Thursday, January 02, 2014
John Lydon was right all along*
The most eagerly awaited television event of the year, okay it was only 1st January but stay with me, the opener to season 3 of Sherlock was all over the place. It was like watching a blind drunk (as in somebody who had imbibed too much alcohol not somebody without fully functioning eyesight) struggle to walk in a straight line and talk at the same time.
We were teased more times than an expectant virgin on a first visit to a brothel with possible reasons why Sherlock had survived his 'death leap' from the roof of St.Barts at the end of Season Two and by the end of this ninety minutes we were none the wiser. Nor were we really any the wiser why nearly ten million people decided to forgo an early night and watch it.
This episode was all about reuniting Sherlock and Watson after that fall. Sherlock, as portrayed in these modern day versions of the Conan-Doyle stories just doesn't do relationships, he's very much like the Saga character in the Danish/Swedish 'The Bridge' in that respect. It's a trait that puts him on the top ten of 'things you will recognise in somebody who has aspergers. There were a couple of plotlines that were about as flimsy as a newspaper in a hurricane but they were little more than left over stocking fillers.
This wasn't vintage Sherlock it was, writer, Mark Gatiss sticking his middle finger up at the online obsessives who search for clues anywhere and everywhere, it was pointed in the direction of the anoraks who couldn't wait to sign on to messageboards to point out that it wasn't Westminster Station, or the fact that the tube train was from overground stock one minute and underground stock the next or that the London Transport system of train tracking would have rendered the story as impossible rather than implausible before it had even been formed in the writers mind.
Gatiss knows his stuff and this story had its roots in the Conan-Doyle yarn The Empty House which is the point in the story arc where Holmes and Watson are reunited two years on from that small incident at the Reichenbach Falls. The original writer couldn't decide what to do with a hero he was tired of and you suspect that Gatiss (along with cohort Stephen Moffatt) hasn't a clue either. What we got were ideas copied from Skyfall, V for Vendetta, Randall and Hopkirk deceased (or Department S depending on your version of 1960's ATV programmes) all wrapped up in a big bow, the skimpiest of skimpy plots involving a plan to blow up Parliament and a brief story involving Watson being kidnapped and drugged or drugged and kidnapped and placed beneath a bonfire on November 5th.
The only two bright lights in a show that favours the dark to the light were the introduction of Martin Freeman's real life partner Amanda Abbington, whose main claim to fame thus far has been as one of the two dippy office workers in the Malteser adverts, as his future wife and the introduction of Sherlock's friend Molly's boyfriend - a character who bears more than a passing physical resemblance to our hero. There was an 'in-joke', and boy do Gatiss and Moffat enjoy their 'in-jokes', using Benedict Cumberbatch's real life parents Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham as, wait for it, Sherlock's parents.
All pleasant New Years evening hokum and whatever its shortcomings anything that keeps Una Stubbs in work can't be all bad can it.
* "'Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?'' Lydon's (then called Johnny Rotten) question to the crowd at the end of the Sex Pistols final gig in San Francisco in 1978.