Sunday, May 6, 2012

TV Review: Sherlock - "A Scandal in Belgravia"


Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler in A Scandal in Belgravia
Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver as Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler

This episode is a modern update of A Scandal in Bohemia.  While the series itself is contemporary take on the classic stories, the character of Irene Adler has been given the extreme makeover.


Irene Adler has morphed from an adventuress into a dominatrix who is bisexual as well. She is the one to rescue Sherlock and Watson from their precarious situation at the end of the first season.


Soon, Sherlock and Watson take on a royal blackmail case which involves Irene. The episode rambles on with Sherlock and Irene playing a game of cat and mouse, taking turns to outwit each other. The climactic scene features Sherlock deciphering the key to unlock Irene’s smartphone. Moriarty makes a brief appearance.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson in A Scandal in Belgravia
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson


The character of Irene Adler is not the only one to get a modern update. The great Mycroft Holmes himself is not immune to the dictates of a “modern” adaptation. Mycroft is still employed by the British Government; it is his relationship with his younger brother that bears the brunt. Mycroft and Sherlock have a very antagonistic relationship in this series.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss as Sherlock Holmes and Mycroft Homes in A Scandal in Belgravia
The Holmes brothers

In the Canon, Sherlock and Mycroft share a mutually respectful relationship towards each other. They do not gush around each other, but they do have a lot of respect and goodwill for each other. The Granada series, the Russian series and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows captured the essence of this relationship nicely.


The Granada series in particular knocks this one out of the park and I recommend the episode “The Greek Interpreter”. The scene in the Diogenes Club, where Watson meets Mycroft for the first time is pitch-perfect and Charles Gray is just amazing as Mycroft in this episode as well as in the series.


The episode has references to some of the original stories: The Greek Interpreter (The Geek Interpreter), The Speckled Band (The Speckled Blonde) and The Adventure of the Illustrious Client.

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.


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57 comments:

  1. nice idea.. thanks for sharing..

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  2. I fall somewhere between category 1 and category 2 on your chart. Holmes being such a universal character, I have no problem with various adaptations or settings for Holmes. But I agree with you about pretty much everything in the BBC series. I do like Holmes and Watson, their interactions with one another, and the conversations that are clever references to canon.

    But seriously. Worst. Moriarty. Ever.

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    1. Glad to know that we share the same opinion about the BBC version of Moriarty!

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  3. I have not seen the new episode yet, but am looking forward to it.
    Thanks for the review.

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  4. I admit, I do prefer the original ending of "A Scandal in Bohemia", ESPECIALLY since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was so progressive for his time. I honestly don't agree with the writer of the episode, Steven Moffat's, opinion of the original ending (that how she outsmarted him was lame, or something along those lines).

    Also, I find it intresting how both of the adaptions of Sherlock Holmes I've seen so far have had Irene be in love with Sherlock, when in the original she got married to another man, and was implied to be very happy.

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    1. Thanks for voting for The Canon :)

      As for Moffat's opinion of the original ending, I guess he is entitled to his view ;)

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  5. Yes, as much as I like the show, I prefer The Canon in the end for this episode.

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  6. so far, after only seeing part of SCAN, I ma leaning towards your assesment of the show.

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    1. I look forward to your opinion after watching the entire episode!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  7. An excellent review. Since you've read mine, you know I'm a bit more kindly disposed toward the new portrayal of Holmes, probably because I always saw Doyle's version as a bit of a sociopath. It seemed to me in the canon that he was humanized more over time, and I think we see glimmers of that in a Scandal in Belgravia. Notice how shocked Watson looks when Holmes apologizes for his boorish deductions about the Christmas package, and when he shows actual affection toward Mrs. Hudson. Anyway, great to see what fellow Sherlockians are thinking.

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    1. Thanks Charles for your feedback.

      It is a tribute to the complexity of the character of Sherlock Holmes that he can be interpreted in so many different ways. Then again, Sir Doyle did not help either by being consistently inconsistent (Watson's war injury and Holmes's characteristics are among the most conspicuous examples).

      I for one always visualized Holmes as being a Gentleman. A bit bohemian definitely, but still a gentleman nevertheless.

      As you aptly said, it is always nice to hear from fellow Sherlockians :)

      Cheers!

      Delete
  8. An honest review and there are many people I know who agree with you. I am going to do one post after all the episodes air in the States on my blog, but I did want to relay another view on this episode.

    My rediscovery of canon came in 2007, before any of these new adaptations; I viewed the Granada series after reading the canon and think that it is, one of, if not the definitive visual adaptations. That said, I also adore the BBC version and would fall under the #2 in your viewership. This is why:

    1. BBC Sherlock as a homage, and not a faithful adaptation. Moffat and Gatiss have repeatedly pointed out that this is not meant to be a direct adaptation. That is how I see it as well. The plots are definitely more fantastical than canon, however, the nods to the original are so well placed that they appear to be seamless for our times. Nods I had noticed and appreciated where: Watson creating a distraction with smoke, the hiding place of the incriminating photos and the manner which Holmes discovered them, and Sherlock "disguised" as a clergyman. I don't doubt there were others I didn't notice. These and other various references help keep the stories true even in there modern setting.

    2. Cumberbatch/Freeman as Holmes/Watson. I think these two are the among best pair to represent Holmes and Watson; second only, in my book, to Brett and Hardwicke. I was always bothered that BC's Holmes referring to himself as a sociopath in the first episode because I think Benedict Cumberbatch captures the spirit and characterization of Holmes so well and we do see some humanization. Freeman's Watson is amazing--plain and simple. He captures all of Watson so well and makes him more than Holmes's everyman. It is a true partnership and that is illustrated through the on-screen chemistry of Cumberbatch/Freeman, which crackles with reality.

    3. Modern changes with nods. Yes Mycroft, Moriarty and Irene are fundamentally different than their canonical counterparts. However, I would argue that is Ok, again, because of nods to the original characterization. I would agree with the idea that Irene is as strong as she ever was in Belgravia vs. Bohemia because of the fact that Sherlock saved her. She bested him by humanizing him w/o him realizing it and that's why he referred to her as THE Woman. Mycroft may not be physically canonical, but I would argue that they do have a mutual respect for one another (as illustrated in the scene at the morgue), but perhaps their is a hint of sibling rivalry; all that is simply expanded upon. And finally, Moriarty...again physical opposite, but as I re-watch episodes he grows on me a bit. I enjoyed the canonical nod as Andrew Scott gave his M as snake-like quality that is just touched upon in the stories (mentioned by Gatiss in an interview).

    A fellow Sherlockian in my local scion described the series as "cute" so I think he may tend to agree more with you and less with me, but we still have Holmesian discussions and that is the best thing!

    I apologize for the length ;) I do love discussing the merits of Sherlock.

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    1. Very nice and spirited defense of BBC Sherlock! I respect your opinions and thoughts.

      Being a Holmes purist has its advantages and disadvantages. I truly enjoy watching Douglas Wilmer and Vasily Livanov become Holmes. This is much more than can be said of the Downey Jr movies or the BBC series. No disrespect to the cast and the crew involved in these two productions; It is just that their version of Holmes is the polar opposite of what I perceive to be the canonical version.

      As for the length of your comment, all comments are welcome on my blog. The longer the better :)

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    2. Although I would have enjoyed a canon-style Moriarty, I am greatly enjoying this one as well. Your comments made me pause to try to analyze my feelings a little.

      When you update the hero, you have to update the villain to suit; they reflect each other. While I'm sure that this Sherlock could've taken on a more controlled Moriarty, I think this choice reflects well on how Sherlock has been let out of that "stiff upper lip" and permitted to breathe more. A little like going from original Spock to modern-movie Spock, I suppose. Since Sherlock has been given permission to become more animated and more flawed, Moriarty has also been allowed that - with the result that he comes off as more whimsical and capricious.

      I grew up on the canon Sherlock straight from the books, and read them over and over and loved them all. I love his intellect, his energy, and those rare occasions where the mask comes off and he displays strong emotion (such as when he thought Watson had been mortally wounded). My favorite ending has always been The Yellow Face. So I'm not at all saying that Sherlock HAD to change to be interesting.

      All the same, I embrace new interpretations, not of what the character is but what he could have been, and an interpretation this far from the original - removed in setting, in age, in personality - must necessarily adapt the surrounding details to better suit the aspects (facets) that are most useful to the portrayal at hand.

      So no, Moriarty didn't have to be this way, but I find it very interesting and fun that he is.

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    3. Thanks Kilyle for the comment.

      I too look forward to seeing as many adaptations as possible of our favorite literary character.

      Initially, I did not find Scott's version of Moriarty to be likable. But slowly his performance grew on me.

      I think Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have given us the definitive modern versions of the quintessential Victorian characters.

      B2B.

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  9. Thanks for your comment on my post. I like that you have Douglas Wilmer as your picture. I have all his episodes on DVD, and they are great. Especially his Watson.

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    1. In my humble opinion, Wilmer gave the definitive performance as Sherlock Holmes.

      Thanks to BBC for releasing these excellent DVDs of the 1964 series. Kind of softens the blow of 'Sherlock' ;)

      Cheers!

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  10. I love the BBC series, but then again I haven't read the books. ^^"

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    1. I highly recommend reading the canon to appreciate the genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle!

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  11. Thanks for the comment and for linking to your review-- it was very interesting. =) I would have enjoyed this episode so much had it not been for the inappropriate content throughout; but I'm excited to get on with "Baskervilles" tonight!

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    1. You are most welcome.

      Always a pleasure to hear from a like-minded Sherlockian :)

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  12. Thank you for the comparisons you've made between the new BBC Mycroft and the other adaptations, I suppose there haven't been many good Irene Adlers. She was the one thing that bothered me the most of the new series, but probably that's because Stephen Moffatt writes female characters so badly (they all tend tend to be bitches in sheep's clothing). Anyway, I don't know in what category I fit, since I've read all the canon and the discrepancies with the original and the BBC version bother me sometimes, but the Guy Ritchie movies I enjoy, but because it's so much easier to pretend they aren't Holmes and Watson. And Stephen Fry as Mycroft is pretty good and really treats Holmes as a little brother. Maybe the BBC adaptation is much more different that people (including me) realise.

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    1. You are welcome Starla :)

      As stated in the post, I would recommend the Russian series and Granada series for excellent and canonically accurate versions of Irene Adler.

      As for the BBC adaptation being different from the canon - yes it is quite different. I am glad to have made you realize that :)

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  13. I don't quite fit into any of the three categories. I have read Doyle's Holmes, but I'm no Sherlockian in the sense of those who really are -- it's more that I'm well-read, perhaps. However, I am a Brett Sherlockian, if that contains for anyone what it means for me: the evocation of a very particular time in the way it looks, how people behave and think, and all very close to how Doyle, the writer and originator, saw all of it as he wrote. This is for both good or not: the imperial smugness, the matter-of-fact racial attitudes, and so on. What is most impressive to me at least, is how Brett plays Sherlock, as Sherlock Holmes himself seemed to be in these situations, rather outside the mainstream assumptions of the natural superiority of English anything over anyone else. This was his great gift of being a supremely rational being. He wasn't a sociopath, he was a reasoning being. As you say, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were both gentlemen.

    Thanks for pointing me here from my own thoughts about this Sherlock; it's interesting to see that others felt Irene Adler wasn't handled as she should have been, and that others don't think this portrayal of Moriarty is entirely satisfactory.

    Nevertheless, the arc - continuity writing of the four episodes I've seen so far of Sherlock is very good. The first real failure of imagination for me was Adler -- naturally, as media people seem not to know what to do with women at all except to make them all nekkid, whores and hopefully humiliated, degraded and violated. So it's somewhat a comfort they're failing with Moriarty too -- a bit of an equalization. But we'll never see Moriarty nekkid and humiliated, will we?

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    1. I would recommend the book "Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes" by David Stuart Davies.

      Nice to know that despite the popularity of BBC Sherlock, there are people out there who still believe in the canonical/Gentleman version of Sherlock Holmes.

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  14. As someone who has grown up with the canon and seen most of the adaptations in their completion, I have to say that I still really like the new BBC series, though there were things that are a departure from the stories.

    Apart from Irene Adler, who I have talked about at length, I enjoyed a lot of the characterization, particularly that of Watson, who has been unfairly treated in the media.

    Holmes is a bit ill-defined in the stories; a symptom of a character that runs for as long as he did is that characterization tends to fall apart midway through, and ACD Holmes is no exception. As a result, there are several conflicting aspects of Holmes one can take away to put into their own adaptation; Moffat and Gatiss took the stone-cold arrogant calculating machine route, which is legitimate in its own way.

    Also, apart from the adamant usage of the word, I think it's quite clear that Holmes is not a sociopath by any stretch of the definition.

    My biggest problem with the new series is the fact that Holmes is not as grounded in the world of science as he is in the stories. ACD Holmes lived in a time where it was impossible to take science for granted, but still fastidiously went through the trouble to learn and try out new scientific methods to prove his theories. He did his absolute best to establish all the facts he could on his own. He was not content with information being presented to him as incontrovertible.

    In the new series, Holmes has a very different relationship to tech and science, and though that is understandable, I do get tired of him whipping out his magical Blackberry so he can find a key part of his puzzle in 1.9 seconds on Google search, and I was rather hoping he would be put in a situation where he wouldn't have service and would have to rely on old-fashioned research or trial and error. Unfortunately, this never happens- All the answers are on a computer or on his mobile, and he needs only type in the right words. Nevermind the fact that there are locations where having wi-fi seems near science fiction on this show!

    But apart from that, I love the new series and eagerly anticipate the next season.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. It is always gratifying to hear from a Sherlockian.

      For canonically accurate descriptions of Watson, I would recommend the Russian adaptation . Nigel Stock also gave a pretty good performance as Watson in the 1964-68 BBC series with Douglas Wilmer/Peter Cushing as Holmes.

      Both the Russian adaptation and the Granada series boast of canonically accurate versions of Irene Adler.

      I think we can safely say that the BBC version of Holmes is definitely anti-social. The way he flippantly dismisses prospective clients and passes remarks at others is quite indicative of this fact.

      My favorite on-screen portrayals of Holmes are by the great Douglas Wilmer and Vasily Livanov . In my humble opinion, these two actors gave the most canonically accurate performances. I highly recommend these performances, if you have not already seen them.

      Cheers!

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    2. I'm just starting on the Russian adaptation actually. It's amazing how much stuff Russians get right in their adaptations of British lit; the Russian Hamlet is also very committed and thoughtful in its adaptation, while remaining true to the source.

      Anti-social, yes, but not symptomatic of sociopathy. Sociopaths are good at replicating social cues and emotional beats, whereas BBC Sherlock does not even try. A 'high-functioning sociopath,' as he puts it, would be adept at functioning within society, which he refuses to or cannot do. Also, sociopaths tend not to out themselves as sociopaths. So if Moffat and Gatiss wanted to go the sociopathic route, they should gone with Gentleman!Holmes, not Bones!Holmes.

      I think that shows which don't try to expand the canon or the characters portrayed in the canon do a far better job of getting the characterization right.

      I adore Wilmer's version. Did you see his cameo as Holmes in Gene Wilder's spoof of the genre? Brilliant no matter what he does.

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    3. I am a big fan of the Russian adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Livanov gives one of the best performances and Vitaly Solomin makes the definitive Watson. As you remarked, the commitment and respect to the source material is one of the best things about this adaptation. The director, Igor Maslennikov and his crew have delivered one of the most elegant and classy adaptations ever of Sir Doyle's works.

      I am (unabashedly) old school when it comes to Sherlock Holmes and prefer the Gentlemanly version of the canon. My favorite actors to play Holmes are Douglas Wilmer, Vasily Livanov and the late, great Peter Cushing. Cushing in particular was the perfect English Gentleman, both in reel and real life.

      Totally agree with you about the shows getting the characterization right, when they stay faithful to the canon. That is the reason, why the Russian adaptation (with Livanov) and the 1964-68 BBC series (with Douglas Wilmer and Peter Cushing) are among the best and also my personal favorites :)

      Wilmer is my all time #1 favorite actor to play Holmes, as no doubt my profile pic would have given away :) He nailed the part perfectly. I have not yet seen the Gene Wilder movie and will definitely check it out.

      Cheers!

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  15. I must say I strongly disagree with you.
    The thing about the BBC series, and I have written about that when I wrote my own post about this and the other episode, is that they refer to EVERYTHING that is Sherlock Holmes, not just the book, because it has been a very long time that Sherlock Holmes has become much bigger than the books.

    While I like the Jeremy Brett series and the little I have seen from the Russian adaptation, I find that their over loyalty to the original character loses something of the book and doesn't always work on television. While conversations between Holmes and Watson work fantastically in the books on TV they often become a lot of talking heads which I would have preferred to read than to watch. Both series', while loyal to the character, miss the spirit of the books, the style of writing, which often refers to other adventures that are not written of, the quick and witty pace of it and everything that Sherlock Holmes has created around it.

    While they may have turned Sherlock Holmes' character into a maverick character that may appeal more to a younger generation, I think it is very clear that Gatiss and Moffat, the creator, are big fans and know not only the books but everything that was created around it. Moffat once said, about Doctor Who, that either everything is a cannon or nothing is, and I think it is very clear in their adaptations. A Scandal in Belgravia refers to The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (which also has nudity btw) as much as it does to the original story, and Gatiss has mentioned he is a great fan of the film. It also refers, just as the mentioned film does, to the fandom behind it, pointing out that the deer-stalker hat, for example, is something that was forced on Sherlock Holmes by the fans and doesn't actually exists in the original stories.

    In my view the BBC series succeed in many places that other adaptation failed. As I mentioned the capture the spirit of the books, referring to off-screen adventures like the book does, only in the series the point to actual stories. By referring to the fandom and industry that surrounds Sherlock, even in Doyle's days for the fandom was great back then and had an enormous effect, they capture and recreate what Sherlock Holmes was and still is to so many people, and to them, the makers as well.

    I find their adaptation respectful and loving of the original as well as everything else that is Sherlock Holmes. As someone who belongs to your category one and I know many others who do I can say we love the series, it represents quite a lot of how we feel about Sherlock Holmes, and does it with respect and admiration and it shows. An adaptation, in my view, can and should be more than a blind loyalty to the original which loses something on the way. An adaptation, usually comes from love of the original, and recreates what the original has created amongst its readers, and create an interest in the original and that is where the BBC series succeed. The sales of Sherlock Holmes books have sky rocketed since the series, it is a combination of new generation that wants to know the books, I know quite a few that decided to read and were never interested before, and old fans that the series made them want to re-read the books. If that isn't a success I dunno what is.

    Here is what I think of the episode: http://notoriousvandenbussche.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/definitely-new-sexy.html

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    1. Thanks for the comment.

      In response, I can only repeat the famous proverb: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

      Cheers!

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  16. Thanks for your comment on our blog.

    This is a great review and you make excellent points. But I see a lot of reason in Valerie_S's comments.

    I have read some of the books (not many) and it was long ago anyway, so I don't remember much, if anything. In my opinion the BBC series has never attempted to be a modern adaptation of the original, rather it is modern take or recreation. They have taken a lot of liberties but at the same time they have taken a lot of care to refer/nod to the originals.

    The question is, why bother to make just another straight adaptation? As I see it, this series is respectful to the original to the extent that I sense how much they love the books and the care they go to with all those references, and at the same time it makes drastic changes to surprise the fans of the book.

    My most beloved writer is Tolkien. It's actually an obsession of mine. When Peter Jackson made the movies a lot of my friends were very critical of the movies and angry with the changes. In general, I wasn't. Don't get me wrong I don't accept all the changes and I think Peter Jackson screwed up with quite a few of the choices he made, but I understand that it is his interpretation of the books.

    Good review mate and thanks for stopping by on our blog.

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    1. Thanks for the nice compliments!

      I would recommend the following as an example to make non-canonical adaptations while still retaining the spirit of the Sherlock Holmes canon:
      1. The Basil Rathbone movies (except the one based on The Hound of Baskervilles)
      2. The 1954 TV series (with Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes)
      3. Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004) with Rupert Everett as Sherlock Holmes

      The Basil Rathbone movies in particular are excellent examples. Each of these movies had many references to original stories. And of course, it goes without saying that Rathbone gave one of the best ever performances as Sherlock Holmes, that is quite masterful and at the same time very faithful to the canon.

      Similar to the Basil Rathbone movies, there have been many other adaptations that were not just straight adaptations and still were successful in capturing the essence of Sherlock Holmes, without resorting to vulgarity or making such drastic changes to the main characters.

      Speaking about the great Tolkien...JRR Tolkien is as pivotal to the fantasy genre just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is to mystery. JRR created a masterpiece that will always be the benchmark for all other works. I did attempt to read the books, but never completed them. I have seen the LOTR trilogy. Not being a Tolkien purist, I cannot comment on the changes made. I do know few other people who have complained about the same.

      Cheers!

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  17. Interest review Buddy.

    I have to admit, I’m — as with an earlier commentor — somewhere between a 1 and 2 on your scale.

    I’m also one that’s going to quietly disagree about your view on both Cumberbatch and Scott’s performance. I personally found them very engaging, and Moffat’s take on the canon to be very watchable.

    I’ve also got to admit to not having seen that much in the way of the Rathbone films: but have seen the Jeremy Brett take. And loved them … !

    Either way … ? A big thank you for looking in on my post about the series: I’ve got to lconfess, I’m working on a write up about Game Of Shadows, please feel free to look in … !

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Nik.

      I highly recommend the performances by Basil Rathbone and Vasily Livanov as Sherlock Holmes.

      I will definitely take a look at your upcoming review.

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  18. Excellent review. Although I disagree about the issues you seem to have with Adler as a "damsel in distress" (and she did outsmart Holmes nearer to the beginning of the episode) you are right about Moriarty being so very cartoonish. In his defense I am sure real evil looks just as sickening- he is a sociopath after all, as the third episode will reveal.

    Although I'm a little confused. What sort of liberties do you think BBC took with Holmes in this season so far besides "saving" Adler?

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    1. Thanks Meg for stopping by.

      Irene Adler had to be rescued by Holmes at the end of the episode. This is what I am trying to refer to by using the term "damsel in distress".

      As for the liberties the BBC series has taken, it is not just Holmes but other characters (as explained in the review) as well.

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  19. Thanks for commenting. Do you understand German...? I think I wrote a lot of BS...

    I love the Series. It brought me to Sherlock Holmes, to the canon to this whole amazing universe. I like Sherlock's sociopathic behaviour and it's funny for me to watch old Sherlock Holmes films when Holmes acts like he's a nice uncle (like in some films with Basil Rathbone).

    I watched "A scandal in Belgravia" three times so far in English but I'm very excited now because tomorrow night the german dubbing will be broadcasted. And then finally I can buy the DVD!

    Again, thanks for your visit
    Filia
    http://221bremen.blogspot.de/

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  20. Thanks for your comment on my review. http://unholyadvantage.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/sherlock.html

    I think I'm probably a 2 - bordering on a 1.

    I have read most of the Holmes tales, and believe that a certain amount of authenticity should be kept to the tales, the characters and the dynamics. However, adaptation can allow directors to update and modernise otherwise outdated aspects. If they wanted to create a 'true' version they would have donned whiskers and pipe like Jeremy Brett. As it is, Gatiss and company have transposed the tales and their themes to make them palatable for a contemporary audience.
    The series sits as an antithesis to Poirot, or Marple, where the Christie voice is allowed to dictate proceedings, and, like modern stagings or adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, shows that experimentation with expectations allows for directors and actors' individuality and creativity to embellish the story.

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    1. Very interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing.

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  21. Thanks for posting on my blog!
    I most definitely fall into "category 1" although it kind of splits into two ways. I'm the kind of person who sees the glass as half full so instead of noticing things that are way different than the books, I notice the things that are the same as the books. Of course, I notice the differences as well. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad.
    I must say that I think Moffat and Gaitiss has done an amazing job of adapting Sherlock Holmes into a modern version.
    I must also say that I strongly dislike "A Scandal in Belgravia." The more I think about the Irene Adler character, the more I dislike her. I've never really liked any versions of Adler (that I've seen on television thus far) and it's making me start to dislike the book character as well. It's like the film makers of today think they need to make her into something she's not. And if there is one thing I can't stand, is film makers changing characters personalities in book-to-screen adaptions.
    Despite "Scandal's" failure, I do enjoy Sherlock BBC.
    I also love the Granada series! I will have to check out their version of "The Greek Interpreter." Mycroft Holmes is one of my favorite characters, along with Sherlock. =)

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    1. Welcome Abbey.

      It is quite regrettable that the BBC version of Irene Adler has created such an aversion for the character itself. I would recommend checking out the Russian series and the Granada adaptation for canonically accurate portrayals of Irene Adler.

      Yes, I too am a big fan of Mycroft Holmes :)

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  22. Thought-provoking review. :) I agree with what you said at the end about the fans/non-fans from the first season. This would probably not be the best episode to introduce people to the show - but for those who love the show after watching the first season, this episode (while definitely shocking) really gives some intriguing insights into Sherlock's character and his interactions with others.

    I confess that I have not read all of the Sherlock stories, but the ones I have read I've really enjoyed. :) And while I realize that this show does indeed take a lot of liberties with the original stories/characters, I'm not as bothered by it as a die-hard, long-time Sherlock Holmes fan might be. I love the creativity and originality of the show, as well as the dynamic between Sherlock and Watson.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts here and for leaving a comment on my review of A Scandal in Bohemia and A Scandal in Belgravia. :)

    ~Amber

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    1. Thanks Amber.

      I definitely recommend reading the canon to appreciate the genius of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In particular, I would recommend 'Silver Blaze' and 'The Valley of Fear'. Holmes does some really fine deductions in both these stories.

      Cheers!

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  23. First off, thank you for taking time to read what I've written :) You're the first comment in like ever since I started that blog. Secondly, you did make a strong argument. Although I border on 2 and 3. I'm in love with visual adaptations and although I follow the references closely, I don't give a hoot whether or not Gatiss or Moffat followed the canon closely because ultimately, it is a story about the one and only Consulting Detective in the world. In a way, Gatiss and Moffat brought Holmes to the ordinary audiences-- ones who never read the books and those who doesn't actually read.

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    1. Spoken like a true fangirl!

      I do wish you could spare some love for the canon as well :)

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  24. Agreed. I'm not keen on this Moriarty myself. He can be darn funny but he's entirely too insane to be convincing. It was never hinted at in the short stories that Moriarty wasn't in control of his mental faculties. In fact he was deucedly clever!

    I would be considered mostly a #1 on your list but I adore this version of Holmes and Watson. For once Watson isn't an old man and it's entertaining having Holmes be so young and, well, irritating. Still, the discrepancies annoy me as they should other people. Don't mess with the brilliancy of Doyle's writing. It's okay to take "Hound" and make it something magnificently modern, but leave Irene Adler just the way she was, if you please.

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    1. Thanks Carissa for stopping by.

      Heartening to know that there are still people out there who care about and respect the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle :)

      I would recommend the Russian adaptation and the Granada adaptation for authentic portrayals of Irene Adler.

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  25. I think I fall somewhere in between categories 1 and 2...I don't object as a general rule to changes to the canon, and I may take issue with some more than others. But generally I do like at least sampling how someone re-envisions a classic -- and in this case Moffat and Gatiss really do overall a bang-up excellent job. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  26. Great post, and you pretty much underline everything I have to say about the second season. I won't lie -- I'm a purist. Deviate in any way from the original to the extent that it changes the characters too much, and I'm annoyed. I don't mind the modernization of the series, it's the character assassination that Moffat is now into that really hacks me off. I loved the first season -- or perhaps, I should say the first EPISODE. It was brilliant. I didn't mind too much that Sherlock was far more rude in this version than in canon. But with the second season, I am starting to catch on to the fact that Moffat may spout how much he respects the canon, but he really doesn't -- he sees this as HIS character, to do with as he pleases. That... offends me.

    Sherlock is far too emotionally involved in this episode; he may play Irene a bit, but it's clear she also has him a bit besotted.

    Mycroft, thanks in part to Mark Gatiss, is a great character -- but you're right, the antagonism and dislike between the brothers saddens me. In the books, Mycroft is notoriously lazy, so he employs Holmes to do things he has no wish to do. I miss that.

    Moriarty is a complete joke, a total rehash of The Master in Doctor Who: insane.

    Never thought I'd say this, given how much I enjoyed the first season, but... a couple more missteps and Moffat's version will be about as beloved to me as the ghastly Robert Downey Jr. films are -- which is to say, not at all.

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    1. Thanks Charity for sharing your thoughts.

      I have often wondered how much of BBC Sherlock is influenced by Moffat's work on Dr Who. Your comments helped clarify this :)

      Yes, Moriarty is a caricature and nothing more (at least in my humble opinion). And a Double Yes on Sherlock being way too emotionally involved in this episode!

      I too liked only 'A Study in Pink' in the first season and 'The Hounds of Baskerville' in the second season.

      Cheers!

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    2. Back when Moffat just did the occasional Doctor Who episode, I though he was brilliant. He wrote some of my favorite episodes -- like "Blink," and "The Girl in the Fireplace." But of late, his enormous ego has led him to make claims that his body of work does not support. I have never liked his characterization of River Song, but up until his Irene Adler, I never realized how sexist he tends to make his heroines. =P

      Anyway, back to the topic at hand... Moriarty deserves so much better. He is Holmes' equal in genius, he could stand not to be quite as insane. But then, I think Moffat is rather preoccupied with his "Sherlock is a high-functioning sociopath" angle to the extent that he doesn't really understand Sherlock Holmes at all. The real shame of it is, a lot of people are going to simply 'accept' and 'embrace' this television series, and not bother to read the originals.

      'A Study in Pink' was brilliant. So was 'The Hounds of Baskerville.' Last year, it was Moffat that impressed me; this year it was Mark Gatiss.

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    3. I saw a recent video featuring Moffat, Sue Vertue and Cumberbatch where they answered questions from BBC Sherlock fans. Moffat did give me the impression of being quite full of himself. As you remarked, it does looks like his success has gone to his head...

      Gatiss did a superb job with 'The Hounds' though. Hats off to him. Of course, his Mycroft is phenomenal as well.

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