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» Saturday, April 05, 2014Deductive Day
[Since anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I'm writing this post and Sunday's post "after the fact," I'll note here that the final panel I attended at 221B was the wrap-up where they ask your likes and dislikes. Several people besides Teri Sears, New York Lady [never saw her name tag], and I complained that there were no panelists' names with the panels. This was explained that it was because several people didn't want to use their real names on the panel. ??????? The only thing I could think of was because if some of the fanfiction writers' real names got out in connection with their fic (perhaps someone who is a teacher at a conservative school is outed as someone who writes "Johnlock" or even just explicit "Sherlolly," for instance) there might be problems. Can't they just use their pseudonyms? And if it's that problematic for their real names to get out, should they even be appearing at the convention in person? The way Facebook/Instagram posts get around, isn't there always a chance someone will pass on a shocked message: "Look, isn't this Sister Scholastica...OMG she writes porn!"
Anyway, on my blog posts this is why I can't properly acknowledge a lot of people, like the women who did the Paget (etc) panel, except for Louis Robinson, Jana Oliver, and Sacha Dzuba, who I know on sight.]
So I was off to the second day of 221B Con. Felt a bit bad, as James was supposed to have lunch with the old hobby shop gang and have a "guy day." But the guys were all in Anniston for a model show. So he went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Trader Joe's and did other errands and I zipped off to the Perimeter Marriott. The hotel had a breakfast buffet for eight dollars, which for a big hotel (especially this hotel; the food is expensive!) is great, so I ate breakfast there: oatmeal, fruit, three slices of bacon, a bagel, cereal, and a couple of slices of turkey in a slice of bread that I wrapped up in some foil I had. I had a chicken sandwich for lunch (not to mention some goldfish crackers, peanuts, peanut butter and crackers, and an orange cup), so this meant I didn't have to scrounge for supper.
My first panel was Brett vs. Rathbone, but I don't think we really "decided" anything. :-) I don't think the way the writers wrote Nigel Bruce's Watson should reflect on Basil Rathbone's Holmes, so I thought that argument against Rathbone by the woman on the panel was a bit unfair. The gentleman on the panel, an historian from Nova Scotia, made good points about Rathbone. He thought Jeremy Brett's portrayal was too restless. I can't judge, because I've seen one Brett (don't judge me!) and only one Rathbone recently, but the latter did have what I think of as the Holmes "look."
Next panel: "Canon 101," for those who hadn't read the stories/novels, or just wanted things clarified. I asked the one I'd always been puzzled by...is it The Sign of Four or The Sign of the Four? Well, both. It was published one time one way, one time another. I don't remember anything amazingly unique about this panel, but I enjoyed it immensely just to be talking about books. One of the things they did point out was that much of how we envision Holmes and Watson comes from the illustrations to the original stories (to be covered in another panel).
"Holmes Through the Years" was an appropriate follow-up of media portrayals of Holmes, from the first three-minute Sherlock Holmes Baffled (a very early silent film) to the current various incarnations (Downey, Cumberbatch, and Miller), with stops, of course, at the classics: William Gillette, who did the first Holmes play with the blessing of Conan Doyle, everyone's favorite Nazi fighter Basil Rathbone, perennial favorite Peter Cushing (for both a movie and a television series), early British movie favorite Arthur Wontner, BBC 60s favorite Douglas Wilmer, and of course Jeremy Brett. One notable exception: Ronald Howard (son of Leslie Howard) in the 1950s series was not mentioned. Of interest this year is a new Russian adaptation of the stories, in which Holmes comes off as a rather Bolshevik type!
Of course had to go to the Cabin Pressure panel! This is a goofy sitcom on BBC radio about a one-plane airline, MJN Air (the initials stand for "my jet now," as the owner got the plane in her divorce settlement) and its owner and employees. Carolyn Knapp-Shappey is the crusty owner, and Arthur Shappey is her dimwitted son, who acts as the steward on the flights. The pilots are Martin Creiff, younger and barely competent, and Douglas Richardson, older but having been fired from his former job for smuggling. Each week the crew takes on odd charters and goes to odd corners of the world, like Qikiqtarjuaq. Why is this being discussed at a Sherlock Holmes convention? Well, because Benedict Cumberbatch plays Martin, of course. About halfway through the panel, one of the panelists started texting John Finnemore (the creator and writer of the series, who also plays Arthur), and he started texting answers to questions back!
Next on schedule was the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company's two productions. One was a Dr. Geoffrey Stanhope adventure taking place at Loch Ness, "The Dweller in the Depths," in which a military man's fishing trip is rudely interrupted by a party of scientists looking for a creature in the lake. The other story was Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast," a supernatural tale of what happens after a drunken Englishman defiles a native temple. Perhaps not totally Sherlockian, but totally period to Holmes. The Kipling is particularly chilling.
To fill in the rest of the hour, I went to the Douglas Wilmer panel. Wilmer played Holmes in a black-and-white television series made by the BBC in the mid-1960s, with Nigel Stock as his Watson. As I understand, these are no great shakes, but not a bad interpretation, and some people he looks the most like Holmes. His Watson was halfway between the bumbling Nigel Bruce type and the competent Watson of the present; for his Holmes he was an aide-de-camp. I left this panel a bit early to take the opportunity to finally stroll through the dealer's room. This was mostly jewelry, buttons, and artwork, all very nice but nothing I really wanted. I did go back and buy a couple of bookmarks for James and Clay, and I also bought myself a cute, small print called "All Holmes...All The Time." It has the classic Sherlock, Cumberbatch's Sherlock with his cell phone, Elementary's Sherlock with his turtle, and Robert Downey Jr's Sherlock with his smoked glasses all in a group before 221B.
The fanfiction panel was next. I'll admit I turned the wifi on and checked out a bunch of the stories they talked about, but– Look, I've got no quibble with adult fanfiction...I've written it. But is that all the fanfic there is anymore? Is no one writing a straight mystery or hurt-comfort or survival stories? Nevertheless, it was a quick hour, with the writers talking about how they had to write one story or a particular scene and people in the audience telling them how much their stories were enjoyed.
I went next to a panel about the film Young Sherlock Holmes. This was one of my favorite films of the 1980s and the only thing I watched on AMC after they cancelled Remember WENN. One of the things they discussed in this panel was the similarities to this film and the Harry Potter films, which I'd never though of before. But then so many British school stories have the same tropes!
At seven was one of the panels I had been looking forward to, the Scotland Yard panel with Jana Oliver and Louis Robinson. Louis' father and uncle had been policemen so he had some knowledge of the procedures there. This also traced the history of the metropolitan London police from watchmen to the Bow Street Runners to the "bobbies" nicknamed after Sir Robert Peel, who established the metropolitan force. There's a certain mystique about "Scotland Yard"—I'll always remember that Get Smart episode where Max infiltrated a KAOS gang and it turned out all of them were infiltrators, too, and when the last man introduces himself as being from Scotland Yard, Max, 99, the CIA guy, the FBI man, and the Naval Intelligence agent all crowd around him in admiration!
And yet another panel I'd been waiting for, the panel on Elementary. Like most of the rest of the once skeptical audience, I'd been very wary about this series. A modern-day Sherlock Holmes in New York and Dr. Watson played by a woman who was his "minder" after his emergence from drug addiction? And wasn't this just like that BBC modern version? Amazingly, it turned out into so much more, and Watson went from "minder" to fellow consulting detective. Panel and participants were all enthused about the characters, although there are still some quibbles about this version's Moriarty. I had to say that one of my favorite things is a very small thing: they actually have weather on this series, rather than your usual television story where it's sunny all the time except during funerals, when it rains, and at Christmas, when it snows. :-) It's all part of making you feel like this is a real world. (I also like Sherlock's house, too, because it's not perfectly groomed!)
And then because I love me a good Watson, I went to the Jude Law as Dr. Watson panel. Frankly, most of the reason that I like the Downey films is that Jude Law makes a smashing Watson. This guy was a doctor and was an Army surgeon who'd survived the war in Afghanistan; he couldn't be an idiot after all.
And finally, even though it was late (it was ten o'clock), I had to go to the "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs" panel. In case you are unfamiliar with this "brilliant" film, here's what I wrote about it back in 2012:
...I put on a 2010 movie called Sherlock Holmes—not the one you are thinking of! This movie stars Gareth David-Lloyd of Torchwood as Dr. Watson and Ben Syder as Sherlock Holmes. James sat down to watch with me. My gosh, what a howler! I can't even list all the howlers...take the one scene where Watson goes for a morning constitutional and Holmes accompanies him. Within short walking distance from 221B Baker Street, in the very center of crowded, cobbled metropolitan London, apparently there is an extensive overgrown—and I mean overgrown!—wood with some deserted outbuildings! The film also involves a sea serpent, a dinosaur, and what looks like a copper robot, plus a clockwork human and Sherlock Holmes' older brother (not Mycroft Holmes) who is a former police detective. Not to mention that the actor who played Holmes was shorter than everyone else in the cast (Doyle's Holmes is quite tall) and played the role in such a colorless manner that he pretty much faded into the woodwork! Was this because the more well-known Torchwood actor was playing Watson?
When it was finished, James said "Well, there's over an hour of my life I'll never get back." LOL.
The most entertaining factor was that, even with his heavy moustache and thick curly hair, Gareth David-Lloyd was almost a dead ringer for Robert Sean Leonard as Dr. Wilson on House (who is, of course, based on Dr. Watson).
Like many bad movies, this one has its "flop film" fans. Four people sat in the front row with dinosaur hats on, and the panel was raucous and funny, a splendid way to end the day.
Then I hurried home and found everything dark, as James had covered up little Snowy and headed to bed (he has to work tomorrow). He was reading in bed when I tiptoed in to take my shower and head under the covers myself. I guess I'll have to give Snowy a kiss tomorrow!