More Sherlock

Moffat says he’s yet to start writing up the scripts for the fourth round of Sherlock TV movies. (Oh, come on . . . they’re extra-long and you can’t call three of them a “season.”) Now, I obviously deal a lot with writers, so I expect this is either a flat-out lie or a case of different definitions, because I’ve never known a writer who doesn’t spend time writing something that’s on his or her mind, even if it’s not time to focus on that particular project. Normally, I would lean to the first, but with Moffat I’m thinking he just has a different definition for what constitutes writing; he rarely gives up an opportunity to troll his own fans, so I suspect he just hasn’t put things in script form yet.

In the meantime, we’ve got the usual Comic Con message from the actors, and a clip from the upcoming Sherlock Christmas special that apparently isn’t a Christmas special. 

While Gatiss and Cumberbatch both appear in this video, it focuses mainly on Andrew Scott, aka Moriarty; it’s almost a shaggy dog story, a form of joke where you build to an underwhelming punchline . . . unless, of course, you’re a fan of the show, in which case you’ll find it very much worth it.

Meanwhile, we have a clip from the non-Christmas special (it’s set in winter, but not an official “Christmas” episode), which shows that the promotional photo we saw isn’t just a joke. They’re actually doing a version of the show set in Victorian London. Why, it’s almost like they’re doing Sherlock Holmes for real, instead of this modern fanfic!

(Hush, Sherlock fans. I like the show too. I’m just teasing. Elementary is the bad fanfic version.)

I have to say, I’m intrigued. This feels very natural, and while it’s hard to tell from just one clip it seems that Cumberbatch is varying his performance in a natural way. In addition to taking cues from Basil Rathbone’s seminal performance (I happen to prefer Jeremy Brett, but it’s impossible to go wrong with Rathbone), this version of Cumberbatch’s Holmes appears to be more of a gentleman, far kinder and patient while still showing a disassociation with normal rules of behavior.

I’ve been very happy with modern portrayals of Sherlock Holmes as a functioning sociopath, and I immediately took to Cumberbatch’s interpretation precisely because he played Sherlock as I would expect the character to act without the trappings of Victorian society. That period was very focused on appearance and outward behavior, regardless of whether it matched the person underneath; a sociopath tends to absorb things like that, able to fit in only if there are definite rules with which to operate. It’s one of the reasons why I prefer Jeremy Brett as the definitive Sherlock Holmes; I think he captures that blend between manic behavior and calculating interaction, the mix of alien interests and ordinary knowledge. The modern Sherlock takes the character and places him in a world without as many comforting rules, furthering his cynical outlook on people without the same sort of social graces or even necessarily the same views on right and wrong.

The question remains, though — why are they doing a Victorian version when the whole shtick is the modern setting? Is it a straight-up re-imagining? Are they getting a story told to them because someone in the modern setting is writing a fanfic where the characters are in Victorian London?

Or could there be another explanation for the time-shift?

Doctor Who Sherlock

Okay, probably not. But hey, I’m sure someone’s already fueling that conspiracy. And I’m sure none of them are named Moffat.

Sadly, it appears that it’s just another version with the same actors playing the characters in a more traditional setting. I’m happy with that, don’t get me wrong; but I wouldn’t mind seeing a blue box show up.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go work on stuff and not at all be tempted to pull down my boxed set of every Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes story ever filmed.

About Matthew Bowman

Matthew Bowman is a traditionally-minded Catholic convert and freelance science fiction and fantasy editor, which means that he's in high demand in a small population. Fortunately, he loves talking about stories. And Catholicism. And history. And philosophy. And lots of other stuff.
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