Brainy is the New Sexy

The second season of Sherlock started airing on PBS tonight, which means that I can expect all of the friends I’ve been mercilessly hounding to watch that show to start calling me and telling me I was right, it’s wonderful, and they should always, always, always listen to what I say.

What? It could happen.

It isn’t even so much that I need to be acknowledged as right (though of course that’s a teensy, eensy part of it), but more that it’s always so much more fun to enjoy the truly quality obsessions of life in the company — albeit virtual company — of others.

I mean, that’s pretty much why God invented Tumblr, am I right?

What’s so insanely great about Sherlock (and you must understand that I am talking about the BBC Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch now) is that it assumes that you are bright enough to follow along.

Seriously. It assumes you are smart.

It’s kind of pathetic that this should come as a new sensation to us television viewers here in the states, but let’s face it. It’s a compliment we’re not often paid. And Sherlock flatters us, my friends, flatters us at every turn.

It’s frankly kind of thrilling, if you want to know the truth.

An optional and entirely parallel series of thrills can be had if you’re at all familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon (by which you must understand I mean the original works by Conan Doyle, as well as various of the more esteemed adaptations). It’s not in any way essential to the full enjoyment of each episode that you get all of the adorable little in-jokes and references and easter eggs that the writers and set designers have strewn throughout the new series.

But if you’re a Sherlock geek, then you’ll get them. And you will more than likely flip right the heck out.

Which is all we ever really want out of our favorite adaptations of our most cherished written works, isn’t it?

It’s not just the thrill of recognition, of seeing your best loved characters spring into new life on the screen. Although that helps.

It’s not just the new spin that different writers, different actors, and even different fandoms will put on your beloved work of fiction. Although that, too, is awesome.

It’s the sudden and startling sense of community that you get when you realize you’re not the only one, not by a long shot, for whom this stuff matters. Matters deeply.

And I ain’t even ashamed.

I’ll admit right now that I was late to the Sherlock game. I only discovered the genius of the original books after I’d accidentally stumbled across the Granada series, in reruns, on PBS, about seven years ago. From the first clip-clop of horses’ hooves in the sepia-toned opening credits, to the wistful little smile Holmes gives at the end, I fell completely, head-over-heels in love.

Jeremy Brett’s Holmes is just perfect, spot-on, unbelievably good. And when I started borrowing the original books from the library, I started noticing how often the series even tried to recreate the original series illustrations, too. They didn’t make a big deal of it, but if you know what scenes are depicted so memorably in those original sketches, then certain scenes in the tv series just leap out at you. Like a mugger. A mugger who is wearing your favorite sweatshirt from high school.

You’re startled, but nostalgic at the same time. And you’re not entirely sure why.

So seven years ago was when I first established my by now well known pattern of recording the whatever episodes of period drama were on offer via the local PBS station, waiting until I knew I reliably had the house to myself, and settling in for a mad little spree. A little Thai food take-out, some Earl Grey tea, and two or three episodes of Sherlock, and I was all set.

And yes, if you had talked to ten-years-ago-me and asked her what she considered a mad little spree to consist of, she would have given you a very different answer.

I prefer now-me, to be perfectly honest. And trust me, so do you.

So I imagine that’s what I’ll do at some point this week, too. I’ll wait, having duly recorded tonight’s new episode (which of course I have already seen but we don’t need to discuss that now), and isolate some evening when I am alone and in need of Thai food and London and a script that assumes, just takes for granted without even considering the alternative, that I’ll be able to keep up.

And I will soak up that flattery like a sponge.

2 Thoughts.

  1. I’ve been looking forward to a new post from you for the past couple of weeks and now you come at me with this! Sherlock…ahh, I could not love your blog more.
    Thai food, Early Grey and Sherlock Holmes sounds divine. I actually haven’t seen the Jeremy Brett version – nor have I read mos of the work (only the first 2 novels) but I’ve been a Sherlockian since I was a young girl so the reading and the watching will definitely happen.
    And it goes without saying that I love BBC Sherlock. Isn’t it brilliant? Love Moffat & Gatiss for it!

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