Monday, 6 January 2014

Sherlock: The sign of three

My wife and I were not in the least bit happy with last night's Sherlock. I say this to point out that despite the strong and negative reaction this ep has elicited from some quarters, these opinions are being rejected out of hand by certain people on the grounds that we are not the show maker, we don't know what we're talking about, what do you mean you didn't like Sherlock? it was brilliant?! We have not allowed our inner child to be more free and unchain the character from the genre. Apparently only other official script writers are allowed to point out that for a 90 minute script there sure was an awful lot of filler, at least three writers help coble this together and linked up poorly and that it took 25 minutes for any kind of mystery to occur and the final solution to the bleeding obvious puzzle made no sense. If you even allow for 15 minutes to elapse before you tune out of boredom, frustration or indifference, that's still 10 minutes longer than the most patient person would of watched.

What then unfolded was a Children in need special (that's telethon filler for those not from the UK) that ran long enough to cover 5 years of Terry Wogan taking cheques from runners for Pudsy. I know Gattis and Moffatt and that guy they were covering for were trying to be clever. And it was , in bits, but not for a full 90 minutes. In fact one of the biggest reasons those of us that hated it were unhappy was that despite at least staying somewhat in character, the ep was in the time slot that normally is reserved for Sherlock the Mystery drama thriller. I might have been ready to forgive even this if the story , such as it was, wasn't so disjointed and incoherent in it's dipping from one genre to the next, at one point becoming a BBC3 drunken youths special revelling in intoxication past the point even Packet of crisps would have gone. If you spent most of the film going WTF and hoping it might start eventually being something, it was for about 5 minutes then went back to utter confusion despite a brilliant portrayal of a socially awkward genius that would have worked if you had wanted to watch Big Bang doing the long awaited Penny Leonard wedding.

I would even  have forgiven it even if it was shit if it was one of  6 or even 12. The fact there is but one more ep left in this series means that there is a 50 50 chance the next one will be as bad or worse or marginally better or effing brilliant. I don't like those odds when deciding to choose something to watch. To mention a mates comment, three slots a year are too valuable to waste on fluff like this. We chose it to avoid all the comedies on the air at the time, we wanted drama, there had been no particular warning that it would be anything but a drama only to become a Colin Firth spectacular available on DVD for free in next weekends Daily Mail. Of course we were going to be confused and eventually angry. But just try saying that in front of some people....

And what kind of people are we that we deserve censure? The kind of people that watch a wide range of programmes and cultural content, we consider ourselves relatively open minded and intelligent only to be routinely treated to a  hyperbole of terms regularly used to suppress any difference of opinion that doesn't show due deference to his holiness The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat. How often have we or even you, yes you been right all along, totally fact based, completely sure of your information  only to be told by these wise things that they were sure you're wrong and anyway they know better. This happened several times to my wife with Doctor Who and the keepers of the faith. When rumbled by the Who docufilm confirming my wife's assertions, these people just pretended like they knew it all along, enough to make you scream.

A prime example  is this most recent quote from a Who blogger that has more than once pushed his weight around talking long enough to insure nobody else gets a word in edge wise lest he be proved at fault. But, and this is really important, this blogger thought it was great. And he, also, thinks that anyone that didn't think it was great is bloody stupid. Not just a little bit stupid but what-little-brains-they-have-dribbling-out-of-their-ears stupid. And, I don't want to talk to them. I mean, there are, of course, also people who believe NASA faked the moon landings and the world is run by giants lizards. They're also quite vocal on the Internet, I've noticed. And, are also worth ignoring.

I bet even Moffat has been heard uttering the words "I don't think it was that good" or "I might have done this better if ...." , "Boss I need more time to fix this awful script". But with people like the above rapping the fingers of those of us who do in fact know, have information and are used to a certain level of quality, we are either rendered mute to avoid offence or pretend to be overjoyed just to keep the peace.

The fact is that even producers of big shows with big ratings can and do get it wrong, these people are doing a job, for big money, but if they do it less well than they did it last week, we may not watch next week. And if enough people don't watch next week and the week after, programmes get cancelled. That's why those of us who watch and have opinions matter, and why those of us who write for those who watch, must pay heed to those opinions. Treating the big shots like they are infallible, leads to massive egos and even bigger divergences from the norm, whatever the norm is. By setting the bar as high as Gatiss and Moffat did with the first three eps, they opened themselves up to us saying " That sucked, I hated it because.." and they have to listen.

There is another big lie out there. Calling somebody a creator when they have only taken over an existing project that has a history and reasonable expectations, justifies them making wholesale changes to something and expecting the fan base, the network and the advertisers to go along with what ever personal project they have. Add to that the real risk that when you take on another giant like Sherlock and try to make two quality programmes at the same time, you will likely start to get sloppy on both and confuse the two shows for the same thing  when they are not.

This has now occurred and some of us have had the temerity to say so. I love Doctor Who, I love Sherlock, but if this is the future, we should prepare ourselves for the time when both are gone for good. I for one will no longer bother with Sherlock , we can only pray the combination of Peter Capaldi and a more focused Who crew will produce something  that vaguely resembles a story as they aren't now saddled with nearly as much work.

Oh and Happy 160th Birthday Sherlock Holmes, I was hoping for a better present but there wasn't anything nice in the shops so I got you this Tardis usb hub, hope you like it. 

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