Tag Archive: sherlock


Sherlocking London

We just spent four days touring London with a bit of a twist. As many of you might know, I’m a fan, and have been looking forward to exploring the city memorably serving as a backdrop to the famous detective. Even though most of BBC Sherlock was shot in Cardiff, many exterior shots were filmed in London. So we visited most of them and some of the ACD canon locations as well.

As a base, we used this free Sherlock Holmes tour:

If you want to know more about the locations, Sherlockology has a pretty swell list.

Lots of gratuitious selfies ahead, so stop reading now if you’re not into stupidly happy people. Consider yourself warned.

Sunday 

We arrived at Heathrow at an ungodly hour and had to have a kip once we checked into our hotel. In the evening, we started the tour at Picadilly Circus.

picadilly

This location is at the beginning for two reasons: It’s in the opening title of the BBC show as an iconic London landmark. In ‘A study in Scarlet’ Watson meets his friend Stamford at the Criterion. Over dinner he tells him that Sherlock is looking for a roommate. The Criterion is very beautiful:

crit_photo

We were a bit underdressed but had some kick-ass martinis and ogled the gold ceiling (Thias had Tiramisu and I’m holding a surprisingly delicious Chili and Passionfruit concoction).

criterion-lene

After that, we met up with a friend and went to metal pub in Camden. Talk about contrast.

Monday

On Monday we had a Full English at Speedy’s Café. Best coffee I had in London so far.

speedys

And of course, a gratuitious picture in front of “221b”.

221b-north-gower

While scanning for free wifi I found this little gimmick:

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Hilarious!

Then we adjourned to the real 221b Baker Street. Emerging from the tube, you bump into the Sherlock Holmes statue.

sherlock-statue

There is a little QR code you can scan as a part of the talking statues art project. He wishes he was facing the other way because it’s so boring. Also he misses Watson at his side. So sad.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum at 221b Baker Street was expensive (15PS) but nice nonetheless. The first thing you notice when you enter is the intense smell, lemongrass oil. I wonder why they burn it, maybe the whole place reeks? It is rather old.

incense.jpg

Obligatory picture in the study, pipe, hat, the whole shebang.

museum.jpg

Behold the Hound and the mostly Chinese fan mail he boldly protects.

hound.jpg

After that we had stroll around Regent’s park to catch a break from all the belligerent tourists with their stupid selfie sticks. I was too ashamed to be photographed outside the museum wearing a deerstalker. I just couldn’t do it. It’s just an ear hat, anyway.

In the afternoon, we drove out to St. Barts.

barts

Sherlock jumped off the roof here. For the record, I still don’t believe Moriarty is really dead. If Sherlock can fake it, so can he.

barts-outside

Sherlock left quite the “impact”, there was this where he landed on the pavement.

barts-baustelle

If you zoom in closely, you can see the fan grafitti. Seems to be sort of a pilgrimage thing. The pathology wing is not in active use anymore, so tons of people wrote in the dirt on the windows.

fan mail.jpg

Speaking of fan fiction and various *locks, it might have made me chuckle just a tiny bit what kind of street is located exactly opposite the wing.

cock-lane

We had a Sherlock-and-Molly-appropriate lunch at Barts (without any corpses).

chips-lunch-barts

Next up was Tower 42, used as the bank in “The Blind Banker”. Exterior shot:

tower-42-outside

Interior shot. Managed to sneak a quick picture in the lobby. As if I was going to rob them. Or am I?

tower-42-inside

Mike Stamford and John Watson meet in Russell Square Garden in the new series. They’re still drinking Criterion coffee as a nod toward the original meeting place.

russell-square

After all that walking around we thought “Let’s have dinner!” and went to Angelo’s. Or rather, Tapas Brindisa in Soho. They redecorated a bit since filming ‘A Study in Pink’, but the hanging lights are still there.

brindisa-inside

Need a cab?

brindisa-outside

Tuesday

We started at the South Bank and systematically worked our way to Belgravia.The South Bank is basically all of ‘The Blind Banker’.

OXO Tower Wharf is where they find the murdered museum security guard. Fortunately, it was low tide, so we could descend to the shore.

oxo-wharf

Next up was the skate park where they find the code fragments.

skate-park

Waterloo Bridge (where Sherlock meets a representative of the Homeless network) is also there, but it was a bit dangerous on the other side.

Trafalgar Square.

trafalgar-square

The Diogenes Club aka the British Academy.

diogenes

St. James Park, on our way to solve the attempted murder at the Wellington Barracks.

st-james

Observing Wellington Barracks.

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wellington-1

For reference: ‘The Sign of Three’

bank-wellington

wellington-3

My Watson is not in the picture because he’s obviously taking it.

New Scotland Yard. Hi, Greg.

scotland-yard

44 Eaton Square. Hi, Irene.

eaton-square

In the evening, we paid a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Pub near Trafalgar Square.

sh-pub

I had Mrs Hudson’s Ale Pie and the local Sherlock Holmes brew. Couldn’t move after, so good.

There is a study you can peak into.

sh-pub-2

Little details in decoration.

pub-3

After dinner, we went for a stroll along the shore again.

Hungerford Bridge by night.

hungerford-bridge

big-ben

Wednesday

In the morning we visited the Natural History Museum, which in the late 19th century was still called the British Museum where Sherlock Holmes went for his research occasionally. Lots of dinosaurs and dead things.

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Postcards home! Can you decipher it?

postcard

Flying home in the evening. Bye, London.

bye-london

 

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Sherlock armchairs

You see beneath one of the most chaotic but also charming living rooms. Just noticing small things in this carefully designed set will make for interesting discoveries.

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Among other little things, it’s fascinating to see how the arm chairs represent the characters. John’s chair is to the left: It has soft red colors and is well equipped with a tartan blanket and pillows. Implicitly: Comfort, security, the country (I think at one point I remember a Union Jack pillow being there). Sherlock’s chair is black leather and steel, all business and aloof. It barely touches the floor. Also, it’s expensive (Le Corbusier) and treated rather carelessly. Symbolism, anyone?

I bet you could write a paper about who sits where and what this means. For example, the only time Sherlock sits in John’s chair is when Moriarty visits the flat. After Reichenbach, Sherlock’s chair becomes a placeholder for the missing character. Others noticed this.

For die hard fans, they’re making an LC3 Corbusier for sale now.

(Don’t ask why that particular line of research happened, please. I am very happy with my battered sofa, and not thinking of replacing it, thank you.)

The ‘New’ Nerdism?

I get the feeling that mainstream culture has become more friendly towards nerds lately. What is a nerd? Since when does nerdism make for a ‘good story’? What are the character constellations? And why do you still love them?

What is a nerd?

Wikipedia sez:

Nerd (adjective: nerdy) is a descriptive term, often used pejoratively, indicating that a person is overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities.“

Urban dictionary sez:

„An ‘individual’, i.e. a person who does not conform to society’s beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obesssion with a given subject, usually computers. Unfortunately, nerds seem to have problems breeding, to the detriment of mankind as a whole.“

I guess the term has been thrown around a lot, but whatever the specifics, the common nerdy traits are a) intelligence and/or extraordinary skill/knowledge in one or a few areas and b) social ineptitude.

Previously on … Nerds

In antiquity, in the late Middle ages and early renaissance there are various comedies which explore the world of academia. Of course, at this time, the word nerd didn’t exist, but you see, the topic is not new. I guess the german term I know (Gelehrtenkomödie) translates to „scholar comedy“. One example I read by accident, called „Melancholicus“ by Christian Bachmann.

The main character displays, among others, bad traits such as avarice, jealousy, vanity, (generally not great features to have), paranoia, hypochondria and social phobia. He has poor understanding of the world in general but great knowledge in specific areas (in this case, astronomy). He is contrasted by other, ‘normal’ figures, e.g. his wife. The comedies of this time want to display a bunch of bad character traits and ridicule them. There is a didactic effect: „Listen here, folks, this is how you don’t do it!“

The Shel-lock Syndrome

Zapping to modern times. Some factors have stayed the same. Famous nerds on TV right now are e.g. Sheldon Cooper from the sitcom „The Big Bang Theory“ or Sherlock Holmes („Sherlock“).

by Chelsi Wagner (devianart)

In their respective series, it’s a constant struggle between social norms and science. Again, both characters have poor understanding of the world or society in general but great knowledge in specific areas (physics, detective skills). They too are contrasted by other figures that the audience can identify with. They have no exceptional skills (Penny, John Watson) but are accepted members of society and know how to navigate social norms. This makes for countless situations of comic relief. Nerds have different goals in life: they want to solve problems, they want to be scientifically successful. ‘Normal’ peoples’ goals usually prioritize „having a good time“, which includes being a recognized part of society, being loved by others or one significant other. Thinks the nerd: This is not my priority so I won’t skill it (maybe displaying a bit of nerdism here myself). Although they want acceptance, too, but on a different, not-everyday level; they want their work to be recognized and be admired by the people who can actually understand and value what they are doing. Vanity: check.

The lovable sociopath

What is the difference between a sociopath that you can still deem adorable and laugh about and a sociopath that you hate? The nerd who is only interested in his or her thing doesn’t care about peoples’ feeling because they are irrelevant. But they don’t disregard or hurt people because they want to, but because they simply don’t know how ‘normal’ people deal with other ‘normal’ people. So each time a boundary is overstepped, someone is insulted or someone gets hurt by their inobservance of social conventions, the audience sort of understands. You might say „god, what an utter arsehole“, but what you mean „this person behaves like an arsehole“. You wouldn’t hold it against them because you still think they might learn how to deal with the situation in question appropriately. You respect them for their skills, which might mean nothing to you personally, but dedication and intelligence are generally positive attributes, and you adore them for trying to navigate uncharted territory when they try to ‘fit in’. In short, you forgive them their mistakes because you believe they can do better. It’s a variation on the „Only I can fix him“ trope.

Worth a tale

The pattern is: friends and family try to integrate the nerd into society as they think would be right, but expectations differ, often hilariously. This display does not serve a didactic purpose, but it still sets the dynamics for a story between characters of different worlds, so to speak, and makes for good entertainment. It seems to be extremely popular at the moment. Maybe I’ll write about tv displays of OCD next, because that’s going through the roof, too.

The Desolation of Cinema

I couldn’t get any sleep last night until I had written the first draft of this article. At times like these I feel a little sorry that the scifi zine I used to write for ceased to be some years ago. R.I.P. e!Scope (hi, Jörn!). At least there we had an audience of ~3,000 people who could probably have been understanding readers for the rant that is to follow. Now it’s just another blogger ranting away. Why, you ask? Well, because I just saw “The Hobbit 2 – The Desolation of Smaug”.

Ennor, bâr nîn (Middle Earth, my home)

A bit of my background with “Lord of the Rings”. There were two worlds which I adored since I was old enough to appreciate Scifi and fantasy, “Star Wars” and Middle Earth. “The Hobbit” was a gift from my mother when I was nine years old, I was supposedly “too young” for the “Lord of the Rings”, which I read shortly thereafter. And yes, the first volume was a bit harsh for an 11-year-old impatient girl, but I made it through and Tolkien has been one of my favorites ever since. When I was thirteen, I learned Sindarin online and communicated in Elvish, we had a regular vocabulary of around 600 words. The site we used is still online btw. My online alias which I still use today, Thiliel, is inspired by Sindarin as well. It is a translation of my European name and means “The Shining One”. My love for Tolkien came to a peak when the “Lord of the Rings” movies came out since 2001. Yes, they are an interpretation, but rather a good one. Especially the Elves were portrayed in a more somber, haughty nature, the original gaiety, singing and rhyming which is paramount in Tolkien’s fiction was replaced by the elegant, noble Elven folk. Again, an interpretation, but one I could and can live with. It is not mine, but at least it is consistent.

“The Hobbit 1”

Let’s skip a bit ahead in time. The year is 2012. I have played two Lord of the Rings-campaigns with my roleplaying group in anticipation of the movie that is eagerly expected by Tolkien-afficionados around the world: The Hobbit! I have re-read the book two times already.

I left the theater with mixed feelings a year ago. Peter Jackson still had enough credit with me that I would trust him to make a decent movie out of this material, because he had proven himself worthy before. Now, I wasn’t so sure. Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Ian McKellen were excellent choices for the characters. Also Lee Pace as Thranduil was a pleasant surprise, although Luke Evans looks so much like Orlando Bloom he would have been the obvious choice. Nevermind. The dwarves I could live with. Not my interpretation, but acceptable in a way. What really stung with me though was Radagast. That’s an interpretation I can’t live with. Unnecessary slapstick; check. Fecal humor; check. Cowardly behavior; check. Bunny waggon – wtf? Jar Jar Binks Alert!

Now let’s get down to business. I think I have at length expressed that I don’t criticize just for the hell of it, but I’m a genuine fan and have always been greatly inspired by Lord of the Rings. I know a lot of work has gone into making the “Desolation” and it shows; some aspects like the visuals, costumes and concept art hold their ground. Especially the scenes in Erebor and Esgaroth were convincingly made. Mirkwood wasn’t half bad either.

But there are just so many things that make me go to bed angry.

Picture by Irise on deviant art

The Carrock

First off, Beorn. They are making three  movies out of one relatively short book. There’s a lot of stretching and plot-threading going on. Nevertheless, they cut one of the funniest scenes in the whole Hobbit down to some wild escape and like two minutes of meaningless conversation. Why can’t they take the time to tell this like it’s meant to be but add action, action, action and a love story (more about THAT later!). The dwarves still have a funny potential and weren’t completely fun-neutered like the elves. So why not make the best of these adorable scenes? Who doesn’t remember the way grumpy Beorn has to be carefully prepared for guests? (We have tons of CGI at hand, would a few animals serving the food at Beorn’s house have been so much effort? I still understand why they left his one out though, they cut Tom Bombadil as well in LOTR.) And last but not least – why the bloody hell would Beorn build a house in which he cannot stand up straight? He is huge, the audience gets that without any Gandalfy headbumping.

The Womenfolk

Secondly, Tauriel. I don’t even have words. I kept thinking of “The TV Set”  as I watched this horrible romance unfold. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s worth it. It tells the story of a writer who runs a pilot for a series, but the channel directors and consumer research force him to alter his script in so many ways that he’d rather die of embarrassment than let this misogynist fart-humor monster that his show has become air on television. For evaluation, the test audience are given controls with which they indicate throughout the pilot what they like and don’t like. It comes as it has to. Sex sells. We all know it.

Let me tell you a bit about elves. Elves in romantic contexts are rare in that universe. Interracial relationships are a once in a millennium exception (Beren & Luthien, Arwen & Aragorn). How likely is it for an approximately 700-year-old Elven woman to have feelings for a little dwarf, who has the lifespan of a gnat, that go anything beyond pity?  Whose peoples have been  not friendly with each other for centuries? The ‘couple’ gets more screen time than Bilbo! And then the healing… blegh! Of course, it’s Arthelas. Does anyone except me smell a best of Galadriel and Arwen cook-up?

“Hmm, let’s see, we have to insert some kind of fair Elven maiden here. She should be really sexy, possess exceptional healing powers and a halo, fall in love with a member of another race… and of course, we’ve had blonde and a brunette already, let’s have a redhead for a change so we have covered all young adult porn categories!”
The only explanation for the character Tauriel is this: The “Star Wars Episode II” phenomenon. There has to be love involved. Even if it derails the story completely. Padme & Anakin 4eva ❤ ❤

 WhoooaooooOOOWhoooa!

“What place does 3D have in a serious tool show?” Just an example for all the action and blam blam poing. It’s okay if Legolas does a stunt in, let’s say, in  a clash of armies once or twice. Good for a laugh, let’s move on. But this Elven Killing Machine Ninja thing is really starting to annoy me. All the things that were kept under control in LOTR seem to get completely out of hand here.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cogwheels. So the part inside the Erebor was pretty cool as a visual fireworks. Skyrim, anyone? Dwarven architecture rocks. Still, what does it have to do with “The Hobbit”? Smaug was a good dragon even if they have to put Cumberbatch in everything nowadays. I could live with this kind of furor in say, “Indiana Jones” minus Shia La Beouf. It’s just there for the sake of WhoooaoooWhooa! “Badabing, you’re scared half to death.” (Tim Allen)

The Desolation of Cinema

What am I going to the cinema for? If I want a ride in a rollercoaster, I’ll go to an amusement park. If I want to almost drown in a river, I’ll go whitewater rafting. If I want to scratch a kinky itch and experience a tete-á-tete between a dwarf and an elf, I’ll go read fan fiction on fanfiction.net or something – and it will probably be better written.

And what for? More money? Better ratings? Awards? The real LOTR-fans might think of this like me. It almost borders on desecration. I am seriously disappointed. So it’s not a movie for the fans.
The average non-fantasy-nerd consumer however will probably appreciate the movie up to a certain point. But we have also reached the time where all the movies of this production size sort of blend in together. It’s just one giant omnium gatherum of the same old formula, boy meets girl, boy fights robots/orcs/own people, becomes king/leader/marries/saves the world. That’s okay, in a way we expect blockbuster movies to be like that. Or at least we have come to accept them this way, mostly. But recently, you can’t even distinguish which  Pocahontas revamp you are watching – “Indiana Jones”, “Lord of the Rings”, “Star War”s, “Star Trek”, you name it… So the average consumer will be left with nothing discernible at the end of this movie except with “Oh yeah, dude, it was so cool when x / y did that stunt with the x / x”, except it’s dwarves now, not jedis.

What is it good for?
So why make this movie at all? As a fan, I am severely disappointed. I watch the worlds of my childhood and teenage imagination get trampled on. Over and over. Another franchise is down. As an average non-nerd consumer, I still feel punked and cheated. Should have stayed home and watched Avatar or whatever!
Who are you making movies for, guys?

Official promotional poster

And having watched “The TV Set” I might even be understanding of what the evil overseer made you do to your creative child and have you paint a clown mask and tits on it. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Update: TolkienEditor has recut the three movies into one film, 4,5 hours long. He has thrown out all “unengaging plot tangents and constant narrative filibustering”, and created a version that’s actually watchable. The story mainly focuses on Bilbo, as in the original book, and all the annoying crap isn’t as annoying.

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