teyla: Mary Morstan from Sherlock giving a thumbs-up. (Default)
teyla ([personal profile] teyla) wrote2011-10-23 07:06 am
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Sherlock

I've watched Sherlock, at long last. Until now, I was avoiding it, because it's Moffat, and Moffat's writing makes me want to kill puppies even though I like puppies, but I'm currently staying with [personal profile] earlwyn, who is a Sherlock Holmes fiend, and I'm unemployed and the DVD was there on the shelf and . . . well. I ended up watching it after all.

A Study in Pink. I watched both the aired and the unaired pilot. I was surprised that it wasn't as horrible as I expected it to be--not horrible in a way that makes it uninteresting, but horrible in a way where it's riddled with -isms to the point where I can barely stop myself from putting my fist through the television. It wasn't. It was still incredibly sexist--it's Moffat, how could it not be--but since it's based on a 'verse that was created in the late 1800s, there are not enough women in the main plot to give Moffat a chance to do what he did with Amy and River degrade central female characters to mere plot devices and decorative objects through abysmal and sexist character development.

I'm not sure what to think of Sherlock and John. I think I like John, even though the whole "and then he got excited and his limp disappeared" made the medically interested person in me go THIS IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. Sherlock . . . is an interesting take on Conan Doyle's character. Not one I particularly like, I don't think. In the books, I always liked the way Sherlock Holmes comes across as independent and incredibly callous and unfeeling, but if you get to know him a little bit more closely, he's really just a big squishy softie in need of constant validation underneath. This gets stripped away in Moffat's characterization. Sherlock is just an asshole, and has very few redeeming qualities. I'm sure fandom got on that and fixed it, and hey, good on fandom--but in the show, Sherlock is a dick, and I just kind of want to take John aside and tell him to get the hell out, because this isn't a good relationship and he's getting nothing out of it. I never got that feeling from the books.

I liked the plot structure of the unaired pilot a lot better than the aired pilot. I did like that they introduced Mycroft to give Watson a plotline of his own, in the aired pilot, and gave him that moment of choosing to show loyalty to Sherlock. But the cab reveal came way too late in the aired version, at a point where it had no effect at all because the audience had figured it out already. And the whole GPS phone thing was just . . . bizarre and improbable. Not that the phone would have GPS and they could trace it, but that nobody would realize that the phone is in the goddamn cab outside the door. At the point where Sherlock leaves in the cab and the GPS trace leaves Baker Street, I trust that not just John, but at least Lestrade would have put two and two together, if not any of the other police officers. That took away a lot from the finale, the lead-up making everyone thick as bricks. Which is not unusual, for a Moffat episode. I think I understand why they did it--it's a pilot, and the first finale reveal the audience gets to watch Sherlock do. Sherlock's character is not one you want introduce with a show of vulnerability, so having him be drugged and not at his sharpest in the first boss fight, so to speak, is probably not the best script choice. But having him be stupider than the audience in the first finale lead-up is, in my opinion, just as bad. They should have found a combination of the two--have the cabbie use a gun and force Sherlock to come with him, instead of drugging him, for example. Or anything else that would have avoided both putting Sherlock in a vulnerable position, and having him and the other characters be incredibly dense.

Also, Sergeant Donovan. Is that her name? The lady police officer who warns John to stay away from Sherlock. She was wearing a skirt in both the aired and the unaired version, which she had to, so Sherlock could make his incredibly funny quip about the state of her knees--and that was just incredibly Moffat, so I wouldn't have minded if they'd lost that altogether and let her wear trousers, like any normal police officer would on a rainy, dark evening investigating a crime scene. But at least in the unaired pilot, she was in police gear--except for the skirt, which looked slightly at odds with the rest of her outfit, she looked like she belonged at the crime scene. In the aired pilot she was wearing an outfit that I'd expect to see on a PR liaison officer, not a normal police sergeant. As the only recurring female character apart from Mrs Hudson introduced in the pilot, I really wish they would have taken more care to, well. Be less sexist in her portrayal. But it's Moffat. Why am I even wasting my breath.

The aired version was much slicker, and flowed better, and was more engaging, I just feel like they sacrificed a lot of character and plot depth for that slickness. And it wouldn't have been hard to keep both, so the aired version's slickness kind of makes me lineface, now that I've seen the unaired version.

The Blind Banker. I . . . can't really say much about that one, because I was so busy waving my hands at the screen and wanting them to STOP BEING SO INCREDIBLY RACIST that I missed most of the rest of the episode. How can you still put something like that on the telly without someone slapping your wrists? I'm appalled and mystified, and I do not mean that in an ironic way.

What I do remember, though, is that Sarah, John's girlfriend, got to be the useless, inactive damsel in distress. All she had to do was tip her chair over backwards! She seemed competent enough to think of that, in a situation like that. But no, she just got to sit there and cry, and John got to be the one who tipped his chair over and did . . . something. Don't remember. I was too busy being annoyed to really register how they got out of that situation.

Oh, and John's lame "next date won't be like that" line? I think I would have kicked him in the face, if I'd been in Sarah's place. The fact that she smiled and then walked out of there arm in arm with John was just so . . . bizarre to me. I liked Sarah when she got introduced, but the moment she got tied to a chair, she lost all common sense and ability to make independent decisions and judgment calls. But really, John took her on a date, then John's best friend showed up on their date and made it awkward, then she had to bash an attacker's skull in to save John and his friend, then she got sneered at by John's best friend for being hungry and wanting to eat, got sidelined for John's and Sherlock's case, got fed stale pickled eggs, had to hang out and wait for take-out in a messy, unattractive flat, got bashed over the head, tied to a chair, and then had her life threatened by John's and Sherlock's enemies. And then she walked out of there in the arm of the guy who took her on that sort of date? Really? Maybe I'm just not enough into being lured into a dangerous criminal investigation under the false pretense of a romantic date, but in Sarah's place, I would have slapped John with a dead fish and left the moment they untied me. But again. Moffat. Wasting my breath. Moving on.

The Great Game. That one . . . could have been good. Very Gatiss, which means it was kind of boring, very straightforward without a lot of surprises, but it could have been good. If Moriarty had been . . . different. What was he doing with his voice? Those were the strangest line deliveries I have seen an actor do in a long time. And maybe I'm being dense, but I have no clue what the ending was all about. Not the showdown with John and the explosives and that tiny little moment of vulnerability for Sherlock--too late, by the way, show. You've already made me decide that your main character is an unredeemable asshole. Tiny moments of vulnerability won't make me like him more.--but the bit where Moriarty shows up again. What was going on with the dancing laser points? Was Moriarty faking the sniper? Was he not, and was he about to kill Sherlock and John? If so, why didn't he? Was it supposed to be a cliffhanger? I dunno, maybe I am being dense, but if I have to ask if something is a cliffhanger, I do feel that the writer maybe got a little bit too tangled up in being clever to produce an engaging ending to his story.

Overall, I feel like the show was mostly a disappointment. Unsurprising, as it's Moffat and I intensely dislike Moffat's style as well as his characterization choices. But Sherlock Holmes in the modern world could be so interesting. And the show is, in some ways. In others, though, it's just . . . ranging from boring to infuriating. Clearly, Moffat should hire me as a script editor. I have the background knowledge; I have actually read all of Sherlock Holmes. When I was eight. What, it still counts.

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