monday morning madness (a few random things)

Hello and welcome to the week!

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes
Hanna and I were up late with friends last night drinking tea, eating biscuits, and watching the first installment of Stephen Moffet's new venture, Sherlock. I shall resist spoilers of the plot-related sort, but would like to observe that Martin Freeman is an excellent Watson, Benedict Cumberbatch sparkles as Holmes, and Rupert Graves plays a charmingly rumpled Lestrade. And the slash is really text, not subtext. Incase the previews left you in any doubt. We're already looking forward to the second installment (and prematurely in withdrawal following the end of the third and final episode of the season).

It was awesome and then we were up 'til after midnight talking graduate school and fan fiction. Which was delicious, and we're already looking forward to doing it again next week. But it left something to be desired on the good-night's-sleep front, which means we rolled out of bed feeling a little bleary-eyed.

Something like this.

photograph by hanna (2010-10-24)
Although I imagine we'll get over it with enough coffee and intellectual puzzles to occupy our minds.

The all-too-short "weekend" (which for me consist of Saturday night through Sunday morning) was spent 1) shopping for my fall wardrobe at Goodwill, 2) discovering Rosenfeld's Bagels, 3) reading the first chapters of my ARC of Jennifer Pozner's Reality Bites Back (booknote to follow when I've finished it), and of course watching Sherlock.

Rosenfeld's is located out in Newton Center, about four miles west of where we live in Allston. We walked out there yesterday morning past Boston College, through Chestnut Hill and other old villages-cum-suburbs of Boston. Startlingly, this walk included passing the gothic-looking estate of Mary Baker Eddy's historic home. For some lovely photographs from along the way, see Hanna's blog post today.

The bagels were also very tasty.

We also ran into a teeny-tiny political rally outside the bagel shop; the Republican challenger to Barney Frank (who wants to dump Barney Frank?? seriously!) was on the corner in a bow tie and cream suit. I had a nearly overwhelming urge to conspicuously make out in front of them, just to be irritating. Hanna tells me this was perhaps a little mean-spirited of me. Is it really so bad that I get off on proving a point?

This has been a very eclectic post, and now I really must quit blogging and get some serious work done. Have a lovely week, everyone! Regular feminist-y blogging will resume as soon as I locate my brain.


  1. I am completed divided about Holmes. I thought the acting was terrific as was the dialogue and much of the writing. But the actual crime was rubbish; predictable with a boring villain.

    Plus I thought the whole episode was a bit misogynistic.

    I loved it and hated it. Wait for next episode's racism and the dreadful assassin and fight sequence in episode 3.

  2. @soirore

    I'd be interested to hear a little bit more about the ways in which you say the episode as misogynist. I mean, Stephen Moffet has an uneven history writing women characters (for sure!) so on that level certainly it's not a "Firefly" ... but as I sit here and think about it (briefly!) the episode actually strikes me as being pretty damn *homosocial*, with virtually no reference to women, even in absentia.

    There is the passing mention of Watson's sister and her ex-girlfriend, Mrs. Hudson who hardly merits an appearance, the DI working with Lestrade who I think comes off somewhere between Lestrade and Anderson in the sympathy-toward-Holmes-o-meter, and the women who were killed, who seemed to be random victims of a crime (i.e. the only reason they were killed was that they had hailed a cab).

    There's Mycroft's femme fatale assistant, whom Hanna and I agreed on the walk to work this morning was this truly strange blend of sex object, airhead, and efficient valet ... I'm befuddled as to whether she'll turn up as a recurring character or not ...

    Anyway, I'm rambling ... as I say, I'd be interested in hearing your take in more detail!

    Thanks for stopping by,

  3. Sorry for the late reply.

    Yes I agree that the offense is quite a lot to do with the homosociability. As a woman I feel left out of the story. I'm a long-time Holmes fan/ obsessive and have fantasised about the perfect (feminist) updating for a years. For me personally there's no reason that Watson shouldn't be female for example; women GPs outnumber men in the UK after all. Plus the asexuality of Holmes allows for any combination of sidekick without romantic tensions being an issue.

    But back to the episode. I think what grated most was the humiliation of the female characters. First is the pathologist who's clearly smitten with Holmes (women are unprofessional, led by hormones/ desire and stupid because she doesn't realise he's not interested) then the DI who describes Holmes as a freak. Holmes comments that she smells the same as the SOCO but she may have spent the night cleaning for him as her knees were red. The image of a woman on her knees angered me and I found it an especially degrading way for Holmes' character to assert his intellectual/ perceptive superiority.

    There was also the Psychiatrist who failed to see that Watson's leg pain was psychosomatic (silly, unprofessinal women). Plus I felt that Watson's sister was only female in order to give Watson information that Holmes failed to obtain (I thought the clues and mystery throughout were particularly amateur though so this isn't unusual for the episode).

    I liked the femme fatale because she was so...like a character. I don't mind my characters being cartoons if it's clearly marked. But she doesn't return; she was just filler. Just like the potentially awesome Doctor colleague of Watsons in Ep2. She seems amazing and then she's just a victim to be saved. Booh!

    The woman in pink who was killed was intelligent to be sure (which was refreshing after so many dim women) but she was dead, and conducting a series of affairs (women are sluts) and apart from sex she is only defined by her love of pink and the loss of her child. There were so many ways that she could have been less cliched; Rachel could have been a sister or colleague or lover or friend who'd died but the writers only came up with a daughter.

    Anyhow, I felt personally offended by this all which is inappropriate for a TV series so I'll stop.

    Have you seen the rest yet? I'd like to know what you thought especially Moriarty... (something that may be a spoiler so I'll omit).

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  5. @soirore

    Thanks for the reply, despite the time-lapse! I've only seen episodes 1 & 2 so far; the two people I watched episode two with (and myself) were disappointed with episode #2 because of the orientalist themes and because of Sarah's appearance, which is obviously that of demonstrating the centrality of the Holmes-Watson relationship above all other relational ties. I appreciated that she wasn't just a flake ... but as you say, she ends up being another victim to save.

    The question of Holmes' misanthropy is an interesting one because it "allows" him to get away with being a total shit to other characters in the show and we're expected, as sympathetic viewers, to let him get away with it -- whether it's misogyny or just plain cruelty to fellow human beings. He's coasting on the idea that being "brilliant" somehow exempts you from being compassionate, empathetic, etc.

    The show could (and may still -- although I'm not holding my breath) raise some really interesting questions about the ethics of that, and whether Holmes' skill as a detective somehow makes up for his lack of nurturing and care. So far, I haven't seen it do that: Watson apologizes for him, but doesn't call him out on that -- or if he does, he ultimately caves to Holmes' demands. I'd be really interested to see what would happen with a Watson who refused to back down. (Which is part of what I've enjoyed so much with some of the Mary Russell / Holmes fiction: she actually stands her ground sometimes and forces Holmes to reconsider.)

    Must get back to work -- am enjoying the conversation and look forward to analyzing episode #3 next weekend!

    In the meantime, check out this post written by my friend Ashley on Holmes, asexuality, and the fandom :).


  6. Thanks for the link; it's great stuff.