson is worried about him and thinks he could be the next victim. Holmes is not at all worried by this and refuses all of Gregson’s requests for protection.
When the body turns up it’s a chance for Holmes and Watson to share one of their incredibly poignant moments.
“I’m going to miss this. Maybe not this so much, but this. I think what you do is amazing”
M breaks into the house and leaves a message for Holmes. You know those newspaper letter clipping messages made with glue, one of those. Of course Holmes has security cameras placed around the place so now has a photo of M. He then can give this photo to Teddy & Co, a group of kids on the street that will do jobs for Holmes for money. Teddy finds and talks to M and comes to get his reward, only Holmes is not there so he has to tell this all to Watson – who is not amused! She is obviously less amused as she knew nothing of the cameras and confronts Holmes when he returns.
Watson rushes to Gregson for help when Holmes goes after M with the intention of torturing and murdering him. In the end it is Watson who uncovers where Holmes has taken M. As a side note there is a very funny moment involving M, Holmes and a baton. Now Holmes has M it is clear he really is out to torture him but could he really? Throughout the episode until now Jones has played M as the usual heavy thug that we know. Now is where you can understand why he was picked, sure there is the fact he has the British accent but he has a great psychotic smile. Yes, try putting that on your CV! With the two opposing each other it allows both to shine, I’m more inclined to lean to this being Jonny Lee Miller’s best moment in Elementary so far. The emotion that he goes through in his conversation with M talking about Irene is evident.
The revelation comes that M is not Moriarty but a hired help under the name of Sebastian Moran is unexpected to Holmes but maybe not us. Had Elementary not been given the full season order then this could have actually been the last episode of this series. We’ve now still got to come across Moriarty and as Moran had said:
“Moriarty said you were obsessed with puzzles but he’s the greatest puzzle you’ll ever come across”.
With Holmes still reeling and coming to terms with the fact that Moran is not Moriarty and that Moran is now telling a remade story of events to Gregson under a police interview, Holmes is reflective.
Then these words again but this time from Holmes to Watson:
“I’m going to miss this. Maybe not this so much, but this. I think what you do is amazing”
With Watson’s decision to stay not being agreed by Holmes Snr she lies to Holmes that everything is fine for her to stay. I thought it would come down to it being her decision to stay. I even said that in my review of Episode 10. As the episode ends and another thing that Elementary is good for, the music. Gil Scott-Heron’s Me and the Devil plays. This was the perfect song to end this episode.
Nods to the Canon were huge in this episode; the bees, Irene, Baker Street Irregulars (Teddy & Co) and of course Moriarty. By far the best episode so far and that’s not because the others haven’t been good enough, this one was just far more superior. Jonny Lee Miller is fast becoming my favourite Sherlock Holmes and I know that will not be a view shared by most. I think I like the more vulnerable, emotional and underlying rage within the Holmes that Miller portrays.
I have also seen that Elementary will get a two hour season finale. Moriarty finale?
Oh I hope so.