I like the program Sherlock. I tend not to read pastiches—stories about Sherlock Holmes written by someone other than Arthur Conan Doyle—for fear that some day I find myself writing that person’s character or scenes into my own Holmes. But with Sherlock, there’s little danger of incorporating its modern scenarios into the Russell stories. I enjoy the actors, the humor is great, and some of the writing is brilliant (although the actual plots tend to be either thin or startlingly implausible.)
However, “The Final Problem,” the last episode of this most recent trilogy…
I’ll admit I was slightly distracted when it came on, so I only noticed the odd dramatic choice of the writers a few minutes in: the narration. Holmes and Watson would look up, startled, and as they did so a woman’s voice would tell me that the two men looked up, startled. I figured this was a way of indicating that the Holmes sister, who throughout the episode is manipulating everyone else from her lunatic asylum island, is also in charge of the televised episode. Which was odd, but okay, this program has always been wildly experimental.
It was, however, distracting. Irritating. I kept waiting for an explanation: the psycho sister is telling the audience about all these actions because…. I went off to do some things in the middle, because the over-voice was making me a little nuts, but I came back before the end because I wanted that explanation.
I didn’t get it. The program ended, the credits came up, and the next program came along on the channel—a program with no voiceover.
But some hours later, I woke up and thought: hey, I dropped the tv control just before Sherlock began. I wonder…
The next morning I did some googling and checking and found a profound absence of other people shouting WTF!?!
So, yes. I had accidentally hit some previously unsuspected television-for-the-blind function. Audio captions, as it were. Who knew?
Still, I’m not sure I’d have liked the episode all that much better without the psycho sister telling me what was going on.