Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville

I'm up here, you idiot.

Sherlock invariably ends with me turning to Mr Qwerty and saying, ‘ But what about the bit where…’ in the hope that he will shine a searchlight into what looks like a large plot-hole and tarmac it over for me. In the case of The Hounds of Baskerville, in which Hound turned out to be a not very plausible acronym (after all, why would a group of dodgy scientists feel the need to give themselves an acronym, and what’s more get I’m-with-the-band t-shirts made noch?), I turned to Mr Q and said, ‘So why did the kindly bloke who was the baddie kill the posh bloke’s dad?’ And the best Mr Q could come up with was, ‘I guess he knew something bad they were doing.’ Well, yes. But what? It troubles me a bit that I don’t know for sure. Was it the paranoid gas thing (or lighter fluid as we called it when I was young)? Big slathering dogs? Fluorescent rabbits? (Actually a luminous bunny would be handy; you could nip out to its hutch at night and feed it without having to find a torch.)

Anyway despite not knowing exactly what the important-enough-to-kill-a-man thing was, I enjoyed this heavy-handed Freudian interpretation of the H of the B’s.  Or as I now think of it, ‘The Little Hans of the Baskervilles’, a not very amusing psychologist’s joke referring to Freud’s classic case in which Little Hans was scared of horses because they reminded him of his father’s penis. Or something. I graduated a while ago and the details are hazy. As indeed were Henry Knight’s of the night his father was killed – seemingly mauled by a huge slathering black beast with red eyes. Arrrrr-oooooooooh!

Arrrrrrr-oooooooh!

I’m always super-crap at guessing whodunit. For instance, I was pretty sure Henry’s therapist was going to turn out to be one of the Hound scientists because there was a woman in the photo with long dark hair and it would have been a convenient way of discrediting Henry’s memories. In fact I think Mark Gatiss missed a trick there and I am available for future script surgeries Marky and Stevie, just call me. And I’m super-crap at knowing who’s been in what, actor-wise. When Russell Tovey popped up as Henry Knight I went ‘Ooh it’s him off Gavin & Stacey’ when everyone else in the land, I realise thanks to the forces of Twitter, was having a right old chortle at casting someone who played a werewolf in Being Human as someone who was scared of a werewolf. But even I, dim as an eco-bulb, knew the kindly old boffin at the chemical weapons facility was going to turn out to be the Big Bad Wolf and so it proved.

Anyway I’m just going to list the things I liked and didn’t like cos you can get plot summaries elsewhere and anyhow, I didn’t understand the plot well enough to summarise it.

I liked:

  • The iconic image of Benedict Cumberbatch (henceforth BC),  standing in flowing black coat on a rocky outcrop of Dartmoor, in homage to a famous illustration I’ve seen (one of the old Strand magazine pictures possibly?) of Holmes in the same pose. Which was craggier: his face or the outcrop? You decide.
  • The fact that finally the series went outside the confines of London so all the extras could have a go at bonkers West Country accents, and people running pubs could act all shifty and Deliverance-y.
  • I love it when BC does that manic shtick and we had two bashes at this: one right at the beginning when he was looking for a fix – cigs, coke, cases – and secondly when he thought he’d seen the dawg and was utterly perplexed by new emotions of fear and doubt. I know this isn’t what one is supposed to feel, so maybe my emotional response is as unformed as Sherlock’s, but when I watched BC’s hand shaking and him getting all strung out I kept thinking, ‘Aw, so CUTE.’ I know on one level that he’s not a kitten but my brain can’t help it. He’s just so FLUFFY.
  • I love things being updated. I thought the whole thing – Baskerville being a hush-hush Porton Down kind of place and the hound being perhaps a genetic mutation – was all rather swish. Easily impressed you may say, and you may be right. Just ask my boyfriend, Keith Chegwin.
  • The first time they got into the Baskerville compound was rather exciting, lots of corridors and ‘access’ card things and soldiers and stuff.
  • I briefly fancied Martin Freeman when he started ordering corporals about. I know this is WRONG when BC is in the same shot. Anyway Freeman then popped up wearing The Worst Jacket In the History Of Telly, a podgy green sack with inexplicable pink strings hanging out of the pockets and my fancy turned out to be a poor weak thing that withered on the vine.
  • Some terrific dialogue, particularly John telling Sherlock not to do that thing where ‘You’re being all mysterious with your cheekbones.’
  • I like the way nothing’s wasted; all the stuff with making John coffee but getting it wrong worked great as another indication of how crap Sherlock is at personal relations but turned out to have a whole other level that you probably knew straight away. Honestly, I shouldn’t be reviewing this stuff, I’ve read some Agatha Christie mysteries twice and STILL can’t guess the murderer.
  • Seeing Moriarty at the end. Presumably it’s to allow a segue into next week’s Reichenbach Fall or Face/Off as I’m naming it in my head. I really like this Moriarty. I do genuinely find him menacing, though that’s presumably because I find Graham Norton menacing.

I wasn’t so keen on:

  • Russell Tovey in the Henry Knight role. I thought he was oddly hammy and anyway his ears always trouble me.
  • The massive plate glass windows. Why, if you were scared shitless, would you sit all evening in front of your French windows looking for trouble? If you were that rich surely you’d have curtains? I mean Debenhams has some really nice ones and not at all unreasonably priced.
  • Why the woman scientist was so abruptly on Sherlock and Watson’s side. I couldn’t understand how they knew she wasn’t evil and how she knew they weren’t. Am I worrying too much about telly short-hand here? But her character seemed underwritten and vague considering that she had a fair amount of screen time.
  • The ferociously camp chef in the pub. Oh dear me. Obviously screaming stereotypes in Dartmoor haven’t heard that they can take off their John Inman personas now. Newsflash to the sticks! You are allowed to portray a gay man without TELEGRAPHING IT VIA YOUR LISP.
  • All the dogs. I got confused. There was the dog in everyone’s heads; a real dog that ate lots of meat owned by pub landlords Mr John Inman and Mr In The Closet; a west highland terrier owned by a woman in the bar; and the dog owned by the old lady at the start who asked child Henry if he was all right. The lady asked him, not the dog. There was enough going on without talking dogs as well.
  • The Morse code red herring. Was it me or did that seem super-pointless?
  • Everyone using pathetically crackable one-word passwords. Last week we had Irene Adler using ‘Sherlock’; this week a top soldier chap had ‘Maggie.’ Surely they’ve read all the same warnings that we have about creating a password like asylum-key-banana?
  • BC doing weird jazz hands to indicate he was in his ‘mind palace.’ Can’t we just show his lovely fluffy kitten head thinking deep thoughts without the need for him to do vogueing? At points he looked like Rowan Atkinson’s mime, saying, ‘My body is my tool.’
  • Mycroft popping up yet again to save the day, like a white un-cool Huggy Bear.

Overall, I think they just about pulled it off. While I know the whole thing had a faint whiff of the Scooby-Doos, I found it utterly enjoyable telly. But then, I do rather like Scooby Doo.

Posted by Qwerty. You can watch it here, though if you haven’t already seen it my review might have slightly messed it up for you.

10 Comments

Filed under Sherlock Holmes

10 responses to “Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville

  1. Tim

    Not quite as good as last week, but still mighty fine. My three favourite moments:

    When Sherlock admits to John. “I don’t have ‘friends’. I’ve got just one” is beautifully played by both Cumberbatch and Freeman.

    I loved the way the fog suddenly became integral to the plot rather than just mere atmospheric window dressing.

    Most important of all – Lestrade finally gets a first name! In the books he is simply G Lestrade – now we know he’s a Greg. He doesn’t really strike me as a Greg though. Geraint maybe?

    Totally agree about the password thing, though. You’re in charge of a top secret facility and your password is ‘Maggie’? Seriously? Why not go the whole hog and make it ‘password’?!?

    Anyhow, 8/10 from me. Is there really only one more episode to go? 😦

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/01/09/sherlock-the-hounds-of-baskerville-review/

  2. Kenzie

    “The Morse code red herring. Was it me or did that seem super-pointless?”
    I never read the original story but I did watch the 2002 tv series with Ian Hart playing Watson. In the 2002 version the assistants to the Baskerville estate were using lamps to communicate with morse code. They lied about the reason, stating that it was being used so that one of them could have an affair. I assume this is what they were alluding to which I enjoyed.

  3. inkface

    Excellent post, but I didn’t really engage with this episode. The difficulty with Sherlock is that the bar has been set so high, I’ve become a ultra demanding viewer, and this didn’t cut it for me. I was a bit bored. I was also distracted, having read an interview with the fluffy kitten Cumberbatch, by the fact that he’s a redhead & clearly they dye his hair for this.

  4. Dr Crane

    Absolutely to the point Qwerty. You can always tell the baddies because they have t-shirts made! Also spot on Inky (no pun intended). Since Sherlock got all Fry’s Turkish Delight in last weeks episode it’s taken a turn into silliness. Qwerty’s noting of the weekly ‘let’s guess the password’ trope is itself a clue to some kind of wrong turn.

    Still I am liking Watsons descent into Nigel Bruce-style stupidity, becoming a mere test bed for Sherlock’s speculations. Also enjoying the vivisectionist/cruel mother turning out to be a goodie. Making rabbits glow in the dark is clearly vital to national security and her precocious daughter needs to get with that rather than contacting private detectives when things don’t go her way.

  5. HolbyNut

    Agreed, didn’t impress me half as much as last week’s episode. Let’s hope for a fabulous finale.
    And the ‘mind palace’ notion – purlease! Next time you forget where you left your car keys, just order everyone out of the house and perform Tom Cruise-styley ‘drag and drop’ in thin air, with your random thoughts. Might not find the car keys but if you’re filmed, might earn you £250 from You’ve Been Framed!

  6. WaterlooVamps

    I don’t normally watch Sherlock, but I watched it this time and it was really good 🙂 P.S. Love picture 1!!!

  7. Just love this review. Especially agree about the jacket.

    ‘The Morse code red herring. Was it me or did that seem super-pointless?’
    B-b-but… dogging! Do you see? Dogging? Dog? No? No, you’re right it was silly.

  8. arialbold

    Late to the party since I have been wasting my time doing lord knows what, but at least allows me to say that this was more akin to pantomime than drama. For me a mark of whether a show really works is the extent to which I am inclined to read tweets about it while it’s ongoing and comment. And on this one I was much more enjoying the tweeting than the show, I fear. Much like the Nigel-off-the-roof Archers episode, I was more entertained by the tweeting – the password guesses, the dog howls, the dogging jokes – than by the drama au naturel. Having said that, overall it’s still better than 99% of everything else available.

  9. .::Big.Bang::.

    You haven’t watched Being Human?! *gasp*

    As for Sherlock, even though S1 was better, I’ve loved S2 and I, along with my friend who’s obsessed with it now, don’t want it to end. 😥 I must admit though, this episode was a bit clunky and plothole-y, wouldn’t expect it from Senhor Gatiss.

  10. Kate

    I realise this is a long time after this episode aired, but I love the reviews on this site and so I decided to scroll through the Sherlock ones.

    I agree that perhaps this episode was not the best, but I think, when you compare it with Doyle’s version it was quite a good adaptation; the dogging thing you spoke about, by the way, was actually in the book as a red herring! It was, in the books, about an escaped prisoner, although I thought how Mark and Steven used it was quite humorous.

    I think the whole reason for murdering Henry Knight’s father was because he discovered him using the drug when it had been regarded as too dangerous and it was not supposed to be used ever again, and so if news got out that he was using it then he would have lost his whole career and so on.

    Overall though, I do like this review and agree with some, if not all, of your points.

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