Really enjoyed this article about the Sherlock Christmas Special, from Maureen Kincaid Speller at Paper Knife.

I agree with a lot of it. Yet, yet, for some reason, however improbable, I still like Moffat and Gatiss’s version of Sherlock… even despite the ‘little Christmas trinket’ (my New Year notes) that was The Abominable Bride.

It may be that I explore this in more depth at some point.

For now, however, you must excuse me. I’ve been drawn into reading multiple Sherlock considerations across multiple blogs. Quite a three pipe problem, and I pray I am left undisturbed for the next 24 hours.

Source: ‘he had a remarkable gentleness and courtesy in his dealings with women’ – the Sherlock Christmas special

1st January 2014! A very happy new year to all Mortal Bath readers using the CE calendar.

It’s nice to be living in the future. 2014 sounds very advanced. Well, it does to me and all the other remnants of the 20th century I know/meet/am aware of. This used to be the near-distant future. I suppose that’s 2036 now. This year I think I will have quite a lot to say about cultural hangovers, and I apologise now for what may be the first of 10,500 references to temporal equivalence and nostalgia during the solar sojourn. “This is like people in the 1980s banging on about the 1960s,” sort of thing. I was 19 in 1994 – insert the 20-year cycle of your own experience.

Lots to do, lots to write about, lots to get on with. It would be – here’s one thing I’ve learned – foolish, a repeating history doom, to make the usual start-of-year manifesto claims, the sorts that leave one high and dry and looking only semi-dedicated in July. However, I am happy to note that this was the first second new year’s day in my recent memory that I wasn’t nursing some sort of monster hangover of fear… and the day was very productive… ending in Triumphs 3 Disasters 0: glass of wine, take-away curry treat and the grand return of Sherlock on the BBC. Sherlock will feature in The Mortal Bath next week.

But THIS week… well, here’s one of the presents Santa’s little helpers left under the tree:

S-book cover

The idea of S., J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s tribute to the printed word, had me dribbling from the moment I first read about it somewhere, I forget precisely where, probably Boing Boing. Regular readers of the Mortal Bath will be aware of my bibliophilia and a fannish admiration of Abrams’ work. What I’ve seen of Dorst’s work seems appealing also. Happily, regarding the book, the fat man in the red suit obliged…

I have yet to read the text, busy with some Xmas hols library books what I shall mention at a later date. It may prove to be a bit of a disappointment, but… O! The excitement as I slit the cover tape and had a reverent moment handling the Object.

Made up to look like a library book!

Made up to look like a library book!

Napkin map inserts!

Napkin map inserts!

Annotations and postcards!

Annotations and postcards!

Dear me. Reader, I combusted.

Thusly… that’s what’ll be keeping me occupied this first week in January 2014 (claps hands with excitement). Hope you have something pleasant to be getting on with also.

Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the result would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backwards, or analytically.

– A Study in Scarlet

We had formed no theories. We were simply there to observe and to draw inferences from our observations.

The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

The rapture of the Sherlock fans is almost complete, as the next season of the superbly-read and written BBC Sherlock Holmes adaptation, er, Sherlock draws near, albeit slowly. Excitement mounts, like a gigantic unruly hound. Den of Geek provided a splendid overview, the coals of which Buzzfeed raked over recently.

Of course, it is not just about the fansites but the fanboys writing it. Gatiss, Moffat & c are clearly steeped in the lore of Sherlockiana. One finds continuous little allusions, nods and winks, nudges. In the closing episode, The Reichenbach Fall, reworking the Final Problem, they set a body of intrigue in orbit.

How did it happen? Part of me feels this is a bit of a blind. We’re all eagerly discussing the ways in which he faked his death, ignoring the annoying fact that we know he didn’t die. It gets in the way of me enjoying finding out how he didn’t die, to an extent. Just to be clear, I’ve been an avid Sherlock fan since I was about nine, so I had a good idea Sherlock wasn’t going to die. Yet for me, knowing that he didn’t die before the episode even finished was kind of a total massive disappointment.

It was a terrible ending, and in fact I have hated it more every time I’ve watched it since. There is no great mystery how it has become a total massive talking point. It is deuced clever to make the focus of the suspense finding out how this apparently impossible trick was accomplished by Sherlock. I just think it could have been even better if somehow there had been a further fictitious suspension of the canonical knowledge that Sherlock survived, rather than playing so blatantly with the audience complicity. It felt a bit of a coddling. Was it like we would have not watched it again if we hadn’t known?

It’s complex. All I can say is that on some deep emotional level, that movement of the camera to reveal Sherlock there in the graveyard elicits naught but a groan of displeasure from me.

Themes of audience involvement, and stretches/inversions of original texts, though, are to be expected, though, and even welcomed. It is a series characterised by leaning heavily on contemporary technology, and the blogotwit publicity and so on is simply an updating and extension of the “You brute!” audience involvement that swayed ACD to revive the moribund sleuth originally. Yes, the modernisation of Sherlock – and society – gives me little techie Sherlockophile shivers of pleasure.

The more one considers it, the more fiendish the shift in emphasis is. In fact, I am a seething knot of jealousy because it works so well. Ultimately more focus on the characters, while seemingly empowering the audience it in fact dangles them further out on the wires between Sherlock’s connivances and Watson’s obliviousness and grief, his alienation and isolation stretched for dramatic effect… Damn you, Moffat, Gatiss et al!

Still groaning, though.

That’s my 2d of pop critique. Back to the fannish clamour. The point is, then, now, of course, yes, how the devil was it done?


I think I tend towards some method of ‘controlled falling’ into the garbage truck, with a bunch of accomplices who helped Sherlock fakie it up. Squash ball techniques combi. Canonistas must point to the significance of the ledge (further supported by the original angles of Gintara on tumblr) …and what of the apparent dead Sherlock on the pavement? How might the tec have fooled his closest comrade? Let us look again to the Empty House:

“The credit of the execution is due to Monsieur Oscar Meunier, of Grenoble, who spent some days in doing the moulding. It is a bust in wax. The rest I arranged myself during my visit to Baker Street this afternoon.”
“But why?”
“Because, my dear Watson, I had the strongest possible reason for wishing certain people to think that I was there when I was really elsewhere.”

Perhaps. Anyway, that’s enough reasoning backwards for this evening. Dear BBC, you can broadcast the next series any time you like now pleasehurryupthankyou.

Conflicting reports on the possible rebooting, or booted-out redoing, or something, of one of my childhood favourites, Blake’s 7.

The story on the BBC is that its original Terry Nation series is to be revived by SyFy channel, according to a press release that seems more a call-for-funding announcement from FremantleMedia. Meanwhile, on a website that looks like it’s maintained with the same sporadic effort as The Mortal Bath, SyFy’s blog is a bit reticent on the matter, with the most recent entry about Blake’s 7 being an also entirely speculative piece from, I think, 2010, wisting at Sky and suggesting that maybe the Beeb might like to pony up for the series.

Moving on from that thicket of clickable links… Given the quality of the Nu-Battlestar Galactica and J.J. Abram’s Star Trekking, the potential for a redoing of Blake’s 7 is quite exciting. Of course, among my concerns, quibbles, cavils, as a fan: it might get done and be completely rubbish… or indeed it might never get done.

In the case of the latter, it could be argued, what would we have lost? It was a good (retro-futuristic period) piece, best leave it untainted. Yet you wouldn’t not touch great ideas like the Fox and the Crow… an effective reinterpretation would be able to say something pertinent about all sorts of things.

With regard to a BBC remake, if, say, ‘They’ did decide to reinvest in their own back catalogue – in a ‘doing it for Terry’ Blakeish heroic rescuing of creative control from the Federation Mutoids, I mean, puppets of the former Nazi propagandist empire Bertelsmann, I mean Fremantle – would it be Sherlock levels of good, or would it be as scrotum-tweakingly overdone as the Doctor Who franchise has become?

Oh, come on, though – I love Matt Smith orders of magnitude more than David Tennant, but I can’t watch it any more. Over-scored, climactic moments every ten minutes. It’s sad. Is it in case an itchy finger hits the remote, or buffering, or whatever concerns are preoccupying the producers and getting in the way of LETTING A GOOD STORY TELL ITSELF? Nostalgia be damned: if the old ways of taking four episodes to recount a single narrative thread are an indulgence, a throwback to the days when the Byzantine, nay, Gilliam-Orwellian hierarchies and production processes of the now lamented BBC TV Centre ruled the airwaves, then indulge us, throw us back. My concentration span will tolerate it, and balls to anyone whose attention span cannot.

Sorry, getting lost in space(balls) there. Regarding Blake’s 7… well, we shall see, or perhaps we won’t. Perhaps we shall be rewarded as I was every time I heard this:

Eh? EH? Awesome. Here’s hoping!