Review: A Study In Pink

Updating Sherlock Holmes is never a bad idea.  Of the many characters in the public domain, few are as instantly timeless - a crime-solving eccentric genius in London, one of the world's great cities.  The BBC had a no-brainer on their hands.  Especially with the latest money-making film reboot starring Robert Downey Jr.  In this TV series, the keynote is the same: slightly irreverent humour, especially about the "gay thing" that perplexes and amuses many, vis. a vis. Holmes and Watson, his stalwart medical companion, sometimes more, sometimes less capable.    Different is the time - here we are "contemporary" - and get the same London as in Luther.  Overall, this is an excellent new version, with enough fun ("three patch problem") and style to make it good TV (as in "good police").  But it is hardly as clever as it wishes to think it is.  Screenwriters simply need to understand that aspects of their craft make them supremely easy to figure out in advance, for anyone in the know - which is all viewers over the age of three these days.  Firstly, the killer in this episode was a cab driver - and the idea of his "invisible status" - aside from being pinched from Chesterton (there it was a postman) - was telegraphed rather obviously several times (and is of course all too obvious from an actual crime case in London) - not least at the start.  Secondly, the Mycroft Holmes scene was also obvious - it couldn't have been Moriarty (though we were meant to think it was) - because such a villain would never be introduced in such a way, and would be less bland, less cartoon-mandarin (Moriarty would do better than have a sexy assistant and be able to control security cameras - this was more like a Coalition flunky); finally, his umbrella mirrored Watson's cane, implying mutual affiliation with Holmes.  Finally, Holmes' inability to tell whether Watson was gay (he has to ask him) makes no sense when he already knows about Watson's sister, and knows everything else about everyone else's sex life from their clothing.  I suppose the final problem for me is the suggestion that Holmes is a "high-functioning sociopath".  I realise this is a Dexter tie-in, and meant to imply he is oddly sinister to those who fail to get him - but Holmes is too empathic to be a sociopath.  Finally (again), Holmes would never torture a dying man.  Oh, and why would a megalomaniac (dying) cab driver / killer play a 50-50 game of poisoning if he got money for every victim?  Finally, talking someone in to selecting one of two capsules, with all the bluffs, is borrowed too liberally from The Princess Bride.  Much more intriguing was the possibility he had actually talked them into suicide.  As some drivers do, from time to time.


Anonymous said…
Comment part 1:

Holmes is a sociopath.
I forgive you for not understanding enough about sociopaths. I am a sociopath myself find Sherlock Holmes to be a childhood hero to be, because he was intelligent and different in a way like I way. I later discovered I was this way because I was a sociopath.

Sherlock's sociopathic behaviour is shown by many things.

Sociopaths aren't entirely without feelings, emotions or empathy (that's something closer to psychopaths). Sociopaths do have feelings and emotions, they just keep them hidden and don't like to display them or talk about them.
Sociopaths tend to show their emotions a little more openly to those that are very close to them: family, friends, lovers. With these people they can feel empathy.
With strangers, or people they met one-time, people they don't really know, people they don't really like or aren't interested in...with these people they can only really feel simpathy.
However, there are certain things for which they feel more strongly. Bad things happening to little babies, or kittens, or pretty young girls.
{Holmes is never too upset when horrid things happen to his clients. Certain things upset him more though, like when a child or a young lady is in danger. He also has the ability to mentally detach himself from the problem when he can do no more but wait. Rather then worrying for three hours he goes off to play violin, not a care in the world. He does, however, feel close to Watson. In one book someone took a shot at Watson and Holmes showed genuine concern and emotion.}

Sometimes they are unable to understand why people are upset about something.
{Sherlock in the BBC series showed this when he asked (about the lady's dead baby "That was ages ago, why would she still be upset?"}

Sociopaths can be very charming, particularly if they try to be charming. They have a very flexible sense of self. They mimic 'human behaviour' like empathy. They can pretend to be someone else with much difficulty or even the feeling that they're 'acting' or 'pretending'.
{Holmes displays this by disguising himself when he needs to gather information or go undercover or for whatever reason.}

Sociopaths also lie alot. Not bad, stupid, lies to your face, kinda lies. It's more pathological lying. They have no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.
{Holmes does this too. Again, with his disguising himself and going under cover as another person. But just whenever it suits him. He'll lie to a random stranger to get information out of them. He'll lie to his criminals and clients alike. He lies to Watson when it suits him. Deceives them all when he like. Like how he sent Watson to investigate that 'Hound of the Baskervilles' thing and said he wasn't going to come, and then secretly tagging along anyway. Or pretending he was dying so that Watson wouldn't give away that he was pretending. Lots of stuff. He does it coolly and without remorse because as far as he knows there's nothing wrong with it.}

Sociopaths often give in to 'The end justifies the means' but not always.

[see part 2 bellow]
Anonymous said…
Comment part 2:

Sociopaths often think the world of themselves. They KNOW they that aren't the greatest person in the world but they still FEEL it. Thinking themselves to be the smartest, cleverest, coolest, awesomest person they know. But they don't show this outwardly. They always think they're right. There will be exceptions for them.
{Holmes knows he's smart. He knows he's clever. He often thinks that everyone around his is dull and average and possibly a little bit stupid. He thinks he's right all the time unless something pops up to prove he's not right, but unless it's conclusive he still has the feeling that he's right.}

There is a diminished sense of remorse, shame, guilt, etc. Again, it's like empathy. Say they saw someone cross the road and then get hit by a car. The normal person probably feels [oh, I should have seen the car coming and called out to that person. Oh, I could have saved them, I'm sure.] Sociopaths don't have that kind of illogical guilt. There was nothing they could do. They didn't see it coming. They didn't know the person. It has nothing to do with them. Why should they be guilty? And they aren't. However, if they were directly responsible for the horrible death of a dear friend THEN they would feel guilty, but it probably wouldn't linger for the rest of their lives.
{Displayed in the way Holmes deceives people, or disguises himself, or even when one of his clients dies or something and he gets over it very quickly indeed.}

Sociopaths have a need for stimulation, be that mental puzzles or physical activity.
{Holmes is always like this. He says so himself.}

Sociopaths are also manipulative in subtle ways, and sometimes even quite open ways. For example, say you saw your roommate pull up in the driveway come back from shopping. You know they'll have groceries and want you to help bring them in. Maybe you don't want to help so you chose that moment to be taking a shower so you are unable to help. From the roommates point of view, it isn't your fault, you were in the shower at the time and couldn't help. They can't blame you.
{Holmes is manipulative is this subtle way too. Not necessarily for lazy, mean reasons like above, but all sorts of way and reasons anyway.}

These are all qualities of a sociopath.

The other qualities are:
-Poor Behavioural Controls/Impulsive Nature
-Early Behaviour Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
-Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle

However, with proper upbringing these are easily prevented from manifesting. So it is with Sherlock Holmes and myself (though I am a little impulsive at time and used to be quite irresponsible and have only recently begun setting out a realistic life plan).

Sherlock is a sociopath.

[Sorry about putting this in two parts but it was complaining about the character count or something.]