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Sherlock star hits back at criticism of new episode

When literary beef gets real

Sherlock star hits back at criticism of new episode
05 January 2017

Well this is possibly the politest beef we’re going to see all year.

Season 4 of the hit BBC show Sherlock kicked off on New Year’s Day, but the opening episode did not go down as well as previous series, with viewers complaining about the impenetrable plot, while critics seemed unimpressed about the new style of the famous detective.

One critic in particular – ShortList writer Ralph Jones – wrote in The Guardian about his fears that Holmes was morphing into James Bond, using his physical skills – which Arthur Conan Doyle did state that he possessed, but chose to limit the use of – rather than his intellectual ones.

Jones wrote, “He [Sherlock] is a nerd, not an action figure; a scientist, not a spy. But, as Sherlock’s stakes have risen, and as the guns and assassins have multiplied, it is starting to feel worryingly like we are watching villains be taken to task by a mutation named Sherlock Bond.”

But, like Sherlock himself, co-writer Mark Gatiss was not going to take this lying down, and responded as all good writers should: with a poem written to the Guardian’s letters page.

You can read it below:

Here is a critic who says with low blow 
Sherlock’s no brain-box but become double-O.
Says the Baker St boy is no man of action – 
whilst ignoring the stories that could have put him in traction.

The Solitary Cyclist sees boxing on show, 
The Gloria Scott and The Sign of the Fo’ 
The Empty House too sees a mention, in time, of Mathews, 
who knocked out poor Sherlock’s canine.

As for arts martial, there’s surely a clue 
in the misspelled wrestle Doyle called baritsu. 
In hurling Moriarty over the torrent 
did Sherlock find violence strange and abhorrent?

In shooting down pygmies and Hounds from hell 
Did Sherlock on Victorian niceties dwell? 
When Gruner’s men got him was Holmes quite compliant 
Or did he give good account for The Illustrious Client?

There’s no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill, 
Her Majesty’s Secret Servant with licence to kill 
From Rathbone through Brett to Cumberbatch dandy 
With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy.

The move follows in the footsteps of Sherlock’s creator Arthur Conan Doyle, who penned his own poem, To An Undiscerning Critic, which was published in the London Opinion on 28 December 1912. It was written in response to another poem (To Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) by critic Arthur Guiterman, which complained that Holmes should not be critical of other fictional detectives, when Conan Doyle owed a great deal to other authors’ detective stories.

You can read both of those works here.

Naturally, this means that only one course of action is appropriate for Jones to take:

Watch this space...