Are you a Cumberbitch?

by Alexandra Sokoloff

If you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about.   If you don’t, you’ve somehow been missing out on the biggest thing since Jesus.  I mean, you know, since the Beatles.

So I’d like to talk today about the new Sherlock Holmes.  (Hey, it’s crime fiction, isn’t it?)  Those of you who know can just scream and faint in the background, there, while I fill the others in.  And for the hopelessly straight men of Murderati, well,  you’re just going to have to endure a little erotomania.  It is, after all, coming on Valentine’s Day.

Once in a while there is in film or television or music what has become known in technology as a Black Swan.  Something that defies all expectations at the same time meeting all the expectations you never actually knew you had.  And that’s a good enough definition for the Masterpiece Mystery! TV series, Sherlock.

 

 

The series is brilliant – a redefining of Sherlock Holmes exactly as he would present himself in modern London, complete with e mailing, texting, GPS—and blogging by his faithful Boswell, John Watson, a veteran doctor who was wounded in Afghanistan, just as the original Watson was (I mean, when something is right, it’s right, right?).  And Sherlock is as he is depicted, an unfettered and unrepentant autistic-slash-high-functioning sociopath.

And a rock god.

An unfettered and unrepentant autistic-slash-high-functioning sociopath of a rock god.

The tagline for the show is “Smart is the new sexy.” And that pretty much sums it up.  This is not just a modern imagining of one of the – or is it THE? -world’s most popular and enduring detectives.  It’s a sexual fantasy for smart people.  And may I say it’s about bloody time we got one?

This is the unlikely catnip at the heart of this show:

 

 

A truly incredibly actor with the unlikely name of Benedict Cumberbatch (who is now banking upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars, or at least tens of thousands, for every time he was ever called Cumberbitch as a kid. It’s revenge of the geeks in spades.).

You really need to see the real-time reactions of women, girls, men, boys, dogs, horses to this actor to understand the physiological phenomenon going on here.  There are fan groups that call themselves Cumberbitches.  There are cat fights over him on Facebook (think Dionysus, Maenads…) Mention his name or the word Sherlock to a girl (or boy) of fifteen or a woman (or man) of fify and you will get the same helpless, delirious giggling.  That’s actually part of the appeal, the group experience, the knowing that you are not the only one dissolving into goo over this man and this show. And if you are not a fan, you might as well move to Antarctica, because you are going to be seeing Cumberbatch in every movie that Hollywood can cram him into for the next fifty years (fortunately, I think he’s beyond smart enough to choose his roles and limit his exposure.)

I admit that I become flushed and breathless when he launches into one of his twenty-pages-in-a-minute and-a-half-monologues about who ate what pastry at which Tube stop after whichever assignation with whatever coworker that is a trademark of the show.  But my actual fantasies about Cumberbatch are not exactly sexual; they’re more about going back to school in lighting design just to be able to properly light the man’s face.  These are the cheekbones that launched a thousand ships. He is literally golden-eyed.  And I say “man”, but one of the guilty pleasures of the show is that this is a thirty-five-year-old man who looks and acts like the world’s most precocious fourteen-year-old; you feel as if you’re committing a felony just watching it.

One of the delicious ironies of the show is that all of this extreme sexual response from TV fans all over the world is occurring over a character who is not only massively socially incompetent but patently asexual.   The character is explicitly referred to as a virgin, although the gay subtext is – not subtextual at all. This is a love story. But still, clearly unconsummated. (Or is it? It’s your fantasy, after all…)

All this sexual confusion I think is one of the delights of the show.  It is polymorphous perversity in the flesh. Well, in the flesh on screen. The creators even make Doyle’s Irene Adler character a dominatrix (not the world’s most convincing one, in my opinion, but anything further I could say on the subject will only get me in trouble so I’ll refrain) who is just as fritzed out by Sherlock the virgin as he is by her.

But there’s more to it than the sex, I swear. This is a truly perfect melding of an actor and a role.  Cumberbatch is a star, period – I loved him as Stephen Hawking in Hawking, he conveyed not just brilliance but a heartbreaking sweetness and innocence as the young Hawking. But Sherlock is a career-defining role. It reminds me a bit of Cary Grant, before and after Hitchcock got hold of him. Grant was clearly one fine hunk of actor even in the fluffy romantic roles he did early in his career, but it was the darkness and edge and ambiguity that Hitchcock saw and encouraged (or should I say demanded?) in him that made him an iconic, archetypal movie star. (Take a look at Cumberbatch in Masterpiece’s pre-Sherlock miniseries The Last Enemy. There are hints of Sherlock, there, in the irritated monologue the character finally explodes into on national television, the kind of monologue that makes you say THERE.  Do THAT. Much more of THAT.  Please forget the love plot and just let this guy talk, and visibly think, on screen.)

Clearly creator/writers (of Dr. Who fame) Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who also wonderfully portrays Sherlock’s fussy and hovering older brother Mycroft), have that masterful Hitchcockian understanding of the material and their star. They saw it, and they gave him what he needed.  It’s filmmaking collaboration in its most perfected state, the stuff that dreams (and smart people’s sexual fantasies) are made on.

The writing is stellar, wicked and joyous and – I’ll say it again, unrepentant; I’ve had whole years of my life that haven’t given me as much pleasure as the scene in which Sherlock compulsively corrects a convict’s grammar.  (Well, I may be exaggerating JUST a bit, but that’s how it felt in the moment…)

And yes, there is a Team Watson (we have a representative among us, actually, if she wants to speak up), and I don’t at all mean to give Martin Freeman short shrift; he is the perfect, earthy, touchingly maternal counterpart to Sherlock (talk about catnip, I so LOVE that adenoidal British voice), and I’m also thrilled to have Rupert Graves as Detective Inspector Lestrade.  (Graves is a former punk rocker I’ve loved since he made his sizzling acting debut as little brother Freddy in Merchant/Ivory/Jhabvala’s swoony Room with a View).  I wasn’t quite as thrilled with Andrew Scott as little-boy-psychopath Moriarty in the first season, but he grew on me in season two; there was just a certain way he bared his teeth that was endearing enough to make me stop hating him for the two seconds required to commit to an arch villain.

You’ll notice I’m not expounding on the plot lines (I’m too busy designing lights over here….).  I confess, it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything in the Sherlock canon, although it seems to me the second season is more true to the plot lines of the Sherlock stories I remember from my childhood than the first season. The episodes are not adaptations, but there are plenty of clever-to-brilliant references and homages for those in the know. The plots work just fine, and there are always wonderful setpieces (the Chinese circus setting in Episode 2(?) is truly dazzling), but it’s the character interaction, chemistry, and the dialogue that provide most of the breathtaking suspense. And to be perfectly honest, I’d have to watch every episode again to be able to focus on the plots because I simply DON’T CARE; I am way too busy being dazzled by – other things (and remember, I TEACH structure,  I’m telling you, this is how bad it is!).

As for social and cultural relevance, Sherlock makes Asperger’s both normal and attractive, which in an age driven by minds like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg makes the whole show not just topical but inevitable. There is something uncannily true about the series.  We KNOW this Sherlock; he is the natural, timeless, entirely present-tense incarnation of an immortal character.

He is US.

So— those of you who don’t know Sherlock like I know Sherlock, go treat yourself to a little Holmes crack, available on Netflix and Amazon and iTunes.   I dare you not to get hooked.

And for all you Cumberbitches, pull up a chair, grab the riding crop, slap on a couple of nicotine patches and let’s dish.  What is it about this show?  What does it do for you?

And yes, let’s hear about other perfect portrayals of classic characters, too.

Alex

 —————————————–

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75 thoughts on “Are you a Cumberbitch?

  1. Richard Maguire

    Alexandra, it looks like I'm booking my ticket to Antarctica. Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century? I've never heard of this show. And (apologies) just looking at the photo of the actor who plays him…well, he looks a bit weird. Someone who might be detained under the Mental Health Act.

    I binged last summer, and re-read most of the Holmes stories. For my money, Sherlock Holmes means foggy London streets, or mists swirling round the moors as Holmes and Watson search for the hound. Opium dens, horse-drawn cabs, gas lights, and all the atmosphere of a time past.

    I've no plans to watch this show. No actor will ever come close to Jeremy Brett as the great detective. But then what do I know? I'm just a boring straight man heading for the South Pole.

    Reply
  2. Alexandra Sokoloff

    LOL! Poor Richard. Don't book that ticket yet, I have some hope for you – Cumberbatch is quite a chameleon of an actor and the truth is, you've probably seen him in at least a few roles already without knowing it was him – and will undoubtedly see him in many more without knowing it's him.

    "He looks a bit weird. Someone who might be detained under the Mental Health Act."

    That's what makes this all so much fun!

    But as a Holmes fan, I don't think you could NOT be impressed by the faithfulness of the show to the originals. I do understand what you mean about Brett, though.

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  3. John G. Hartness

    Show is brilliance, love every minute of it.

    As a lighting designer for nearly twenty years, we HATE people with cheekbones like that! The softboxes required to get under them, the kickers you need to get the rest of the face right, the hell we have getting a good eyelight on those boyos…you need almost a whole separate rig just for the one actor!

    Funny post, brilliant show.

    Reply
  4. Alexandra Sokoloff

    John, thanks so much for your perspective on the lighting angle – literally. I do appreciate your pain, but especially now that you've described it, I'll gladly volunteer for that particular job! 😉

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  5. Zoë Sharp

    So far I've only seen the first series of Sherlock, but the second series awaits on DVD, so I'm trying not to pick up any spoilers. It is very neatly done, I admit, although I find myself backing away slightly at your level of rapture. I particularly like the use of modern London in the background of the shots, just to make you constantly aware that this is a contemporary production of Sherlock. Not a Hansom cab in sight …

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  6. Tammy Cravit

    Just added what Netflix has (three episodes, I think) to my instant queue, and very much looking forward to checking it out. It's always risky, I think, to do a riff on such a timeless classic like this, so I'm excited to see an attempt that works.

    And I can't think of another modernization of a classic character that really worked for me, offhand, so I've nothing to offer there.

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  7. Ronald Tierney

    I was prepared not to watch it because it was Sherlock Holmes. Done to death. Very glad i decided to check it out. While there have been a number of great BBC crime series (almost anything with Martin Shaw, for example), this Sherlock is the most exciting show to come along on either side of the Atlantic. Something entirely fresh. Can't wait to watch Season Two.

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  8. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Tammy, can't wait to hear what you think! I don't know any other modernization of a timeless character that is as true to the character as this. You do see interesting references to classics in some modern shows (Hamlet in Sons of Anarchy, Othello in Luther) but nothing this straightforward.

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  9. Lisa Alber

    Oh my god! When I saw this post's title, I knew EXACTLY what you were talking about!!!! I'm a swooner for sure. There's something about Cumberbatch's long, thin form striding around in that long, black, very well-fitted overcoat. <swoon>

    Seriously, I'm so glad to know that I'm not the only one taken by suprise by my reaction to this show. And it's true: last week I lost track of the plot, and I didn't care much. Even swinging himself easily over a guardrail gets my heart a-thumping.

    Thank you for this post…hehe, made me a little woozy. 🙂

    Reply
  10. Sarah W

    I am Team Watson, thanks — or Team Freeman, or both. The role of Watson takes comedic timing and exasperation and sarcasm and that essential touch of embarrassment, all of which Mr. Freeman has always done wonderfully — he's the quintessential Decent Everyman who often feels slightly out of his depth. And he's accessibly handsome to boot.

    But when the script reminds us that Watson was (or still is) a soldier or allows us to understand that Watson only *seems* ordinary in comparison to the blazing brilliance of Sherlock Holmes and can fully hold his own — Whew.

    Which doesn't mean I don't deeply admire Mr. Cumberbatch's portrayal of one of my biggest literary crushes. And his cheekbones. And that *voice.*

    But I don't count myself a Cumberbunny (nor a cougar — the man was born in 1976, and the fact that I know this off the top of my head isn't relevant in the least, moving on). I simply think that he's one of those actors that steps into a role so fully (or allows it to step into him, haven't decided) that he isn't "Benedict Cumberbatch As Hawking" or "As Holmes" (or "As Smaug") but is simply Stephen Hawking. And Sherlock Holmes (and, possibly, Smaug).

    The combination of these two actors *and* the partnership between their respective roles is amazing – you can almost hear the click. The characters might be at odds occasionally, but their abilities and personalities align in a way that is greater than the sum.

    As for the subtext. . . While officially, I wish we could allow people of any gender and orientation to enjoy deeply platonic bonds on- or off-screen without automatically assuming there's romantic love or secret lust involved . . . I'll admit I've never been so tempted to write romance fanfiction *in my life.* And maybe one about Lestrade and Molly . . .

    But more than the actors or the characters, I'm in love with the show itself. It's dazzling and poignant and twisted and evil and exploratory and dead clever. Sherlock Holmes is timeless, and the characters and stories do translate extremely well into the modern world. It helps that Mr. Moffat and Mr. Gatiss have been careful to remain as close to the source material as they can — this is a labor of admiration and love for them, and it shows.

    And I can't wait to see how they manage to pick up the pieces and start again next season.

    (sorry, more post than comment — once I start fangushing, it's hard to stop)

    Reply
  11. Allison Davis

    What? Another TV show to get hooked on when I don't have a TV? At least I have you to vet them and you haven't steered me wrong yet (at least with the writing advice) so will try to catch this as catch can. I am not going anywhere near Anartica, no where cold please. (And I remember screaming for the Beatles in 1964, gawd don't do the math, with my Liverpudilian grandmother in tow so I know swoon.)

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  12. Tom

    X, you wrote 'Black Swan.' I believe the truth for you is 'Black Swoon.' The candy unobtainable must, of course, be sweetest.

    Richard, no one is more an admirer of the late Jeremy Brett than am I – but I promise you fogs of isolation and incomprehension swirl still through London's streets, hidden horrors yet reside behind drab facades, and – by heaven, man! – the spoor of the Giant Rat of Sumatra may be apprehended in *that* alley there, do we but observe.

    These productions are simply protean. The sum is so much more than the total of the parts that I don't understand why BBC hasn't chosen to release the series theatrically. It seems no one told Moffat and Gatiss not to write movies for the small screen.

    Cumberbatch's Holmes portrayal is a tour de force, yes – but it would be less resonant without the rebounding soundboard Watson of Martin Freeman, much more fully realized as a complete man – even the tale's true protagonist – than ever before. The good doctor is finally done his justice, even at that guardrail. It's Watson who is an heroic version of us on our best days. Holmes (and Moriarty) are Something Still Other.

    Isn't it peculiar, though, that Asperger's behaviour and sociopathy have been such fertile ground for writers in our lifetime? Gregory House, Martin Ellingham (both based in part on Joseph Bell), even Hannibal Lector – for story purposes, must the Uebermensch be bound by empathic emptyness?

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  13. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Hey Tom – Black Swoon works for me! (and apparently for others…)

    Thanks for that wonderful analysis! I couldn't agree with you more about Freeman's Watson being the true protagonist, and it's true that we can only really experience Sherlock through Freeman's empathy. And you're right about theatrical release.

    Robson Green's Tony Hill in McDermid's Wire in the Blood is another Aspergers character – with empathy.

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  14. Barbie

    I've heard a lot about the show, but have never watched it. But, Alex, you just sold it to me, right now! Are there only six episodes, is that it??? I'm going after it, right now! *runs* Sherlock Holmes is one of my all time favorite fictional characters. At 9, 10 years old, I read the books, and I wanted to be a detective, just like him. I was *sure* I'd take one look at the crime scenes and fine out exactly what happened, LOL. I'd be so cool!

    You know, I don't get this mass hysteria about sexual fantasies over hot male characters. I LOVE heroes. I have my fair share of crushes. But it's never really sexual. In fact, it's more of a I -wish-he'd-come-and-turn-my-life-life-around sort of fantasy, of stability, a guy to rock my socks. I'm a 23 year old and I can say I've never fantasized like that. I think it's weird, lol. What's wrong with real guys? 🙂

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  15. Debbie

    I don't really do TV so hubby says, 'Wanna watch Sherlock with me?' and I ask, 'Is it intellectual?' 'Nuff said. Best part, he hasn't a clue how hot those guys are. 1976 eh…hmm, and I thought my interest was indecent‽ Sweet hubby, he has no idea that this show is perving material. Cumberbatch and Rickman…anybody other than me notice that there is some serious similarity in their voices?

    Reply
  16. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Barbie, I think you'll love it. Be sure to report back.

    I can't speak for mass hysteria, I think it's quite rare. But sexual fantasies – well, I can tell you from my own experience and that of women friends that that might change for you around about age 28. Lots of things change around 28 for women, all for the better!

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  17. Barbie

    Actually, when I thought mass hysteria I was thinking those Twilight crazies that idolized the actors and thoughts all sorts of things. You know what I mean. Obviously, I didn't mean *literally* mass hysteria, though, wasn't the term hysteria used way back when for when women had the crazy hots?

    And, I don't know, it just just really weird to me fantasizing about someone I don't really know, sexually at least. Or maybe I'm too much of a prude. All of my hero fantasies are more of companionship and friendship and that sort of thing 🙂

    Reply
  18. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Oh, right, I forgot the Twilight hysteria! Actually, now that you mention it, kids and tweens were pretty rabid about the Harry Potter characters, too. Now the grownups have theirs, I guess!

    Like I said, wait till around about 28 and see what happens. Of course, I wouldn't have believed it if someone had told me the same thing at 23.

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  19. Marjorie of Connecticut

    Thank you for this. It's good to share a grand passion, isn't it? We must not leave out the wonders of the Cumberbatch voice. Deep and smooth as black velvet. Sigh.

    Oh, and can I complain here about the bits that PBS cut out of the shows when they aired? This was one show where I gladly paid the money for the DVDs of Series 1 so that I could enjoy the shows in full as they were meant to be seen. And the commentary tracks are great fun, too. I look forward to the American DVD set of Series 2 being released so that I can see them all over again. (Oh, I mean for the first time, because they haven't been shown here yet. Not until May. So I couldn't have seen them yet and, magically, I already know that the second batch are even better than the first.)

    Thanks.

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  20. Marjorie of Connecticut

    The first episode has Gatiss and Moffat (if you have to ask who they are you're still in the wrong place…) along with producer Sue Vertue doing the talking. Nothing for the second show. The third show is Gatiss with Cumberbatch and Freeman. Both made me laugh out loud at times (not something I often do). A small warning that Martin Freeman leaves the recording session 10 minutes before the end of the episode. No idea why, but I think it's better to know that in advance. Enjoy!

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  21. Barbie

    For some reason, though, I think the Twilight fans are more sexual towards their idols than the Harry Potter ones. But I may be wrong. Maybe because vampires are more sexual creatures?

    So, I guess when I'm 28 and thinking of having sex with an actor, I'll remember YOU??? Umm, geez, thanks, Alex :////

    LOL.

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  22. Barbie

    ps: I have this MAJOR crush on Nathan Fillion, right? Or rather, more like Castle. According to my mom, it's because he kinda looks like my dad, (or a lot!), and I have daddy issues. How can something like that be sexual? I just want to be his BFF! :)))

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  23. mary lynn

    Drooling Cumberbitch/cougar here. I mean, he could be my grandson and yet he cranks my tractor.

    I am stunned at the conception of Sherlock with today's technology. It is EXACTLY like Sherlock would have done it were he extant today and the show conveys it perfectly.

    Each show leaves me breathless at the writing, the execution and the incredible acting.

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  24. Susan Shea

    Season TWO? Did I miss it? Rush to Netflix…It was pure delight and a great 21st century imagining of the arrogant, peculiar Holmes. He was good as a blond in "Tinker Tailor Soldier spy" too. I like Freeman as well and agree with the comment that he only SEEMS normal. His deadpan is terrific. I liked the nasty Moriarty at the end of Season One. More of that sexual thing, I thought. Tasty. But I never heard of "Cumberbitch" and had no idea he was considered such a star – thanks for enlightening me.

    Reply
  25. Susan Shea

    P.S. Just checked Netflix, which only has Season 1. I'm thinking PBS must have it on the schedule after they've milked the wonderful Downton Abbey for all it's worth!

    Reply
  26. mary lynn

    Masterpiece Theatre, May 6, 2012–my personal TV equivalent of the super bowl-snacks, friends, raucous catcalls–all are planned.

    Reply
  27. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Sorry, KD. Forget I said anything. Until May, and then you can do the whole two seasons to treat yourself.

    Susan, I might have to do Downton here next post. Believe me, I can go on just about as long on Mr. Bates.

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  28. Lisa Alber

    I've been reading the comments as they come through, and smilling off and on all day.

    Have to respond though: Mr. Bates!!! The interesting thing about him is that he's about as opposite of Sherlock as you can go: loving, full of integrity, tortured in a soulful way. But, yep, he's another one!

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  29. mary lynn

    If you go to Netflix and search on cumberbatch, you will find both the Hawking series and the Last Enemy series available for instant play, along with a few other vehicles for Benedict

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  30. Hunter Emkay

    Loved this reminder of Sherlock. While living in the UK I caught Season 1 a long time ago, then recently caught the replays on Australian TV. I believe we have Season 2 showing from next week finally, it's a long wait for more cheekbone fetishism.

    Although not a great Freeman fan, I believe it's Watson's portrayal that makes Sherlock so convincing (and keeps him alive). I'll be interested in watching him as The Hobbit.

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  31. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Lisa, you're right, but Sherlock and Mr. Bates have one important thing in common. They're trouble. This starts to worry me about myself. Yes, Mr. Bates is trying to escape his demons, but he was just as crazy as Sherlock not so very long ago, and that's what's haunting him. Anyway, I'll do that rant soon!

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  32. mary lynn

    Alex, I had not seen (nor heard of) The Last Enemy before, so I just started it late last night. I only got through the first episode before I went ‘face down in the brownie crumbs’. The story line has sucked me in, but I really enjoy near-future, Big Brother type stories.

    The first thing that struck me was how phenomenally good Cumberbatch is at ‘show, don’t tell’. He uses his whole body to quickly convey the psychological flaws of his character. Some of those movements, especially facial, are very subtle and if you aren’t watching closely, you will miss them. Cumberbatch’s British upper-crust, public school (Harrow) background particularly suits him for roles requiring a nearly emotionless façade.

    Full disclosure here; I’m married to Tom of this backblog. In his post above, he asks why we are seeing so many characters with Aspbergers, sociopathy, and obsessive-compulsive behavior in drama today. I contend that they are merely the flaw du jour in the age-old construct of the flawed hero. Neither Achilles’ heel nor Quasimodo’s deformities would play particularly well in a contemporary setting. Functioning, but with issues offers wide opportunities for both dramatic moments and comedic interludes that are readily digestible by most readers/viewers.

    I will report back after I watch the entire series.

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  33. lil Gluckstern

    I'm late to the party, but, yessss. This man is half my age, but I love watching him do the character, be the character. I think the series is great fun, and yummy. Totally OT, I read The Harrowing, and loved it. I think Jung would have loved it too-making it a particularly interesting dream 😉

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  34. Susan Shea

    I really enjoyed "The Last Enemy" but thought it had a couple of plot flaws that I won't mention if people are still viewing it for the first time. As a writer of mysteries, I follow clues and plot points and when they aren't either resolved or clearly left ambiguous (to serve a larger plot aspect), it annoys me.

    So, has anyone seem him in the "Tinker Tailor" film, and what did you think?

    Meanwhile, anytime you want to start dishing on "Downton Abbey," count me in! Why that show engrosses me, I'm not quite sure. At the beginning it was those gorgeous clothes on the pencil-thin women. Now it's partially the cool Mary, getting hemmed in by the results of her earlier choices. And there's always Maggie Smith, the best scenery-chewer in the business. Someone said she gets the best lines. I say she MAKES them the best lines!

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  35. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Mary Lynn and Tom, you must have a good time!

    I am not fully committed to The Last Enemy (I'm also on a deadline!) but I think you're dead on about the show, don't tell of BC's acting in that one. I really look forward to seeing much more of him on the big screen, a different kind of acting than TV but I think he was born for it.

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  36. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Susan, now that I know that there are others here that would join me in a good Downton dish, I must make that happen. I would watch Maggie Smith read the phone book. She wouldn't even have to read it, she could just hold it. It is so very wonderful to see a talent like Fellowes create a part that no one else on the planet could play so well; I think she's just breathtaking. And I have fallen in love with Mary, too, when I am so much more the Sybil type myself.

    But Mr. Bates… oh, yes, there's a man.

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  37. PD Martin

    I've missed this! At first didn't think it must have aired in Australia, but just Googled it and apparently they aired Season 1 here in late 2010 (I think) and Season 2 just started this week.

    But I already have enough TV shows I watch! Can't let TV cut into my writing time 🙂 Then again, everyone's given it such an incredible review! Mmm…. First I need to catch up on True Blood, Dexter and the Harry Potter films. Maybe after that!
    Phillipa

    Reply
  38. Greg

    The new Sherlock has been a tough one for me as Jeremy Brett's portrayal is ingrained in my creative psyche as a childhood hero and icon and I have had some issues with this adaptation – the new Moriarty and Watson have both grated on my nerves at times and some of the alterations to classic dialogue has not worked for me either – I know, petty maybe, but when a line works I think you should leave it and not put a 'modern' word in there and upset the rhythm – just my personal opinion there. I also disagree with some of the other changes made to the original material which I think has been arbitrary rather than necessary but i won't harp on that because this is the bad before the good as I do greatly admire Cumberbatch's portrayal of the Great Detective. I agree that it is a defining role and when he is given centre-stage he makes me forget all of my gripes and grumbles. I have rewatched the climactic scene of the second series a number of times and I think that the whole sequence is superb in its structure; dialogue, pacing, the sudden shocks and gut punches it delivers. It's a fall in the purest sense with perfect cadence.

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  39. mary lynn

    Oh, Gawd, count me in on the Downton Abbey dish. Maggie Smith is my hero(ine). Ditto on listening to her read the phone book, but her very best lines in DA are delivered facially, not orally. And she reminds me of my grandmother who easily conveyed her opinion to miscreant grandchildren while never uttering a word. A lady, through and through.

    And I’m a sucker for costume drama.

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  40. Pari Noskin

    Alex,
    This is late, but I want you to know that I watched SH based on your recommendation — and I am now, firmly and totally, a Cumberbitch.

    Reply
  41. Judith

    Couldn't care less about Cumberbatch – oh, I believe he's a good actor, right for the part, but I'm well and truly bored with the high functioning sociopath, having watched House for several years now.

    But, I'm a true devotee of the series because of the adorable Dr. Watson.

    Oh, I also agree that the dialogue is stellar. I've been not quite so impressed with the mysteries themselves, but the interplay between Watson and Sherlock is terrific.

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  42. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Pari, I had not the slightest doubt that you would be!

    Judith, perhaps you are just a higher functioning human being than I am, STILL falling for the crazy ones! But there, you just proved my point about Team Watson.

    Yay, Reine! Happy Birthday!

    Reply
  43. mary lynn

    I spent the weekend on a Cumber-binge and can point you to some great views of the Cumber-buns, if you’re interested.

    Now, my take on The Final Enemy:

    I’m not quite sure if you have seen it all the way through, so I am avoiding spoilers.

    If I hadn’t committed to watching the whole thing I would have abandoned ship by the second episode. There were way too many plot bunnies cavorting and not a rabbit-hole in sight. Or the entire show may have fallen into Alice’s Rabbit Hole. It was seriously incoherent. Tom says we both started watching it when PBS aired it a few years ago, but I walked away very early on, grumbling that I couldn’t figure out who was doing what to whom.

    It’s almost as though the writers had read a bunch of Frederick Forsythe and said to themselves, “If five plot threads are good, then ten must be better.”

    There’s a nasty, nasty continuity error in the first episode. Our hero has germophobic OCD that magically disappears after having sex with his late brother’s wife. I have never heard of sex being a cure for OCD. A true germophobe would not have tolerated or even survived what ensues for four and a half hours.

    I didn’t have a problem with Yasmin wanting to have sex on the day of her husband’s funeral. The desire/need for sex when a loved one has just died is not particularly unusual—it’s a kind of defiance of death through (potential) reproduction. The species will endure.

    Eventually some insight and understanding come together. After ten minutes into the third episode enough ambiguity has been resolved that the suspense takes over. That’s way too late, but still good to see. The plot twists continue, but the story is coherent and enjoyable.

    I like happy endings, so I hated the conclusion. In retrospect, it was the ONLY way the story could have ended. Big Brother IS watching and the individual doesn’t win when battling the machine.

    I would like to say that Enemy references Sherlock, but it is the other way around. The techno-tricks in Enemy were available but not prevalent when it was written. The same technology is shown in Sherlock, but is common today. There are a couple of scenes where we see the same soliloquy style we all adore in Sherlock.

    All of the acting was superb. I might argue a bit with the costuming.

    I spent quite a bit of time pondering the early dissonance of the series and the later cohesion. I think the show was supposed to be eight episodes rather than the five and was shot as eight. Somewhere along the way somebody said there was only time/money/space for five. I think most of the editing was in the early part of the show leading to the incongruity. We lost connections between people and we lost BC’s OCD behavior. There is actually a reference to it in the final twenty minutes of the show.

    That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

    P.S. I had some formatting in here, like titles in italics, but the blogging software seems to have removed it. Forgive.

    Reply
  44. mary lynn

    I spent the weekend on a Cumber-binge and can point you to some great views of the Cumber-buns, if you’re interested.

    Now, my take on The Final Enemy:

    I’m not quite sure if you have seen it all the way through, so I am avoiding spoilers.

    If I hadn’t committed to watching the whole thing I would have abandoned ship by the second episode. There were way too many plot bunnies cavorting and not a rabbit-hole in sight. Or the entire show may have fallen into Alice’s Rabbit Hole. It was seriously incoherent. Tom says we both started watching it when PBS aired it a few years ago, but I walked away very early on, grumbling that I couldn’t figure out who was doing what to whom.

    It’s almost as though the writers had read a bunch of Frederick Forsythe and said to themselves, “If five plot threads are good, then ten must be better.”

    There’s a nasty, nasty continuity error in the first episode. Our hero has germophobic OCD that magically disappears after having sex with his late brother’s wife. I have never heard of sex being a cure for OCD. A true germophobe would not have tolerated or even survived what ensues for four and a half hours.

    I didn’t have a problem with Yasmin wanting to have sex on the day of her husband’s funeral. The desire/need for sex when a loved one has just died is not particularly unusual—it’s a kind of defiance of death through (potential) reproduction. The species will endure.

    Eventually some insight and understanding come together. After ten minutes into the third episode enough ambiguity has been resolved that the suspense takes over. That’s way too late, but still good to see. The plot twists continue, but the story is coherent and enjoyable.

    I like happy endings, so I hated the conclusion. In retrospect, it was the ONLY way the story could have ended. Big Brother IS watching and the individual doesn’t win when battling the machine.

    I would like to say that Enemy references Sherlock, but it is the other way around. The techno-tricks in Enemy were available but not prevalent when it was written. The same technology is shown in Sherlock, but is common today. There are a couple of scenes where we see the same soliloquy style we all adore in Sherlock.

    All of the acting was superb. I might argue a bit with the costuming.

    I spent quite a bit of time pondering the early dissonance of the series and the later cohesion. I think the show was supposed to be eight episodes rather than the five and was shot as eight. Somewhere along the way somebody said there was only time/money/space for five. I think most of the editing was in the early part of the show leading to the incongruity. We lost connections between people and we lost BC’s OCD behavior. There is actually a reference to it in the final twenty minutes of the show.

    That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

    I had some formatting in here, like titles in italics, but they seem to have disappeared. Forgive me, please.

    Reply
  45. Raquel

    I am a Cumberbitch (Cumerbabe/Cumberlady/Cumberbuddy/Benaddict… well, there are too many names!) and I loved this article! I admire Benedict Cumberbatch so much, he's so talented, charismatic and briliant! I'm also a huge fan of Sherlock and everything you said about this TV show is completely accurate! Did you watch The Third Star or Parade's End? They are AMAZING!

    Reply
  46. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Raquel, I haven't seen either, but you better believe they're now in my queue, so thank you! It's truly amazing how MANY of B's great performances are out there, but he's such a chameleon that people are now just catching up to it all.

    Reply
  47. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Raquel, I haven't seen either, but you better believe they're now in my queue, so thank you! It's truly amazing how MANY of B's great performances are out there, but he's such a chameleon that people are now just catching up to it all.

    Reply
  48. Mrs Emma Peel

    I think you guys must not be confused with Sherlock being another version of Shades of Grey in fifty nifities. If you are enamoured by a sociopath then your normal relationships seem to cry out for something periodically abnormal. He can be a sleuth no doubt but to fantasize is like inviting mental abuse as he only depicts the norms of a manic CEO , and is this what ladies crave after all the hoopla over how women should not support abusers , even in the profane form of speech. There are many put-downs there and as they would have intended it , the sleuth was picked as something better looking than Hannibal Lecter or that character from Blacklist. I do not see this much different that a spinoff from Les Miserables' bad cop .

    Reply
  49. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Ouch, Ms. Peel! Except that isn’t fantasizing about making the object of your fantasy do whatever YOU want?

    I have to confess, it’s really Cumberbatch I love, in absolutely anything. From Sherlock to Hawking to Frankenstein’s monster, and I cannot, cannot wait to see him as Hamlet.

    Reply

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