Tag Archives: Sherlock Holmes

The Final Problem – Not Enough to Save Sherlock

holmes_bbcfinalproblemParts of The Final Problem were interesting and the tension was high throughout. But the final confrontation at Musgrave Manor was completely idiotic and ruined the episode. The psychobabble was tolerable to that point. I will say it was the best episode since the season two finale.
I do like that the last image (for me) of the season/series is a plaque reading Rathbone Place, as opposed to having Holmes and Watson running towards the screen ala Baywatch – really?
If there is a season five, at least there will be no more of the worst Moriarty ever filmed. This show really likes to keep dead people on-screen. Might as well be The Living Dead.
You’re going to see posts about how divided the fan base is over Sherlock, and many inaccurate comments that it’s due to purists who can’t take something different. That’s a completely erroneous view. During the first two seasons, Sherlock was almost universally liked by fans and critics alike. Sure, there were a few crusty folks who only want the original stories and Jeremy Brett. And that’s fine. But it was a negligible number.
The stories in seasons one and two were a brilliant updating of Sherlock Holmes. It was clever yet still reverential to the original tales. After that, the storylines (which were sadly lacking in Holmes deducing and solving crimes) catered to new fans and became exercises in Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis showing how clever they could be. And showing how they didn’t need Doyle for their version of Holmes. And that crippled the show, with huge numbers of fans (including me) turning on it.
That divide occurred during season three.
Bill Martell, a Holmes fan with over a dozen produced screenplays, said the following on his FB page:
The genius of S1 & S2 was that they took the Doyle original stories and found the elements that were the same then and now so they were updated without significant changes. S3 & S4 seem to focus on changing what makes the story’s work. Instead of being about the case they focus on the character *at the expense of the case*. So Dying Detective becomes Lying Detective and is all about Watson’s grief over the death of his wife and Holmes’ guilt over his part in that death. That stuff is not just screenwriter invention it goes against the basics of how the original stories worked.
I hope they pack it in. Just as someone wrote over a hundred years ago that old Sherlock Holmes never seemed to be the same after he came back from the Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock wasn’t the same after season two ended. There were pieces of season four that sounded echoes of seasons one and two, but not nearly enough.
And one last thought. “It is what it is” became the catchphrase for the last two episodes. I think there are valid interpretations ‘in episode,’ – meaning, related to the actual stories. But I think it’s also Gattis and Moffat telling Sherlock fans who criticize the show, “This is what we’re doing with Sherlock Holmes and if you don’t like it, tough sh**.” They don’t care that supporters turned into opponents. “Watch it or not. Like it or not. It is what it is. And that’s whatever we want it to be.”

A Holmes Christmas Carol at Black Gate

christmastree_victorianToday over at BlackGate.com, it’s a retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic, taking place at 221B Baker Street. At over 11,000 words, it’s a full-blown Holmes short story. Click on over!

It is with a certain sense of misgiving that I relate the following tale, which took place during the Christmas season of 1902. I had moved out of our Baker Street lodgings earlier that year, having married only a few months before that most festive of holidays. I now had rooms in Queen Anne Street and was quite busy with my flourishing medical practice. A newly married man, I once again found myself as head of a household, with all of the duties thereof. I saw Holmes infrequently, but had found the time to visit him the day before Christmas. Certain that he would have no plans of any kind, I extended to him an invitation to join my wife and I for Christmas day.

Holmes rebuffed my attempts to have him share in the holiday spirit with us. “Watson, I have no use for the Christmas season. Is it rational to believe a man rose from the dead? And even if it were, do you not see the hypocrisy of it all? For one day, a man will give a beggar a farthing, because it is Christmas. He would pass by that beggar 364 other days and pay him no mind. That is Christmas?”

I could not recall Holmes being so churlish. When we had roomed together, he had not been an avid celebrator of Christmas, but he did accommodate my warm feelings towards the season. Now, left to his own devices, it seemed that his natural contrariness was shining through. I made one last effort to have him spend a pleasant dinner at the Watson household. It was to no avail.

Read My New Holmes Story for Free!

mx_6The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Part V: Christmas Adventures, is on presale now at Amazon.com. If you click on the book cover (“Read This”), then go to the table of contents, you can then click on my story, “The Case of the Ruby Necklace.” The entire tale shows up in the preview, which ends about one page after my story does.

So, please go ahead and check it out. And if you like Holmes Christmas stories, go ahead and buy a copy. Holmes for the Holidays has long been one of my favorite anthologies and I’m excited to read through this new one.

And Parts VI and VII will be out in 2017!

Holmes for Halloween!


Oops – Wrong picture!

Happy Halloween! To get into the spirit of things, today over at BlackGate.com, I’ve got  a post with some recommended Holmes stories to celebrate the day. I’m a big Robert R. McCammon and F. Paul Wilson fan, but I don’t do a lot of horror. Too creepy for me.

But there’s a mix of scary and supernatural in today’s post.

And click on the story directly below mine: John O’Neill (my editor) and Black Gate won a World Fantasy Award over the weekend!


And Even More of Otto Penzlers SH Library! (The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes)

penzler_robertsSo, over at BlackGate.com today, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looks at a fifth book in Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes library. This one is from S.C. Roberts, an accomplished bookman who had a life-long impact on Cambridge.

This is a nifty little collection of essays written by Roberts and a nice addition to a Sherlockian bookshelf. I’ve long been fond of his pastiche, “The Strange Case of the Megatherium Thefts.”

I had previously written a post on Vincent Starrett’s two entries in the series, followed by a post on the two books from James Edward Holroyd.



More from Otto Penzler’s SH Reference Library

holroyd_bywaysA couple weeks ago, ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ looked at two Vincent Starrett books: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and 221B: Studies in Sherlock. Both of those books are part of the nine title Otto Penzler’s Sherlock Holmes Reference Library.

This week, I look at two more books in the series: these from James Edward Holroyd. As with Starrett’s, one (Baker Street Byways) is his own work while the other (Seventeen Steps to 221B) is an edited collection from multiple writers.

Both books are solid additions to a Sherlockian bookshelf, so click on over and check them out.

Vincent Starrett on Holmes

Starrett_221BThere are a few names that stand above all others in the Sherlockian world. Edgar Smith, founder of the Baker Street Irregulars, of course. Christopher Morley and Father Ronald Knox loom huge.

Vincent Starrett, one of the great bookmen of the twentieth century is another. Today over at BlackGate.com, The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes looks at two Starrett collections The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and 221B: Studies in Sherlock. Both were part of Otto Penzler’s classic Sherlock Holmes Library.

Starrett was a huge Solar Pons fan and even wrote introductions to two of the short story collections. One is an intro that should be looked at as a standard in the field.

And he was a great supporter of Derleth in the latter’s battle with the Doyle brothers in publishing The Adventures of Solar Pons.

How did Watson get shot?

The following is from page one of Volume III of my own Baker Street Essays:

Holmes_Elcock3Garridebs“Holmes and Watson have their guns drawn and aimed at Killer Evans as he sticks his head up through the entrance to the cellar. Howard Elcock did a nice job of illustrating this scene for The Strand and it is consistent with Watson’s narrative.
So how in the heck did Evans manage to draw a gun (having to move his hands either into his coat or out of sight below the level of the floor to do so) and get off two shots, well-enough aimed to wound Watson, without Holmes or Watson managing to return fire? The two men seem inexcusably lax in this instance.
Holmes also moved close enough to strike Evans in the head with the butt of the detective’s pistol. It is surprising that Evans didn’t get off another shot at Holmes, this one at point blank range. With Holmes incapacitated, he could have taken what he came for and escaped. Why didn’t Holmes shoot Evans after being fired upon?”
Something I’ve long wondered about.

All the Holmes You Need – The MX Book of New SH Stories

MXSeries_4I have been very fortunate to be included in the ‘four books and growing’ anthology series from MX Books (I’m in Volumes III and IV).

Volume IV was just released in hardback, paperback and ebook formats a few weeks ago and the first three volumes came out as a trilogy in 2015.

The deadline for Volume V, which will be all Christmas tales, is rapidly approaching and I expect that book to be out by the end of the year. And Volume VI is already being put together!

Today over at BlackGate.com, I talk about this very cool series, which has already exceeded eighty stories. That’s a LOT of Holmes reading for you.  Head on over and learn about the MX Anthologies. And please feel free to leave a comment.

You probably already know, but I write ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ every Monday morning over at BlackGate.com.  I roam afield occasionally, but the subjects are primarily Holmes and mystery related. Type my name in the Search box and see what comes up. I began the column in March of 2014 and have written quite a few ‘extra’  posts. Hopefully you’ll see something you like.

Ronald Howard over at Black Gate

Holmes_HowardMeetingLast August, I looked at one of my favorite, most under-appreciated Sherlock Holmes’, Ronald Howard, with this post over at BlackGate.com.  Howard gave us a younger, more humorous Holmes, laying the groundwork for another under-appreciated portrayal: that of Ian Richardson.

When series creator and guru Sheldon Reynolds wrote the first two episodes, he “tied them together” in case the pilot failed to sell. That way, he could splice together a ‘B’ film and market it as a “filler” Holmes movie.

So, this week, I dug into those two episodes with some commentary added. Head on over and check out some more on Ronald Howard.

And this post marks two dozen ‘Holmes on Screen’ entries over at Black Gate. I’ve linked all of them within the post, so go do some exploring.


If you’re totally unfamiliar with the series (which was my first Holmes on screen), Sheldon Reynolds set up shop in Paris, casting British star Leslie Howard’s son as a younger, more earnest, more likeable Holmes. H. Marion Crawford played his not as Nigel Bruce-ish Watson. There were 39 episodes, with only The Red Headed League being a direct translation from Doyle. Though there were plenty elements from the Canon in other episodes. Including a pretty good take on The Valley of Fear (minus the Scowrers).

It employed an ensemble cast, so you saw people in different roles in different episodes. The scripts varied widely in quality, with some real stinkers. But overall, it was a fun series, though it lasted only the one season.

You can usually find the entire thing on DVD for $10 or less and it’s certainly worth a watch.