Sunday, January 15th, 2012
2:12 pm - Last Week's Sherlock...  
..while waiting for this week's episode to turn up online.

Well, that was quite a change in tone from "Scandal," wasn't it? It was an interesting take on what is perhaps the most iconic Holmes story. I enjoyed it, although I thought the early 70's-ish cheesy bad trip delirium scenes detracted a bit from the creepiness Gatiss was going for. Both the original and "Hounds" are built around the fact that a lot of the horror of the situation is the result of the altered perception of a natural phenomenon, i.e., one seriously pissed off dog. In the original, it's the effect that a tale of a curse had in a more innocent time in concert with a large, angry dog that's been painted with phosphorus*. In today's more skeptical world, it takes the tale of the curse, the angry dog, and a drug that leaves its victim susceptible to delusions to do the job. I just wish there had been a better way to do it than hallucinogens.

* Which helps explain the angry.

On one hand, I liked that the drug angle turned the genetically engineered animal part of the story into one of the all time great (glowing) red herrings**. On the other, it feels like the easy way out, especially in the cheesy way it was presented. Better to find a way to get rational men like Holmes and Watson to feel fear without resorting to hallucinogens. Also, using a microscope to look for the drug in the sugar? Not particularly useful unless a) there's a lot of the drug present, and b) its crystal form is grossly different from that of sucrose***.

** Although imagine the effect on Henry if, having just watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, he'd come across Bluebell out on the moor.

*** I spent a good deal of my time in grad school staring at crystals through a microscope. While crystals can vary in structure a great deal at the molecular level, unless their gross structures are different, say prisms versus flakes, it's going to be hard to say for sure that more than one compound is present. A better choice would be to use an HPLC-Mass Spectrometer to scan for unidentified compounds in the sample. Surely a lab as advanced as Baskerville would have one. In fact, at that particular lab, the mass spectrum of the drug might already have been in its library.

As usual, many of the elements from the original are turned on their (bunny) ears here. There's the glow-in-the dark bunny, created by Stapleton, who isn't the villain this time around, just a harried mom. The dog was kept in a mineshaft, as before, but it was brought in to attract tourists, rather than terrorize them. Instead of dying by running into a bog and getting sucked in, the villain dies by running into a minefield**** and getting blown up. And the knight, Sir Henry Baskerville, becomes Henry Knight. It's all great fun.

**** I like the juxtaposition of the two different kinds of mines, tin and land.


How 'bout a nice cuppa. Perhaps you can put away your harpoon.

Phone Lestrade. Tell him there's an escaped rabbit.

You're serious?

It's this... or Cluedo.

Ah, no. We are never playing that again.

Oh, please, can we not do this, this time.

Do what?

You being all mysterious with your cheek bones and turning your coat collar up so you look cool.

So we know Dr. Stapleton performed secret genetic experiments on animals. Question is, has she been working on something deadlier than a rabbit?

To be fair, that is quite a wide field.

Once you rule out the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be true.