Film Review: Sherlock Holmes 2 (2011)

December 17th, 2011 | Tags: , ,

Sherlock Holmes 2 (2011)

Sherlock Holmes: Robert Downey Jr.
Doctor Watson: Jude Law
Year: 2011
Case: The Final Problem

Rating:

Reviewer’s Note:

Yes, I have ranked this above Sherlock Holmes 1, though not because of any improvements made on Holmes’ characterization.  No, that additional pipe is because this adaptation is the first to depict Holmes/Watson as canon.  It is a glorious extra pipe and this is a glorious adaptation.

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes:

I am still not sold on Robert Downey Jr. as the Holmes of my generation, though it is still through no fault of Mr. Downey Jr.  He is a fantastic actor, more than capable of owning the role, that is, should he be given a script that does Holmes’ character justice.  That being said this script did a fair bit better than the first film.  I found him far more recognizable here than I did the first time around.  Perhaps this is entirely due to my familiarity with this take on Holmes, and so my expectations were already set.  I suspect, however, this is entirely due to Downey, who somehow managed to take an at times ill-written Holmes and convey such tangible vulnerability in the character that I soon forgot the many (and often blinding) character quibbles.

Was I impressed that Holmes seemed incapable of riding a horse, when he is an excellent equestrian?  Of course not, but by the same token, Downey’s comedic timing made the scene as humorous as it was intended.  Was I impressed that Holmes spent the entirety of the film looking rumpled and unkempt?  Of course not, but Holmes’ absence of hygiene was overlooked in favour of his quick wit and deductive skills.  Was I mildly embarrassed to watch Holmes drinking himself into a stupor and then dance gaily with a band of Gypsies?  Naturally, but it was worth the agony to see Holmes take Watson’s hand the next morning and lead him to his wedding ceremony.

The thing which elevates this performance, and this characterization, is that Downey utterly convinced me that he was a man in love with, and pining over, his best male friend, at a time when such a thing could not only cause scandal and ruin, but gaol time as well.  This is the Holmes of Canon.  The Holmes who utterly adored Watson, who did everything in his power to keep Watson at his side, and yet, who remained stoically silent on what his heart desired, not because he cared for his ruin, but because he cared for Watson’s.

Jude Law as Doctor Watson:

I am as enamoured now as I was the first time around with Jude Law’s performance as Doctor Watson.  Perhaps I still live in fear of a bumbling, comedic-relief Watson, and so am easily impressed, but to see a Watson capable of matching wits with Holmes, of handling himself in a fight, of following his own intuitive leaps in logic; it is a thing of beauty.

The conflict, too, which is so utterly apparent in this Watson, torn between marrying the woman he purports to love and remaining with the man he so clearly loves, is stunning.  There was such incredibly tension between Holmes and Watson in this film and it is exactly because of this nuance in Watson’s characterization.  Law plays a fantastically stoic and yet utterly adventurous Watson, as drawn to Holmes as a moth to a flame.

Stephen Fry as Mycroft Holmes:

Dear, God.  Has anyone ever conceived of a better Mycroft Holmes? (And after the nude scene I have, childishly I confess, taken to calling him Mycock).  I have adored many a Mycroft, but none as much as Mr. Fry.  He is so ideally suited to the role–brought such intensity to the role–that he will forever be Mycroft Holmes in my mind.  His performance made me wish this was a television series, rather than a film series, so that I could watch them tackle case after case with Sherlock’s brother.  One can easily imagine Fry assuming an even greater role as they depict in The Greek Interpreter, or the Bruce Partington Plans.

Jarred Harris as Professor Moriarty:

It was almost marginally disappointing, after so strong a showing from Fry, to have a Moriarty who was, although not terrible, fairly marginal as Moriarty’s go.  There was nothing wrong with Harris’ Moriarty, per se–he was perfectly serviceable–but he was not entirely memorable.  In fact, Moran seemed a far more dynamic character in this, and I suspect this is more a failing of the script than Harris’ performance.  Moriarty is meant to be a menacing, shadowy figure.  There seemed to be an attempt at expanding Moriarty’s character here (the opera, the pigeons–which were almost as ludicrous as the orchids Rathbone’s Moriarty grew).  Moriarty is better served as a villain, in my humble opinion, when he remains a complete mystery to the audience.  In an attempt to give his character depth, everything that made him such a sinister character seemed stripped away.

Other Characters:

There weren’t many additions in this film, though there were a few delightful cameos (Lestrade, Alder–I’m still in shock they killed her off), and of course an expanded role for Mary Watson, nee Morstan.  Kelly Reilly was, as always, exceptional in the role, and I adore the steady strength and patient understanding of her Mary.  As mentioned above, Sebastian Moran was impressively depicted, though I still felt Mrs. Hudson’s role was rather erroneous (though I suspect I am still somewhat baffled by the animosity between her and Holmes).  Noomi Rapace played a convincing and interesting character, though such a throw-away one that I can’t even be bothered looking up the name of the woman she played.  Aside from that, the real star of this film is the relationship.  And by that I mean:

Holmes and Watson:

Well, they’ve officially done it.  Holmes and Watson now have an adaptation in which they are canon.  The Bert Coules radio dramatizations came close, but Guy Ritchie had done what no one else has ever managed.

He has made Holmes and Watson canonically gay.

I assure you, I am delighted.

Normally at this point I would expound on subtext and sub-plots, but the truth is, those aren’t present here.  The entire point of the movie was this:

Watson got married, broke Holmes’ heart, Holmes’ nemesis, recognizing Holmes’ feelings for Watson, threatened Watson’s life, Holmes sacrificed his life to save Watson.

It’s a modern Hollywood romance.  It really, really is.

This is also where I would normally examine several scenes, but here they are so blatantly obvious that I suspect even a drunk chimpanzee would leave the theatre “shipping”–they’ve taken it beyond slashing–Holmes and Watson.

I think Ritchie’s even out-gayed Canon.  I wasn’t sure that was possible.

Oh, they kept in several Canon based references.  There is Watson visiting Holmes, but certainly Watson never offered to “trim Holmes bushes”, nor did Holmes ever forcibly embrace Watson, nor did they ever stand so close even my subtextually blind husband expected them to kiss.

And certainly Holmes was always kidnapping Watson to take him on grand adventures, Watson willingly abandoning his wife to do so, but never did they plan on having a “romp” together before Watson’s marriage, nor did Holmes subtly suggest that Watson would prefer to marry than live in purgatory (sinning–for sodomy was seen as a sin in those days) with Holmes.

And yes, Holmes and Watson dined together, quite often, but never did Holmes plan a date with Watson in lieu of Watson’s stag party.

Now, Holmes’ pining and heartbreak at Watson’s nuptials was certainly Canon, and while I can see Holmes usurping Watson’s honeymoon, and even assuming a female costume (the Holmes of Canon did several times) I can’t say Holmes and Watson have ever wrestled, or that Watson has ever had his head between Holmes’ legs, or that Watson had ever torn Holmes’ clothes from his body, all of this after Holmes threw Watson’s wife from a moving train.

We’re not even half way through the film yet.

We haven’t even gotten to the phallic imagery of Holmes’ concealed weapons, or the cuddling on the floor of the train car, Holmes half naked.  In fact, I suspect, if they’d made this film a gay porno, in which Holmes and Watson spent two hours having copious amounts of sex, it would have been less gay.

Then there’s Holmes calling their partnership a relationship, which was immediately followed by Holmes taking Watson on a honeymoon.  Or perhaps we’ll touch on the repression scene.  Or the agony in Watson’s expression when he knew Holmes was being tortured.  Oh perhaps the extremeness of his reaction, never mind his choice of weaponry.  Entire novels could be written on that scene alone.

Granted, we were deprived of a mouth-to-mouth scene during Holmes’ temporary death, but that can be forgiven given that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation wasn’t invented until 1956.  This was more than made up for by having Holmes and Watson DANCE WITH EACH OTHER, ballroom style, with the subtle (as subtle as a bull in a china shop) suggestion that it was Holmes who taught Watson to dance (likely inside the privacy of their Baker Street rooms).

I believe I said there was no need to point out these scenes, and yet here I’ve done exactly that, though certainly not all of them.  I didn’t touch on Holmes’ decision to sacrifice himself for Watson, or Watson’s utter heartbreak.  Nor did I touch on Watson’s elation when he suspects Holmes is alive.  There are countless dozens of scenes, scattered throughout the film which lead the viewer to only one conclusion.

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are in love with each other.

This is why this adaptation has earned 5 out of 5 pipes.

Delightful Elements:

Obviously the above is the most delightful aspect of this film, but I will touch on some of the non-Holmes/Watson aspects of this film.

It goes without saying that this film is visually stunning.  The sets, the costumes, the cinematography, the gritty editing; it’s a very visually appealing movie.

The plot of this film is far, far better than the first.  It is actually somewhat clever and interesting, not to mention quite well paced.  What is particularly impressive is that it is an original story, and yet still recognizable as a Sherlock Holmes mystery.  There are not many who can duplicate Doyle’s flair.  The story’s structure may have been borrowed from FINA, but within that confine the writers did a fantastic job of fleshing out an actual storyline.  It was quite engaging.

There is also a lot of fan service in this film.  And not just for the student of subtext (though I suspect this entire film was made simply to pander to slash fandom, which is fairly remarkable considering such a thing would have been unheard of only a decade ago).  There are numerous references to Canon.  Holmes’ bust, and his cocoa leaves, the serum, complete with a monkey reference!  The Diogenes Club!  Handwriting analysis, not to mention several lines lifted directly from FINA.  Come at once if convenient; if inconvenient come all the same!  Holmes playing the game for the game’s sake.

Reichenbach.

This was one of the things I enjoyed in the first film, so I am doubly pleased to see them here (in what is, in my humble opinion, a far stronger adaptation).

Quibbles:

Sadly, no Sherlock Holmes adaptation would be complete without a few quibbles, and this film is no exception.

There were a good number of things I didn’t like about this film.  There were numerous times when Holmes appeared slow witted, being outsmarted by several foes.  The dialogue wasn’t as sharp in this film as its original counterpart.  In fact, at times it felt entirely too modern, entire lines lacking the Victorianism I was hoping for.

Holmes, too, was entirely too modern.  Watching Holmes drive a motor car (the same Holmes who put off getting a telephone in favour of sending telegrams because he didn’t want to move into the next century) was jarring to say the least.

The entire cooking an omelette metaphor Holmes leads us through during one of his ‘deduce a fight’ scenes.  Is there anyone on the planet who can picture Holmes cooking an omelette?  Given the stew he was eating on the Moors during HOUN, I don’t think the man would even know where to start.

The side plot with Rapace’s character could have been removed entirely, along with the “plastic surgery” storyline, which only muddled and made ridiculous an otherwise interesting and complicated plot.

We have already touched on the horseback riding scene.

I have no idea what to think of Holmes’ camouflage.  Certainly it provided for some comedy, but at the heart of it, it was plain ridiculous.

And, of course, this is a Guy Ritchie film, which means we had to endure numerous fumbling fight-scenes, stop motion filming, and explosions, lots of explosions–some of which served to keep the pace moving, I grant, but most were simply gratuitous.

Conclusion:

I went in, after having seen Sherlock Holmes 1, expecting a decent film, and came out having seen a far better film than I was expecting.  I somehow managed to fill an entire 5.5″ x 3.5″ Moleskine (every page) with rambling notes and many, many a doodled heart.  This still isn’t an accurate portrayal of the Sherlock Holmes of Canon, but I may have fallen a little bit in love with Downey’s Holmes.  It certainly helps that his is the first Holmes to canonically acknowledge both his attraction and his love for Doctor Watson.

Bravo, Mr. Ritchie, I salute you.

  1. Tpfang56
    December 18th, 2011 at 00:47
    Quote | #1

    I just happened to see this film a few hours ago, and I completely agree. It was the gayest thing I’ve ever seen (even gayer than the BBC Sherlock. Now it’s time for BBC Sherlock to retaliate, isn’t it? 😉 Btw, the new episodes are coming out in two weeks. Will you watch and review those too?) I just… I mean, the subtext is so blatant and gorgeous and perfect.

    As for the rest of the movie, yeah, I agree: the plot was better and more interesting, the acting was quite good (especially Law!Watson whom I affectionately refer to as “Hotson” especially), the action was fucking fantastic, the soundtrack is download worthy, etc, etc.

    I had the same problems with the movie as well, but overall I really liked it. Now… only 2 more weeks until BBC Sherlock is back :3.

  2. admin
    December 18th, 2011 at 07:23
    Quote | #2

    @Tpfang56
    I think I might die a little if BBC’s Sherlock ends up as gay. I’m not sure it’s possible. I’m really not. I do plan on reviewing the episodes, but probably as an entire batch, not episode by episode. This is quite odd for me, having Sherlock media in real time. I’m used to having entire series at my disposal. To have to wait is agony.

  3. December 19th, 2011 at 11:53
    Quote | #3

    I’m so glad to see you have reviewed this already, I love all your other reviews! I saw it opening day and enjoyed it, although possibly not as much as I expected. I think I’d hyped it up too much in my mind but I am seeing it again with a friend in the new year so I might be able to judge better.

    The slash was just amazing. I was worried from seeing the “drag” element in the trailer that it would be too overt and ruin the tenderness of their feelings by making it a mockery but, outside of that wrestling scene, I think they handed it beautifully. I think I made a rather embarrassing noise when Holmes approached Watson at the ball and Watson said “I thought you’d never ask…” I think I died, haha. I also loved how they handled Moran. Usually, they don’t pay him much attention until after Moriarty has died which is a shame because there is so much potential of showing him as the anti-Watson and I think this film tapped into that, especially showing him trying to save Moriarty after the building collapses.

    I actually liked Harris as Moriarty but I think a lot of it was down to his voice, I found it rather distracting! And I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with Fry as Mycroft but I can’t put my finger on why. I’ve thought for ages that he would be perfect for the character but I thought they made Mycroft a bit…over the top. Again, I’m hoping another viewing might help settle my opinions!

    Anyway, really enjoyed this review and join you in a HOORAY! for making the relationship as close to canon as we will probably get, at least for now. (Of course, should they do a third one as they are discussing, who KNOWS how much further they will let it develop!)

  4. admin
    December 19th, 2011 at 12:32
    Quote | #4

    @Catherine
    I suspect I did the opposite. I was expecting a decent but not fantastic movie, and so I was pleasantly surprised. Low expectations seem to be the key to film-viewing happiness.

    There were parts of it that were over the top, but it came across as humourous rather than tacky. I hadn’t seen any trailers or production photos, because I tend to avoid spoilers before films, so I had no idea that scene even existed until I saw it. It was quite shocking seeing how far they pushed that.

    But it was counterbalanced rather nicely with more tender moments (the ball scenes was heart-wrenching).

    I think in terms of what he had to work with, Harris did a fantastic job with the character. I simply like my Moriarty sinister and mysterious, like in the stories. We don’t know anything about him. He’s just this shadowy figure. Giving him the background they did rather distracted me from that. Even though we don’t see Harris in the first film, his Moriarty was terrifying, precisely because he was so shadowed.

    I am completely biased because I am a Fry fan, so I think anything he touches is automatically gold. I also liked that over-topness of the character, simply because Mycroft was so eccentric. Granted, some of it was odd (the nude scene for example) but certainly I found Mycroft more in character than I did Holmes.

    If they keep up the Holmes/Watson text (it’s no longer sub) then I will watch a million of these films. Can you imagine if they just kept making them, sort of like Rathbone did? We’d have new SH films for decades.

  5. December 19th, 2011 at 12:44
    Quote | #5

    I think Robert, Jude and Guy would keep making them, even if the box office wasn’t great because they are clearly in love with the relationship. Robert has been a Holmes/Watson shipper from day one (the drag element being completely his idea) so I can see him being all over relationship-heavy sequels.

    I agree about Moriarty, he wasn’t as sinister as he appears in the books. I remember when I first read “The Valley of Fear” how chilling it was to learn how far reaching his grip was. And that did seem a bit lost in this version but I suppose it’s all in keeping with their adaptation.

    And yes, I think it helps to not have expectations too high with anything. I’m getting all excited about the BBC series starting next week but am trying not to, haha.

  6. December 19th, 2011 at 21:01
    Quote | #6

    I expected this movie to be absolute rubbish, and if I’m to be honest, really stuck my foot in my mouth re: the type of subtext I thought was going to be alluded to in this film. That trailer with Holmes in drag had my inner Holmesian petrified they were going to a.) bash the characters b.) cheapen the Holmes/Watson relationship. I wasn’t even planning on seeing it at all, but came away from it with a new respect for this version of Sherlock Holmes – the first one was a terribly entertaining movie, and so was this, but while I agree with you 100% about not buying into RDJ’s Holmes, the sequel had more substance than I would have ever thought possible. My heart is still aflutter over that beautiful dancing scene (which I really thought they were going to screw up with some ridiculous bit of slapstick) and that look on Watson’s face on the balcony… Holmes has it all planned out, logically, how it could go, and Watson’s entrance just pushes him into doing what he did. Gorgeous. You were spot on when you said this was an actual Hollywood romance.

    All right, I still say Guy Ritchie is doing a reverse of the Rathbone films and making Holmes the dumbed down comic relief, to an extent, but this movie was leagues above the first, and am I mistaken, or did Jude Law’s performance far outshine the one he gave in the first movie? I honestly hated him in the first, but adored him in the second!

    And I also wanted to thank you for such a well thought out review. I’ve read several over the past two days, but this one is by far the best and most thorough.

  7. admin
    December 20th, 2011 at 08:12
    Quote | #7

    @AutumnAtMidnite

    First my apologies. I approved this last night but was too tired to comment. I’ve since had a chance to go check out your tumblr and read your review. I would have commented there but I can’t seem to figure out how to comment anonymously on tumblr. It seems I can only like/reblog and then only if I have a tumblr. Clearly technology has moved on without me.

    But, yes, very insightful review as well. I can see where we took different things from the film, which is so interesting to me, and really highlights how subjective film viewing can be. I agree there was a good threat of character trivialization, and of them playing up the Holmes/Watson relationship for laughs. I think in some aspects they did, but never that offended me. And then we were giving these quiet moments of tranquility, underlain with such meaning that it was impossible not to be moved by the love they had for each other.

    I went from being very tentative (because the last film was fun, but not exactly my Holmes) to being quite excited for future installments.

    But yes. He is using Holmes as comedic relief. You express that beautifully. I hadn’t put my finger on it before, but that is exactly what Ritchie is doing–I confess I had an “aha” moment reading your review. I realized this was part of what irked me with Holmes’ characterization in these films. Holmes would have been mortified to be portrayed as such. I was physically embarrassed by the horse/pony scene. Good, god, man.

    I liked Law in the first one, and I liked him here as well, so I’m probably a bad person to comment. I’m easy to please, though. Give me a competent Watson and I’m sold.

    Anyway, thank you for the insightful comment, and for your thoroughly engaging review. I was particularly caught up in your analysis on Mary, because you’re right when you say she doesn’t translate well, and yet, they did such a fantastic job of bringing her to life.

  8. JL82
    December 25th, 2011 at 19:33
    Quote | #8

    Is this the one subtitled “A Game of Shadows?”

    Did you see that there is also a new pastiche book called House of Silk?

  9. JL82
    December 25th, 2011 at 19:52
    Quote | #9

    I must confess, I’ve never been able to get past all the explosions I’ve seen in both trailers. That’s almost enough to make it cease to be Sherlock Holmes for me.

    And, I know it sounds stupid, but what do you mean by “they now have an adaptation in which they are canon” and “canonically gay”?) (I guess I’m confused because you’ve always claimed they were gay in canon.)

  10. JL82
    December 25th, 2011 at 20:05

    @ Catherine – why are you saying that Robert Downey Jr is a “shipper,” and always has been? I thought the comments he made on the subject of Holmes and Watson being gay were sort of mocking…and what is a shipper, versus a slasher, anyway?

  11. admin
    December 25th, 2011 at 20:17

    @JL82
    Game of Shadows, yes, and no, I hadn’t. I have a pile full of pastiches I mean to review (including A Study in Emerald) but haven’t had the time.

    To answer your other questions. Yes, there are explosions, but that’s Ritchie for you. It’s actually overshadowed by the gay in this film, so I didn’t mind so much.

    I interpret Holmes and Watson as gay in canon, yes, but to date no adaptation has done the same. There is room to suggest the potential in various adaptations, but adaptations are the vision of the writers/directors, not the original source material. This adaptation is the first to openly acknowledge the potential for a relationship between Holmes and Watson. So to clarify, it is the first adaptation to portray Holmes and Watson as I interpret them in the canon.

    Does that make sense?

    (also, not sure if Catherine will see your question, so I’ll give my opinion if that’s okay: RDJ openly admits that he thinks Holmes was gay. He also openly admits that he interprets/plays Holmes as being in love with Watson. He jokes around a lot because he’s that kind of guy, but it’s more him having fun than doing any sort of mocking.

    shipper = fan of a relationship between two characters regardless of gender
    slasher = fan of two male characters hooking up

    You can be a slasher and only think two guys would be hot together, but if you’re a shipper it means you think they’re in love with each other. Slight distinction, and I’m sure other people will have different definitions, but that’s my understanding).

    Hope that helps, and nice to hear from you again.

  12. JL82
    December 25th, 2011 at 20:42

    I apologize if I’m at all off-topic, but there was a British sit-com called The Thin Blue Line, in which one of the characters, a feminist police-woman, was convinced that Holmes and Watson are lovers! You’ll have to skip to about 2:29 because she talks about someone else first. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZXL95SpneU

  13. admin
    December 25th, 2011 at 21:13

    @JL82
    I’ve seen that. It was hilarious.

  14. December 25th, 2011 at 21:20

    @AutumAtMidnight you’ve defined for me what has bugged me the most about this series of movies! Making Holmes comic relief is just not right. Anyone who’s read the Canon will know he’s very funny, but you laugh with him. Ritchie makes you laugh at him. No, no, no.

    Nekosmuse, I agree with a lot of what you said. In the first movie Holmes’s reaction to Watson/Mary was immature. But in this movie, he acts out of love, which makes him much closer to canon Holmes. RDjr is still too scruffy and weird for my tastes but still came off better for me than in the first movie.

    I could have done without a lot of the explosions and the obvious “my gun is bigger than your gun” phallic symbolism made me roll my eyes and laugh. But considering how the target audience is young males I suppose it makes sense for Ritchie to try to “balance” out the romance (and I don’t mean between Watson and Mary) with blowing shit up so that audience will won’t leave the theatre before the end credits. It’s ok to symbolize a penis with a gun but not with an actual penis I suppose. *sarscam*

    I had missed that RDjr stated he plays Holmes as gay. That just pretty much redeemed him in my mind! Now all we need is for Mark Gatiss to admit he sees BBC Sherlock the same way. Stephen Moffat won’t — says Sherlock is asexual — but Gatiss has been to my mind conspicously silent on this topic, letting Moffatt do all the talking. At least in the interviews I’ve heard/read that’s been the case. If someone reading this has seen differently I’d like to see it.

    So looking forward to BBC Sherlock starting next week. Am concerned about the whole Irene Adler thing but at least Moffat and Gatiss have been vehement in insisting that Sherlock and Irene’s relationship is NOT a love story. Too bad some of the reviewers I’ve read so far are too thick to see it that way. The Sherlock/Irene fanvids have already started, too. *gag*

  15. admin
    December 25th, 2011 at 22:18

    I will never be able to see RDJ as Holmes, but he did come a good deal closer to winning me over in this film. His love for Watson and his willingness to sacrifice everything for Watson was just so poignant my heart broke. It’s horrible that anyone would want to “balance” that with explosions.

    But then, I will never be a Guy Ritchie fan.

    Hollywood has always valued guns above penises, despite the fact that 50% of the population has a penis and the other half have probably seen one. It says something when a movie with graphic violence gets an R rating, whereas a movie with a naked, erect penis gets an NC-17 rating. Sex is a pretty natural, biological function, something most humans do. Killing each other, while at times a natural instinct, is not something I want to see valued over sex. I believe the phrase make love not war would be apt (and maybe a little cheesy) here.

    I wish I could recall the interview, because I only caught it once (it was a talk show) and it was during the first film, not this one (I haven’t seen any press for this film). If anyone knows it, please let us know.

    I can see Gatiss believing Holmes was gay, if only because Gatiss is gay and it’s normal to seek similarities with ourselves in characters we adore. I actually don’t mind Holmes as asexual, because asexual does not mean aromantic. It is entirely possible Holmes could have been in love with Watson without necessarily wanting to have sex with him. It’s not my personal interpretation, but it’s a perfectly valid one.

    Dear, God, are there really people “shipping” Sherlock with Irene? I can’t even fathom that. I suspect we’ll see a lot of fan self-insertion through Irene, which tends to happen with younger viewers (Mary Russell books, I’m looking at you). Since Sherlock is just an adaptation and not canon, I’m not particularly concerned with what they do with it, though if they do pair Sherlock with Irene, I’ll consider the series untrue to canon and review it as such. The benefit, I suppose, of being a fan of the original works first and foremost. They cannot be added to, only re-interpreted, and sometimes (often) interpretations get it wrong.

  16. December 25th, 2011 at 22:44

    @Love Bug
    You’ve just succinctly put your finger on the issue that was bothering me, only I didn’t realize exactly what it was. But you’re so spot on – we’re laughing *at* Holmes in these movies, and no, I don’t care for that one bit either. I was literally in mental pain watching him smeared in makeup.

    But also wanted to add there is an interview where Mark Gatiss slips up and says something by way of “they don’t realize they’re in lo- that they love each other…” http://youtu.be/H9z1p2ZZlPA (the slip up is around 2:13) and he does make a joke about there being no sex involved in that love until series four 😀 I’ve always seen Canon!Holmes as gay and celibate, but wouldn’t mind if they wrote him as asexual if they kept this nonsense about having him fall in love with women out of it. It’s so glaringly out of character, I think that’s the only deal breaker for me with any Holmes adaptation. But have to admit I’m nervous about how Moffat is going to script ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ and whether Cumberbatch is going to downplay anything involving love and Irene Adler. I think that episode will be the true test of the scripting/acting and how tightly they’ll adhere to Canon. But I am being a bit too verbose and I do digress…

  17. December 26th, 2011 at 08:06

    @AutumnAtMidnight
    I KNEW IT!!!! I just KNEW Gatiss felt that way, not because he’s gay necessarily, but because I’ve read his Lucifer Box novels. (If you haven’t read them, DO. Box is a spy who is tall, thin, with black hair and arresting blue eyes — sound familiar? — and allegedly bisexual although any ‘action’ described is with men. And Box doesn’t give a shit about other people’s feelings at all, just like Sherlock. The stories are fast-paced and very, very witty. In other words, what we’ve come to expect from Mr. Gatiss’ keyboard. Oh, and they predate his work on Sherlock, too.) Thanks for sharing that link. I had read a piece where Martin Freeman described the Sherlock-John relationship as “a love story” and “the gayest thing I’ve ever seen” but he’s so tongue-in-cheek half the time it’s hard to tell when he’s kidding. I’m excitedly waiting to see how they follow up the “I don’t have FRIENDS” comment Sherlock makes to John in one of the trailers.

    @Admin
    Yes, there are Irene/Sherlock shippers and there always will be, sadly. It didn’t help that Guy Ritchie took the “obvious” road by making her a love-interest of sorts but the fact there was far more sexual chemistry between Holmes and Watson in the films between Holmes and Irene made watching those scenes between her and Holmes more bearable for me. But a lot of new SH fans came to the fandom through the first movie so now they have stuck in their heads the idea that Sherlock had a thing or Irene or they were lovers at some point. As if.

    I still think Irene Adler should sue for character assassination, though! Would it KILL any male filmmaker to show her defeating Holmes without her having to be rescued at some point? I promise Holmes’ penis will not fall off if they let her get a leg up on him. ACD didn’t have a problem with it and, in fact, Holmes being outwitted in his first short story — and to a woman no less — made him more human and accessible to the audience.

    And why does Adler have to be a criminal or in league with Moriarty? “Adventuress” doesn’t mean criminal. The only adaptation I’ve seen that got it right is the Granada series and that is because they stuck to Canon.

    Just on a surface reading of the Canon I can see Holmes as being a gay celebate. I can even accept him as asexual but not as heterosexual by any means. But I think the only reason anyone has ever seen him as asexual is because we’ve been conditioned to see him that way by decades of male fans who describe him thus rather than accept the obvious clues that he loved Watson. They’d rather see him as a man who never has sex at all than one who would want to have sex with a man. And if they can’t accept that, then Irene Adler gets trotted out periodically as “proof” that Holmes was really heterosexual after all. But God forbid he was actually gay.

    I really, really hope Moffat/Gatiss don’t try to marry off John. It didn’t work well in the Canon and it certainly won’t work well in modern times. No woman in her right mind would tolerate John running off and putting himself in constant danger when he is not required to do so by either being a cop or a soldier. They could marry him off to Sherlock …. 😀

  18. JL82
    December 26th, 2011 at 11:37

    Again, I hope this isn’t the wrong place for this comment, but we have discussed the new series here and I see you have closed comments after the BBC review… you comment that you find it delightful that Martin Freeman’s Watson “is not ideal.” Do you think adapatations of Sherlock Holmes make him too perfect, somehow? I think that many slash fangirls idealize him, on the premise that he would have to be ideal to attract Holmes…but frankly, I think a lot of Hollywood adaptations have assumed Watson to be dumb, and I don’t think he’s been shown to be especially athletic or physically adept, either.

  19. JL82
    December 26th, 2011 at 12:22

    @LoveBug. I realize there are a lot of homophobic readers, but I’m surprised that there aren’t more gay men “claiming” the character as one of their own. We slashers always seem to be female.

  20. admin
    December 26th, 2011 at 15:49

    @JL82
    I’ve seen both, in various adaptations. Either Watson is too perfect to be real (the Russian series had a bit of this going on) or he’s an idiot (Rathbone films, I’m looking at you). I like that in the Sherlock series he’s human–a strong, BAMF character with actual flaws. It’s probably one of the most realistic views of his characterization I’ve seen. Even Law’s Watson is a little lacking in his flaws. But then, I adore complex characters.

  21. admin
    December 26th, 2011 at 15:54

    @Love Bug
    I find the concept of Adler/Holmes so bizarre my brain actually hurts thinking about it. There was nothing in the Canon to support it. I’m actually one of those people who deplored Adler’s character in the Canon, so I was impressed by her being made a criminal in the Ritchie adaptation. In SCAN she’s basically this jealous, possessive woman who blackmails a king because he doesn’t love her/won’t marry her. And then she gives him up because she finds a better man (Norton). It reeked of Doyle’s occasional bouts of misogyny (not that Moffat isn’t occasionally guilty of the same, so I do worry for the Sherlock interpretation). I wouldn’t actually mind if they did make her a love interest, so long as they wrote her a strong, competent female character. She was not in Canon, and there are very few adaptations which feature her as anything other than a scorned woman. Personally I just wish people would ignore her entirely and give us one of the Violets.

  22. JL82
    December 26th, 2011 at 16:55

    “There is nothing more ridculous than an amateur detective who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes and turns out to be Watson.” – Robert Barnard, mystery author, in Blood Brotherhood. As if Watson is somehow the opposite of Holmes, i.e., an idiot. So somehow, he may have become that in popular lore.

    One of Barnard’s heroes also said, in another book, that marriage leads to your partner being able to read your mind and, “Sharing rooms in Baker Street had the same effect for Holmes and Watson.” Yeah, it had the same effect, because it WAS a marriage!

  23. December 26th, 2011 at 20:05

    @JL82
    In Graham Robb’s Book “Strangers” he says something like “everyone instinctively knows Holmes is homosexual.” It would be a refreshing change if the BBC series went there. In fact, I think they already did in the first episode (“Women — not exactly my area”). The show is very gay-friendly as it is, even if they never do any more than they’ve already done. In the past any suggestion that Holmes and Watson might be a couple (if it was ever suggested at all) was done as a joke, as it was in Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. And although I think they tried too hard in that movie to make him as hetero as they could after the joke, the suggestion had still been made, and Robert Stephen’s Holmes was as gay as a maypole.

    Why do slashers have to continue to carry the torch for a gay Sherlock Holmes? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because hetero Sherlockians don’t want to give him up yet. The women want him and the men want to be him. A gay Holmes would interfere with those fantasies, I suppose. Then there are the “Conan Doyle didn’t intend for him to be gay; men’s friendships were different in those days; Watson was a serial groom; making Holmes gay is trendy or revisionist history” excuses. And yes, some of the denial is rooted in homophobia, too. Personally, I’d like to see some gay sherlockians start to publically claim him as one of their own. It would be worth it just to see some BSI heads explode.

    Nekosmuse, I’m a bit tired of Irene Adler, too. You’d think there was no other smart woman in Victorian England! Look at the movie. I don’t think Guy Ritchie knew what to do with the Gypsy character (see — she made such a faint impression I can’t even remember her name) and Mary Watson still doesn’t get a whole lot of respect, although I like Kelly Reilly in the part. And look what happened to Irene! She was discarded just like her hanky was later. These three women were treated as plot devices designed to support character development in the men. They were a means to an an end — the Gypsy woman to help find the brother; Irene to show us how much of a bad guy Moriarty really is; and Mary Watson to provide comic relief and be literally shoved out of the way so the menfolk can have their private little club. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the slash, but I don’t like that it comes at Mary’s expense.

    Maybe part of the problem is many still have a hard time conceiving of women and men interacting as anything other than potential love-partners. Put the woman in a dress with a bustle, then it becomes even more difficult to conceive.

  24. Alex
    December 29th, 2011 at 15:40

    Great analysis, I didn’t want to read it until I saw the film myself. I loved it, and I certainly agree that the mystery was FAR more interesting. Not to mention the thankful lack of heavy-handed symbolism, such as the crow.

    I share most of your quibbles to be honest. I liked the action in the movie, especially the parts where Holmes and Watson were working together as if they were one person, but it could get a bit too much.

    And I kind of disliked the humorous elements. There were some funny scenes, like the oh-so-relatable sleepy, lazy university student (cough cough) or Watson arriving with the worst hangover ever to his wedding. But the disguises – though probably realistically not TOO perfect – seemed to be played mostly for laughs, and that kind of irked me. And even worse – mostly due to my embarrassment squick -the nude scene. I just couldn’t watch it, poor Mary.

    Also, I still can’t get over at Irene Adler’s death. It was so sudden, and it happened to quickly. I was kind of expecting her to pop up at the end, but no. (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if she appeared in part 3, should there be one.) I don’t know, I just can’t believe it yet. I guess it was necessary so that the other character has a reason to be there (and her reason to be a part of the plot was kind of… unnecessary, even though I liked her well enough).

    Well, let’s move on to the good parts.
    I loved the slash. The scene at the wedding was amazing. And I just loved the end, when Holmes looks at Watson, closes his eyes and jumps off the balcony with Moriarity, not opening his eyes while falling so that the last thing he sees before his death is Watson’s face. Just great.

    I also liked Mary a lot, I think she’s quite awesome.

    And just like you, I am extremely glad that Watson isn’t Holmes’s bumbling assistant, but a competent and intelligent individual himself.

    All in all, it was a very enjoyable movie experience.

  25. JL82
    December 29th, 2011 at 18:52

    @admin – I was wondering why you’ve closed comments for a lot of the earlier posts, especially the original stories.

  26. admin
    December 29th, 2011 at 22:27

    @Alex
    There was a subtlety to this script that wasn’t there the last time and I think it was because instead of writing something from scratch, they borrowed from Canon. You can’t out-Doyle Doyle, so why bother trying.

    I hadn’t realized this until someone commented on it, but I suspect the reason I dislike RDJ as Holmes is because the scripts have turned to him for comedic relief. Holmes is many things, but he is not a fool, and yet they treat him as such. We should never laugh at Holmes, and yet Ritchie seems to expect us to do exactly this. It irked me, too.

    I have no idea what purpose Adler’s death was meant to have. I’m still quite confused by it, but I’m hoping they let sleeping dogs lie. I wouldn’t want them to retcon her death just to include her in a third film.

    But, for all the quibbles, the slash is what elevates this. RDJ did such a wonderful job conveying how much Holmes loved Watson. It was beautiful.

  27. admin
    December 29th, 2011 at 22:28

    @JL82
    I have my settings set to close comments after 30 days, because I don’t tend to get anything save spam after that point. I got tired of deleting enlarge your penis, or buy celex ads. If there’s something you want to comment on specifically, I can open the post.

  28. JL82
    December 30th, 2011 at 20:53

    Which is slashier…a “verse” where Holmes is devestated because Watson is married, or a verse in which Watson does NOT get married…i.e., Granada? The more I watch those, the more I think Holmes and Watson act very like a married couple, even in adapations of stories that are early in Canon when they may not have declared their love.

  29. Jay
    December 31st, 2011 at 15:21

    Hi! Long-time reader, first-time commentor.

    I was thinking about your comments about RDJ!Holmes being the comic-relief and, if we take the moment to accept Ritchie’s viewpoint of Holmes (the idiot genius), than Law!Watson’s writing take on a different type of subtext. The way we read Holmes in canon versus the bumbling RDJ!Holmes almost seems like a) flirting/teasing on Law!Watson’s part, -knowing- RDJ!Holmes would read it and be amused when he reads about canon!Holmes; b) promotion, as canon!Holmes would be the one you want solving your mysteries and not RDJ!Holmes (“you seem much calmer in your stories, Mr. Holmes.”); to c) Law!Watson showing us the real man RDJ!Holmes is when the insanity gets put on hold long enough to see the gentle, brilliant, loving man he is. It might be a bit wishful thinking on Law!Watson’s part (as RDJ!Holmes will probably still laugh at this vision and never really live up to it), but with Law!Watson being so clearly in love with this man, it’s rather endearing and adds another level to their relationship.

    My heart will always belong to canon!Holmes and Watson, as well as BBC! Sherlock and John, but I can’t help a love affair with Ritchie’s pair. It’s a rip-roaring good time, mixed with the touching little scenes, like Holmes sending Watson the oxygen thing at the very end. (“You are the air I breathe, my dear Watson,” Holmes said with a damnable smirk.)

  30. admin
    December 31st, 2011 at 16:46

    @Jay
    That is an interesting observation. I can actually see Law’s Watson flirting/seducing via flattery (which is no doubt why RDJ’s Holmes is so utterly befuddled by Watson’s sudden marriage). I don’t usually examine this level of subtext in adaptations, but yes, because we are shown Watson writing, we can automatically assume the film is true to life whereas the stories (canon) are Law’s Watson’s writing. It does add an interesting level to their relationship.

    I confess, I didn’t expect to be so fully swayed by this version of Holmes and Watson, and yet here we are. They are lovely, and this comment only adds to my enjoyment of them. Thank you for that.

  31. l-girl
    January 1st, 2012 at 20:51

    @admin
    I’m not entirely sure if it’s going to end up as gay as you say the movie was (and that apparently I need to see) but Moff and Co. are going to try…

    as an aside I laughed until my sides hurt at Sherlock basically calling Mycroft a queen in the first ep of Sherlock… I wonder if Moff has read your review of the first season. 😉 Can’t wait to read your review of Season 2.

  32. admin
    January 1st, 2012 at 22:04

    @l-girl
    I’ll be reviewing season 2 once all the episodes are finished. I have seen the first one, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not a fan of the Adler/Holmes angle, so it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. That aspect aside, I did rather enjoy Sherlock/John’s interaction. We’ll see how the whole series pans out.

  33. January 1st, 2012 at 23:44

    I’m a little relieved to note there are others (a minority, I’ll admit) who didn’t care for how the BBC handled ASiB. From the plot to the relationship – and don’t get me started on the Holmes/Adler tripe – I was sorely disappointed with this episode. I blasted the Ritchie version before it came out for, amongst other things, selling sex, and the ironic thing was that everything I accused the RDJ/Law version of being turned out to be what was wrong with the BBC version this time around. Whereas ‘A Game of Shadows’ was actually truer to Canon and the characterizations. O__O

  34. admin
    January 2nd, 2012 at 07:30

    @AutumnAtMidnite
    As I mentioned above, I’m torn. I liked the plot, and I liked the John/Sherlock interaction, but the Holmes/Adler stuff always puts me off. I just don’t understand where they get it from. Why not give us Violet Smith? Holmes admired her. I guess I just have a knee-jerk reaction to seeing her as his love interest because EVERYONE pegs her as his love interest.

    That being said, I also had some issues with the sexuality jokes (queen, gay, straight, virgin–poking fun at Sherlock’s asexuality was not cool). It’s pretty much Moffat to a T, though, so I’m not sure we were ever going to get away from it. I found a lot of it insulting. Again, though, first watch. I always prefer to view adaptations twice before committing to an opinion.

  35. l-girl
    January 2nd, 2012 at 12:07

    @admin
    Good idea cause my second watch made me realize several things that I certainly didn’t catch the first time around.

  36. tsupe
    January 6th, 2012 at 14:19

    I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I promised to take my friend to watch it with me. And it really sounds good…I just came here from watching RDJ’s and Jude Law’s interview and one person commented; “I think if they were gay, it would destroy something” (meaning if they were gay their relationship wouldn’t be as pure). I have seen couple of similar arguments on livejournal about the BBC series. I don’t think it would destroy it….to be honest Holmes always seemed to be a little bit “too” attached to his Watson. I don’t think it’s “dirty” , actually I think it’s kinda cute.

  37. admin
    January 6th, 2012 at 15:12

    @tsupe
    Sherlock Holmes has a long history of anti-gay sentiment. In fact, it’s only been in the last five years or so that mainstream media/fans have begun seeing the potential for a homosexual relationship between Holmes and Watson. There’s always been a subset of Sherlockians who advocated for such a relationship, but until now mainstream Sherlockians have been quite opposed to the idea.

    Changing mores, however, and I for one count it a good thing.

  38. tsupe
    January 6th, 2012 at 16:54

    @admin
    Still people usually have no problems with Holmes/Adler…which to be honest feels really bizarre to me. I mean they don’t even meet as themselves! And Adler has a husband! And Sherlock doesn’t like women I just….why?? Everytime I see a comment “He isn’t gay he fancied Irene Adler/was in love with Irene Adler/liked Irene Adler” I’m like “Did you guys READ the Scandal in Bohemia?

    It’s kinda sad how some people see something like that as love. To me it’s pretty clear he never loved any other human being than Watson, though I’ve wondered whether he and Viktor Trevor had something going on? I think what is the most telling is Holmes’s reaction when Watson is shot, because in another story he was impressed by one man’s actions to revenge the murder of his beloved woman, (even though Holmes always talks how love makes people weak) and says if he loved a woman like that, he would maybe, MAYBE do the same (murder). When Watson is shot, Holmes reacts EXACTLY like this, and actually confesses that he would have killed the man if Watson wouldn’t have survived. I mean please H/I?

    Not to mention whole Sign of four was practically Holmes wooing Watson. One person said (about the first RDJ!Movie) “I think Sherlock’s objection towards Watson’s marriage was unneccessary, I don’t think he really had any problem with it.” Yes he had, he was just being more subtle about it than RDJ!Holmes.

    By the way have you read ACD’s Man With the Watches? David Shenton said at the gay comics panel that it was one of the best gay stories he had read.’ A tale that is often considered part of the Sherlockian ‘apocrypha’. In terms of publication as well as fictional timelines, as, it was published during the real-life hiatus when Doyle had ‘killed’ his creation. The tale has the shape and feel of a Holmes story, but Holmes himself does not appear.’ <–(copied this shamelessly) I was just wondering… 🙂

    Gah, sorry for the long comment. I just hardly ever have the change to talk about SH with anyone, except my friend I mentioned, but I don’t want to talk about it with her too much…

  39. admin
    January 6th, 2012 at 17:12

    @tsupe
    Holmes/Adler advocates have been around since the dawn of Sherlock Holmes. I’ve talked about it a bit before, but I think because (before now) a lot of SH fans were men who’d read the stories as kids, that they wanted to relate to Holmes. Holmes was their hero, after all, and they’d grown up wanting to be just like him. But, at the time, it wasn’t socially acceptable to be asexual/homosexual, so they went searching for an explanation for Holmes’ apparent disinterest in love/relationships/women. They found Adler.

    I am utterly convinced Holmes and Victor had an affair, or at the very least Victor was Holmes’ first crush. But the love of his life is always Watson. That is readily apparent. I’m willing to entertain the notion that his feelings weren’t reciprocated, that Watson was heterosexual, but I will never, ever believe Holmes was not head over heels in love with Watson. It is so, so obvious, and like the instance you point out, there are hundreds of references in the story that point in the same direction.

    The RDJ films are not subtle, but then, Guy Richie is not known for subtlety. SIGN was very much a story about a man desperate to keep his beloved at his side. I touched on this a lot in Decoding the Subtext, but if you need but one story to highlight Holmes’ love for Watson, SIGN is it.

    I haven’t, actually, though now I am interested. It can be very hard to find things like that, but I can certainly conduct a search. I’ve actually considered whether I should review pastiches that are obvious pastiches even when they do not use Holmes and Watson’s names. Quite a few characters have been derived from Holmes and Watson. Possibly too many to review…

    And never apologize for talking SH here! I am always eager to discuss the great detective and his loyal doctor. You might also want to look into some of the Sherlock Holmes communities online, particularly over at livejournal (cox and co comes to mind). Lots of people eager to discuss SH, though you are always welcome here.

    • tsupe
      January 6th, 2012 at 18:40

      The Man With the Watches is very easy to find, it’s a short story; http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/14804/

      They are criminals actually, and there’s crossdressing, and sad end, though the ending is also quite touching. (I don’t spoil too much) The story is very surprising, so be patient!

      Also ever read Raffles stories? They’re about a gentleman thief and his Watson-like sidekick, Bunny; they were written by Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law in the 1890s; they were dedicated to Doyle and Raffles and Bunny were kinda like evil counterparts to Holmes & Watson (even though their personalities are different but the relationship between them is quite similar to H&W) And man,are they gay. I seriously thought that the person who recommed them was exaggerating, but yep, GAY as the day is long. The difference is that neither of them has any women. And Bunny even crossdressed (of course).

      Yeah I’ve read your Decoding the Subtext, it’s very good. 🙂 Also your other reviews. (Not all)
      One person pointed out that in Granada “they are so married!” And I was like “well duh.” In the books, Watson also is kinda obsessed with Holmes, and he always leaves Mary because of Holmes. I always wondered how it made Mary feel. In Adrian Conan Doyle’s one story Mary was very bitter about it.

      I don’t know I’m kinda shy to talk about stuff to people, it makes me feel I’m bothering them…heh.

      • admin
        January 6th, 2012 at 20:37

        Oh, thank you. I’ll bookmark that to read in the morning (it’s quite late where I am). I’m looking forward to it.

        I did have someone send me the Raffles stories once. They were quite adorable. They were also very, very gay. I actually didn’t know they were written by ACD’s brother in law, though. That’s very interesting. Unexpected, but interesting.

        I remember while I was writing DTS, I’d only read the stories 3 or 4 times by that point, and as I was re-reading them and making notes on subtext, I remarked, my god, why did Mary never divorce John? Clearly (clearly) he was in love with another man. I’ve theorized that either the marriage was a lie (aka there was no Mary) or Mary was having an affair, because otherwise it can’t be explained. No self respecting person would let their spouse gallivant all over the country with their best friend for weeks/months at a time, spending more nights on Holmes’ couch than in his own marriage bed. It was ludicrous. I’ve read ACD(2)’s pastiche, but aside from that, she never seems to mind (though she is away a lot, which could point to trouble in paradise).

        That’s understandable. I’m often the same way–which is why I keep this blog, let people come to me. *g*

        • tsupe
          January 7th, 2012 at 04:50

          Cool. When you have read it, tell me what you think about it. As a story it was quite interesting I think, and unusual also.

          And yes E.W. Hornung (ACD’s brother-in-law) was a fan of both Conan Doyle & Oscar Wilde, and he thought Doyle was a master of mystery, and the first volume, The Amateur Cracksman, is dedicated ‘To ACD. This Form Of Flattery.’ He was also close friend to Wilde and named his son after him (well actually he was Arthur Oscar 😉 ) His boy was born around the time of Wilde’s trial in 1895.

          Tell me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it quite difficult for a woman to divorce her husband during those times? I thought that husband’s had to do something REALLY terrible before that was possible. (And yeah like you pointed out in DTS John/Mary happens way too quickly, and most of the time in story Watson seems to talk/think about Holmes, Holmes, HOLMES. And then; ‘oh wait I’m actually in love with this girl I just met.’ Makes perfect sense. It’s like Watson just needed someone to cuddle with. 🙁 Poor Watson. I think also that violin scene was also quite telling from Holmes’s side, and he actually stares at sleeping probably for hours (not that he doesn’t usually do that) I mean please Holmes, I dare you to be more obvious. -.-

          • admin
            January 8th, 2012 at 10:16

            Oh, thank you for linking that. I’m not sure I can consider it part of the Holmes canon, but it was a lovely read. It’s rather interesting to read ACD’s other works. I find his style is quite recognizable, and he tends to write similar characters for all his pieces. It rather lends weight to those few theories that suggest he fully intended for Holmes to be gay. It’s one of those things that’s impossible to say for certain, but common themes rather can’t be ignored.

            Yes, yes, of course it was very hard for a woman to divorce her husband (to divorce in general) but I suspect, had Mary requested it, John would have easily agreed. He was a gentleman, and treated women with respect and admiration. Had she wanted release from their marriage, he would have obliged. Every time I discuss SIGN I get the urge to settle down and re-read it. It really is the most telling story. Oh, Holmes and Watson, who did you think you were fooling? Yours is the most beautiful and tragic love story I have ever read.

  40. JL82
    January 6th, 2012 at 17:22

    @admin and tsupe – you can’t even discuss Holmes and Watson’s relationship (as we see it) with the Sherlockian societies, can you?

    Re Adler – notice that Holmes says “I am in hopes that she does (love Norton), because this would solve his client’s problem. That is how he views Adler’s possible love for another man. Not with any jealousy. Compare that with how he reacts when he thinks Watson is in love with someone else!

    And, I may have been a little bit innocent when I first read canon, but I never thought Watson’s reference to “experience of women” on three different continents necessarily meant physical intimacy with numerous women. I think that’s kind of a modern reading of the word “experience.” There is certainly evidence he has had relationships with women, but there are actually more instances in canon of Watson oogling a man than of Holmes doing so. And he certainly oogles Holmes!

    • tsupe
      January 6th, 2012 at 18:47

      I’m a bit shy, haha.

      “And he certainly oogles Holmes!”

      That he does. Especially his hands and eyes. I read once that describing Holmes’s “thin pale delicate fingers” (something like that) gave people more reasons to think that Holmes was a woman.

      Holmes is always jealous of Watson, haha! He should look at only him.

  41. JL82
    January 6th, 2012 at 17:26

    I know our Admin is not a big fan of fanfic – I have ideas for fictional stories about Sherlockian societies, meetings, conventions, etc, at which, those who admit to viewing Holmes and Watson as gay are the odd-people-out(and probably the main suspects if any crimes take place.)

    • admin
      January 6th, 2012 at 17:30

      I think a lot of Sherlockian societies are begining to change. We’re seeing a slow transition to understanding and acceptance of alternate interpretations of Holmes. Right now this is mostly happening online, but give it a few years. Change takes time.

      Also, huh? I adore fanfiction. Whatever gave you the idea I didn’t? I can’t say I’m particularly interested in it for Holmes/Watson, though that is largely because the source material is so rich it is hard to top, but otherwise…

  42. JL82
    January 6th, 2012 at 20:04

    tsupe :The Man With the Watches is very easy to find, it’s a short story; http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/14804/
    They are criminals actually, and there’s crossdressing, and sad end, though the ending is also quite touching. (I don’t spoil too much) The story is very surprising, so be patient!
    Also ever read Raffles stories? They’re about a gentleman thief and his Watson-like sidekick, Bunny; they were written by Conan Doyle’s brother-in-law in the 1890s; they were dedicated to Doyle and Raffles and Bunny were kinda like evil counterparts to Holmes & Watson (even though their personalities are different but the relationship between them is quite similar to H&W) And man,are they gay. I seriously thought that the person who recommed them was exaggerating, but yep, GAY as the day is long. The difference is that neither of them has any women. And Bunny even crossdressed (of course).
    Yeah I’ve read your Decoding the Subtext, it’s very good. Also your other reviews. (Not all)One person pointed out that in Granada “they are so married!” And I was like “well duh.” In the books, Watson also is kinda obsessed with Holmes, and he always leaves Mary because of Holmes. I always wondered how it made Mary feel. In Adrian Conan Doyle’s one story Mary was very bitter about it.
    I don’t know I’m kinda shy to talk about stuff to people, it makes me feel I’m bothering them…heh.

    There’s a comical play by Loren D. Estleman, called Dr. and Mrs. Watson At Home, in which Mary accuses Watson of using Holmes as an “alibi” for affairs (pretending he’s with Holmes when he’s really with other women). So Estleman picked up on the idea that Watson was behaving like a husband having an affair…yet he couldn’t reach the obvious conclusion.

    • admin
      January 6th, 2012 at 20:38

      That is hilarious. Estleman, Estleman. You’ve missed such an obvious explanation! Holmes would despair.

    • tsupe
      January 7th, 2012 at 04:51

      Wow really? Esteman you missed the most obvious! xD

  43. JL82
    January 7th, 2012 at 12:21

    I re-read the Timeline notes…Admin credits the first Guy Ritchie movie with causing a surge in traffic on this site…that’s telling!

  44. Dave M.
    January 7th, 2012 at 22:21

    After finding the first of these movies to be such a monumental disappointment, I was entirely determined that I was NOT going to see number two.
    And then I saw that you had given it 5 pipes, and my mind was instantly changed.
    I’m quite glad it was, too, as, quibbles aside, it was an entertaining movie, and from the standpoint of a Holmes/Watson shipper, was quite fun for me and the abundance of teenage girls who filled the theatre when I went to watch it, though I basically missed all of the dialog in ~The Waltz Scene~ due to the sheer amount of fangirly squees that were being emitted around me. “I though you’d never ask,” indeed- Holmes asking Watson to dance, out, in public, at a ball, was quite the pleasant surprise.

    Anyway, a fantastic review as usual. And I cannot wait for your review if the second series of Sherlock. Although I was less than pleased with the handling of Adler, there was many a lovely moment. Though I personally believe they missed an excellent chance at the end when the camera paused on Sherlock and Watson’s hands as Watson handed him the phone- I was SO certain that Sherlock was going to take Watson’s pulse.
    My heart already aches at the mere mention of Reichenbach.

    (By the way, have you by any chance read “The Sherlock Holmes Companion” by Daniel Smith? (Not the book of the same name by the Hardwicks.) At first glance it is not particularly special (though quite well written and very in-depth), but! It is the only companion that mentions, and gives merit to, the slash aspect. Though it claims that the majority of canon is devoid of sexual tension (nothing short of a blatant lie), it does something quite astounding in its bit on SCANDAL, in that it quite thoroughly discounts the theory of Holmes being in love with Adler, and then ending with a paragraph something like this: “The story also contains a touching arm-in-arm walk between Holmes and ‘his Boswell’, a scene which leads many to see this story as indicative of another love, a love that dare not speak its name.”)

    • admin
      January 8th, 2012 at 10:09

      I was quite reluctant to see the second one myself, but I’m very glad I did. The characters are so deviated from canon that the film stands as a pastiche, rather than an adaptation. It was amusing and fun as opposed to a serious adaptation, so as soon as I stopped hoping for another Brett or another Wontner, I found myself enjoying the films that much more.

      I saw the movie in a theatre filled with couples, so I missed out on the fangirly squees. How disappointing. I would have loved to have been surrounded by such fans. There were a few twitters, but aside from that mostly cheers for explosions.

      I’m excited to see the remainder of the episodes for the second season of Sherlock. My thoughts on the first are quite torn. There were a good number of delightful moments, but the treatment of Irene (and in particular, the dismissal of Holmes’ carefully built asexuality from series 1) was quite disappointing for me. We’ll have to see what the others bring. I think I would have appreciated the first episode a good deal more if Sherlock had taken John’s pulse. Oh, my, how lovely would that have been? But knowing Moffat’s work as I do, they will never take that route. The best Sherlock will ever give us is innuendo and taunting.

      I will have to hunt this companion down. I’ve pretty much exhausted every Sherlockian resource available in my home town, but I suspect a quick internet search will start things showing up in my mailbox. Thank you for the recommendation.

  45. tsupe
    January 8th, 2012 at 16:21

    “The most beautiful and tragic love story”; that reminded me of this http://leeds.academia.edu/AgnieszkaJasnowska/Papers/133195/Elementary_My_Dear_Watson_The_Case_of_Masculinity_in_the_Sherlock_Holmes_Stories

    which I recently read, and I certainly didn’t except the writer to talk about homoeroticism, because it was only in chapter 3, and he talked about FINA & EMPT & H/W’s relationship; “”Indeed, masochism is the expression of love(…) This is a profound perversion, love equals suffering.” And I was like; “It fits so well!” It didn’t help when he talk about Watson fainting “Tweleit argues that in the fascist army falling unconscious was a type of bodily exertion which was favoured by the soldier’s superior and akin to reaching orgasm.” And I was; WHAT THE HELL EMPT will never be the same again! Like Catullus wasn’t bad enough!

    ….which reminded me of people usually saying; “You slasgirls and your slashy fixations” and I realised most of the scholars etc. that talked about this (which I have read) have been MEN. They are usually either: Neutral about the subject(yeah they’re gay that’s okay)/or a little bit homophobic, like you can read between the lines; “Okay those two are deffo too close IMHO.” http://jane3gar.springnote.com/pages/2995406

    Erhm, do you have any other site I could wrote to you, cos I kinda would like to ask you about some things, since you’re a more older (which I mean more experienced) Holmesian/Sherlockian,(if that’s okay with you) but I feel a little bit bad for spamming this page, haha. Because this is about RDJ!Movie.

    • admin
      January 9th, 2012 at 19:48

      There is such a dearth of scholarship that examines the potential for homoeroticism in the Sherlock Holmes canon. It’ll be interesting to see how that changes over the next few years, as new SH fans are being introduced to more “bromance” friendly adaptations, which could lead interested scholars to examine the canon more closely. I’ve seen both those papers before, and Graham Roberts touches on Holmes and Watson in Strangers:

      http://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Homosexual-Love-Nineteenth-Century/dp/039302038X

      But aside from that there is so, so little out there.

      There are 2 ways to get a hold of me. One is through my dreamwidth, where I’m nekosmuse.dreamwidth.org (I also have a livejournal, but I don’t use it). The other is through email: nekosmuse @ gmail.com. Those are the easiest, because I don’t update this site often (only when new adaptations come out) and I only leave comments open for 60 days (because otherwise all I get is a mailbox full of spam).

      • tsupe
        January 10th, 2012 at 11:00

        Thanks. I have a few questions, also about the BBC series. 😛

        Argh yes that book. I wish I had it. It sounds so interesting.

        Yes I kinda thought you had seen them before, since you’ve been fan for so long. 🙂 My point was mostly that I was actually surprised that men wrote those things; I actually haven’t seen a woman scholar about this (other than regular shippers).

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