Tag Archives: The Public Life of 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.

Cool & Lam and The Knife Slipped

esg_knifeComing off of the excellent Q&A with Charles Ardai, ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ followed up with a look at Erle Stanley Gardner’s great PI series, ‘Cool and Lam.’

Gardner is best known as the Perry Mason guy, but I prefer Cool and Lam, myself. Bertha Cool and Donald Lam appeared in 29 novels over 31 years and they are a joy to read.

And just last week, Hard Case Crime released the never before published second novel in the series! I just got my copy and am excited to read it.

Head on over to Black Gate.com and check out my two-weeks of Hard Case Crime and Cool and Lam.

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.

The Beach Boys – at The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes?

BeachBoys_MTVernonThis week, I actually managed to tie my favorite band into my Monday morning post over at BlackGate.com.

Included with the Beach Boys’ 1972 album, Holland, was an EP. For you youngsters, that stands for ‘Extended Play’ and it was a bonus record: less music than a regular album but more than on a 45. Mt. Vernon and Fairy: a Fairy Tale, was an odd piece of music, singing and spoken verse, telling the story of a young prince and a magic transistor radio.

I talk about this rather unique piece of Beach Boys history, so head on over to Black Gate and check it out.

Hell on Wheels

I enjoy a good Western, though I don’t watch a lot of them. So, back in November of 2011, I decided to watch the first episode of a new television series on AMC. It was called Hell on Wheels.

Well, that show just wrapped up its fifth and final season a few weeks ago. It turned out to be a pretty darn good Western Noir, set against the backdrop of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad.

I wrote a bit of a retrospective last week in ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ over at BlackGate.com. After Justified finished things up and BBC’s Sherlock went into the tank, Hell on Wheels became my favorite TV drama. It had a great cast, excellent cinematography and an evolving story line. Check out my post, then go check out the pilot. You might just like it.

Don’t Panic!

BG_Adams_MoreThan(Here’s the Black Gate post from July 4)

As I mentioned in my prior post here, I wrote about the Dirk Gently miniseries a couple of weeks ago over at BlackGate.com. This coming Monday (July 4), it’s more Douglas Adams as I do a double-length post on his works. And I had an absolute blast writing it. I plugged it in a FB post today that included the word codswalloping (which was an insult used in a review of the second radio series). So, here’s a never before seen entry from the Guide:

Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy Entry: “codswalloping” – ‘consisting of utter nonsense’

The term is believed to be attributable to the people of Rankarella, a small planet in the third system of the NeoNorin galaxy.

The Rankarellans were known (to the extent they were known for anything at all) for slapping people in the face with a fish as a greeting. So, imagine a secretary saying “Cup of coffee, Mister Humthroat?” as her boss arrives in the morning. At which point he hits her with a fish.

There are no codfish on Rankarella, which makes that particular word, well, codswallow. There are no Babel fish, either. See also: Babel Fish: Rankarella.

Babel Fish: Rankarella – There are no Babel fish anywhere on the planet. So, visitors from off-planet, who might enjoy the taste of fish, were less than pleased when, having arrived at the spaceport and asked, “Excuse me, where is the nearest restroom?” they end up feeling a fish with their face and are completely unable to communicate with the person who just hit them with said fish. Possibly repeatedly.

This combination of codswallowing and a lack of Babel Fish has led to many wars with other planets. In fact, it’s amazing that the rest of the galaxy hasn’t exterminated the Rankarellans.

Oh, bugger it: maybe a Vogon Constructor Fleet will take care of the whole codswallowing nonsense. Where can I get a PanGalactic Gargleblaster around here, anyways?

Editor’s Note – That last line was the last entry by that particular Guide researcher.



Dirk Gently – The Holistic Detective

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, from the late Douglas Adams, is one of my favorite private eye novels. I also like its follow-up, the brilliantly titled, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. I’m not as fond of The Salmon of Doubt, an uncompleted manuscript that was finished after his death.

But there’s no doubt that Gently, a bit of a scam artist, who believes in the fundamental interconnectedness of everything, is a great read.

Back in 2014, I wrote a The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes‘ post about the books over at BlackGate.com.


This week, I took a look at the four episode Gently mini-series starring Stephen Magnon. The actor is currently starring as Arthur Conan Doyle in another miniseries, Houdini and Doyle. I thought that it was a fun watch.

Head on over and check it out. And if you missed my first post (what???), give it a read. I think it’s pretty good. And of course, if you’ve not read Adams’ books, go get the first one and get going!