Saturday, March 01, 2014


I finally got around to watching Sherlock, and the minute I started I couldn't stop. My tween self read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories over and over and over again. So I absolutely geeked out watching the BBC show because it does actually adhere to the central details of the books and the core of the characters.... just with clever modern twists.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are wonderful, of course, as Holmes and Watson, and their relationship playing out is half the fun of watching the show. But more fun, to me, is watching the witty bantering between Sherlock and his brother. Mycroft gets much more airtime in the series than he has appearances in Doyle's books, but it's brilliant.

I can't believe I have to wait until 2016 for Season 4!

So I consoled myself by re-re-re-watching The Great Mouse Detective, another brilliant and hilarious homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's timeless character.

Then, perhaps because I was feeling so inspired by archetypal detectives, I read Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. I watched the Humphrey Bogart movie as a teenager, but the only thing I remember is that I found it rather boring. I don't even remember how it ended.

It was an incredibly fast read, maybe because pulp detective novels aren't intended to be literary beacons that draw in readers with their nuanced sentences and deeply complex character portraits. I could go on longer than necessary about the overtly sexist and patronizing tendencies of private dick Sam Spade (pun intended). But I'll rein in those particular reactions because the book was, after all, written in 1930.

I realize that part of the appeal of noir is that the reader/viewer is in the dark as much as the protagonist, but it was really over-the-top in Falcon. After a few chapters, I was only reading to find out what the hell was going on, because every dialogue and plot development was so excessively mysterious, it was ridiculous. But to give it the benefit of the doubt, maybe it only seemed that way because Falcon solidified the "hard-boiled" detective genre, and in the 80-odd years since it's been published it's defined the formula stereotype to the point where the original seems like a parody of itself.

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