Is Sherlock Holmes inherently flawed?

Will is on the case.

With the new series of the BBC’s Sherlock drama about to air and the sequel to Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes in the works it’s high time I shared my views on the classic character. I think his stories are inherently flawed from the ground up.

Sherlock Holmes sets up an interesting dichotomy: we can either solve the mystery before he does or we can’t. Ok so that’s not a very interesting dichotomy, in fact it’s a tautology but it gets better, honest. If we manage to guess the culprit before he does then we feel momentarily proud but slightly deflated as Sherlock has been outwitted by, well, me – and I’m from Leeds (where being inbred makes you lucky enough to know who your father is). The only option the writers are left with is to make all of the cases so ridiculously difficult for the reader to solve that only Sherlock knows who dunnit. Often we see this achieved by Sherlock revealing information that was entirely omitted from the story up until then or making ridiculous deductions which he couldn’t conceivably make unless he wrote the story… oh wait.

So what’s the point? Isn’t the whole concept of a mystery that there’s a conceivable solution? I’ll address that in a minute. Now I’ll ask why do you watch Sherlock or Sherlock Holmes or House for that matter? It’s because of the character. In every instance the best part of each of those shows or films is watching Sherlock (or House) engaging with the other characters. Almost all of the derived enjoyment stems from watching Sherlock belittle the other characters by making them look irredeemably stupid. Next time you watch consider whether you really care about the case itself. I know the chief criticism of House is that it’s formulaic and the response that House fans give is that no one cares about the diagnoses; they just want to watch the characters. If no one wants to watch the cases then why are they included and why not just have Sherlock in some sort of Big Brother House?

We can now answer my earlier question of why we have a mystery which the reader can’t solve. If Sherlock was a character in a drama without any mystery he’d just be a massive tit. The reason he’s allowed to act the way he does is because he’s brilliant. If he didn’t solve the mysteries then he’d just be a druggie with a superiority complex (or in the case of the BBC’s Sherlock a person with a superiority complex). So in order to enjoy watching the Sherlock character we have to respect his genius but that means that we have to sit through mysteries that we have no way of solving and don’t really enjoy (and this is usually over half of the show/film). It takes a talented writer to make Sherlock an interesting character but perhaps their efforts would be better spent on a character that doesn’t require quite so much fluff. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, the premise of a Sherlock character is as damaged as the character himself (or at least as he’s meant to be, fucking BBC).


The best show in the world?

Over the years I’ve invested myself in a number of TV shows and while most were a decent watch, I’ve never really felt that I would be comfortable settling down with any of them. The day I found Come Dine With Me this all changed. Come Dine With Me is simply the perfect show. If ever you were looking for a TV show that had everything then look no further.

The Premise of the show is simple; 4 random people that have never met volunteer to hold dinner parties for each other during the course of one week. Each night after the party, in their taxis home, the guests secretly rate the dinner with a score out of ten. After each night the scores are combined to get a total for each person. The host with the highest score at the end of the week wins the prize of £1000. Simple right? Wrong, each show offers us a host (get it?) of human emotions to feast (I can’t stop myself) upon. In almost all shows we see guests trading saccharin pleasantries but as soon as they’re away from the other diners they bare their teeth. It’s almost surprising not to see the guests bitching about each other as soon as they get a moment to themselves. The people selected each week aren’t even that odd. It doesn’t feel like channel 4 has done a wife swap on us here and just stuck absolute freaks in a house. These are normal people but more often that not they manage to fall out. Put £1000 into the mix and watch everyone show their true colours.

The scores they give at the end of each night generally sum up how meretricious the guests are; more than often are the words, “A great night, couldn’t fault it. I award them a 7” uttered.  What always puzzles me though is how they don’t want the others to know what they think of them yet they are willing to voice their opinions on television. This show possesses the drama of Big Brother but with regular people, without the social stigma plus it’s educational.

Dave Lamb narrates the show adding sarky jibes whenever necessary (which is all too often). When someone makes fried shrimp with “Marie Rose” sauce (a subtle blend of ketchup and mayonnaise) from a can then I think I’d feel quite hard done if I didn’t have Dave Lamb there to openly criticise them in front of the nation.

This show is actually incredibly educational. It’s not just the cooking; this show critically examines human psychology and even goes so far as to explore the different cultures present within the British Isles. In terms of cooking this show is better than any other; there are recipes which are simple, recipes which are complex and recipes which are just right. On top of that the diners actually give decent reviews instead of us having to assume that everything that Jamie Oliver cooks tastes good (it doesn’t). So within the program you can find recipes which suit any occasion be it braised pork belly with gnocchi, pea cream, crushed peas with mint and a madeira sauce (that’s actually one of my own, I’m saving it for if I ever go on the show) or tuna, kidney beans and mayo mixed in a bowl with some chopped onion (recipes available on the channel 4 website). It’s quite nice to watch tv cooks that don’t say, “pukka” in a stupid Essex boy accent before smothering their food in olive oil too. Other than the cooking you can pick up some good tips about dinner parties from watching the show (don’t assume your guests have taste being a key concept). Sometimes it’s just funny to watch them mess up, I often find myself going “tsk, you don’t use extra virgin olive oil in a pistachio and olive oil cake, rookie mistake”. Of course it’s much funnier when they serve a banana sliced lengthwise and give each guest tableside UHT whipped cream out of a can (classy) or when one of the guests serves raw food and makes some of the others throw up.

The four dinner parties are set over four episodes (an episode for each party if it wasn’t obvious). With the first episode you feel just as new to the whole situation as the four diners do. By the fourth episode I promise you’ll feel as if you were there. In short each episode is an emotional rollercoaster. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and at times I’ve found myself screaming at the telly “what do you mean you’ve never eaten scallops?! You’re a F****** professional chef! Your mother should have had an abortion!”… I sometimes get a bit too involved.

Once in a while the show hosts a Celebrity Come Dine With Me which is educational in its own right; you discover several new celebrities that you didn’t realise existed (Helen Lederer, David Quantick and Rowland Rivron to name a few). Aside from this the celebrity specials are essentially the same as the regular episodes except you might be slightly more interested in seeing Peter Stringfellow’s apartment than Steve Clift from Doncaster’s.

I know the show has a predominantly female following and I know what most men reading this article are thinking, “My mum watches this show while doing the ironing, I’m watching Top Gear”. Well thing about it this way lads; when (aside from doing the ironing) when does your mum watch the TV? She doesn’t right (perhaps except for the news at breakfast) so why is Come Dine With Me the only show she watches? The answer is simple; it’s the best. Between cooking for you, cleaning, ironing and doing the washing her only real relief is watching this show. So not only should you watch this show but thank it for the sanity of your mother. For those of you whose mothers don’t watch this show then your mother’s next birthday present is sorted… and your dad’s.

Before Come Dine With Me came into my life the only thing that could cheer me up after a long day was Spongebob Squarepants, or maybe High School Musical at a push, but at 19 I felt I was perhaps getting too old for that. The response that I give to someone when they say they’ve never seen it is comparable to one I might give to someone that had just told me they were dying or came from Leeds; a look of pure pity. Just go watch the show, nuff said.