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 A Letter to Steve Moffat and the writers of "Sherlock"

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PostSubject: A Letter to Steve Moffat and the writers of "Sherlock"   Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:05 pm

The following is a fictional letter that was typed by me and never sent to Steve Moffat or any writers of Sherlock that I know of. BBC's TV show Sherlock has recently aired the first episode of its second season. It's titillating, fast tracked, and deviates quite a lot from the source material.

Below, in letter format, is the spoiler laden review. I realize this is horrible to anyone who wants a review and doesn't want to be spoiled, I'm sorry. Please see the above adjectives and then watch it yourself. (I did say spoilers, right? Saying it again, the below is FULL of SPOILERS, from the books and the show.)

Dear Sherlock ,
Let me first say that I love you. I love you and your writers for bringing you to life. Despite the criticisms in this letter I still love you and I believe you are incredible - which is sort of the reason I'm being critical - because you criticize things you love. I don't take to the Internet to yell about Jersey Shore or complain about the Kardashians - I don't talk about idiotic stuff I don't care about. I rant about book!Sherlock a lot but that does not in any way diminish my affection for you. The whole point of me writing a review of this episode is because I ADORE YOU. Now that this has been established, let's move on. I was more than anxious to see this new episode. I was positively hanging off the edge of my seat since you ever so cruelly left me shrieking pointlessly at my screen when Season 1 delivered its devastatingly brilliant cliffhanger ending. I was excited like a child on Christmas morning - I knew there was something spectacular to be seen, even if I wasn't quite sure what I would see yet.
I was ESPECIALLY excited because the first episode (I understand you are doing 3 for the second season, WHY must you be SO CRUEL) is about Irene Adler, the definitive "Woman" for Sherlock Holmes - at least according to the writing. She's the one woman who has outsmarted Holmes - Holmes plays her, she plays him, she walks away laughing. This was Victorian London, yet Mr. Holmes was bested by a controversial opera singer. He met a woman who could match him in wits and skill and he experienced a mixture of frustration and admiration at her obvious brilliance. This is the book Irene Adler that I knew and loved and was eager to see on screen.
Now, I have no problem whatsoever with Irene Adler being upgraded to a dominatrix sex worker. "Opera singer" was always sketchy at best, and in Victorian London, it was positively scandalous. So, yeah, I get it - this is a woman who lives on the edges and gets her kicks in kinky sex and the possession of dangerous information. I didn't mind, either, the extinguishing of Irene's fiancé, because he was almost always useless, but we'll get to that later.
The first part is played pretty straight - Holmes gets called to Buckingham Palace in a wonderfully written scene, though I did miss the clever unmasking book!Sherlock did with the the ruler of Bohemia, that would've been delightful to see on screen. He sets off to find Irene Adler and retrieve the 'compromising' photos that you would expect a dominatrix worker to have - they're on her camera phone. John sets off an fire alarm and Irene betrays the position, some annoying Americans show up and get shot, Holmes retrieves the phone (it's password locked) and Irene, realizing she's been tricked, drugs him and gets her phone back, changing his text message alert noise to a sound of her moaning.
This would be great - if it ended there. Irene's beat Sherlock - everything's great, except Sherlock's fuzzy head. And yet TV!Irene can't leave well enough alone. She can't walk away with her triumph - because apparently Sherlock must triumph each and every time. I had no problem with Irene using her sensuality to disarm Sherlock - she possesses equal smarts apparently, so she probably is just doing it to see whether or not Sherlock really is asexual (he is) and to amuse herself. No harm, no foul.
And yet, because Irene cannot walk away, she instead has to text Sherlock millions of times with pointless and vapid texts, fake her own death, and then show up again. Oh, and she also gives him the phone, for no reason at all. Anyway, it all comes out that she's stolen a code from a Ministry of Defense official (that she met, naturally, in a dominatrix session) and wants Sherlock to figure it out. Sherlock, intrigued and eager as always to show off, decodes it in seconds. And shocker, Irene texts it to Moriarty, who promptly texts Mycroft in a slightly (slightly) more grown up fashion of playground teasing, revealing that he knows all about the 'secret plan' that Mycroft had spent unaccountable hours and inestimable energy to work out. Since the plan is foiled, and Irene hints that this is only the beginning of the dangerous info that her cell phone contains. She draws up a deal with various demands, but Sherlock at this point reveals that oh dear, Irene's gone too far off the track - she couldn't stay cool enough - but had to fall prey to sentimental feelings about him ... and now he knows the passcode to the locked phone, and her amnesty is no longer a playing card. So not only is Irene not masterminding a criminal scheme, because she's taking it all from Moriarty's advice, but she is beaten by Sherlock Holmes due to her womanly weakness. Ouch. A lot of people have taken to the web to blog angrily about the fact that Irene states that she's a lesbian. Personally, I think this was an offhand sentence (she says it while trying to convince John Watson he and Sherlock are a couple) and people are reading too much into it - she has numerous male clients, not that it means anything, but Irene spouts so much nonsense we never know if she's being serious or not.
So my complaints about Irene are that. She's brilliant, she bests Holmes, but in the end, Holmes had to win, and that was railroaded through regardless of plot or proper characterization. I'm still glad Sherlock saved her, though. That was an well-done twist. TV!Irene Adler is a cunning, witty, fascinating, and wickedly sexy woman and I want to see more of her. I just wish they'd given her another name. Sorry, Sherlock, the original Irene Adler bests Holmes and walks away with her fiance, proving that 'womanly sentiment', Ie love, does not make on vulnerable at all. TV!Irene is interesting despite the anti-feminist themes, and could be easily a series regular - but she is no Irene Adler. She's more of a Bond girl.

I enjoyed this episode, just like I enjoyed the TV!Irene. I just like the original better, no hard feelings. This would have been a brilliant Sherlock episode if it didn't refer so explicitly to the case it wildly deviates from. I will be watching, Sherlock. I'm fairly sure you'll acquit yourself and continue to be wonderfully awesome. Oh, and more John + Sherlock, please, they are the best team ever.

Your continued viewer, Lillian

PS. The Hound of the Baskervilles continues further down the timeline - AFTER the Final Problem. I'm a nitpicky bitch, I know.



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PostSubject: Re: A Letter to Steve Moffat and the writers of "Sherlock"   Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:44 pm

Like Sherlock much, Lilli? Laughing

Sorry, couldn't resist. This is a well-written letter where you bemoan the predictability of the protagonist, ie Sherlock, always winning at the end. This seems to be a foregone conclusion to any franchise character, including James Bond, whom you referenced. Hopefully Season 2 will keep you guessing!

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PostSubject: Re: A Letter to Steve Moffat and the writers of "Sherlock"   Sat Jan 07, 2012 7:52 pm

I really enjoyed reading your review, Lilli. I can sort of see both sides of the argument. I can see why certain decisions were made with regards to A Scandal in Belgravia. As a fan of the Sherlock mythos and most of his incarnations, I was really expecting Irene Adler to triumph and walk off into the night with a self-satisfied smile leaving Sherlock with an equally satisfied smirk. So I guess that is the reason why Steven Moffat made the decision to have Sherlock win; because we were not expecting it. I felt that the sexualisation of Irene Adler was a little typical and to be honest was reminiscent of Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct. Irene Adler from A Scandal in Bohemia was relatively harmless, which is why Holmes could afford to be outsmarted. TV!Irene however was almost sociopathic and had very little regard for human life; the information she was prepared to hand over to Moriarty would have (for all she knew) allowed innocent people to be killed.

Personally I was happy with the incarnation, but I could have been happier. I think the final scene where Sherlock saved her life was unnecessary but as Sherlock said: “"Sentiment is a chemical defect found in the losing side." And so his decision to save her from certain death would be an action of sentiment and therefore an admission that he thinks of himself on the losing side.

I felt there were tragic undertones to the episode; it almost played like a tragic love story between two people who were incapable of being in love and they soon became the immovable object and the unstoppable force. Neither side could ever really win, but in the end they still had a relatively satisfied smirk to leave us with.

I think the writers of Sherlock could have done a better job with the character of Irene Adler, but the job they did was a damned good one none the less. At the end of the day it’s just another incarnation in a long line of Irene Adler incarnations and clones. The original is still there for me in my collection of Sherlock Holmes stories.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s episode, the Hounds of Baskerville.

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PostSubject: Re: A Letter to Steve Moffat and the writers of "Sherlock"   Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:38 am

Thanks, Paul.

I agree, Ben. This Irene I have no problem with, it's just that's she isn't very reminiscent of her book namesake. I love her, I just don't associate the two. They should have introduced her as someone completely different.
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