Innnnn this corner we have the BBC’s latest phenomenon Sherlock, an adaptation/homage to the world’s most famous fictional consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, transplanted into modern day London. Innnnn the other corner we have CBS’ Elementary, which is… the same thing, but in modern day New York. The two face each other off grinding their heels into the ground. Now taking bets! This is a no-holds-barred smackdown match event! This opening would have been a lot punchier if I had a better grasp of fighting sport lingo.
If you follow this website in which I blog into the void, you will know that I very much enjoy Sherlock (as well as admitting its critical flaws). Naturally, as one of many who went about this, I was quick to side-eye CBS’ announcement of their Elementary project. Yes, I’ll admit it, I was brutally sceptical. Which, in my defence, was warranted given how many organ-failure-inducingly awful American remakes or knock-offs have been made of British television shows. It simply wasn’t enough for the American market to enjoy Sherlock, they had to go and make their own. It grated upon me. But not so much anymore, I am joyful and actually pretty surprised to admit.
Is one better than the other? Does it all come down to another little rivalry between the UK and the US? Let’s step back and look at this objectively. Having recently finished season one of Elementary and waiting (c’mon, Win network) for Sherlock season three, here is my personal notes of critique, comparison and congratulations (It’s even relatively spoiler free!) Continue reading
‘Geek chorus’ being like a ‘Greek chorus’ in that it’s a character or set of characters that is there for aside glances to the audience. I kinda like that phrasing. Can I patent it?
Everyone wants to see themselves in the fiction they consume, and people get a buzz when they do. Relating strongly to a character warms a certain little compartment of the heart and can make a reader or viewer feel at home, which is why wide representation is so important and also why we often end up with these weird and cringe-worthy cut-out ‘geek’ or ‘book loving’ heroes that fans are meant to empathise with.
Because writers/showrunners/creators of fictional things for mass consumption are acutely aware of the cockles-warming nature of relatable heroes it’s understandable they jump on this and try to create one that will connect with their audience, who they think they also acutely know. This can go one of two ways and, I’m afraid to say, does not always end well. The internet has given rise to a new generation of TV writer, for example, that is able to have much more contact with and a better look at the people consuming their shows, whether it’s through chatting with them on Twitter or delving into the fandom circles of journals and blog sites or even, dare they, the world of fan works like art and writing. This exposure can give them an idea of the kind of people that are fans of their series, and that can spark inspiration for a character, be they a cameo or the hero of a new venture, that the audience is sure to see themselves in.
Here’s the thing: while this is ultimately well-meaning (most of the time?), representation of geek culture in media is a world of hits and misses. One only needs to look at the horror that is The Big Bang theory to know that this is how the enthusiastic and nerdy are best perceived on TV. To be fair, they have their fun with pop culture references and there are probably elements of the characters that viewers can see themselves in or be sympathetic with, but for the most part the show stars a pile of stereotypical caricatures with story driven by making fun of fans while masquerading as being relatable to them. Do you see why that’s a problem? Continue reading
Sherlock Holmes is not impressed by this display of male gazery
Do you ever watch something and just think: “That was written just for the fans”?
Scenes that seem as though they were designed to be awesome more than anything else. Dialogue that seems made to be quoted. Moments of tension or comedy that are manufactured to titillate the audience. Sometimes fans of a show or book pick up on these things on their own and take them into their hearts, but sometimes it distinctly feels as though the creators put things in there just to appeal to their audience.
The most obvious of this is the root of the words “fan service”, defined as a random and mostly irrelevant action that plays directly to the audience’s (and chiefly the straight male audience’s) interests: a sudden gust of wind blows a skirt up! An event happens within the show that calls the female cast to dress in scanty or adorably provocative outfits! A sudden rainstorm thunders into existence just above the main characters’ location and everyone happens to be wearing white shirts!
Not to say that this exists solely for the male gaze; depending on the target audience, these instances will occur to males and females both. An important conversation just happens to take place while a toned male lead is working out! There is a bathhouse scene for little reason other than comedy and implicated nakedness! Characters wear second-skin spandex battle suits that may not be historically accurate!
Or, because writers do acknowledge that flashes of attractive people is not the only thing that humans get excited by, they could throw in some really cool mechas and fight scenes and explosions.
Or, if you’re Gurren Lagann, all of the above
Anyone who has ventured far enough into the Intertubes in pursuit of more information on a favourite show or book, or perhaps companionship on the subject, will have stumbled into the glorious and bizarre world of shipping (that is, for those giving their computer screens blank stares right now, the mental pairing up of characters within the show in a romantic context). They will also have discovered a universal rule: everything is shippable.
Yes, children, everything in this series is shippable! Even I’m shippable, but that is called self-insert and is frowned on in many circles.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory jokes aside, you shall discover that it’s actually quite true. If any characters appear within the same screen space for more than a few seconds (and sometime if they don’t!) there will be someone somewhere who wants to see them end up together. And this includes (shock and horror!!!) those of the same gender. Continue reading
I found this really great fanfic… it’s like a modern AU of Sherlock Holmes? And it’s on TV. And it’s amazing.
As someone mystified by the Holmesian universe but never quite in possession of the mental energy it takes to chew through the stories, Sherlock seemed to be sent from Fiction Heaven itself (though the nature of its creators, Mark Gattiss and Steven Moffatt, also known for tormenting avid watchers of Doctor Who, would be argued by some fans to be less than angelic).
The richness of the original is there and the characters that so many people have known and loved over the century are as fascinating and delicious as they have always been, with the modern day setting only a light, satisfying tang over the top.