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Sherlock series three, writing round-up, Sherlock Remix
compelling, pushing my buttons, walk the line, intent
Hi, everybody!

I was asked by a friend what I thought of the new series of Sherlock, and it ended up being so long that I thought I might as well post it. I have seen the first two eps of the third series of Sherlock and while some bits have been lovely, I'm really disappointed.

* "The Empty Hearse" solidified the characterization of Sherlock as a complete asswipe - first playing at his disguise and joking about John's mustache, brushing off John's wet-eyed grief, making no rational explanation for why John wasn't told, and, of course, the trick with the bomb at the end. Why does Sherlock need to hear John's "best and wisest man" declaration again when he confesses to having already heard John say it at his grave?. Because he's selfish, and it's not important to him that John truly suffered. It's like a test of loyalty, except that it seems that Sherlock's doing it more out of amusement than any worry or fear that John will walk away for good. Though I did like Mary for the most part, and found the bonfire scene genuinely disturbing.

* I thought "Sign of Three" to be much better, though it also cemented my reasons for being disappointed in the show. The things that bothered me about the episode itself: no Harry, Bill, Mike, squaddies, or Clara at the wedding. Who were all of those people, if Mary said her "side" was sparse? Also, John DOES have an international reputation! - he's Three-Continents Watson! But I loved seeing John loved publicly by Mary and praised publicly by Sherlock for being the very decent, steady, good-hearted man he is both by nature and by training. It makes a difference to so many people that John is around, and I was glad to see that celebrated. (Also, I liked that the resolution - John with beloved wife and child on the way, stating openly that he loves Sherlock and will keep a place for him in his life - was basically what I wrote in "Picardy Third.") Plus, the soldier that John saved was incredibly beautiful.

* Here's what has disappointed me - that the writers are not doing any of the work that fic writers have done. Fic writers worked with what we had, followed things through to their natural conclusions, and had considered the consequences of all of the actions we'd been shown in series 2. The writing team for Sherlock apparently did not, which is becoming a pattern (getting John and Sherlock out of the pool with the "Staying Alive" call was bad enough, but then we have this series, which has taken ignorance of its own crises to a new low). It's actually not even ignorance, it's cherrypicking, which pisses me off even more. Lestrade says that Anderson and Donovan caused Sherlock's death, but then we open "Sign" with Sally having an easy, professional (possibly flirtatious?) rapport with Lestrade. Now, I adore Sally and was glad to see her, but how has she not had any consequences to deal with? Where is Kitty Riley? How much time has passed between TEH and SOT, that after that horrible train-bomb trick, John can not only unequivocally state that Sherlock is his best friend but that he loves him? (Note that this is not helped by some confusion within the show - the invitation gives the wedding date as 18 May, but John's blog seems to put it in August - WHAT ARE YOU DOING, SHOW.) I just can't shake the feeling that the writers saw the corners they'd painted themselves into and said, "Ugh, I don't want to do any of the work - I just want to write the good parts!" The Sherlock/Moriarty kiss in "Empty" made me SO ANGRY not because it was mocking fandom - though it was - but because Sherlock and Moriarty were so gleeful, pulling their strings while John was being tricked into his heart's death. That's what it is - the whole thing felt cheap.

I liked Amanda Abbington very much. Lestrade has done nothing for me in this series. I can't tell who to blame for Sherlock - if it's Cumberbatch overacting, if the writing is just ridiculously tone-deaf, or what - but he genuinely cannot hold my interest. It's only Martin Freeman and his John Watson that I'm watching for, and to be totally honest, his decision to forgive Sherlock for the train trick shook me badly, but in all other things, he remains the one I'm watching for and loving.


Because I'm so behind on everything, I still have two lists to put up: my 2013 writing round-up and my July-December theater excursions. I can only do one tonight, so it's going to be the former.

Double Cherry: Elementary/Twelfth Night (Porn Battle)
First Sip: Cold Comfort Farm (Porn Battle)
Diamond Life: Daniel Craig James Bond films ([profile] picfor1000)
This Old House: Elementary (birthday)
not a damn thing posted
Chips and Sweets: Sherlock
Amphibians: Jane Austen's Persuasion/Sherlock (gift)
Redrawing the Maps (the Handle This Remix): Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Immediate Assignment: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Clerestory: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Admissions: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Together in This Place: Sherlock (Sherlock Remix)
Pepperwood's a Snappy Dresser: Pushing Daisies/New Girl ([community profile] intoabar)
Picardy Third: Sherlock
This Must Be the Place: New Girl
Cornstarch and Coconut: Middleman (birthday)
Teach Me How I Should Forget To Think: New Girl (Help Syria)
Countdown: New Girl
The Same Bit of Carpet: The Office (UK) (birthday)
Dressing Up, Dressing Down: New Girl (birthday)
Answered with a Question Mark: Sherlock
Compromising Positions: Elementary (Holmestice)
Totally Nectar: New Girl (Yuletide)
Doilies All the Way Down: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Yuletide)
Like honey dripping to a waiting mouth: Goblin Market (Yuletide)
What's Good for the Goose: Better Off Ted (Yuletide)

I was surprisingly productive this year, and I had a wonderful time writing. After so many fallow periods, it feels undeniably great to be in the swing of things, and I let myself be adventurous, trying new fandoms and new ways of telling stories. I tried a poem, for the first time in way too long ("Like honey dripping to a waiting mouth"). I wrote (half) a story entirely in 221Bs ("Answered with a Question Mark"). I wrote in a fandom I knew very little of, despite a lot of canon material being available ("Diamond Life"). I posted some totally off-the-cuff fics ("What's Good for the Goose" & "First Sip"). I wrote several stories for a single new-to-me fandom, New Girl. I wrote a lot more fusions and crossovers than before, including one that seemed to be a hit not just with its intended recipient ("Amphibians"); people really like head-casting Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Jane Austen adaptations, I guess. I continued one of my Sherlock series, the String of Pearls series ("Chips and Sweets"), and hope to write more of it in 2014. And nearly three years after I began it, I finished my Elastic Heart series, which clocked in at 176,393 words, according to AO3. I think it's the best thing I've written, particularly the last story, "Picardy Third."

What did I learn about myself and my writing in 2013? That I should take chances more often and let myself be adventurous. That I should write what's clamoring to be written and be surprised what shows up on the screen. That I love the work of writing original characters, and that putting them into fannish contexts, interacting with fandom characters, hits my sweet spot. That I shouldn't be afraid of writing something that has the same summary (say, post-Reichenbach musings) as umpteen other fics by other authors - we're all going to do it differently, and that's great. After all, I do love to read.


Also on the Sherlock tip: I've gotten a few pokes asking about whether there will be another round of sherlock_remix. Chime in if you like - I haven't made any decisions yet.


I hope you're all having a wonderful 2014 so far! Long may it continue!

This same entry also appears on Dreamwidth, at http://innie-darling.dreamwidth.org/434833.html.

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I've been away from LJ for so long, and I basically came back just to see if others were feeling equally disappointed with this season. So I'm nodding my head with everything you've written here, and I tend to agree that it's laziness on the writers' part. But on a more positive note, hooray! Someone else who is invested in Martin Freeman's John Watson above all else! At least if there's one thing I know will never disappoint me, it's Martin's acting. :)

Because Martin is amazing and doesn't have to jump up and down to get us to notice. :)


I had some unorganized thoughts about the first one in my LJ, don't know if you saw, but overall I was sort of surprised that there were little things I liked when the MAIN THING, the JOHN thing, was so badly handled.

"Sign" really disappointed me because it was sort of one, long boring Sherlock-centric piece, written for no other reason than to show off Benedict Cumberbatch. (Matt Smith has given many similar speeches in Doctor Who -- Moffat, I can see your underwear, mate).

And I'm not feeling the love between Sherlock and John because how can John so readily forgive not just the fake death, but the fake bomb?

I sort of loved the Sherlock/Moriarty scene because it was so crazy and I adored The Empty Hearse club, with Anderson as president, even as I loathe Moffat's derision of his fanbase. Where is Lestrade, FFS?

I feel that this third ep will only serve up more of the same and set up the next massive cliffhanger, when I'm not even remotely satisfied with the resolution of Reichenbach. *hmph*

YES - walk before you run, give us a decent response to TRF before you prance ahead with a series 3 cliffhanger you just pulled out of your ass!

I did see your post, belatedly, and these three points in particular just made me say WORD:
- Ugh, Mary why are YOU being such a dick? John needs your support right now, and you're all suggestive and stuff. If John says he's not gay, someone SOMEONE needs to take him at face value.
- Lame that John ceases to be interested in his valuable work just because of Sherlock - because taking care of people's illnesses is inherently boring and vile?
- THE FURTHER MANIPULATION OF JOHN'S EMOTIONS. TERRIBLE, INEXCUSABLE AND I NO LONGER RESPECT JOHN. I mean, how much further can you take a joke in a life or death situation? With someone who you know suffers from PTSD?

John has his own life, and it COUNTS, and it shouldn't be just a placeholder until Sherlock comes back! Also, the "I'm not gay!" thing that's being read as internalized homophobia or denial or whatever - I think it's just John being sick and tired of people assuming they know him better than he knows himself. I certainly would be - hell, I am, when people tell me that I'm only single because I haven't met the right guy. No, I'm single because I like being by myself, and I don't like who I am when I'm a girlfriend.

That Moriarty scene - that should have been a DVD extra, not something that made it into the show. It just got me even more riled up at Sherlock, though it clearly wasn't meant to be an actual solution as to how he did it.

I think by the start of TEH Sherlock had regressed due to being alone for two years, but did you notice how nervous he was as soon as he actually saw John in the restaurant? The disguise was a on-the-spot decision, something to give him a little buffer, if you will, and as soon as John saw him, Sherlock was completely out of his depth. He doesn't do emotions, or not very well, so he tried deflecting with humour - ill-conceived as it was - I guess partially because he and John always were able to laugh at inappropriate stuff.

And the thing with the bomb - I think until he went into his mind palace, he honestly didn't know/remember how to diffuse it, and thought they would die. He also knew that John wasn't good at expressing feelings, and that there were still things that he needed to say to Sherlock - and what better opportunity than when you think you'll die? So after he'd turned it off, he acted as if the bomb was still a threat. I don't think he was aiming for the "best and wisest" speech per se, but just provided a space for whatever John needed to get off his chest. And I guess on some level John realized that, hence him laughing along with Sherlock in the end.

The Moriarty/Sherlock bit was rather ridiculous, but I didn't feel it was maliciously making fun of fans, more like a friendly wink and nudge to the fandom and the copious amounts of slash that's out there. The Empty Hearse Club with Anderson, of all people, leading it... Ha!

I really liked the episodes so far (not saying they're flawless*, but the sometimes extremely negative reactions by some fans honestly baffle me), and still love both Sherlock and John, and Mary is awesome! I expect HLV, in contrast, to be rather dark, and not boding well for Mary+1...

*The date discrepancy between wedding invitation and blog, as well as no hint of what the consequences were for Sally irk me too.

I agree with you: I think that Sherlock had gone backwards a bit and was desperately trying to deny both John's grief and his own sense of guilt, and that led to very bad behavior. I don't excuse it, but I can understand it.

It's kind of a relief to see someone else being disappointed in the show for the same reasons I am! Because, yes, the consequences thing bothers me greatly. I feel like the show veers into crack/fluff/ID-fic land without warning so often, I feel the need for a neck brace and for me that just makes all the stakes so low. I hope we'll have an unexpected return to reality/consequences land on Sunday but I'm not really holding my breath.

Yes, exactly. For all the delighted "they filmed fanfic!" reactions I've seen in the mainstream press and fannish circles, I haven't seen many people say, "But that's unsatisfying. Fanfic is one thing, and the show's another." There's no end to the things I'd like them to film, but that doesn't mean that I want to see random snippets that add up to 90 minutes presented as an episode. Low stakes indeed.

I'm sorry you haven't enjoyed it as much as I have. I have to say that I think keeping my expectations terribly low helped tremendously. I was convinced they were going to botch both episodes, and I didn't feel that they did, although I understand your reasons for feeling that they mishandled them.

I would certainly like to have known that a good bit of time passed between Sherlock using the bomb to get John to forgive him and John asking him to be the best man. In my mind, it's several weeks, at least.

I mean, if we go by the dates of events, then it's November for "Empty" and either May or August for "Sign," right? That's enough time for Sherlock to have made some amends and for John, possibly egged on by Mary, to have forgiven him. Just SHOW YOUR WORK, SHOW. Give us those moments of repentance and regret and joy. Give us the reason that Sherlock and John can declare their love for each other.

I find it hard to keep my expectations down when Martin Freeman's involved. Though he doesn't have the best track record of picking projects, his contributions have never disappointed me.

Edited at 2014-01-12 02:37 am (UTC)

My reactions to the two episodes were similar to yours. The Empty Hearse did nothing for me at all - by the time they were at the bonfire I was making health & safety observations - clearly not caught up in the plot. I enjoyed The Sign of Three, but I have tried not to analyse it afterwards, because no doubt I could drive a bus through the story. And the lack of consequences following the Fall is a big problem. I was not convinced about Sherlock's survival story, too many holes and why jump if the snipers were already taken out? And you're right about Sally and Lestrade working together, why haven't they been put on different teams?

It's the arrogance of the hand-waving that really gets to me, honestly - the whole attitude of not needing to clean up the messes created by series 2 before getting to "the good stuff" in series 3. That's not how it works!

At this point, I'm watching just to see Martin Freeman astonish me once more.

Just wanted to say I'm also disappointed. Empty Hearse made me think Sherlock was a terrible friend (the lack of reason for his silence plus the train scene were crushing), then Sign of Three was a lot more fun because suddenly he was an inexplicably great friend. But I took it and enjoyed it despite the emotional whiplash. Like you, John has always been my favorite, but I think I like Cumberbatch more than you do as Sherlock.

Then this last episode disappointed and angered me further. I won't say anything specific in case you haven't seen it yet. But in general I felt like the writers this season vastly miscalculated what my emotional responses would be to their scenarios, and had several characters cross over lines that I could not forgive them for. I haven't actually been this angry about a TV show in quite a while :/ Still, silver linings did abound. Each episode had at least a few lovely moments in it.

Sigh. Well, back to the fanfic.

I wanted to watch the last ep before responding to you, and now I have, so.

I'm sorry you were disappointed too; I think your feeling of the writers having crucially misjudged the feelings of (some portion at least of) the audience is exactly right. There were so many things that were clearly meant to be read as charming or funny or forgivable, and none of them worked as intended, and though most of that is due to the writing, some of it has to be put down to the acting.

I think Benedict Cumberbatch is a very good actor, but that he's most effective when he's subtle, which is not a strength of this writing team (see also Mark Gatiss's statement that Martin Freeman cuts some of his own lines by simply acting wordlessly, which Gatiss is smart and just enough to recognize as an improvement). I feel that Gatiss and Moffat write Sherlock very broadly, giving Cumberbatch the opportunity to peacock through scenes, and he takes them. It leaves me cold. And the structure of the show is not helping them out here; I just read something positing that with only three episodes a season (however long each ep is), there's no room for a day-in-the-life type of episode, where we get to see Sherlock and John in their down time, which would go far toward humanizing Sherlock and giving Cumberbatch's performance some quieter notes and a solid underpinning.

As for Mary . . .
Well, I'm glad they didn't go the route of killing her off. I'm beyond surprised she's still carrying the baby at the end of the season. I thought John's speech to her was lovely, though I'm not quite sure I buy it yet (not to mention the theory I've seen floating around that the drive he threw in the fire wasn't the one she'd given him). I think it's interesting to reconsider her in terms of what we learn about her in "Vow," and I absolutely don't understand the criticism that her background is all about John and Sherlock again (that it becomes about their forgiveness of her rather than the past she's lived through).

I thought the end of "Vow" - the ending of Magnusson - was terrible all around, and that the big surprise was one of the worst decisions the writers could have made. As alizarin_nyc intimated, I don't feel like there's anything there to want to write about. I hope you get your fanfic fixes - the only thing I'd want to write about after this season is Mary and John.

This is why I should never get behind on my flist: YOU WROTE BETTER OFF TED AND I DIDN'T REALIZE. Not that the other stuff was bad, you know, just. Better Off Ted.

I would be up for Sherlock remix, and suspect I still will be if I don't like the new series...usually I'm all the more motivated to write, heh.

I know what you mean - I ADORED Better Off Ted! I hope you enjoy the story!

And thanks for weighing in on the Sherlock Remix question. I want to wait for the US airings to finish before springing the question, plus I have some scheduling of my own to figure out.

Fic writers worked with what we had, followed things through to their natural conclusions, and had considered the consequences of all of the actions we'd been shown in series 2. The writing team for Sherlock apparently did not, which is becoming a pattern (getting John and Sherlock out of the pool with the "Staying Alive" call was bad enough, but then we have this series, which has taken ignorance of its own crises to a new low). It's actually not even ignorance, it's cherrypicking, which pisses me off even more.

OH MY GOD do I agree with you. It's infuriating. So many stunning stories, cleverly plotted, loving characterization, beautiful writing -- and the professionals give us this. Jesus. THANK YOU for posting this.

I really find it enormously frustrating that with the time and budget and everything that the official team had on their side, they still turned in such sloppy work. There's no reset button, guys! If you spend the two years between seasons telling us to think of ways that Sherlock could have survived, make us keenly aware of his instant notoriety, and generally paint a very grim picture of what his and John's lives will look like after the fall, then HONOR that!

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