|melannen (melannen) wrote,|
@ 2012-01-12 10:40 am UTC
|Entry tags:||fandom:holmes, fannish:meta|
Okay, I've done some more thinking about why I can't enjoy Sherlock for the fun, brightly-lit romp it's meant to be.
I have strong feelings about Holmes: I first read the stories when I was, mm, 8 or 9, and of the stories of my pre-net years that still have active fandoms, it's the earliest one I was actively engaged with. And Sherlock Holmes meant a great deal to me then, and still does: he was the first character who told me, explicitly, without talking down, "it's okay to be too smart, even if it's not in the ways you're supposed to be smart," "it's okay to be uninterested in sex and romance, and you don't have to grow out of it, ever," "it's okay to process and experience emotions and relationships differently from the way other people do, and it doesn't make you inhuman," and "you're allowed to forge your own path in the world, you don't have to fit into a box."
So yeah, Holmes fandom means a lot to me, but actually, my issues with Sherlock don't mostly have to do with that? I mean if they had really screwed up on the above I would be actively avoiding, not just bored, and I really liked the first RDJ movie as an adaptation.
And bored is what I am. I actually paused Baskerville during the pivotal reveal scene and went to do something else because I was so unutterably bored by it. And then I forgot I hadn't finished the episode until I noticed half an hour later that my video player was still open. BORED, Sherlock, your deductions are boring.
I think what it is, it's the same reason doctors I know can't watch doctor shows and lawyers I know can't watch lawyer shows. I'm not a doctor or a lawyer, but what I do do is know massive amounts of random knowledge, put it together in interesting ways, think I'm awfully clever, and process feelings poorly. And no, I don't think I'm better at any of those things than Sherlock Holmes, but that's the point: I shouldn't be better at any of those those things that he is. And yet watching Sherlock, I am. He should be at least two steps ahead of me all the time; instead, he's usually about ten steps behind, and usually wrong anyway.
Not even the ways they butchered the original Conan Doyle story or quibbles with the characterization or the metanarrative or whatever, but just deductions that were wrong.
1. Baskerville is a cryptozoology story. They at least made that explicit in the show, with the documentary and the tourism, but I know cryptozoology. I'm not as familiar with British Black Dogs and Alien Big Cats as I am with some American cases, but the community is pretty transatlantic, and I'm not completely cut off from the British cryptozoologists. Given that there were footprint casts and photographs floating around, and that there was an actual big black dog roaming the moor, cryptozoologists would already have been out there, and compiled and analyzed all of the physical evidence, determined the likely breed of the dog from the footprints and exact size from the photos, probably put together sighting times and locations enough that they could roughly estimate when it arrived on the moor, etc. (and I'm not entirely sure whether the dog was meant to be roaming free now or someone was still trying to keep it, but there would probably be kill remains and scat that had been analyzed, too.) And they would have taken all of this evidence and posted it to their websites, where Sherlock would done one two-second internet search and found Darren Naish's blog post explaining all this and pointing out in painstaking scientific detail that no mutant gene-splicing was required and which bits of evidence were clearly faked. (Then Sherlock would probably have gotten into an argument about some minutia of the science with Darren's commenters and never actually made it out to Dartmoor, but we'll gloss over that.) Sure many of the other cryptozoologists would mix it with a healthy dose of conspiracy theory, credulity, bad science, blatant capitalism and mysticism, but they would have the evidence either way.
Instead, they wandered around talking to people in pubs and acting like nobody else would have looked at the physical evidence or considered the possibility of an actual dog before.
2. Given the above: the 'deduction' that was supposed to have started Sherlock on the case - that Henry used the strange 'hound' phrasing - is invalid. HOUND was picked up as the term used by the media and the tourist industry to refer to the creature on Dartmoor; therefore it isn't at all odd that Henry would use the same phrasing; and again, a modicum of research, or general keeping-up-with-weird-happenings (both of which Sherlock ought to be doing) would have revealed that Hound was the popular name of the beast. Now, as it turns out, the Hound name probably originated with Henry back in the day, so Sherlock's assumption was right - but that doesn't mean he was justified in making it without checking back to see where it came from. (And, in fact, Henry didn't use the word Hound when describing his childhood memory, only when describing more recent events, so the logical deduction actually would be that he had picked it up from the media coverage.)
3. The cigarettes were in the skull? Really? We're supposed to believe Holmes didn't know they were there? (Maybe this is meant to be some sort of deeper trust game between Holmes and Watson where Holmes knows that Watson knows that Holmes knew they were there, or maybe it was meant to be a Purloined Letter homage, but the point of the Purloined Letter is that Holmes would have known they were there.)
4. I'm not even going to start on 'let's wander pointlessly around the secret military base without even attempting to gather any evidence,' okay?
5. "Cell number" isn't even a particularly American usage. Okay, it's more common here than in Britain, but you're more likely to hear "cell phone number" or just "phone number" than you are "cell number." That twigged me as weird usage not because it's American, but because it's weird. Also, when is he supposed to have picked up this American usage? When he was working with the CIA in the '80s? Because we had oh-so-many cell phones in America then. When he was back in America reviving the HOUND research, which he had apparently moved to Baskerville well before 1992? Oh. So it must have been while he was in America much later for something mostly unrelated to HOUND. Great deducing there, Sherlock! That really clinches the evidence!
6. If you google "LIBERTY IN" a wikipedia article on the town is the first result. Just sayin'.
7. Your best plan at this point is to wander out on the moor at night? While letting your party get separated? Without visiting the site in daytime first, even? Really?
8. Okay, this isn't on Sherlock since he never looked at it very closely, but Morse Code isn't the only blink/tap/etc. code in use, and as a military man spying on a military base, Watson should have at least considered trying one that is more closely associated with military usage.
9. I will give Sherlock a pass on the "maybe we were drugged or otherwise had our fear response artificially triggered" deduction while he was actually drugged, but, uh, you were investigating strange and frightening phenomena around a military base that is actively researching chemical, biological, and psychological warfare, you should probably have thought about that beforehand. If you needed the hint, I could hook you back up with the cryptozoology crowd. And, um, maybe you could have tried to take some measures to prevent said hypothetical whatever-it-was from affecting you? Even if it was just writing yourself a note on the back of your hand that said "YOU'RE PROBABLY DRUGGED RIGHT NOW".
10. Also, John, you're a doctor. A military doctor, in fact. Perhaps you should consider "he was drugged" instead of "he doesn't love me any more" as your first hypothesis when someone is acting drugged?
11. Aaargh. Really? Trying to get the psychologist to share confidential patient information with a random man she met in a bar? One, John should have ethical qualms about this. Major ethical qualms. Two, if it actually works, you should probably switch your primary theory from 'secret weapons experiment' to 'psychiatric misconduct'.
12. Okay, I guess he is thinking about psychiatric misconduct now. But why is Sherlock assuming the drug was administered through food? Okay, sure, consider it as a possibility. One of several. That's kind of the key to effective deducing at this point: consider all possibilities and plan so that any of them being true works just as well for you. Also, given that the full-on Demon Hound experience has only ever happened at this one very specific location, and happens replicably there, your first thought should be that whatever-it-is is environmentally linked, not drugged sugar in the tea. Gases - deliberately introduced or otherwise - should have been one of your first thoughts. (Also, Sherlock, if you've never heard of infrasound, I can hook you back up with the ghost hunters crowd. Most of the research on using it to induce fear responses has been going on in Britain even.)
13. You're just going to ... believe the B&B guys when they tell you they had the dog put down? I mean, you're not even going to ask to see the vet bill or anything?
14. The fear gas just happened to be coincidentally leaking into the room where Sherlock had locked John? No. Sorry. I don't buy it. I'll grant you all the coincidences you want, but that is not a coincidence, that is "requires complete suspension of disbelief". If there was fear gas leaking into random labs in a secret military facility that also does biohazardous research, I suspect someone else would have noticed by now.
15. Also, if you have a sample of the presumably-drugged material, and you have full access to top-level biological laboratories, wouldn't it make sense to chemically analyze the sugar before you dose your friend with it? I mean, if we're talking about scientific experiments, you know.
16. Sorry, it usually takes a lot to make me buy a "deducing of password" scene, but that was even stupider than most. What he should have done, as soon as she described the Major as a by-the-rules martinet, is deduced that he would therefore be using a properly secure, by-the-rules, semi-random, cannot-be-deduced password. And then set out to deduce where in his office he would have hidden his password cheat sheet (probably stuck into a Thatcher bio. You could even use the same chain of deductions!) Unless we're meant to believe that he'd already told Sherlock his password and the deduction was just for show, in which case, why, Moffat? Why? Also he still would have had a properly secure one.
17. Um, you've broken into the complete classified files, there is probably a complete listing on the scientists who worked on it there, you probably don't have to stare creepily into a photograph and then make crappy deductions.
18. You now know it's psychoactive fear gas that is administered as an aerosol. You should have figured out (even if you apparently haven't yet) that it's environmentally linked to Dewer's Hollow. (Also, you know there is some kind of chemical dump near there which you haven't even attempted to investigate in daylight.) So obviously, you run out there, at night, again, without taking even elementary precautions against breathing contaminated air? And when you call for backup, you don't warn him about the possibility of poison gas, either? Aaaargh. (And the one guy who is smart enough to bring a gas mask then takes it off? Despite being, presumably, trained and experienced in those sorts of conditions?)
19. Just for the record, writing a mystery story where the assumption going in is "It's top secret British military experiments" and the clever, twisty deduction is "It's top secret CIA experiments"? Is not actually clever at all. That's the equivalent of the solution to the original Baskervilles mystery being "It wasn't the Devil in dog form, it was a Yeth Hound1."
And that's just the bits that were annoying enough that they kept bothering me after I want to bed last night, that's without even trying.
It doesn't bother me as much with shows like Bones or Numb3rs when they screw this stuff up, because the geniuses in those shows are supposed to be specialists who won't necessarily know things outside their field, and I can gloss over that most of the stuff from their specialty is just technobabble. Sherlock is supposed to be a genius generalist, that's the point of Sherlock. I shouldn't be better at general knowledge stuff than he is. (I know, I know, there's that ridiculous bit about not knowing the Earth goes around the sun, but Doyle never really followed that up and Holmes ended up knowing most of those things for cases anyway. And most of the things Sherlock misses are things he should have learnt for detecting purposes.) ...Also, the casefiles in those other shows are usually better put together. And they don't have Conan Doyle's cleverness sitting right in front of them to crib from if necessary.
The fanfic is still fun, though! And usually does better casefiles than the show.
...So if you were recasting BBC Sherlock with Lamviin, which characters (other than Watson, obviously) would be surmales? Mrs. Hudson has to stay female (so she can pretend to be the third part in their trine if people complain, though of course there's nothing wrong with pairing off these days, she thinks they make an adorable couple), and Irene has to stay female so she can fill out the trine eventually and I like the idea of keeping Harry a lesbian, though possibly with two ex-wives. I'm really tempted to make Mycroft surmale, it would do interesting things to the sibling relationship and rher in-the-shadows positions of power, but then again, his careful and knowing manipulation of his privilege is a fundamental part of Mycroft's character, and I can think of equally good reasons why-and-why-not to make Lestrade or Moriarty surmale. (What? :P I had to think about something to get to sleep last night other than how annoying the casefile was.)
1Okay, now I'm tempted to write a Lonesome October/Study in Emerald/Hound of the Baskervilles/Lovecraftiana sequel to my Yuletide story where it turns out to be a Hound of Tindalos.