Welcome to the first instalment of Stooge and I’s co-watching of the very modernised version of Sherlock Holmes. From today onwards, if all things work out, till the end of the series you can expect a post from us each both on an episode and hear us possibly rant or even praise what the did to a very loved character. A character I only first read about, yet have known about for a big part of my life, only a few years ago.
Because I am being rather lazy I have decided on copy and pasting the episode synopses and a few summaries that I get off of Wikki, because it is only there that I can see how much of the episodes I’ve seen differs from the books I read. It has been a while since I finished my run on the whole Sherlock book collection so I am bound to have forgotten a few things, if not all of it.
John Watson, an army doctor injured in Afghanistan, meets Sherlock Holmes, who is looking for a flatmate to share a flat at 221B Baker Street, owned by landlady Mrs. Hudson. The police, led by Detective Inspector Lestrade, have been baffled by a series of deaths, described as “serial suicides”. Holmes looks at the latest crime scene: the body of Jennifer Wilson, who was dressed in pink. She managed to claw the word “Rache” into the floor, and Sherlock reckons the victim died before completing the name “Rachel”, the name of her deceased daughter. Holmes deduces she is from out of town and therefore had a suitcase. The police have not found a carry-on with the body, but Holmes discovers it abandoned nearby. Meanwhile, after a phone call, Watson is compelled to meet a man who claims to be Holmes’s “arch-enemy”. The man offers him money to spy on Holmes, but Watson refuses. He also tells Watson that he misses the war, not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as his therapist believes.
When Watson returns to Baker Street, Holmes asks him to text Wilson’s still-missing phone, hoping the murderer will make a move. While waiting at a local restaurant, Holmes notices a taxi and outpace it on foot with shortcuts. However, the passenger is innocent. Holmes presumes “Rachel” was Wilson’s e-mail password, and the victim planted her phone on the killer so GPS could trace him. At the same time, Watson finds the signal is coming from 221B Baker Street; Mrs. Hudson tells Holmes a taxi is waiting for him. Outside, the cabbie confesses to the murders but proclaims he merely speaks to his victims, and they kill themselves. The cabbie challenges Holmes to solve his puzzle. Later, he pulls out two bottles containing an identical pill: one is harmless, the other is poison. Afterward, he invites the victims to choose one, promising he will swallow the other — and he threatens to shoot them if they refuse.
Sherlock soon deduces the driver is an estranged father who was told three years earlier he was dying. The driver admits that he has a “sponsor” for his work, paying money for each murder for the driver’s children. Holmes, having already noticed that the ‘gun’ is a novelty cigarette lighter, attempts to leave. However, the driver rechallenges him to choose a pill and see if he can solve the puzzle. Meanwhile, Watson has traced the GPS signal from the phone and followed the two men. He shoots the driver through a window in the adjacent building. Holmes tortures the cabbie to force him to say whether the pill taken was correct and who the sponsor is. He eventually reveals the name “Moriarty”. The police arrive, and Holmes deduces the shooter is Watson but hides the truth from the police. Holmes and Watson leave the scene and run into the enigmatic man who claims to be Sherlock’s arch-enemy earlier. He turns out to be Sherlock’s elder brother, Mycroft, who works for the British government. Watson finally understands that Mycroft tried to bribe him out of genuine concern for Sherlock. Mycroft instructs his secretary to increase their surveillance status.
Some things Wikki points out:
The episode is loosely based on A Study in Scarlet and contains allusions to other works by Arthur Conan Doyle. Story writer of this episode, Steven Moffet said of “A Study in Pink” and A Study in Scarlet: “there are many elements of the story, and the broad shape of it, but we mess around with it a lot”. Tom Sutcliffe of The Independent points out, “Fans will recognise at once that the close-reading Sherlock applies to John’s mobile phone is drawn from an almost identical analysis of a pocket watch [taken from The Sign of the Four]. More slyly oblique is the conversion of the lost ring that Holmes uses to lure the killer in A Study in Scarlet into a lost ‘ring’, a mobile phone that can be used to contact the killer directly.” The episode also uses an identical clue to the original story, but gives it a different meaning: both stories feature “Rache” written at the scene of the crime. In the original story, Holmes dismisses a suggestion that the victim was trying to write “Rachel”, instead pointing out that “Rache” is German for “revenge”. In this version Holmes’s interpretation is reversed: he scoffs at the “revenge” explanation and suggests the victim was trying to write “Rachel”.
The “three-patch problem” that Holmes describes is similar to the term “three-pipe problem” he uses in “The Red-Headed League”.
The mention by Mrs. Hudson of “Mrs. Turner who lives next door” is a reference to a point in “A Scandal in Bohemia”, where Holmes’ landlady is once named as Mrs. Turner, instead of as Mrs. Hudson.
The feverish shout of “The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!” is a reference to a line in “The Adventure of the Abbey Grange”, “The game is afoot”, which is frequently accredited to Holmes in adaptations. In the 2013 mini-episode “Many Happy Returns”, a newspaper headline tantalisingly reads “The game is back on” as a harbinger of the character’s imminent return.
The cabbie is dying of a brain aneurysm, while the murderer in A Study in Scarlet is dying of an aortic aneurysm.
Watson’s reference in the final scene to having been shot in the shoulder but developing a psychosomatic limp in the leg is an allusion to a continuity error in the Conan Doyle stories: in the original A Study in Scarlet Watson’s injury is said to be in his shoulder, but in Conan Doyle’s later Holmes stories, it is said to be in his leg.
The second murder victim’s name is James Phillimore, a reference to a case Holmes failed to solve in “The Problem of Thor Bridge”.
The text messages Holmes sends Watson are taken nearly word for word from a telegram Holmes sends Watson in “The Adventure of the Creeping Man”.
The case Holmes is working on when he meets Watson involves a guilty brother with a green ladder. This is an apparent reference to an unfinished story found after Conan Doyle’s death since completed as “The Adventure of the Tall Man” and included (sometimes as only the original outline) in some editions of the Sherlock Holmes Apocrypha.
My thoughts and what I can sort of remember while watching the episode:
While this was a very (read VERY loose) representation of the original book, I remember the first time I watched it I had not even picked up the first Doyle book yet, I was content with it. I had Milou to tell me certian things around the episode and later when I read the books and re-watching it a few weeks ago I could see some things that differed from what I remembered.
While Sherlock deduces that Watson has a brother from the initials on the back of the phone and it is confirmed by Watson in the book that yes he did have a brother, the episode changed things up. Watson now has a sister called Harriet.
I remembered when Sherlock said that the case they were on was was a three patch problem that that was a thing from the books, but was not sure that it was from this specific case.
The portrayal of Watson being amazed by Sherlock’s deductions were pretty well put forward. In the books Watson always showed fascination with Sherlock’s ability to come up with answers seemingly out of thin air. Their friendship was also very quickly cemented as I remember correctly.
When I watched this series I went into the books thinking Sherlock came of as a pompous ass towards the police and detectives. The books showed how wrong I was and it made me feel that the people who wrote the script did not “get” Sherlock. He was way more likeable the way Watson wrote about him in the books. Not that Cumberbatch is not likeable in the series, he was just following the directors orders.
The book A Study in Scarlet, switches points of view halfway through the novel and gives detailed back story to who the culprit could be, where the episode did not really do anything with that at all. I also can not remember the cabbie’s part in all of it well to draw a concrete conclusion that he was all that smart. There was a part that Sherlock had posted some article in the paper to lure him out, in the episode it was as easy as just sending a text and having the cabbie rock up to Baker Street with the house full of police. Not a very smart killer in my opinion. He was even more pompous assy then Sherlock.
I do appreciate that they started the episode of with showing that Watson was in battle in Afganistan, that bit felt like the same way Watson wrote about himself as an introduction at a certain point. And where he meets with a friend in a park that will lead him to the setup with Sherlock, I thought I remembered it from the books that they were at some club or bar.
Mycroft and Moriarty was not mentioned in the Study in Scarlet novel and only came later in the book series.
That is as much as my brain can remember from the book and re-watching this episode.
Tune in next week for more!