No sadder proof can be given by a man of his own littleness than disbelief in great men.
—Thomas Carlyle (via afourforty)
Wired posted “It’s Elementary: Why a Female Watson Isn’t a Bad Idea for Latest Holmes Series”, which is but another voice in that peculiar Elementary choir, more properly thought of as ‘All We are Saying Is Give Elementary a Chance’ (and decide for yourself if you set said title/description to the music for ‘Give Peace a Chance’). In the (Sherlockian) world where Sherlock Holmes - oft described as inhuman due to his lack of emotion (outward anyway) - is celebrated, worshiped and aggressively defended via the most passionate of methods, I find it odd that the ‘critical response’ (if one could call it that) to Elementary can be summed up in four short, rather pathetic, words: “give it a chance” - hardly a catchphrase to instill excitement or even interest. I’ve held off watching the ‘review screener’ of Elementary’s pilot episode which has been floating around, but based on various trailers, interviews with actors (Jonny Lee Miller) and 140 character responses to said trailer, the prognosis my dear Joan (Watson!) is not great. In regards to that last point (ie. 140 character responses), David Stuart Davies, author of various Holmes pastiches as well as non-fiction Sherlock Holmes studies - most notably the brilliant and essential Bending the Willow: Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes (1996) which some would call the last word on JB’s Granada/Sherlock years - had these things to say after watching the full Elementary pilot: 1) @DStuartDavies ”Elementary lives up - or is that down - to its name. A pale shadow of the BBC Sherlock. Underwhelming. Unlikely to become required viewing” and 2) @DStuartDavies ”Watched ELEMENTARY.Ho hum! In the same frame as Monk/Castle. Not terribly Sherlockian. Some moments but a pale shadow of the BBC. And.-why?” As more and more people (hardcore Sherlockians, BBC Sherlock enthusiasts and TV fans alike) watch and report on Elementary, it becomes overwhelmingly obvious that the world’s response to those four words (“give it a chance”) is even shorter (by 3): “Why?”
[Yes, that’s a gigantic over-sized billboard for Elementary. And we ask again, why?]
The Well-Read Sherlockian reviewed Michael J. Crowe’s (ed.) Ronald Knox and Sherlock Holmes: The Origin of Sherlockian Studies (Gasogene Books, 2011) and it’s a review worthy of Herr Bilgemanns or Monsieur Piff-Pouf, that is Ms Leah Guinn does an excellent job placing Knox’s piece in it’s proper historical context while at the same time employing Knox’s own technique. So as not to leave newcomers behind, Ms Guinn begins by pointing out: “If you’ve been a Holmes fan for very long at all, you’re undoubtedly aware of “The Game.” Players work under the (true) assumption that Holmes, Watson, and Co. are real people, and that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was simply Dr. Watson’s literary agent.” (Ed. Note: I love how she parenthetically inserts “true” - my bolding). Furthermore, Ms Guinn also very wisely avoids weighing in on whether or not Knox truly invented/originated “The Game” or if Knox’s contribution was simply epiphenomenal, and that S. C. Roberts and his school of thinking were the true innovators. As some of you may know, in 2010 the University of Minnesota hosted a conference called The Spirits of Sherlock Holmes where a famous/infamous debate was held between BSI Historian Jon Lellenberg and President of the Friends of the Sherlock Holmes Collections Dr. Richard Sveum on the irrelevance/relevance of Ronald Knox and his “Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes” paper of 1911 (read more about the debate on Lellenberg’s Spirits of SH post and this slightly more even-toned Examiner article)*. But I digress…though I hope I’ve illustrated some of the pitfalls surrounding the discussion of Knox and his place in the History of Sherlockian Studies, hence the importance of Mr Crowe’s publishing this book now with, as Ms Guinn points out, a lengthy and scholarly introduction that helps us navigate these obviously “deep waters.” On a related note, archive.org has a free audio version of Knox’s ”Studies in the Literature of Sherlock Holmes” (50 minutes, split into two mp3 parts) - which is pretty cool because Knox’s essay was originally meant to be heard and was only published after having been read aloud at various Oxford undergraduate club meetings.
[Michael J. Crowe’s introduction is said to be worth the price of admission.]
The Cornish Horrors (founded in 1971) - as a supplament to my Fall Sherlockian Scion Events list - will mark the 110th anniversary of the events of “The Adventure of the Red Circle” with a gala dinner on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at The Hope Club in Providence, RI. The Annual Leon Sterndale Invited Address will be delivered by Dr. Jonathan Dowben of the Brooke Army Medical Center on the subject of Watson’s medical condition subsequent to his service in Afghanistan. Burt Wolder of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere made the announcement and is the person to contact if you require more information about this excellent sounding event. ‘The Cornish Horrors’ are of course named after that “strangest case I have handled” - better known to us as “The Adventure of the Devil’s Foot.”
Portraits in Poetry put together a collage of images featuring Lieutenant Commander Data (Brent Spiner) from the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes “Elementary, Dear Data” (Season 2, Episode 3) and “Ship in a Bottle” (Season 6, Episode 12) assuming the role of Sherlock Holmes in various holodeck outings (if you’re wondering, Geordi La Forge - the quasi blind Engineer of the Enterprise - plays Dr Watson) - though Data first discovers Holmes in “Lonely Among Us” (Season 1, Episode 6). I highly recommend tracking down both episodes and giving them a whirl - at the very least don’t you want to know what Moriarty gets up to aboard a 24th century spaceship?
[Data, Data, Data…]
Quick Sherlock Links:
The Holmes of the Baker Street posted this montage of opening credits for the 1988 masterpiece Without a Clue featuring Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine as Watson and Holmes (respectively) in one of the greatest ‘off-beat’ Sherlock Holmes films in existence. If you’ve never seen Without a Clue, schedule a quiet two hours, get comfortable and prepare for some serious humor, both pawky and otherwise. More images from Without a Clue can be found on The Holmes of the Baker Street - a site new to me but one that shows promise as a Sherlockian blog.
[Introductory titles for Kingsley/Caine’s brilliant Sherlock Holmes film Without A Clue.]
Strictly Sherlock - blog of Professor Tracy Revels - writes about her recent experience as a guest on a Wisconsin Public Radio (mentioned here on Always1895 last week) discussing “the ‘renaissance’ of Sherlock Holmes, and his enduring popularity.” If you haven’t heard this segment yet, I encourage you to listen to Ms Revels discussion of the Sherlock Holmes ‘renaissance’ here.
Dan Andriacco explores the concept that “some of the best Sherlock Holmes films aren’t about Sherlock Holmes.” I’ll let Mr Andriacco unpack and explain that prima facie paradoxical statement, but I will mention that as newer Sherlock fans begin exploring Holmes adaptations beyond just the BBC Sherlock and/or Ritchie’s movies or even Granada’s Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes, things can start getting a little, well, ‘weird’. What do I mean exactly? Certainly there is no pejorative connotation with ‘weird’ in the way I’m employing it - in fact many of these adaptations are quite excellent. But using Mr Andriacco’s first example, They Might Be Giants is a far-out, extremely cerebral ‘adaptation’ of the ethos of Great Detective. Not quite a brilliant film, it’s certainly remarkable for a number of reasons and well worth watching.
[They Might Be Giants (1971).]
Special & Rare On A Stick, blog of University of Minnesota Library’s Sherlock Holmes/ACD Special Collections curator Tim Johnson, continues his series of reflections on his life (so far) as a librarian (ie. 30 years!) in all it’s facets. This week Mr Johnson posted reflection number 14: Librarians of Congress and the Minnesota Connection’. Even though most of these posts have nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes, they do make for fascinating reading.
Baker Street Babes still have tickets available for their 8 hour BBC Sherlock Season Two festival called Sherlopalooza. I wish I was going to be in London for this and I look forward to hearing reviews after Sherlopalooza happens on November 17, 2012. Best of luck to The Babes and everyone else involved in this event.
Sherlock Holmes Plays reviews David Ruffle’s Holmes & Watson: End Peace: “Here there is no external narration by Watson, but a dialogue between our well-known friends, apparently at the end of Watson’s life. The story is set in a hospital “somewhere in Dorset” in 1929 beginning with Holmes visiting his old companion as the good doctor lies in bed, worn out and breathing his last.”
Sherlock Peoria’s Brad Keefauver has spent the better part of the week fretting over the imminent launch of CBS’s Elementary, and honestly, we feel his pain. In fact, even if you’re a little sick of reading about the Jonny Lee Miller and the quasi-Homes adaptation, just know that Mr Keefauver’s post is titled ‘Make … the … pain … stop’ - on a personal note, here in NYC one cannot get away from the ‘booming’ Elementary advertising blitz: billboards, commercials and most recently (I’ll get a picture if I can this week) the entire side of one of those fake English tour buses (the giant red ones) was covered in an Elementary ad. I’m not sure which is worse, a bus-sized ad or the smaller posters of ‘Holmes’ with the tagline “Holmes Sweet Holmes” and ‘Watson’ with (the rather obviosu - you know because Watson is a womannow) “My Dear Watson”. Sigh - I second Mr Keefauver’s sentiment: make the pain stop!
[“Make … the … pain … stop”]
Sherlock Everywhere on the other hand is a great way to cheer yourself up! For those familiar with Scott Monty and Burt Wolder’s extremely excellent and totally brilliant I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast, they now have their own IHOSE Tumblr page called appropriately enough “Sherlock Everywhere”. I’m looking forward to what IHOSE has in-store for it’s tumblr followers.
The Curious Tumblr Of Joe Riggs - master mentalist, psychological performer and mental Sherlockian -published a piece which takes the form of an open letter to the actor Andrew Scott who of course played Jim Moriarty in BBC Sherlock entitled ‘My short letter to Andrew Scott…’ wherein Mr Riggs praises Mr Scott for his interpretation of the Napoleon of Crime: “You managed to be lovable, funny, psychotic and you were absolutely terrifying in the end. There was not one single minute you were on screen that I did not move all the way to the edge of my seat and sit silently completely captivated.” Here here!
[Warning: this guy will make you sit on the edge of your seat!]
* So who was considered the ‘winner’ of The Spirit of Sherlock Holmes debate? Since I was not present (nor have I heard a recording or read a transcription), I’ll simply quote two ‘comments’ posted on Mr Lellenberg’s BSI History blog post about the Spirits Conference:
1) Jim Hawkins - of The Nashville Scholars of the Three Pipe Problem - On August 9, 2010 Mr Hawkins commented: “Although Mr Lellenberg was quite convincing, the debate came to a draw in most minds. Dr. Sevum is a stubborn man to sway. We all learned much about our Sherlockian forbearers. Thanks to both gentlemen who brought us this great historical debate!”
2) Susan E Dahlinger - a respected Sherlockian scholar who, among other accomplishments co-edited with Leslie Klinger Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle and The Bookman: Pastiches, Parodies, Letters, Columns and Commentary from America’s “Magazine of Literature and Life” (1895 - 1933) (Wessex Press). On August 9, 2010, Ms S.E. Dahlinger wrote: “How fascinating that two people can hear the same debate and come to different conclusions. I’d say [Jon Lellenberg] won that one. He’s perfectly right; the Irregulars were not founding a sodality on the work of Knox. How many papers have you ever seen, btw, my dear Hawkins, that follow the style of Knox?”
Obviously, we’re no closer to learning who “won” the debate, but I suggest reading the rest of the comments on that post (especially Mr Lellenberg’s reply). I hope to collect a little more information from some of the participants and members of the crowd as well as to get a sense of how well the various arguments/positions in the debate have held up over time’; at which point maybe I’ll have enough data to put together a readable post investigating the roots of the debate as well as whether or not it actually matters which early Sherlockian scholar ‘invented’ The Game.