Season 4 of Sherlock was always going to be a tough sell for me, because the moment they revealed “she’s a secret assassin!” I stopped buying the Mary Watson character. It’s what film critic, Mark Kermode, calls the “Meg Ryan is a helicopter pilot/Keanu Reeves is an architect” problem. Amanda Abbington was just not believable to me as a spec ops assassin, and she wasn’t equipped to perform the action convincingly. And all that was before the problems with the story were even revealed. After Mary shot Sherlock, every time she turned up on the screen, my stomach clenched, because, as presented, she was capable of anything – demonstrating profoundly antisocial tendencies: lying, manipulation, self-serving extreme violence, and disregard for human life. Her total rehabilitation was simply not plausible to me and probably wouldn’t have been even if its foundation hadn’t been the unbelievably ludicrous, glib assertion: “That was surgery.” (Not how guns and bullets work!) Watching her subsequent chumminess with Sherlock, whom she shot in the chest and killed (he flatlined), made me feel like I was being gaslighted. In my mind, it wasn’t good enough for her to say, “I only hurt Sherlock because I love John so much I can’t lose him!” Go down to any battered women’s shelter and you’ll hear similar stories of abusers’ rationalisations for beating up the person their property dared to smile at in the grocery store parking lot. Watching Mary joke and laugh with the people she’d victimised so horribly while continuing to marginalise John made much of The Six Thatchers almost unwatchable for me.
I didn’t like the first episode of the new season of Sherlock, but I sincerely hoped having the risible nonsense of the Mary Watson/AGRA storyline tied up would free things up a bit. I think the Culverton Smith case might have delivered, but they went all in on the “I’m so beset by grief I’m hallucinating my dead spouse” gambit. Really? In what we keep being told is “clever” television? Grief is about absence, about a space that can’t be filled, about feeling trapped and asphyxiated by it. But we were never actually shown Mary and John’s relationship, so all the emotional heavy lifting is being done retroactively, and it’s heavy-handed, saccharine, out-of-character claptrap. John being with Rosie, struggling to parent alone would have had me in floods, but Moftiss always chooses exposition when there isn’t a gun being pulled or a joke being cracked. There is something about genuine, non-sensational emotion that seems to make them uncomfortable; it always has to be book-ended by effacing humour. As much as I dislike the “I see dead people” shortcut to exploring grief, I understand that it probably worked for most of the viewing audience, but Moftiss could have at least allowed some of those moments sink in. They just had to cut off the opening scene in the therapist’s office with police sirens and helicopters in service to a gag about Sherlock’s penchant for grand entrances.
I sent out the following tweet as I was watching The Six Thatchers, and it pretty much sums up my feelings on the episode.
Like most Sherlock episodes, it flowed best when they were in case-solving mode and dragged in the other parts. They leaned too long and hard into the jokes, and still can’t seem to get the pacing right. A quality actioner that seamlessly integrates the quieter, emotional sequences is much, much more difficult to execute than people imagine. Every time the setting changed, I felt like I was watching a completely different show cast with doppelgängers. It was like they’d trawled through the actors’ reels and spliced together bits from different films. I think I may have enjoyed each one separately, but watching them all jammed together was a bit like being on a lurching carnival ride.
Yesterday there was a fake birth announcement for Rosamund Mary Watson in The Telegraph. A promo picture of John and Mary with the baby was also released. Expectedly, the fandom exploded. I, however, realised that I just DGAF anymore. My strong suspicion is that the baby (like every other character in the show) will just be a prop whose only function is to facilitate a twist in a plot that has been meandering off course for some time. The “I love you” trailer didn’t move the needle much for me either.
The truth is I fell out of love with Sherlock at the end of season 3 but couldn’t really admit it to myself. When that Moriarty animation turned up asking, “Did you miss me?” my answer was an emphatic no. Whenever a show doubles back to the vanquished supervillain to pique our interest, don’t we all know deep in our hearts that it’s over, that things aren’t really moving forward? I tried to keep my hopes up even after The Abominable Bride (which I would have enjoyed more had they just done the Victorian one-off). Explaining away huge chunks of a story that you spent millions of pounds producing with “It was all a dream!” is another huge red flag that the writers are running out of interesting ideas.
BEFORE HOLMES MET WATSON is doing really well on Wattpad and is closing in on 15,000 reads! I've gone through a few covers and never really been pleased with any of them. So, today I finally sat down and did a redesign. My design skills are limited, but keeping it simple has worked well for me, and I'm pleased with how the new cover turned out. Can't wait until I can afford to hire a proper designer, though.
So... I got one lead from #PitMad and submitted my query. Let's see how this goes...
I'm self-published, but I've recently been considering querying agents again. Today I stumbled across the #PitMad tag in my Twitter timeline, and decided submitting the maximum three tweets was worth the minimal effort.
Here are my tweets:
Daily, we each write our autobiography.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat: These are the places we gather to communicate our tastes and opinions and record our lives to share with our friends and family or the world. It is fascinating (and sometimes appalling), wandering in and out of these personal museums and exploring the versions of themselves people choose to present to the world. Curation of the self has become a necessary skill.
What often gets lost in the noise and crush of information is that each social media account is a primary historical and anthropological source.
Many readers of a certain age have family photos going back only a generation or two. Perhaps they also have a few letters and heirlooms. By contrast, when most of us depart this earth, we will have left behind an immense, readily accessible and searchable archive of personal information. These documents will form the foundation of our families’ histories.
We are each the first of our name.
Fifty years from now when your descendants have to do school projects on their family history, what will they find when they look at your social media history? Will they be proud? Will they be embarrassed? Will it affect how their friends and acquaintances see them?
The addition of Facebook commenting to many topical websites over the past several years has disabused us of the notion that obnoxious internet commenters were all anonymously trolling. People are posting horrifying, abusive material under their real names. Others make less egregious errors that perhaps deserve chastisement, but, instead of receiving a telling-off, the offenders end up being crushed by mobs of “do-gooders” bent on their destruction. Jon Ronson’s book, So I’ve Been Publicly Shamed, discusses the fallout from these mob attacks: people’s relationships, careers and mental health have been severely damaged. All the righteous indignation feels good in the moment, but it often looks different in hindsight.
That the internet is part of society (not some virtual Wild West) still seems not to have sunk in for many of us. The micro-moments in which we now live and communicate mask the arc of history, but it is even more imperative now than ever that we understand how the world changes and stays the same. We must truly consider what is the right thing to do and muster the courage to take that path (or at least get out of the way of those who take up the mantle), because in the near future there will be no more hiding. Each of us will be judged by history.
Copyright © 2016, Harrison Kitteridge