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Review: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

Mark Gatiss gave us an episode of Sherlock in the original, Victorian setting, but only a fool would not have expected him to weave it into the end of the last episode of the modern adaptation.

After a selection of scenes from previous episodes, the story is introduced by John Watson, in his army uniform, being showered by debris from an exploding shell in the Second Afghan War. This is straight off page 1 of the original version of Conan Doyle’s ‘A Study In Scarlet’. (If you have never read this, then do so, as soon as possible.)

Everybody wants to know the resolution to the apparent suicide of Moriarty at the end of the last mini-series. The programme started by giving us a story which apparently had nothing to do with Moriarty, and then it did have something to do with Moriarty, but not in the way we were expecting, and then we did get some development of the story in the previous episode, but not a resolution, and then we got another cliff-hanger.

It is a testament to Gatiss’s skill as a story-teller and constructor of plot that he manages to dazzle the audience in this way, and maintain the tension, without ever degenerating into “one damned thing after another” (as happens in ‘24’, for example).
All the characters were rigorously played by the same actors as their modern counterpart, right down to the chap who says, “He is always like that” (Dr Stamford).

Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), the pathologist who never appears in the Conan Doyle original, looks great in a moustache. I wish I could say the same for John Watson. It was obvious how a masculine disguise would have been necessary for a woman to be a pathologist in Victorian times, but even I did not supsect that this would turn out to be a key part of the plot. The same goes for John Watson’s petulant exchange with the housemaid over his breakfast.

When Gatiss is not inventing new characters, he is setting up relationships and axes of tension between existing ones, chiefly between Mary Morstan (spy) and Mycroft (spymaster), between Holmes & Watson (subjects) and Mary Morstan (investigator). Not only is Watson his own man (as all modern Watsons have to be), but Molly Hooper, Mary Morstan, and Mrs Hudson are their own women. The subtle and unintentional homo-eroticism of the original stories has been replaced by deliberate and blatant homo-eroticism between Sherlock and Moriarty. Under the layers of physical and psychological evidence and plot, under the raising of social and philosophical questions, against the settings and characters and the subtext-laden dialogue, we always get back to the same issue: the never-ending struggle of Sherlock and Moriarty to alleviate their own boredom. Sherlock and Mycroft are both fellow-sufferers from hyperlexia. Moriarty’s condidtion may resemble hyperlexia, but I suspect him of being merely a vulgar adrenaline-addict, rather than being addicted to the assimilation and analysis of coherent data.

The wait for this was too long. “So that Martin Freeman could portray Bilbo Baggins” is, in my opinion, one of the worst imaginable reasons for the delay, but it can’t be helped. I cannot wait for the next one. In ‘The Abominable Bride’, Mark Gatiss has succeeded in writing an ultra-promiscuous adaptation of a set of Victorian stories, and producing something which is better-thought-out, more plausible, and more gripping than the original. He has even managed to create a story which ends with “and then it was all a dream” without it seeming to be a cliche. Good writers avoid cliches. Great writers use cliches in new ways.

Finally, I come to the awards section.

Coolest Man On The Planet: Benedict Cumberbatch, for the way he delivers the line, ‘The name is Sherlock Holmes, and the address is 221B, Baker Street.’
Most Unlikely Person: Jane (Stephanie Hyam – ?) the housemaid, who just wins it ahead of Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) in men’s clothes.
Best Editorial Decision: making Mycroft fat again, but making him the subject of a tontine with Sherlock, and addicted to plum pudding.
Best Line Other Than Sherlock’s: ‘He didn’t want a drink: he needed one’, or ‘You’re Sherlock Holmes – wear the damned hat.’ (both John Watson). The latter is narrowly the winner.
Best sideburns: Lestrade (Rupert Graves).




Sherlock S3E3: His Last Vow and Series 3 Awards

The title was the usual pun on an original Conan Doyle story, ‘His Last Bow’, the very last in the storyline of the originals, though not the last to be published.  As usual, there was a mixture of references to Conan Doyle.  The meeting between Mary Morstan and Sherlock drew from ‘The Empty House’, in the kind of location , the use of a dummy Sherlock, and the subject of marksmanship.  The references to ‘the East Wind’ also come from a dialogue between Holmes and Watson at the end of ‘His Last Bow’, but the symbolic meaning of it has been altered to make it contemporary.  

I was interested to note that the missing ability in higher mathematics, which Conan Doyle attributed to Moriarty (Professor Moriarty, to be precise) turned up in connection with Sherlock and Mycroft’s mother.  I suppose that everybody knows by now that the parents were played by Benedict Cumberbatch’s real parents (and that Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington are partners in real life).  As soon as I realized during series 1 that this adaptation does not depict Moriarty as either a mathematician or a professor, I felt sure that it was going to be cutting-edge and contemporary.  The fact that the mathematical accomplishment has eventually turned up suggests how determined Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are to re-use as much of Conan Doyle’s material as possible.  They are, to paraphrase Eric Morecambe, playing all the right Conan  Doyle notes – just not necessarily in the right order.  It is significant that the mathematician is a lesser, boring character, rather than a cool, major character.  Gatiss and Moffat also seem to have a passion for pay-off and return, and so I think it likely that Mrs Holmes’s triple integrals may turn up in series 4.  Her textbook is entitled ‘The Dynamics of Combustion’, and so I predict she will be called upon when something is about to catch fire or explode, probably at a moment when she only has thirty-eight seconds left in which to do the calculations.  

Here are the Sherlock Series 3 iamhyperlexic awards.  As is customary, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is excluded from all categories except his own. WARNING: contains what may be construed as spoilers.  

Best Villain: Alongside the two obvious nominations for Moriarty (Andrew Scott) and Charles Augustus Magnusson (Lars Mikkelsen) are two others: the photographer in S3E2 (Jalaal Hartley) and Mark Gatiss (Mycroft, for the way he treats young Sherlock).  The winner is, of course, Moriarty.  Even when he is not there, his presence is still felt.  Moriarty is the only one who could have beaten C.A.M.  The Charles Augustus Magnusson of Sherlock is even more stomach-turning than the Charles Augustus Milverton of the original.  But he under-estimated Sherlock and got shot, and so he loses.  

Word Cloud Most Harmful to Hyperlexia Sufferers: the one surrounding Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington) outside the restaurant in S3E1.  This returned in S3E3, where the word ‘Liar’ persisted.   I hope, if it ever returns, it is with adequate supporting explanation.   The lists which appear in S3E3 when C.A.M. has his spectacles on are also rather irritating, but yielded to the pause button.  

Funniest Word Cloud: (Actually a series of word clouds) the ones in S3E2 which appear at the crime scene when Sherlock is stumbling around, drunk.  

Best New Character: Archie (the page boy with the penchant for murder scene photographs in S3E2), Young Sherlock, Mary Morstan,  Mrs and Mrs Holmes, Bill Wiggins (Tom Brooke).  The winner is Bill Wiggins.  I am sure he has a bigger future in series 4.  

Best Re-use of Conan Doyle Material:  there are dozens of possible nominees.  My favourite is Sherlock’s mention of white supremacists when he sees the tattoo on the hand of the unconscious security guard in S3E3.  This is a reference to ‘The Five Orange Pips’, a story about the Ku Klux Klan.  

Best Don’t Try This At Home Moment: Drinking beer out of measuring cylinders.  Upon their first appearance, when Sherlock asks for two “beers”, they were clearly filthy, as laboratory glassware often is, and hence, probably, toxic.  

Sherlock’s Best Moment: When he drops the champagne glass in S3E2, having realised that Tessa, the nurse, had referred to John Watson by his middle name, and hence had seen one the wedding invitations.  Or using an engagement ring as an inducement to get into C.A.M.’s flat in S3E3.  The champagne glass narrowly wins it.  This is the essence of genius: bothering to regard something as important, even when it is manifestly unimportant to every-one else in the world.    

Best Moment By A Character Other Than Sherlock: John Watson’s escalating beatings of Sherlock in S3E1 when Sherlock reveals he is alive.  Molly Hooper’s (Louise Brealey) slapping Sherlock repeatedly in the face when his urine sample tests positive for controlled drugs.  Mrs Hudson’s uncontrollable laughter when she realised that Sherlock would have to read out the telegrams at the wedding.  The winner, just, is John Watson’s busting of Sherlock’s nose.  The fact that the eateries Sherlock, Watson, and Mary Morstan attended got less salubrious each time Watson made another attack was very funny.  Molly, while important to the story in this series, seemed to have a smaller part than she played in the last one.  I hope she moves back into the foreground in series 4.  

Best Editorial Decision: Giving Mary Morstan a substantial and mysterious back story.  In the originals, she has “Victim” written across her forehead from the first moment she appears.  Or preparing for series 4.  Preparing for series 4 wins by a mile.    

And please, Mr Freeman, no more messing about with dragons this time.  It’s redundant, all that stuff.

How did Sherlock survive the fall? Part 2

My attempt on 20 January 2012 to cover all the possibilities has been vindicated.  The answer, according to the numbering of my earlier list, is: “Option 5”, but with an inflatable rather than cardboard boxes.  My hunch that Molly was part of the plan was also correct.  Many people correctly surmised the use of a ball under Sherlock’s armpit to stop the pulse in his arm while Watson attempted to take it.

Once again, I notice Mark Gatiss’s penchant for making puns out of the titles of the original stories (‘The Empty Hearse’ instead of Empty House) and his wanton propensity for using plots from the originals as mere ornaments, rather than episodes in their own right.  This happened in S3E1 with ‘A Case of Identity’ (the tearful woman, accompanied by an older man with whom she was lodging, bemoaning the fact that her on-line companion had apparently disappeared).

The reason why Sherlock’s name appears so frequently in this blog is that, while fictional, he is outstandingly the most famous fellow sufferer of hyperlexia.  (I wonder if Mark Gatiss was playing Mycroft or speaking for himself when he utters line, “I live in a world of goldfish.”)  My attacks always get worse immediately before, during, and for a while after each programme.  I deplore the harmful and insensitive ways the word clouds are used.  The fact that they are on screen for too short a time even for some-one like me to assimilate them is one thing, and that can be offset by using the pause button.  However, the content of these word clouds is infuriating.  Take the scene in S3E1 when Sherlock, Watson and Mary are standing outside the restaurant, after Watson has tried to sublimate the shock of seeing Sherlock again by attacking him.  The word cloud which appears contains some terms which make it obvious how they arose: ‘cat lover’, for example.  However, another one was ‘Lib Dem’, which is infuriating.  Unless it was something as obvious as the bit of metal on Jabez Wilson’s watch-chain in ‘The Red-headed League’ which indicated that he was a freemason, I do not see how you can tell that some-one supports the Liberal Democrats merely by looking at him or her.   If the writers have a practical hypothesis of how all the terms in the word cloud arose, they should show it.  If they do not, then they are not only belittling their own artistic creation, but they are scoundrels.

Holmes’s first words to Watson

It is quite obvious from recent analytics for this blog that there is little point in my posting anything other than items about ‘Sherlock’ (not that that will stop me from continuing to serialise ‘The Companion’).  Feel free to post any more theories about how Sherlock survived the apparent fall at the end of the last series.  

I have just opened an old copy of ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’, and looked at the first story, which is ‘The Empty House’. 

Reading the first two or three pages conveys very clearly the difference between the original stories and the BBC adaptation.  I don’t know if sales of the Conan Doyle’s books have gone up because of the recent publicity but, if they have, I think that many new readers will be disappointed.  Life has changed since 1905.  (I know that ‘The Return of Sherlock Holmes’ was set in 1894 but it was published in 1905).  Literature has changed since accordingly.  Contemporary readers want the opening sentence and the opening paragraph to grab them by the throat.  They want every word of every sentence to convey something important to the story.  On the whole, they want a narrative to be like an SAS raid: they want it to get in, do the job, and get out again as efficiently as possible.  Most readers want the story to give them themselves.  I don’t think the original stories do that any more. 

The question which jumps off the page at me when I look at ‘The Empty House’ is, “What will Holmes’s first words to Watson be when he reveals that he is still alive?”   It is quite certain that they will not be the words which appear in the original.  Holmes has disguised himself as an elderly bookseller, but takes off his disguise while Watson’s back is turned.  Watson faints (which is a possibility in the adaptation).  Holmes then says, “My dear Watson, I owe you a thousand apologies.  I had no idea you would be so affected.”  I am not saying these words are too archaic for our Holmes to say them: I am saying that they are completely out of character for the character of Holmes that Benedict Cumberbatch portrays.  

The worst news about series 3 is that it is unlikely to be ready until at least near the end of 2012, because both Cumberbatch and Freeman are working on films.  Freeman is among the cast of – of all things – ‘The Hobbit’.  What a tragedy that our grown-up, complex, contemporary, hard-edged enjoyment should be postponed for the sake of a grossly over-rated ruralist fantasy about a bloke with hairy feet who goes on a camping holiday.  

Would anybody care to speculate on which stories will be chosen to be adapted for the next series, and what Holmes’s first words to Watson will be?

How did Sherlock survive the fall?

One of my close literary friends has asked me to account for my theory that Sherlock, in the recent BBC adaptation, survived the fall from the building at the end of episode 2/3.  This arose from a conversation on Facebook, in which I used the phrase “some mechanical means” to describe Sherlock’s descent. 

The main reason why I said, “some mechanical means” is because I used to work at an engineering establishment, where any given problem would usually prompt more than one solution.  Hence, I perceive this not as the answer to the question, “How could he have done it?” but rather, “How could he best have done it?” 

These are the possibilities as I see them.

  1. String or wire.  He jumped off, but his descent was slowed by friction with a piece of string or wire.  Why didn’t we see the wire?  Because it was thin.  How did he manage the jolt of kinetic energy at the end of such a descent?  A piece of metal folded into a concertina, which unfolded and absorbed the energy at the bottom of the descent. 
  2. Induction.  Sherlock had previously arranged for an electric circuit carrying a large current (possibly including low-temperature super-conductors) to be set up in the building.  Before he jumped off, he made sure he was wearing a jacket lined with coils of copper wire.  The comparatively large eddy currents resulting from this arrangement set up a magnetic interaction which slowed Sherlock’s descent considerably.
  3. He jumped onto the top of the passing double-decker bus.
  4. He jumped into the back of the passing dump truck. 
  5. Free fall, with impact buffer.  He jumped, but landed on top of cardboard boxes or something.  Whatever it was must have been taken away immediately after by some pre-arranged agent, because it was not evident after the apparent death.
  6. Parachute.  This would have had to open very high up for no-one to have noticed it.  Something creating drag or upward force above Sherlock’s body is physically equivalent to item 1 in this list. 
  7. Updraught.  Sherlock had previously hired somebody to drive past with a set of equipment which blew air upwards with considerable force.  (The dump truck, perhaps?) 
  8. Gravity.  As the egregious Mr Dickens, my ‘A’ level Applied Maths teacher once said, “if you had a Cox’s Orange Pippin of tremendous   density…”  Sherlock had obtained a sample of neutron matter which exerted such a strong gravitational field in opposition to the Earth’s field that he could fall unharmed. 
  9. Moral superiority.   He internalised the teachings of Nietzsche, and came to the conclusion: “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger, even if it does kill me”. 

Whichever way you slice it, Molly Hooper comes into it somehow.

Sherlock: psychoanalysis


What I am doing now is the literary equivalent of hiding carrots under a pile of chicken nuggets.  I want people to read my serialised novel, The Companion, and to comment constructively upon it, but I can see from the blog statistics that all anybody is interested in at the moment is posts about Sherlock.  I can cope with that.  I am interested in Sherlock, too. 

I envy this contemporary Sherlock many things. 

First of all, I envy him his name.  I used to think that my name, William, was rare.  I went through the whole of my education being the only William in the whole school, except for a brief overlap with a pupil at Roundhay who was expelled for pelting the head boy with rotten pears.  Now, I can hardly walk past a row of shops without hearing a mother shouting at her recalcitrant toddler who is my namesake.  I have never heard of anybody, alive, dead, or fictional, called Sherlock, other than the great detective himself.

More than that, I envy him for his ability to get his own way.  People expect him to do weird things, and mostly they put up with it.  He tells some-one to shut up, and relative silence, not recriminations, is forthcoming.  Some of what little human interaction he participates in, he gets to hide by acting (as evidenced by the door intercom scene in ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’).    I envy him his ability to be regarded as a special case, relatively free from being psychologised and pathologised.  Only once in the programmes so far do I recall somebody referring to Sherlock as having Asperger’s syndrome (in ‘The Hound of Baskerville’, as they were coming out of the Cross Keys). 

The outstanding, but, in the long run, insignificant, exception to this is the scene in ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ in which Sherlock wants Watson to hit him, finds Watson uncomprehending, and tries to precipitate the outcome by punching Watson.  There is a brilliant cut away and cut back to Sherlock with his face a few inches off the floor with Watson on his back and with his arm round Sherlock’s throat.  That is possibly the best scene in all six programmes so far.  You would scour the works of Conan Doyle in vain to find it, and yet it is made entirely with authentic ingredients. 

Sherlock is a hunter.  He prefers to work alone, but relies on others when it suits him.  He never knows the final outcome of what he undertakes, but he presses it home with conviction because he knows that to do otherwise would mean certain disaster.  He makes (and re-makes) everything up as he goes along, except his method for making things up as he goes along.  This is why most human beings find him so unsatisfactory: because they greatly prefer a predictable mediocrity to an unpredictable genius.  It is also why two of the people most interested in Sherlock are Irene Adler and Jim Moriarty: the only two people as much afraid of dying of boredom as Sherlock is. 

Anthropologists have shown that, historically, hunting is virtually a waste of time.  In terms of calories, it expends more than it captures.  It may from time to time result in an increase in protein and mineral intake for the tribe that it serves, but its unpredictability means that it would never compete with agriculture as a means of subsistence, once the latter had been discovered.  The thing that Sherlock is hunting for is the relief of boredom.  It is the chase itself which sustains him.  As soon as he finds his quarry, he is instantly transported back to starvation and the hunger for another case begins again.  Meanwhile, those who have been trying to keep up with him wonder, quite understandably, why they set off in the first place.  

The feminine side of human existence is represented in the story by the original character of Watson and the new character of Molly Hooper. 

Watson in the present adaptation is the personification of the desire of the human race to be treated with civility and respect.  It is perhaps ironic that Watson himself is in therapy (presumably for post-traumatic stress disorder suffered while serving in Afghanistan) because he behaves like a therapist to Sherlock.  He draws boundaries.  He tried to get Sherlock to recognise his own limitations.  He has no hesitation in pointing out Sherlock’s faults to him, and in withdrawing from Sherlock if he misbehaves. 

Molly represents that section of the human race which has partially resigned itself to being treated with an absence of respect, but which believes that Sherlock can eventually be saved from himself, even if that requires the playing of a very, very long game.  The character of Molly Hooper, played so exquisitely by Louise Brealey, works because Molly is perceptive enough to see what is happening and articulate enough to give voice to it.  The line “I don’t count,” so poignantly uttered in ‘The Reichenbach Fall’, actually means, “I don’t count to you yet, you narrow-minded, arrogant, selfish bastard, but I will one day.”  To that extent, Molly reminds me of my own creation, Violet.  Sherlock might be compared to Kelvin, the other main character in ‘The Companion’, but the roles reverse from time to time. 

The conclusion is that Sherlock, who hates being in the same room with this person or that person, is entirely dependent on humanity in general, because humanity, with its endless shortcomings, provides him with the one thing he craves above all else: more than the historical Holmes craved cocaine, or the contemporary Sherlock desires tobacco, they both crave data.  The mass of humanity provides data.  If Sherlock woke up one morning to find that alien abduction had de-populated the entire planet, he would not rejoice in being able to talk uninterrupted, because there would be no-one to show off to.  There would be no-one whose sleeves, or collar, or calluses, or ink-stains, or mannerisms, or handwriting, or speech he could analyse.  There would be no affairs, divorces, frauds, thefts, extortions, murders, blackmails, threats, suicides, or other forms of tension that he could detect and analyse.  Without the mass of humanity, there would be nothing to laugh at, at all.

‘Sherlock’ series 2 awards

A nation mourns the ending of the second series of ‘Sherlock’ on BBC television.


Here are the iamhyperlexic awards, which are conferred with particular regards since Sherlock is undoubtedly a fellow – and worse – sufferer.

Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is excluded from all awards except his own categories.

Sherlock’s Best Line: after Mycroft had told Mrs Hudson to shut up, and Sherlock and Watson have reprimanded Mycroft, and Sherlock says to Mrs Hudson, “But do in fact shut up” (episode 2/1).

Best Actor: a very tight contest, with nominations for Watson (Martin Freeman), Moriarty (Andrew Scott), Molly (Louise Brealey), and Mycroft (Mark Gatiss).  The winner is Martin Freeman, who crosses the line first because of his performance in the graveside sequence in episode 2/3.

Best Supporting Actor: Henry Knight (Russell Tovey), episode 2/2.

Best Line by an Actor other than Sherlock: in the lab, episode 2/3, where Molly is talking about when her father was dying, and how Sherlock behaves when he thinks he is unobserved.  He says, “But you were there,” and Molly says, “I don’t count”.

Best Editorial Decision in Making the Adaptation Contemporary: not having Moriarty as a professor of mathematics.  Making John Watson a blogger comes a close second.

Worst Editorial Decision: addicts will be lamenting the fact that a few of the stories have been wantonly thrown away by being merely trappings for the others, or fillers for John Watson’s blog.

Character Benefitting Most from the Adaptation: a very close-run thing between Mrs Hudson and Moriarty, and Mrs Hudson is the surprise winner.  She is no longer part of the furniture and is now a fully-formed human being, admirably played by Una Stubbs.  She could have her own series after this.

Best New Character: The nominations are: Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey), Sergeant Sally Donovan (Vinette Robinson), and Kitty Riley, the journalist (Katherine Parkinson).  Molly wins it by a mile.  The question on every-one’s lips is: is anything ever going to happen between her and Sherlock?  Yes, it would probably be a fake reaction borne out of pity, or as a temporary measure to cool her ardour, or because of something to do with a case, but I am fascinated by the prospect of it.  It would make an absolutely riveting (and probably hilarious) bedroom scene.

Most Obliging Moment of History: the UK’s involvement in Afghanistan.  If you have never read it, get a copy of the original text of ‘A Study In Scarlet’, the first story, and the one where Watson meets Sherlock.  Watson describes his disastrous time in Afghanistan.  It was written in 1886.  Page 1 mentions the name ‘Kandahar’.

I am now counting the seconds until we find out whether my prediction about Moriarty is true.  SERIES 3 NOW.


Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall


As if you didn’t know already, this starts at 9pm GMT on Sunday 15 January 2012. 

Everybody knows that, in the ending of the original story, Holmes and Moriarty both fell to their deaths, but the reading public revolted, and it was confirmed to Conan Doyle (who should have known better) that Holmes was Too Famous To Die. 

Holmes had to be resurrected.  The reassuringly lame story that Conan Doyle came up with was that Holmes had thrown Moriarty over the edge of the falls with a move from a Japanese martial art called ‘baritsu’.  He had then deliberately let Watson think he was dead in order to protect them both from reprisals by Moriarty’s henchmen. 

I think that there are going to be more programmes in this adaptation beyond this series.  I certainly hope there are, and I gather that many other people, mostly female, do so too.  I also think that far too much characterisation has been invested in the figure of Moriarty for them to get rid of him. 

The outcome will not be revealed until at least the beginning of series 3, but I predict that both Holmes and Moriarty will survive, despite every effort being made to ensure that the audience thinks both of them are dead.


A cursory inspection of John Watson’s blog shows that the writers have been wantonly casting away stories in a Twitter-style game of puns that might have the hash tag #sherlockholmestypo.  The most obvious example is ‘The Geek Interpreter’, which featured as a bit of decoration in the first episode of the current series.  Another is ‘The Speckled Blonde’.  Holmes expresses irritation when he looks over Watson’s shoulder to see him typing these blog entries, almost as if he had read the original and found the puns groanworthy. 

I have not found any reference to ‘The Red-headed League’.  In my opinion, ‘The Red-headed League’  is just about the best among the original stories.  I am guessing that the BBC is going to dramatise it in the next series.  In the 1985 dramatisation with Jeremy Brett as Holmes, Moriarty features in the background as the evil spider at the centre of a vibrating web of deceit. 

This is my fearless statement.  Both Holmes and Moriarty will survive Sunday’s episode.  There will be another series.  That will feature a dramatisation of ‘The Red-headed League’.  If I come up with a brilliant suggestion for the #sherlockholmestypo alternative title, I’ll let you know.

Analysing Irene Adler

Much was made in the last episode of ‘Sherlock’ about the fact that Irene Adler appeared naked.  Since she had no sleeves, no cuffs, no shoes, no fabric, no stains, no worn patches, she gave nothing to Sherlock (as we are now calling him).  This is ridiculous. 

The excellent writers of ‘Sherlock’ are cynically yanking our chain about Sherlock’s apparent sexual ineptitude. 

The laws of common sense, which Sherlock applies in such incredibly detailed ways, do not cease to apply when we get within a few centimetres of the clitoris. 

I can tolerate the idea that this Sherlock has never slept with a woman in the literal sense (i.e. gone to bed with a woman and spent the whole night with her, including interactions the following morning).  But I cannot believe that he would make nothing out of a woman’s naked body (from a detective rather than erotic point of view).

This is what I think would have gone through Sherlock’s mind instead of those inept and inarticulate question marks.

Tattoos?  None.  Allies herself with the world of BDSM, but no tattoos.  Inference: cynical manipulator: content for others to be damaged or damage themselves, but will not participate in it herself.

Ditto piercings.

Stretch-marks?  None.  Not given birth.  Never been morbidly obese.  No scars: hence: no breast enhancement or other cosmetic surgery.

Figure.  Underweight for her demographic.  Inference: since there is no apparent sign of metabolic disorder, she must feel vulnerable.  Possession of a full figure would not in any way make her occupation more difficult, and hence the constant dieting must be self-imposed.

Pubic hair: no data (Sherlock would have had, but I was not standing next to him).

Underarm hair: no data (regrettable, since the possession of which is such a strong statement in this day and age).

Toenails: no data.

Fingernails: no data.

Hair: insufficient data. 

Body odour: Sherlock gleaned nothing, which is unrealistic.  Either she was perfumed, implying recent bathing, massage, and so forth, or she smelt natural, which implies more.

Nudity: an exhibitionistic statement by a risk-taker who allows herself to be too much swayed by the alleged abilities of other agencies. 

Conclusion:  the inestimable writers of ‘Sherlock’ have undersold themselves. This would not have happened.  You boys, consider yourselves to have been docked 0.05 marks.