Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So I've moved into a lovely German apartment that doesn't have phone or internet or my household goods yet.

It does, however, have a full kitchen and a full bathroom. Also, light fixtures. You guys back in the states are wondering at why that's so important but... trust me. Germans move in and out of apartments and take the lights and toilets with them. It's a Thing to find an apartment will built-in lights and toilets, not to mention a full kitchen.

So even without my hosuehold goods, it's livable, and my obsessive book-buying has combined with my e-book buying to give me plenty to read while I have no internet access at home. (I have it at work, but... there's a limit on what you can do at work.)

I also have a copy of the first season of BBC's Sherlock, which I would have watched a hell of a lot sooner had I known it was a successful adaptation of Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century. It's freaking awesome, and I may even get cable if I can get BBC out here in time for the second season. It's only flaw is that it is too damned short.

In the meantime, I've watched it repeatedly in between reading wonderful books and it's even gotten me looking back at my old Sherlock Holmes stuff because I'd never really paid attention to Inspector Lestrade before.

Rupert Graves just freaking makes that character.

The commentary calls him remarkably inconsistent in the canon, but I have to disagree with them there. The problem isn't that Lestrade changes from story to story. The problem is that Lestrade has three conflicting characterizations: Sherlock's dismissal of Lestrade, Watson's descripton of Lestrade, and Arthur Conan Doyle's actual portrayal of Lestrade.

Sherlock Holmes is only too happy to describe him as stupid and ambitious in between allowing that he's a quick, energetic and conscientious policeman. This is where we get the idea that he's stupid and vain, even as Sherlock explains that he's the best person at Scotland Yard. That neglects that everyone is stupid in Sherlock's eyes, of course, and that Sherlock always has to insist that Lestrade leave his name out of reports.

John Watson seems to have decided before ever getting to know him that his physical appearance was shifty and sly, so each time the character shows up, he says that he's furtive, sly-looking, lean, sallow and rat-faced. This gives us the impression Lestrade is kind of sneaky and possibly untrustworthy. Watson KNOWS better when he describes his behavior, but it's hard to get away from the words used in his description.

When you look at how Lestrade actually talks and acts, though, you get more of the sort of person Graves is portraying (though a lot less likely to yell at Sherlock Holmes when he's being a dick and needs to be yelled at), but I'm running out of time on the computer. Let's just say that when Sherlock and Watson were so surprised at his praise in The Six Napoleans, I think that was Arthur Conan Doyle doing his normal characterization of them as both not really knowing Lestrade as well as they thought they did.

When I get Internet, we will discuss what a dick Sherlock Holmes was to him in Hound of the Baskervilles. You'll love it.


  1. I thought that they just took their kitchens. I didn't realize that they took the toilets too! Isn't moving FUN?

  2. I finally got around to reading the Holmes canon over the last year or two -- it was one of those situations where I hadn't realized that I hadn't read them yet.* There's a lot of sublte characterization in there that's only starting to seep into pop-culture consciousness after the one-dimensional Flanderization of the Rathbone-Bruce movies.

    "Holmes is a Dick" started seeping in at least as far back as Nicholas Meyers. "Watson isn't an Idiot" has just started to sink in. It looks like "Lestrade ISN'T a Dick, and he's not a Bumbling Glory-Hound, Either" is the next on the agenda; it was there in Sherlock, but not quite there in the Robert Downey, Jr. film.

    *(Next up on that list: Robert E. Howard.)

  3. Sally -- They don't ALL take the toilets, but... househunting in Germany can be interesting. The base listings have an "amenities" section.

    YOS -- Yeah, those movies were fun but they missed so much of what's in there. I think you're right, though. And really, "Holmes is a Dick" is a VITAL prerequisite to understanding "Watson isn't an idiot" and "Lestrade ISN'T a Dick, and he's not a Blumbling Glory-Hound, Either". I think this casting in Sherlock might just totally redefine the character, though. Graves is one of the most fun people to watch.

    (I love Mycroft Holmes, but I wouldn't be unhappy if this un-canonical but iincredibly entertaining view of Sherlock's big brother AS Big Brother would catch on.)