The Man Who Murdered Sherlock?

 DATELINE:  Well, Attempted Murder…

 Watson, We Have a Problem Watson, We Have a Problem!

 

Well, you have a trollish documentary here: The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes turns out to be a misnomer, if not a distortion of logic. It’s elementary to point out this is a headline grabber, not a fact.

Actually, the man attempted murder—and had regrets about it. That man is, as everyone knows, the author Arthur Conan Doyle, who was a doctor in the vein of Watson.

This presentation tries to make a mountain out of a molehill of money. If Doyle chose not to ultimately murder his creation, the fictional detective, the motive was cash. Doyle was offered more moolah than Moriarty had in his crime network.

The film tries to do a hatchet psychology profile on the author, suggesting he had deep-rooted emotional problems: and he took it out on his punching bag, Sherlock.

We all have heard that Dr. Joseph Bell was the model for Sherlock—that medical professor that Doyle studied with. However, this film hints there was a second model for Sherlock, far more nefarious.

It sounds like they film producers can’t tell Moriarty from Mycroft. Dr. Bryan Waller was the other role model: an arrogant and brilliant man who called himself a “Consulting Pathologist.”  Now you’re cooking.

 

Waller was not someone Doyle liked. It seems he was Doyle’s mother’s lover! Yikes. No wonder she loved Sherlock and was dismayed when Conan Doyle killed him off in 1891.

Waller and Mother Doyle were neighbors on his estate where he set her up in a cottage. Now this is the kind of sleazy detail we love to report. TMZ clearly fell down on the job of reporting this.

However, the false charges against the author seem trumped up at best. There never was murder, only mysterious death that was explained years later when Sherlock showed up to collect his royalties.

Of the spate of Holmes documentaries, this one still managed to bemuse us and hold us rapt, no matter what its shortcomings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sherlock v. Conan Doyle: Battle Royale

DATELINE: Who Hates Sherlock Holmes? The Author

doyle

If ever there was a legendary love/hate relationship, it was between Sherlock Holmes and the man who was his spiritual father and creator, Arthur Conan Doyle.

In a French documentary called Sherlock Holmes Against Conan Doyle, we have a battle on the order of a duel with the Napoleon of Crime and the Actors Who Took Him On.

Meant to be a money-making enterprise and a throwaway for a couple of stories, Holmes turned into Doyle’s Frankenstein Monster.

A marvelous and entertaining documentary gives us a blow-by-blow description of Doyle’s losing war with his temperamental genius/consulting detective.

You know who will win this fight. Holmes has survived with hundreds of movies and TV shows, depicted by a variety of actors with waspy disdain—from Rathbone to Jeremy Brett, to the modern versions like Cumberbatch. Thankfully, we never see Robert Downey in the role.

The little hour is chock full of clips of these Sherlocks making annotations on Conan Doyle, a man of some adventure and style himself. Often thought as a Watson type, Doyle was actually more of a Professor Challenger sort.

Killing Holmes was frowned upon even by Doyle’s mother, and money is the great resurrection device. After ten years, Doyle was forced to bring him back from the dead.

Based on an old professor who used to wow the med students with his erudition, Holmes was a clever creation who was enhanced by his narrative fellow, long-suffering and frequent punching bag named Dr. John H. Watson.

If you want to see fleeting glimpses of many classic Holmes portrayals, and rare clips of Doyle, you may enjoy the time, though it covers familiar territory.

 

The Wilder Sherlock

DATELINE:  Sherlock Takes a Bath!

 Stephens & Blakely

When master auteur Billy Wilder (who gave us gems like Sunset Boulevard, Some Like It Hot, One Two Three) gives us his take on Sherlock Holmes, we are ready for something unusual. So, we overly anticipated watching his film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.

All that promise seems to go up in a cocaine dream as an overlong movie that could be half-an-hour shorter and more succinct, maintaining the early humor.

Wilder puts all your standard Holmes patter into the pot (Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft, and irritation with Dr. Watson’s stories). That stuff is quite amusing.

The first third of the film is filled with the kind of humor you expect from Wilder—sophisticated, sharp, and delightful. He raises the ugly specter that Holmes and Watson are consenting adults—and he makes more comprehensible, Holmes turning to his seven-percent solution.

Funny bits with the Russian ballet, and boring cases about midgets, make us think we are entering a funnier world than Conan Doyle envisioned.

Colin Blakely is a delightful Dr. Watson, and Robert Stephens protests too much about being a woman-hating fop. He plays Holmes with a tad flamboyance, disdaining deerstalker hats and women equally. He is more than a fop. We are almost in panty-waist territory.

Christopher Lee is around as a more peripatetic Mycroft, showing up in places other than the Diogenes.

Wilder cannot throw away a line. Midgets come back to haunt us, after one bad joke. And having Queen Victoria seem to resemble a Munchkin is over the top and under the height limit for small talk.

Throw in the Loch Ness monster of sorts, and you have something that would later be taken as gospel by the Robert Downey school of Sherlock acting and writing.

We wished the Private Life of Sherlock could have been taken for better, not for worse. We remain loyal in sickness and health, good and bad.

 

 

Hounds of Baskerville: Sherlock Update

DATELINE: Classic Downgraded!

hounds Pluralized Hounds

The Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock series episode from Season 2 precariously holds on, despite its updating of the original Conan Doyle. Deep down, there remains the essence and core of the tales and characters created by the good writer/doctor.

In re-reviewing the tale of the Hounds (now pluralized), all the original features are present, but not in the way you might expect. Holmes is being driven mad by an addiction to cigarettes, and he is willing to do just about anything to have a whiff of second-hand smoke. Even take looney cases.

When a wealthy Dartmoor man comes by to seek help for the mysterious death of his father 20 years earlier by some mythic hound that ripped him apart (and carted away the body) Holmes is customarily rude and agitated. His hyper-manner is hilarious as he displays (showing off, accuses Watson) his brilliant insights into a potential client. We are amused.

The lunacy of the modern update takes hold soon enough.

Baskerville is now a genetic research military compound dealing with bio-chemical weapons. The key may be an acronym as fanciful as any mythic, red-eyed dog-eared monster.

Cumberbatch and Freeman have their patter and interplay down better than Abbott and Costello (surprisingly referred to in the story as space aliens under wraps at the base).

Holmes takes his smarter brother’s keycode card to break into the base. Mycroft is now the highest-level military-industrial brain in England. This explains how Holmes can act with impunity and make money as a consulting detective too.

The script becomes increasingly incomprehensible, but flies by at breakneck speed to prevent re-thinking about the logical brilliance of Holmes.

In the Mark Gatiss (he plays Mycroft) version of Doyle, clever becomes chaotic, but it’s all in good fun as long as it is not put under the electron microscope. It beats Robert Downey’s American Sherlock on all counts.

Holmesian Logic Applied to the Las Vegas Shooter

DATELINE: The Third Man or Stephen Paddock?

Welles as Third Man Welles as Harry Lime

A few friends have asked us to apply Sherlockian logic to the Las Vegas shooter case that has baffled so many people—and confounded police.

Authorities find Stephen Paddock a conundrum that defies profiles created by criminologists.

We deduce, first of all, that investigators have been probing deeply beyond obvious facts. The obvious often is deceptive and will mislead investigators.

After all, it was Sherlock Holmes who famously said that you need to eliminate all the impossible factors—and whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

We must ask ourselves, what is served by misery, violence, and fear?

Paddock’s actions justify a private revenge, making his secrets all the more imponderable.

So, what can we deduce about the man who had millions of dollars from life as a high roller? He was confident in the risks and his odds of beating them.

Paddock was a fugitive from the law of averages.

This was an angry man who felt disrespected by society, despite his success as a gambler. He felt his status as an older, white male gave him no advantage in terms of respectability. As the sands of life passed by, he was dissatisfied with his lot. He hated time. It was cheating him.

Over the years, he found the ease of beating the system put him above law and society. He won millions of dollars by playing games against those he felt were dolts of society.

Paddock mistrusted other people—and had no need for their assistance. He worked alone in his problem-solving. People were manipulated to serve his own goals.

Paddock was a coward. He could not face the people he loathed—those who found happiness in simple living. He preferred the edginess of risk-taking. Thus, like infamous fictional killer Harry Lime, he took up a high position to commit his crime.

If you recall, Lime looked down on people from the perspective of a Ferris-wheel where his victims looked like “dots.” The film is The Third Man. It was easy to dehumanize those who would die if they are merely squirming dots in a dark night.

The armaments at his crime scene suggest he knew this could be a “glorious” Waterloo for him, but the use of cameras indicate he planned for the possibility to beat the law of averages to kill again.

Final Problems with the Series: Unhappy Ending

DATELINE:  Solution’s End

holmes-boys

Holmes boys—minus girl

There has always been a tendency to go overboard on flashbacks within hallucinations for the BBC update of Sherlock. And, trying to bring back Moriarty (wonderful over the top Andrew Scott), turned the final episode of Season 4 into a logistical pretzel.

The notion that Mycroft has locked up the homicidal sister of the Holmes boys is daring and ridiculous—and making her a girl with an interest in Jim Moriarty certainly allows for license. We fell into more plot holes during this episode than in the entire Holmes canon.

Alas, how the Holmes girl managed to escape her prisoner asylum island out in the middle of the nowhere ocean pushed the envelope and “note” clue from the Culverton Smith episode into a conflagration highlight of the last show.

Yes, she blows up 221b Baker Street and nearly kills all the stars. The residence will be rebuilt in a coda at episode’s end. However, overkill seems to have taken over, killing subtlety.

We really don’t want Sherlock to turn into the dreadful movie franchise with Robert Downey and Jude Law, utterly miscast lunacy. And, we are not amused to find the dreadful American TV series showing more intellect than this British counterpart.

Eurus is sister’s name.  It’s Greek for East Wind. Oh, we get it. Clever works, but pyrotechnics seem ready made for American TV ratings, not civilized British drama.

Mark Gatsiss finally has a big problem, not a solution.

The series likely will not return for two to three years, if ever. And it makes the “if ever” clause more attractive than anytime in the past four seasons.

The fourth season ends with conclusion that might suffice if production and stars never do another. It also sets a clean slate for future episodes with Holmes and Watson in Conan Doyle style again. Quien sabe?

Sherlock: Fair to Middle Episode

DATELINE:  Lying Down on the Job

toby-jones-as-culverton

The middle episode movie for Sherlock 4 features Toby Jones, our favorite diminutive character actor, in rare form as evil. Moriarty receives a particularly snide stand-in named Culverton Smith in a ditty called “The Lying Detective.”

After the death of Mary, Watson’s wife, Holmes seemed crushed with guilt over failing to save her—and Watson seemed overwhelmed with mourning. Doyle skipped dealing with such issues for good reason.

Into this vulnerable mode, Sherlock has come face to face with a billionaire businessman/humanitarian who happens to be a serial killer.  It’s a year when billionaires do not fare well in film and television.

Having fallen back into his worst scenario of addiction, Holmes finds little sympathy from the man who writes the blog on their cases.

If there is a departure from the original stories, among so many departures, it is the importance of the women in the lives of Holmes and Watson. Irene Adler and Mary Marston Watson have become revisionist feminists. And Mrs. Hudson is the widow of a drug dealer.

If creative force Mark Gatsiss has his way, there may be other powerful women lurking between the lines of the original stories. Oh, no, not a Holmes sister??

Matching wits with a billionaire with unlimited resources may be a risky business for Holmes, but he has his reasons to leave himself so likely to be a murder victim.

Prodigious displays of his logical insights continue to be thrown away by Holmes, even in his most despondent, hallucinatory situations, induced by drug abuse.

Of course, the mainstay of the Gatsiss version of Holmes is that it always returns to canon, no worse for wear. We understand the need to avoid looking like Holmes picks his deerstalker wardrobe off the rack, but there’s no reason to put the stories on the rack.

 

Sherlock Returns to His Roots

DATELINE: Brides and Dogs

 

Since 2010 the revamped and updated Holmes with Cumberbatch and Freeman has taken on the true mantle of the Conan Doyle knighted revisions. Put aside those terrible movies with what’s his name, and the worse TV show with the female Watson.

Benedict and Martin are the successors to Basil and Nigel, Jeremy and Edward. This time, to show their mettle, the case of The Abominable Bride is set in 1890 or so.

To take the characters back in time levels the playing field with the past great adaptations—and puts this tandem into the canon with accolades.

The Bride case is one of those originally mentioned by Doyle/Watson as too shocking for the contemporary audiences of Victorian England. It is all rather mundane for the 21st century, but keeps the newest fans in ecstasy. This case is really Five Pips.

Holmes is still disparaging to Watson—and even Mrs. Hudson joins in, knocking those Strand stories. She notes she is barely in them. Holmes adds he was barely in the dog story. Watson incredulously asks, “Do you mean The Hound?”

Oh, the new old story is juicy, if not ridiculous too. It is played broadly, cleverly, and wittily. Holmes and Watson’s modern meeting is re-enacted in gaslight fashion without missing a beat.

Holmes notes how he is a man out of time—and the opening credits are the same as the series, only substituting silent newsreel footage of Old London for the new skyline.

Fans of the British series will be thrilled. Newcomers probably need to watch the earlier episodes to enjoy the parallels and references totally.

Sherlock has made Cumberbatch and Freeman movie stars of the first order—but they seem enamored of these breakthrough roles. We too are smitten.