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Canon References In BBC Sherlock

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I have read a lot (not here, though, I think), that people think Sherlock having "danger nights" and John and Mrs Hudson searching the apartment for drugs etc was overdone. Well, it is actually very true to the original Holmes and Dr Watson's attitude towards his cocaine habit, as can be found for example at the beginning of the story "The Missing Three-Quarter":

 

"Things had indeed been very slow with us, and I had learned to dread such periods of inaction, for I knew by experience that my companion’s brain was so abnormally active that it was dangerous to leave it without material upon which to work. For years I had gradually weaned him from that drug mania which had threatened once to check his remarkable career. Now I knew that under ordinary conditions he no longer craved for this artificial stimulus, but I was well aware that the fiend was not dead, but sleeping; and I have known that the sleep was a light one and the waking near when in periods of idleness I have seen the drawn look upon Holmes’s ascetic face, and the brooding of his deep-set and inscrutable eyes"

 

 

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...the episodes aren't just generic detective stories with Sherlockian nuggets stuck in like raisins in a plum pudding; their underlying tone and characterizations actually ring true with the Conan Doyle stories.  That sounds way too grandiose, but it's as close as I can get right now to saying what I mean.

 

No, it does not sound too grandiose at all! That is exactly what I've been trying to say all along, only the poor degenerated English-speaking part of my brain couldn't find the right words. Thank you! (Not followed by "bless you" and "boom", though...)

 

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"That's your weakness, you know: You always want everything to be clever", says Moriarty to Sherlock.

 

In "The Abbey Grange", Holmes admits: "Perhaps when a man has special knowledge and special powers like my own it rather encourages him to seek a complex explanation when a simpler one is at hand."

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In The Great Game, there is this great comic relief comment from John that he's glad nobody saw Sherlock ripping his clothes off in a darkened swimming pool: "people might talk". Well, people would have certainly talked if they'd been shown this:

 

“ 'It’s nothing, Holmes. It’s a mere scratch.' He had ripped up my trousers with his pocketknife."

 

I am pretty sure they were doing a reference to "The Three Garridebs" there, a very late Holmes story and basically a variation on "The Red Headed League" in which Watson gets shot in the thigh. I sort of have the feeling that it was only written because Conan Doyle had by that time caught on to the fact that a lot of readers cared more for the relationship between his main characters than the crimes they solved and he meant to tell them "you asked for it, now you've got it".

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I see your point about it being a possible "Garridebs" reference, but if so they haven't exhausted the potential of that original scene, not be a long shot!  We'll almost certainly be seeing the rest of it sooner or later.

 

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Good. I kind of like it, even though I think Doyle only wrote it to tell his audience "yeah, they love each other. You happy now?"

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  I have to wonder, did the Victorian audience care as much about what their relationship as we get on Tumblr and in fanfiction? For all we know men walking hand in hand or arm in arm could have been quite common place and a social norm.

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Yes, I believe I've read that the arm-in-arm thing, as well as calling each other "my dear fellow" was merely good Victorian manners.  But that doesn't mean that Conan Doyle's contemporary readers didn't see some aspects of the stories as subtext -- they may even have nudged and winked at some things that seem perfectly mainstream nowadays.  But I'm sure someone has written a whole article on this question.

 

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From the little I know about Victorian British culture, I'm pretty sure that this was all very common behavior and just meant to express friendship. Just like "knowing each other intimately" did not mean you had sex. I don't think Doyle's first generation of readers saw much subtext the way people do now. That is a result of "old culture" text read by "new culture" people - and I find this blend very amusing, also how the show picks it up and makes fun of it.

 

I have noticed, however, that in the later stories there seems to be more focus on the relationship between Watson and Holmes and less on the mysteries. In an afterword to one of my editions, David Stuart Davies points out that by the turn of the century, the detective genre had become very popular and Doyle was competing with a large number of other writers, a lot of whom where more skilled at writing intricate plots or clever puzzles than he was. So Doyle had to fall back on what he was good at and what was truly unique about his own detective. And that was Holmes' intriguing personality and the emotional depth of his friendship with the loyal and admiring Dr. Watson.

 

I don't think the readers back then gave much thought to whether these men were a couple. But I think they must have wondered just how much of a "machine" Holmes really was and whether he "had a heart". I see "The Three Garridebs" as an answer to those who, by the time it was published, had still not picked up on all the more subtle clues in the older stories that of course he has.

 

 

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There certainly doesn't seem to be much point to the story otherwise -- just substitute "Garrideb" for red hair, and find out what's in the basement.  But considering how often that one scene has been mentioned in fan discussions and emulated in fan fiction, I'd be very surprised if Sherlock doesn't treat us to a full-scale rendition of it sooner or later (and poor John takes the hit yet again).

 

The Jeremy Brett series unfortunately fell short in this instance.  Due to Mr. Brett's illness, Mycroft had to substitute for Sherlock in this story (which was folded in with "The Mazarin Stone"), and that scene merely went through the motions, without the emotional impact.

 

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Wow, if so much has been made of this, then it must be really, really hard to write a good variation on it. Especially since the original is rather corny. I used to think they'd used it up at the pool, but maybe you're right. If so, they might decide to do a kind of parody.

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Does anybody know whether the opening scene in Belarus at the beginning of The Great Game refers to anything specific?

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The only thing that really jumps to mind is "Jack The Ripper". The victim, if I remember the guy right, was a bar maid and he said his father was a butcher. There was some reverence in the "Ripper" investigation where in one of the notes to the police "leather apron" was mentioned so the consensus was that the "Ripper" might have been a butcher.

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I believe the fellow said he had been flirting with one of the waitresses, which made his wife jealous.  Right, his father was a butcher, which makes your Jack the Ripper tie-in plausible.  I know that was about Holmes's time -- was the Ripper actually mentioned in any of the stories?

 

Maybe the character's actual dialog (from Ariane DeVere's transcript) will provide inspiration:

 

BERWICK: We’d been to a bar – a nice place – and, er, I got chattin’ with one of the waitresses, and Karen weren’t ’appy with that, so ... when we get back to the ’otel, we end up havin’ a bit of a ding-dong, don’t we?
 

BERWICK: She was always gettin’ at me, sayin’ I weren’t a real man.

 

BERWICK: Well, then I dunno how it happened, but suddenly there’s a knife in my hands. And, you know, me old man was a butcher, so I know how to handle knives.
 

BERWICK: He learned us how to cut up a beast.

 

BERWICK: Yeah, well, then-then I done it.

 

BERWICK (losing his temper): Did it! Stabbed her ... (he repeatedly slams his hand down on the table) ... over and over and over, and I looked down and she weren’t ...
 

BERWICK: ... wasn’t movin’ no more.

BERWICK: ... any more.

BERWICK (softly): You’ve gotta help me. I dunno how it happened, but it was an accident. I swear.

 

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  No, Doyle never once included the "Jack The Ripper" mystery in any of his stories and it has been wondered why since Doyle was actually instrumental in helping the police in solving several crimes. Maybe that's why there was at least one Sherlock Holmes story where Sherlock was "The Ripper" himself. No, I don't get the idea that Doyle was in anyway involved in the "Ripper" crimes.

 

 But his father was institutionalized and an escaped mentally ill patient would write a long letter detailing the murders and confessing to the murders, both in London and a similar out break of such murders in the US. Maybe this just struck to close to home for Doyle.

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You may well be right about "too close to home."  He looked on his Holmes stories as somewhat frivolous, so nothing he considered really tragic would be appropriate there.

 

But since Moftiss have stated that "everything is canon," maybe Berwick was inspired by a Jack the Ripper from one of those non-Doyle Holmes stories.

 

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I think they've already used everything we learn about Mycroft in "The Greek Interpreter", including Mycroft's comment on Watson boosting Holmes' success:

 

“I hear of Sherlock everywhere since you became his chronicler" becomes "Sherlock's business seems to be booming since you and he became - 'pals' "

 

Also in "The Greek Interpreter" we find Watson referring to Holmes as "Sherlock", whereas he usually uses his last name.

 

I have not found any hints at sibling rivalry in the original, though. Holmes pretty freely admits that Mycroft is better at deduction than himself and talks about going to him for advice now and then. Boring! And not at all in character. I'm really glad they spiced that up a bit.

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From the little I know about Victorian British culture, I'm pretty sure that this was all very common behavior and just meant to express friendship. Just like "knowing each other intimately" did not mean you had sex. I don't think Doyle's first generation of readers saw much subtext the way people do now. That is a result of "old culture" text read by "new culture" people - and I find this blend very amusing, also how the show picks it up and makes fun of it.

 

I have noticed, however, that in the later stories there seems to be more focus on the relationship between Watson and Holmes and less on the mysteries. In an afterword to one of my editions, David Stuart Davies points out that by the turn of the century, the detective genre had become very popular and Doyle was competing with a large number of other writers, a lot of whom where more skilled at writing intricate plots or clever puzzles than he was. So Doyle had to fall back on what he was good at and what was truly unique about his own detective. And that was Holmes' intriguing personality and the emotional depth of his friendship with the loyal and admiring Dr. Watson.

 

I don't think the readers back then gave much thought to whether these men were a couple. But I think they must have wondered just how much of a "machine" Holmes really was and whether he "had a heart". I see "The Three Garridebs" as an answer to those who, by the time it was published, had still not picked up on all the more subtle clues in the older stories that of course he has.

 

Thank you for being a young modern reader who has done due diligence regarding historical context. I have tried to argue this point about the subtext and what modern readers of the text text (both viewed on screen and read in hindsight) see as proof of a sexual relationship or at least deep sexual longing. ACD would have been shocked (as a manly man of his era with certain prejudices) that anyone could believe he was suggesting such a thing about his characters. I also love the way the modern version plays with these modern sensibilities, winks at them and makes fun a little.. But I also find it depressing that our modern cultural lens has a tendency to view all feelings of tenderness or loving regard or basic friendship as secretly sexual (at least in the US). We sexualize everything as a kind of shorthand indicating intimacy. It's kind of lazy writing.

 

The pressure is really on with Elementary because of their Watson being a woman. I hope they can continue to resist hooking them up. I think it's important to show deep abiding love and respect between human beings is possible - even on television!  In real life many of us have friends of both genders, gay and straight, and we're not constantly thinking about how to get into each others pants.  Well, not usually.

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The pressure is really on with Elementary because of their Watson being a woman. I hope they can continue to resist hooking them up.

 

I do understand that people like to day-dream about two very attractive men in bed together (or whatever other combination suggests itself). I think the show will leave room enough for that (and if it doesn't I suggest going to the original stories for inspiration...).

 

But I can't imagine there is any temptation on the part of the BBC team to turn the two leads into a fully fledged couple. I rather get the opposite impression. Besides, having a gay couple at the center of a program that is not explicitly about being gay does not seem to be something society is quite ready for, unfortunately.

 

Why, thank you for your kind words! I'm not actually that young anymore, but age is relative, right?

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... Wait, you meant the pressure is on for making them a couple on Elementary, am I right? Oh dear. Yes, you may well be right there - I wouldn't know, I've never seen it and am not terribly interested. I just wonder why they didn't go all the way and make Holmes a woman, too. That would have been the next step of adaptation, wouldn't it: After changing the era, change their gender and see what happens then.

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Does anybody know whether the man being killed by his own boomerang in A Scandal in Belgravia is a variation on any case in the ACD stories? It feels so true to Doyle's kind of mysteries, but I have not come across anything like it yet in my reading.

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  I know in at least one story there is something to do with Australia.....but I can't remember off the top of my head if a boomerang is involved.

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I needed Google to prompt my memory, but that scene may well have been inspired by "The Boscombe Valley Mystery," which does involve (two) men who have returned from Australia.  One of them is even found lying next to a small body of water, killed by a mysterious blow to the back of his head.

 

No boomerang, though -- that was the Moftiss touch!

 

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And the son was accused of the deed, but Sherlock proved him innocent, if I remember that right.

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Right -- though it really was a murder in that original version.

 

This kinda reminds me of the flip that Moftiss did with "Rache" in "Study."

 

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