First post of the New Year, if you believe in the notion of Time that is, which I don’t. 2017 is just a number; the same as 56 (the age I’m soon to be) is just a number – well, that’s how I prefer to think of the fact that I’m soon to be on the wrong side of middle-age. The years are numbered but that doesn’t disguise the fact that we’re all just turning endlessly (and mostly aimlessly) around on a gigantic rock within a gigantic black void; until something cataclysmic happens that is and everything goes to pot, which brings me back to Sherlock.
The Six Thatchers ended with the shocking demise of Mary Watson (or Rosamund as she was known in a previous secret assassin-type life.) Is it just me (mostly rhetorical question) or do we really believe that somebody who looks like Amanda Abbington (she of the Malteaser adverts) would ever, in this world or any other, turn out to be an actual assassin? Although… I think she was some kind of government sanctioned assassin, which makes it all alright then doesn’t it? Makes her more like a female Bond, who worked with three other Bond types, one of whom was hell bent on revenge. So we don’t have to worry too much that the mother of John Watson’s tiny sprog was actually a mercenary murderer (too much alliteration) being that it was all very British and above board.
The Daily Mail TV critic, in his infinite tabloid wisdom, saw fit to berate the Evil BBC, and its leftie leanings, for its cruel smashing to bits of the likeness of Margaret Thatcher, forgetting that Gatiss was referencing an original Holmes’ story involving a bloke who went about shattering busts of Napoleon. True, Napoleon was a dictator and maybe Gatiss thinks Thatcher was a dictatoress(?) – the lefties always call her Thatcher, and Gatiss upped the anti-Thatcher feeling by pretending that Sherlock didn’t even know who she was – Oh, how the mighty Tory has fallen. Perhaps the Sherlock crew believe Maggie should probably have had her real head smashed in – but let’s give Gatiss the benefit of the doubt. Maybe, in going for a politician from years ago, Gatiss was steering clear of immersing himself in present day politics.
Anyway, it became a moot point that tiny Rosamund mark II’s mother had a propensity to weild a gun whilst dressed all in black, because Messrs Gatiss and Moffat decided to knock her off on New Year’s Day. They gave her a moment of glorious, unselfish heroism (to make up for all that assassination business) by shoving her in front of a bemused Sherlock, who was on the point of receiving a bullet via Vivian Norbury, the looney secretary. Sherlock now wants us to shout out NORBURY every time he gets a bit up himself (in the manner of your best pantomime; I’m looking forward to it) as a reminder that our sleuthing hero is in fact very flawed indeed. So brought down a peg or two is our Sherlock that he’s now seeing a counsellor in a desperate attempt to understand how he managed to COCK UP in such a spectacular fashion that he got his best friend’s wife killed.
Wondering why Amanda Abbington found herself in an epic death scene led me to Google Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington, whereupon I found that they secretly split up just 2 weeks before filming began. Martin and Amanda have been a live-in couple for 16 years, with two kids, but recently decided that their relationship must come to an end – something to do with Martin Freeman’s career taking off in the States – Oh, the price of fame. Gatiss and Moffat were probably going to kill off Mary anyway but you can’t help thinking that it came at an opportune time, just when the two actors involved in a happy, happy marriage on screen have gone their separate ways in real, actual life – awkward.
Martin Freeman has let himself go alarmingly grey which made him look about 84, which also made the flirting on a bus with a long haired, too-old-to-be-a-hippy-but-is-clinging-on-anyway, woman sitting on the seat opposite, a bit difficult to believe. Would you make eyes at hangdog featured Martin Freeman if he wasn’t a telly star? For reasons not fully explained, the joyous arrival of a Watson sprog made John go AWOL in terms of matrimonial bliss, leading to a rapid emotional affair played out via late night texts when the baby (referred to rather unkindly as the anti-Christ) was howling. Just slightly out of Watson character don’t you think? I’m thinking this Watson is maybe Moriarty in a brilliant disguise. Oh, and as I pointed out to son No.3, the Watsons were far too old to have just had a baby – they looked more like its grandparents.
The husband thought he’d join us for the New Year watching of Sherlock and soon regretted the decision; pining for Mountain Men or something to do with Yetis. ‘What’s going on?’ he kept saying. ‘I thought I understood it there for a minute but now I don’t have a clue.’ And I don’t blame him. Even us Sherlock devotees must have lost the plot. In fact Mr Gatiss, who wrote the thing, surely mislaid the plot, here and there, as he threw every Sherlockian device at us. Those texts appearing on our screens, the ones that were so ground breaking when Sherlock first appeared, sprang up here, there and everywhere, interspersed with Skype images and blue wiggly lines and Sherlock using Twitter, like a naughty schoolkid in the classroom, when he was supposed to be paying attention. It was all very Sherlock – all very now – all very knowing – but it’s amazing how little time it takes for a telly viewing audience to pall and think I’ve seen all this before.
I was slightly guilty of this ‘been there done that’ ingratitude for the wonderful writing and the wonderful acting, as I watched Sherlock sitting in his chair, in his drab flat, receiving visitors and rapidly going through the miraculous observations motions, as though he was as bored of the whole thing as some Sherlock critics out there. Gatiss referenced several mysteries from the books in quick fire succession before plunging us into Mary’s back story, featuring torture (didn’t like those bits at all), secret code words such as ‘Ammo’ (Gatiss gave us a brief lesson in Latin declension, as you do – one of the strengths of Sherlock is its clever cleverness, which will never get old.) There were memory sticks hidden inside busts of Margaret Thatcher and a mastermind, lunatic secretary looking like a weird cartoon character straight out of Pixar’s The Incredibles.
Too much happened and it all happened very, very fast. In fact, you had to be Sherlock to keep up. It was the kind of episode you’ll have to watch on iPlayer over and over again so you can go, ‘Ah, that’s what happened, now I get it. I’m not actually as stupid and dull as I thought I was’ (although you might be for all I know.)
Oh, and Happy New Year.