Saturday, September 21, 2013

BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode # 3 "The Great Game" - Canonical References (Part I)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in BBC Sherlock The Great Game Canonical References

It is time for another BBC Sherlock Canonical References post!

As packed as the previous episodes were with nods to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories, the real deal starts here. Mark Gatiss deserves credit for the script, which is chock-a-block with easter eggs.

I have split the entire set into 2 posts. Here is the first half:

1. The episode name “The Great Game” – Reference to this line in The Adventure of the Final Problem: “I tell you, my friend, that if a detailed account of that silent contest could be written, it would take its place as the most brilliant bit of thrust-and-parry work in the history of detection.”

2. Sherlocks’s reaction to the convict’s mention of sex – Dr Watson states in A Scandal in Bohemia: “He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer.”

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3. Sherlock shooting at the wall – Dr Watson mentions in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: “ … Holmes, in one of his queer humours, would sit in an armchair with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks,..”

4. Sherlock's statement: “I don’t know what’s got into the criminal classes” – Sherlock Holmes makes a similar reference to the criminals in
The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax: “and it causes an unhealthy excitement among the criminal classes.” and in The Sign of the Four: “…a good many of the criminal classes begin to know me,…”

5. Sherlock's further comment about criminals: “It’s a good job I am not one of them” - Sherlock Holmes remarks in The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton: "You know, Watson, I don’t mind confessing to you that I have always had an idea that I would have made a highly efficient criminal. This is the chance of my lifetime in that direction"

6. John's discovery of a human head in the fridge – Dr Watson states in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: “Our chambers were always full of chemicals and of criminal relics which had a way of wandering into unlikely positions, and of turning up in the butter-dish or in even less desirable places.”

7. Sherlock remarks about the human head: “I got it from Bart’s morgue. I’m measuring coagulation of saliva after death” – Stamford explains about Holmes in A Study in Scarlet: “When it comes to beating the subjects in the dissecting-rooms with a stick, it is certainly taking rather a bizarre shape. Yes, to verify how far bruises may be produced after death.”

8. John defending his choice of “A Study in Pink” as the title: “Pink lady, pink case, pink phone. There was a lot of pink” – Sherlock comments about Dr Watson in A Case of Identity: “It is true that you have missed everything of importance, but you have hit upon the method, and you have a quick eye for colour.”

9. John going for a walk, after getting irritated by Sherlock's complaining about Watson writing about his shortcomings – Watson states in The Sign of Four: “I confess, too, that I was irritated by the egotism which seemed to demand that every line of my pamphlet should be devoted to his own special doings.”

10. Sherlock comparing human mind to a hard drive – Holmes in A Study in Scarlet: “I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.”

Benedict Cumberbatch, Rupert Graves and Vinette Robinson as Sherlock Holmes Lestrade and Sally Donovan in BBC Sherlock Season 1 The Great Game
11. John arguing about Sherlock's (lack of) knowledge of the solar system – Sherlock Holmes makes this statement in A Study in Scarlet: “What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently; "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work."

12. Sherlock's statement: “All that matters to me is my work. Without that my brain rots” – F
rom The Sign of Four: “I cannot live without brain-work. What else is there to live for?”

13. Sherlock's advice to John to stop writing about their cases - Sherlock Holmes states in The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier: "..since I have often had occasion to point out to him how superficial are his own accounts and to accuse him of pandering to popular taste instead of confining himself rigidly to facts and figures."

14. Sherlock standing at the window and remarking to Mrs Hudson: “Look at that Mrs. Hudson. Quiet, Calm, Peaceful. Isn’t it hateful?” – In
The Sign of Four: “Stand at the window here. Was ever such a dreary, dismal, unprofitable world?... What could be more hopelessly prosaic and material?”

15. John’s comment about Sherlock lying to Mycroft: “Sibling rivalry. Now we are getting somewhere” - From A Study in Scarlet: “…how often I endeavoured to break through the reticence which he showed on all that concerned himself.” (Watson) and “Did you never ask him what he was going in for?" I asked. "No; he is not a man that it is easy to draw out…”  (Stamford). From The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter: “During my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Sherlock Holmes I had never heard him refer to his relations, and hardly ever to his own early life.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in BBC Sherlock Season 1 Episode 3 The Great Game

16. Sherlock's line: “I would be lost without my blogger” – Sherlock Holmes states in A Scandal in Bohemia: “I am lost without my Boswell”
17. Lestrade's remark to Sherlock – “You like the funny cases, don’t you? The surprising ones.” – Lestrade states in The Adventure of the Second Stain: ''a mere trifle, but the sort of thing you take an interest in – queer, you know, and what you might call freakish.” Gregson also makes a similar statement in A Study in Scarlet: “’s a queer case though, and I knew your taste for such things”.
18. Sherlock makes deductions about the Bohemian stationary from Czech Republic and also the type of pen. - Sherlock Holmes makes deductions about “Best quality paper” and “...paper of native Indian manufacture,” in The Sign of Four as well as in A Scandal in Bohemia: “The paper was made in Bohemia”
19. Sherlock's deduction about the feminine handwriting – Sherlock Holmes makes a deduction about masculine handwriting in The Adventure of the Cardboard Box, and about feminine handwriting in The Hound of the Baskervilles

20. Sherlock's description of the five orange pips is a direct reference to the plot of The Five Orange Pips: “Its outrages were usually preceded by a warning sent to the marked man in some fantastic but generally recognized shape -- a sprig of oak-leaves in some parts, melon seeds or orange pips in others.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson in 221 B Baker Street in The Great Game
21. The design of the room “221C” is based on the description of the room, where Enoch J Drebber's body is found in
A Study in Scarlet: “It was a large square room, looking all the larger from the absence of all furniture. A vulgar flaring paper adorned the walls, but it was blotched in places with mildew, and here and there great strips had become detached and hung down, exposing the yellow plaster beneath. Opposite the door was a showy fireplace, surmounted by a mantelpiece of imitation white marble. On one corner of this was stuck the stump of a red wax candle. The solitary window was so dirty that the light was hazy and uncertain, giving a dull grey tinge to everything, which was intensified by the thick layer of dust which coated the whole apartment.”

22. Sherlock remarks in 221 C: “The curtain rises” - Sherlock in The Adventure of the Second Stain: “Excellent!” said he. “Come, friend Watson, the curtain rings up for the last act.”

23. Sherlock accessing “Most Wanted” list on his smartphone, to get details about Golem, the assassin – Sherlock Holmes maintains alphabetically sorted files about  in 221 B. As Dr Watson states in A Scandal in Bohemia: “For many years he had adopted a system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it was difficult to name a subject or a person on which he could not at once furnish information.”. Sherlock Holmes himself remarks in The Adventure of the Empty House: “Just give me down my index of biographies from the shelf...My collection of M's is a fine one.”

24.  Sherlock's reply to Lestrade: “You just see, but you just don’t observe” – Holmes makes a very similar statement to Watson in A Scandal in Bohemia: “You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear. For example, you have frequently seen the steps which lead up from the hall to this room.”

25. Sherlock’s knowledge of astronomy in solving the puzzle of the fake painting – A nod to the inconsistencies in the Canon

Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey as Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper in BBC Sherlock

26. Sherlock commenting on Molly's weight gain: “Domestic bliss suits you. 3 pounds” - Sherlock Holmes makes a similar observation about John Watson in A Scandal in Bohemia: “Wedlock suits you,... I think, Watson, that you have put on seven and a half pounds since I saw you”

28. Sherlock's remark about John's deductions: “You are in sparkling form” – “Excellent, Watson! You scintillate to-day.” from The Adventure of the Illustrious Client and “Really, Watson, you excel yourself,” from The Hound of the Baskervilles and “Brilliant, Watson. You are scintillating this morning.” from The Valley of Fear

29. Sherlock's comment about John's deductions: “You have missed everything of importance” – Sherlock Holmes remarks to Watson in
A Case of Identity: “It is true that you have missed everything of importance, but you have hit upon the method, and you have a quick eye for colour”

30. Sherlock deducing the mud as belonging to Sussex with London mud overlaying it:
“Clear as a map reference to me” – Dr Watson mentions in A Study in Scarlet: “Geology.—Practical, but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.”

Benedict Cumberbatch and Vinette Robinson as Sherlock Holmes and Sally Donovan in BBC Sherlock Season 1 The Great Game

32. Sherlock deducing that poison was the cause of Carl Power’s death – Dr Watson documents Holmes' knowledge in A Study in Scarlet: “Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally.”

33. Sherlock's knowledge about the case of Carl Powers – Dr Watson mentions about Holmes in A Study in Scarlet: “Sensational Literature.—Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.”

34. John's remark to Sherlock about his long time interest in solving cases: “You started early, didn’t you” – From The Hound of the Baskervilles: “..though I confess that once when I was very young I confused the Leeds Mercury with the Western Morning News.”. Further, Holmes mentioned about some cases that he handled before Watson’s arrival at 221 B in The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual: “These are the records of your early work, then?” I asked. “I have often wished that I had notes of those cases.” “Yes, my boy, these were all done prematurely before my biographer had come to glorify me.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in his purple shirt in Season 1 Episode 3 The Great Game

35. Sherlock is seen wearing a purple shirt – From The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle: “He was lounging upon the sofa in a purple dressing-gown, a pipe-rack within his reach upon the right, and a pile of crumpled morning papers, evidently newly studied, near at hand.”

36. Sherlock's instruction to Lestrade: “Go arrest them Inspector. That’s what you do best” - F
rom A Study in Scarlet: “I have chaffed them so much that they would never have let me hear the end of it.”

37. Sherlock getting information from a victim’s wife by pretending to be the friend of the deceased – Sherlock Holmes uses Social Engineering tactics in a number of cases to gather information

38. Sherlock explains his strategy to get information from the aforementioned subject: “People don’t like telling you things. They love to contradict you” – From The Sign of the Four: “The main thing with people of that sort, … is never to let them think that their information can be of the slightest importance to you. If you do they will instantly shut up like an oyster. If you listen to them under protest, as it were, you are very likely to get what you want.”. Dr Watson uses a similar method to get information from Frankland in The Hound of the Baskervilles.

39. Sherlock's statement to John, when examining the corpse: “Give me data”
  1. “No data yet…” from A Study in Scarlet
  2. “There are hardly any data…” from The Sign of Four
  3. “I have no data yet” from A Scandal in Bohemia
  4. “Data, data, data. I can’t make bricks without clay” from The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

40. John does not seem to like Sekhmet, the cat in the late Connie Prince's house – Possible reference to Watson mentioning about having a bull pup in A Study in Scarlet: “I keep a bull pup,..”

That concludes the first part. Click here to read the second post.

Click here to read all my posts about BBC Sherlock.

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Image Source: Cumberbatchweb

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  1. I've been catching up on BBC's Sherlock and enjoying it immensely. Great to read all these references that I would have never have known about!

    1. Thanks sidekickreviews. Glad that you found the post useful.


  2. Hi there! My name is Adela and I am from Romania. I just wanted to say how much
    I love Sherlock, and every book with him, every movie.... I enjoyed watching the series with Benedict, just a couple of days ago. And I am very disappointed that there are no more shows on with Sherlock on the channels in Romania. There were a few but now they are not airing anymore.
    Will visit your blog again! Bye!

    1. Thanks Adela for stopping by.

      I too enjoy the BBC show and especially Benedict's performance. The third season premieres in the US on Jan 19 2014. I will try to find out about the broadcast schedule for Romania and let you know.