Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hounds and the Fall

I watched The Reichenbach Fall yesterday, mostly to say goodbye to this show, because I'm not staying with it for season 3. I hate both Moffat & Gatiss now, and the writing is just too bad to tolerate. Given how they resolved the cliffhanger this year, I am not confident that they won't cop-out next year with their solution of the fake death. So I won't let them string me along anymore.

I also watched the Hounds episode last week, but was vastly unimpressed. I mean, it wasn't intense hate like I had for the Belgravia episode, but the Hounds ep was worse than the Blind Banker. Where did I get the idea that Gatiss was a good writer? His previous reputation as a Doctor Who writer? His loving appreciation for Private Life of Sherlock Holmes? Well, he might be a good scifi writer and Sherlockian, but he's a shit mystery writer. I disliked his Great Game episode last year too, but I thought it was due to my hate for Jim Moriarty, and the bomb plot; but now it's clear that Gatiss sucks even when Jim is kept to a minimum. Clearly he also subscribes to the school of "it doesn't matter if the plot makes sense; it just has to look good." Hounds was as bad as a season 4 episode of Castle, and trust me, that's ridiculously bad.

Was that supposed to be funny?

That whole scene in 221B where Henry Knight is telling his story is terrible and jarring. Sherlock makes rapid-fire deductions about Henry's train ride, and I find myself yelling "Shut up!" at him. I hate Sherlock talking fast like that, when there's no reason in the moment for urgency. I don't remember it being this annoying in season 1, but it's become like a schtick now, a performance to show how bored he is with everybody. Why can't he just be excited over the case? Then Henry keeps trying to say "footprints of a gigantic hound" but Sherlock keeps interrupting him. I kept thinking "is this supposed to be funny?" because to me it seemed like Gatiss was ruining the greatest Holmes line ever and wasting valuable minutes of time. Then there's the whole fakeout about whether Sherlock will come to Dartmoor. He keeps saying he's busy and will send John instead. John is confused, then guesses that Sherlock is just being pissy without cigarettes, but Sherlock replies that no, he still won't come, even for cigarettes. Then finally he says he will come. What the fuck, Sherlock? Was that supposed to be funny too? Gatiss is apparently making some in-joke about how in HOUN, Holmes pretended not to go to Dartmoor so that he could investigate alone and hide in a stone hut on the moor. Don't draw attention to it; just have them leave together and stop wasting precious time! The editors should have clipped this scene savagely.

When they get to Dartmoor, there is a nice moment in which a guy who's seen the hound's footprints is named Fletcher, after Bertram Fletcher Robinson, who gave ACD the idea for the demon hound. A nice touch there, but the only nice touch. There's far too many dramatic shots of Sherlock standing on the tor for no reason whatsoever. Then Sherlock and John get into the Baskerville military base using Mycroft's badge, and nobody questions that Sherlock does not look like the picture on the badge. A top secret security base should not be that easy to break into. And this deceit is all for nothing anyway, since Sherlock has to call Mycroft later to get them new ID badges to get inside again. Why didn't you do that the first time? Also, why on earth would Barrymore accept Frankland's word that Sherlock is Mycroft? Sherlock's face does not match Mycroft's badge! Stupid, stupid, stupid! And despite this suspicious incident, we never see Barrymore again, when he should be yelling at them about using the stolen badge before. No, he just accepts their change of name, and even helps Sherlock set up a horrible lab experiment on John. It's really sad that Gatiss started off with Sherlock openly going with John to Dartmoor, erasing the need to deceive him like in the book, yet he inserts a far worse deception in the show.

But to back up a bit, I wondered why Sherlock didn't care that John wandered off on the moor instead of staying with him and Henry. I wondered why John didn't just phone them, if he was lost and needed to get back to them. Sure he was distracted by the headlights, but he of all people ought to remember that Henry is in a fragile state and might need medical attention if he has some hallucination in Dewer's Hollow. Then the fireside scene was strange, with John arguing for a rational explanation of the hound sighting, and Sherlock not being in the least comforted that there might be a reason for what he saw. Instead Sherlock acts mean and tries to prove he's fine by doing another rapid-fire deduction. I hated him at this point, especially because the widow and her son had nothing to do with the Hound investigation. It was not going to be a red herring; it was not going to be anything. Why was Gatiss so intent on wasting time on nonsense? To cap it off, Sherlock hurts John by saying he has no friends, and his apology the next day is spoiled by his deception regarding the sugar in the coffee. Why couldn't he have really apologized and openly told John his theory that they might have been drugged? Why run that horrible experiment? Why not just take the sample of sugar to the Baskerville lab and analyze it for toxins? Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Stapleton and her glow-in-the dark bunnies were even more absurd, since she said she didn't have any scientific, let alone military research, reason to do the experiment. How is she employed? After Holmes's boring mind palace scene, he claims that he must have read of a Liberty, Indiana experiment somewhere, and he searches the Baskerville database for this info. Why would classified information on a CIA experiment be accessible from a UK military research base? Why would a CIA research team name their project after their initials? It's supposed to be top secret, isn't it? Why would they make t-shirts with a logo, name, and their city and state on it? Who in the CIA or any other classified agency, would approve this crap, let alone allow them to pose for pictures in these shirts? And how did Sherlock ever read about this experiment in the first place, to get it into his mind palace? Was he snooping into Mycroft's files? But why does Mycroft have reports about defunct experiments of American agencies? Why would Frankland wear his stupid CIA t-shirt on the night that he goes out into his drugged fog and kills a man? Why would he do that in front of the kid? Where did he hide the body of Henry's father? Did he give Henry the gun to shoot himself with? How would he explain Henry having a gun, since UK gun laws are strict? This is a laughably bad mystery, in every detail. If it's a story about government conspiracy, then there shouldn't be such gross incompetency from the conspirators. I mean, at least in Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, the Loch Ness monster disguise was a plausible way to hide the submarine.

In the book I thought Stapleton's plan had a flaw in how he would claim the inheritance, but that was minor compared to this episode. I can hand-wave some impossible plots away, such as the snake in the Speckled Band, and I went along with the apparently supernatural Blackwood plot in the first Guy Ritchie Holmes movie too. Then I was pleasantly surprised when the black magic stuff was explained away. If you're going to convert a spooky story into something rational, then the rational explanation has to make sense!

The Fall

The last episode was better in terms of plot, and it was proof that the writer could write a better episode than Blind Banker. However, I still hate Jim Moriarty with a passion, so I was never going to like the mindgames he was playing. Destroying Sherlock's reputation was clever, but I really don't understand why he's so obsessed with Sherlock, to the point of being willing to commit suicide. In the books, Moriarty was certainly mad at Holmes for interfering in his crimes, but I always thought that Moriarty had some goal outside of Holmes. That Moriarty wanted to be rich and own expensive paintings like in VALL. That he needed an illegal career because he'd been forced out of his legitimate job as a university professor. I always felt that Moriarty wanted to preserve his organization and the power it gave him. I never thought he'd casually chuck it all away on a suicidal mission to destroy someone that wasn't actively pursuing him. Jim the psycho with the sing-song voice doesn't make sense; you'd think someone in his organization would say, "Hey, if he destroys the business, then I'm out of a job." Why does no one revolt? It's not like Jim inherited his position like a mob boss. Why do they never show a Moran, even when Jim mentions that he ought to get a live-in ordinary person? I'd think most of his insane jealousy and boredom with living would go away if he had a partner like Moran. In comparison, Moriarty's plan for war profiteering in Game of Shadows is far better for his self-interest.

The Sherlock/John scenes were good, though I was annoyed at them being so callous to Molly about her missed lunch date. John can't even say "sorry" for Sherlock, or volunteer to be Sherlock's lab assistant so that Molly can leave? Why does this show insist on humiliating her and making her a mouse? She doesn't even demand an apology before offering to help Sherlock with whatever's making him sad and worried. Later after the arrests, it seemed silly that Sherlock & John were handcuffed to each other instead of cuffed separately. If both of Holmes's hands had been cuffed, he wouldn't have been able to hit that button or grab a gun off an officer. Then there's no mention of their arrest afterward, as if they're not being hunted by the police. When John got the fake phone call about Mrs. Hudson dying, why didn't Sherlock just say that he couldn't come to the hospital, lest the police show up and try to arrest him again? Watson could go because he'd been a "hostage", and could claim he didn't know where Sherlock was. Why would Sherlock need to lie and say he didn't care about Mrs. Hudson? There was no need to be cold there. Also, why would John believe the phone call about Mrs. Hudson, if the paramedic told him to go to Baker Street instead of to a hospital? That was poor writing. Sherlock's sacrifice was touching, but there was far too much Jim that I had to suffer through to get there.

I did enjoy John's words at the grave site. It was the best thing about the season. But overall, it's not enough to make me like the show anymore. It's ruined. In fact, it was on questionable ground even last season. I only loved one episode of season 1, and was lukewarm on the other two. This season I liked none of the episodes. It's pointless for me to continue, so I won't.

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