29 January 2011

*The* Woman

The modernised series of Sherlock on BBC television is impressive; plots based on the originals, but adapted, updated. A Sherlock for today. You do need to know the stories to get all the references, the details, the asides. The interplay between Holmes and Watson is really well done, just enough tension, enough suggestion, enough said and not said. Blogs and mobiles. Sherlock isn't perfect, unlike Dr Thorndyke, occasionally making not quite the right deduction; Mycroft is clearly better at this. And Sherlock is a sociopath, and needs a complement.

And Sarah is delightful — just why did I never meet girls like her when I did locums? — but there is no mention of Mary Morston.
I’ve now looked at all three episodes on DVD, as well as the pilot and the ‘other features’. Yes, research can be hard.
But, there is a major omission. She has made no appearance, there has been no mention of her name. Why not? True, she did defeat Sherlock on one occasion, but he did get her photograph as a souvenir. Actually, that eejit, the King of Bohemia gave it to him. As a woman of mystery, intrigue, she could be an ideal foil. And she was so very, very clever. Yet she’s not there. Sherlock did like opera, and did go from time to time; she was an opera singer, a contralto. In Prague she was the prima donna. Originally in the National Theatre, though the Opera is a wonderful, gilded palace — yes, of course I’ve been to the opera there. But no appearances, no references, not even the hint of a suggestion. What are they thinking of?
And where is her photograph? It was one of Sherlock’s most treasured possessions, on display for all to see. What are screenwriters, the literary agents, the producers playing at? Can we expect her to appear in the next series? I don’t care so much about any consulting criminologist — Moriarty — but I do expect some reference to her.
And there’s more. I’ve been reading her side of the story, as narrated by Penelope (Nell) Huxleigh. Alas, this poor girl has been badly served by her American literary agent. Everyone knows that 221B is pronounced two-two-one-B, yet this Yankee keeps putting two-twenty-one-B into the mouths of the characters. No Englishman or woman would ever say it so. Oh dear. And a ‘pound note’? No! Only sovereigns! And never half-sovereigns! That’s far too mean.
Now, she may have been the ‘New Jersey Lily’, but there’s really no reason for this.
And, yes, she was always the woman. And always italicised.

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