The Game Is Afoot – How The Critics Want To Sink Sherlock And Why I Think They Never Will


I’m not an uber Sherlock fan, so I didn’t bother watching the first episode of the new season until a few days after it had been aired. So I ended up reading the reviews before seeing the program for myself. The reviews were what is euphemistically called “mixed”, which is another way of saying that the first episode was universally panned.

The thing is though, even before watching the first episode, I didn’t understand what the reviewers were talking about. They talked about far-fetched explanations for Sherlock’s faked death. I thought “surely everyone was expecting that?” They also said it was confusing. Well, it’s a fast paced detective program. It’s meant to be confusing, surely? And there was the question as to why Sherlock faked his own death anyway. Well, you could try asking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that. He invented that particular twist. You can’t blame Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat for that.

So, having read the reviews, I watched the show. Like I said, I’m not an uber fan, so I didn’t wet myself with excitement or weep at its brilliance or anything. But I was entertained. As usual, there were silly moments and moving moments and hilarious moments. And yes, as every good detective show should, it had some very confusing moments.

I re-read some of the reviews and still couldn’t get where the reviewers were coming from. Why would Sherlock fake his death? Well, he’s a narcissistic psychopath. Everything in his life has to be a drama with him at the centre of it and if it looks like that isn’t happening, he engineers things so that it is happening. He’s not a murderer, but he’s also not a very nice person. He’s  also a genius and happens to like puzzles. If you don’t understand that, then there’s no point in you watching the program. Or indeed reading any of Conan Doyle’s stories.

A couple of years ago, the same people who gave the recent “mixed” reviews were praising Sherlock to the skies. So I think the explanation for this is the good old fashioned cliché of the British not liking success. Sherlock has been far too praised and popular for far too long for some people’s liking. So the critics seem to be desperately wanting the program to jump the shark. This will never happen.

The reason this will never happen is because that Sherlock had already jumped the shark when its first episode hit the ground running. In fact it had already jumped a whole row of sharks and the row of sharks was already a distant dot on the horizon behind it when the first line of dialogue was spoken. It’s mad and quirky and unconventional. If you don’t like that kind of thing, then don’t watch it. There are plenty of old Basil Rathbone movie versions around if you like your detective dramas unchallenging. And in black and white.  In every sense.

© Copyright Michael Grimes 2014


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About thedailygrime

At that awkward age - too young to be a grumpy old man, but just acerbic and downtrodden enough to have an opinion. Read it here.

2 responses to “The Game Is Afoot – How The Critics Want To Sink Sherlock And Why I Think They Never Will”

  1. vicbriggs says :

    I really enjoyed your review and since my reply was taking Gargantuan proportions I decided to make it a separate post. Hope you like it:

    • thedailygrime says :

      Some very interesting points there. I really only skimmed over what I actually thought of “Empty Hearse” in my post. If I had written down all of my thoughts on it, the post would have been very long indeed and nobody would have read it.
      I’ve found this can be a problem if you write yourself. I can’t read or write anything without re-writing it as I go along. Can’t resist the temptation to say “Well, that’s not how I would have done it.” The only exception to this is the first page of “Lolita” which, despite its unsavoury subject, is probably the most perfect piece of English prose ever written. And Nabakov wasn’t even writing it in his first language. Bastard!
      I like “Sherlock” precisely because it is so disjointed and chaotic a lot of the time. I can enjoy it knowing it will never be the way I would like to have written it because I like structure. It’s like a naughty narrative pleasure. Plus it does have Mr Cumberbatch in it – even I fancy him a little bit and I’m straight.
      The narrative of Sherlock reminds me of the comic style of Billy Connolly. I always liked the way he would wander on and off subject but always come to some sort of point at the end. As long as Sherlock has some sort of resolution, everything will be fine. Not total resolution though. No one likes that. As Conan Doyle found out when he killed Holmes off in the first place.

      Thanks for taking time to read my post. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed your reply to it

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