The term “magic” etymologically derives from the Greek word mageia (μαγεία). In ancient times, Greeks and Persians had been at war for centuries, and the Persian priests, called magosh in Persian, came to be known as magoi in Greek. Ritual acts of Persian priests came to be known as mageia, and then magika—which eventually came to mean any foreign, unorthodox, or illegitimate ritual practice. The first book containing explanations of magic tricks appeared in 1584. During the 17th century, many similar books were published that described magic tricks. Until the 18th century, magic shows were a common source of entertainment at fairs. A founding figure of modern entertainment magic was Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, who had a magic theatre in Paris in 1845. John Henry Anderson was pioneering the same transition in London in the 1840s. Towards the end of the 19th century, large magic shows permanently staged at big theatre venues became the norm. As a form of entertainment, magic easily moved from theatrical venues to television magic specials. Performances that modern observers would recognize as conjuring have been practiced throughout history. For many recorded centuries, magicians were associated with the devil and the occult. During the 19th and 20th centuries, many stage magicians even capitalized on this notion in their advertisements. The same level of ingenuity that was used to produce famous ancient deceptions such as the Trojan Horse would also have been used for entertainment, or at least for cheating in money games. They were also used by the practitioners of various religions and cults from ancient times onwards to frighten uneducated people into obedience or turn them into adherents. However, the profession of the illusionist gained strength only in the 18th century, and has enjoyed several popular vogues since.
Is there anything John Cena can’t do?
The professional wrestler added yet another victory to his arsenal Wednesday night when he joined Jimmy Fallon for a round of his signature “Whisper Challenge.”
Perfect for playing at home, contestants take turns listening to loud music on a pair of headphones while their competitor reads a word or phrase off of a hidden card. The player who can’t hear has to guess the word, though if often is a lot more difficult then it sounds. However, that wasn’t the cast this time around.
The game is on beginning Sunday night January 1 with “The Six Thatchers,” the premiere of Season 4 of worldwide phenomenon Sherlock on both BBC One in the UK and Masterpiece in the U.S. The anticipated return comes after last New Year’s one-off episode “The Abominable Bride,” and two years after the Season 3 finale “His Last Vow.” That episode closed as Benedict Cumberbatch’s high-functioning sociopath was exiled from Britain — for about four minutes — before being called back as a mysterious “Did you miss me?” message from arch-villain Moriarty appeared all over the UK.
Season 4 picks up following the events of that episode and delivers another 90 minutes packed with modern twists on Arthur Conan Doyle’s deerstalker-sporting detective, as well as sidekick Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), Watson’s wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) and their new baby.
Cumberbatch, Freeman and Abbington joined creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock’s brother Mycroft) for a recent screening of Episode 1 in London. At the post-screening Q&A, they discussed the series’ evolution and its future. One of the key themes to emerge was that Sherlock Holmes this year is “slightly less of an ethereal”.
As previously noted, the opening episode sees one mysterious case in particular baffling Scotland Yard — but Sherlock is more interested in a seemingly trivial detail. Why is someone destroying images of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? Is there a madman on the loose? Or is there a much darker purpose at work? Something with its roots deep in Mary Watson’s past? Along with the first, the two follow-up feature-length episodes promise “laughter, tears, shocks, surprises and extraordinary cases,” per the BBC and Masterpiece.
You will find no plot spoilers here. However, it’s fair to say Holmes is led to some soul-searching in the first episode which itself is leading into a season the creators allowed would grow darker through the three installments. “But not in an entirely unfunny way,” Gatiss chimed in. That echoed comments the group made at Comic-Con this summer when they agreed that this season will be the darkest thing the showrunners have ever written for the characters.
Sherlock, Cumberbatch said on the night of the screening in London, “is becoming, in a very clear way, responsible for his actions. But I think he understands that it’s a slow, slow process that began in the very first instance when he met John” and found the “needed missing part of the jigsaw that is him,” beginning a friendship that “has been a humanizing element all the way through.”
He’s “blindsided himself with his own humanity,” Cumberbatch added.
Rachel Talalay directed “Six Thatchers” after an “overwhelming” interview she said was held at Comic-Con. There’s a particularly intricate scene that takes place in an aquarium (evidently sharing invented “shark facts” was an on-set pastime). Gatiss praised Talalay, noting, “In a feature film that would take at least a week and they did it in a day.”
Another challenge? The bloodhound they hired to help the sleuths. Gatiss said, “I’ve had years of experience with animals, especially on League Of Gentlemen, and the people who tell you that they train animals are liars. We basically got there and it wouldn’t do a thing.” Cumberbatch added that they were told on the day, “The dog doesn’t like sidewalks, he doesn’t like people, or busy streets.” The pooch’s refusal to move was added into the script. Said Moffat, “Me and Mark wrote that on the street because he just sat there.”
Discussing how close they play to the original works, Gatiss said, “We are precisely as reverential to Sherlock Holmes as Arthur Conan Doyle was, which is not at all. He never understood til his dying day why people preferred it to all his serious work. But we understand and we embrace it fully. Sherlockalways thrives best when people don’t treat it as a monument but have fun with it as an entertainment. The stories are meant to be lurid and strange and that’s why we love them.”
Moffat, who for six seasons showran Doctor Who, was asked how daunting is the pressure to come up with three Sherlock episodes every couple of years. “It’s not daunting at all. It’s bloody brilliant!,” he exclaimed. “Normally when you write shows, hardly anyone ever watches them and you beg your friends and family to notice them at all and people lie to you about having seen them. Honestly that’s my entire life: making sure people actually watch. This is bloody marvelous, it’s not daunting.”
Cumberbatch, who has a thriving feature career with an Oscar nomination for 2014’sThe Imitation Game and Marvel superheroDoctor Strange under his belt at $656M in worldwide box office and counting, mused on the so-called Golden Age of television. “I don’t come back to (Sherlock) because it’s part of some grander narrative. I think most actors take a job and try to do it well and take advantage of the lucky break that they got by having a job in the first place. I’m very, very proud of the success of this program. The mark of its brilliance headed by the two creators and writers is right at the front of what is being termed the Golden Age… But you don’t take a job thinking you’re going to contribute to that Golden Age. You’d be a pretty dead duck if you did.”
Also, he added, “It’s important for us to keep confounding the expectations of audiences and fans so that we can evolve rather than sitting on laurels.”
As far as taking on an iconic role, Cumberbatch said, “This is already slasher fiction. It’s an evolution of a template that’s had a worldwide success in published form… We’re not the first to do this, but primarily the heavy lifting is done by two of the most extraordinarily knowledgeable of the already profound fan base and it’s just very fun to play fast-and-loose with the traditional and try to put your own interpretation on it and just do your job.”
The eternal question of “Will there be more?” was also raised. Last April, Moffat and Gatiss appeared to tease this could be the final season, saying, “This is the story we’ve been telling from the beginning. A story about to reach its climax.” However, the typically cryptic duo had also previously said they see the series continuing for a long while and at Comic-Con clarified that they’ve never said Season 4 would be the last and that they didn’t mean to imply it.
Cumberbatch later made headlines for a GQinterview in which he said this season “might be the end of an era,” but added, “I’d love to revisit it, I’d love to keep revisiting it, I stand by that, but in the immediate future we all have things that we want to crack on with and we’ve made something very complete as it is, so I think we’ll just wait and see. The idea of never playing (Sherlock) again is really galling.”
In London last week, Gatiss offered, “We would love to do more, but we’re genuinely not lying this time, we don’t know.” Moffat then threw in, “Who’s to say all the characters make it out alive at the end of the series? Anything could happen.”
Not quite so elementary.
Produced by Hartswood Films, Sherlock made a triumphant return to television on New Year’s Day this year with “The Abominable Bride.” It also was released theatrically and notched big box office, notably in China and Korea, then pulled off an upset and won the Emmy for Outstanding TV Movie.
Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, logical deduction is the process of reasoning from one or more statements(premises) to reach a logically certain conclusion. It differs from inductive reasoning and abductive reasoning.
Deductive reasoning links premises with conclusions. If all premises are true, the terms are clear, and the rules of deductive logic are followed, then the conclusion reached is necessarily true.
Deductive reasoning (top-down logic) contrasts with inductive reasoning (bottom-up logic) in the following way: In deductive reasoning, a conclusion is reached reductively by applying general rules that hold over the entirety of a closed domain of discourse, narrowing the range under consideration until only the conclusion(s) is left. In inductive reasoning, the conclusion is reached by generalizing or extrapolating from specific cases to general rules, i.e., there is epistemic uncertainty. However, the inductive reasoning mentioned here is not the same as induction used in mathematical proofs – mathematical induction is actually a form of deductive reasoning.
SHERLOCK HOLMES’ SCIENCE OF DEDUCTION AND ANALYSIS
Note: Nos. 1-60 are from the Doyle complete canon; 61-94 are from the Basil Rathbone movies, and 95-97 are from the Young Sherlock Holmes movie.
- Like all other arts, the Science of Deduction and Analysis is one which can only be acquired by long and patient study, nor is life long enough to allow any mortal to attain the highest possible perfection in it. Before turning to those moral and mental aspects of the matter which present the greatest difficulties, let the inquirer begin by mastering more elementary problems. Let him on meeting a fellow-mortal, learn at a glance to distinguish the history of the man and the trade or profession to which he belongs. Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look for. By a man’s finger-nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boot, by his trouser-knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-cuffs – by each of these things a man’s calling is plainly revealed. That all united should fail to enlighten the competent inquirer in any case is almost inconceivable.
- You should consider your brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilled workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that a little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forgot something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.
- An observant man can learn by an accurate and systematic examination of all that came in his way. From a drop of water, a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other. So all life is a great chain, the nature of which is known whenever we are shown a single link of it.
- Always approach a case with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. Form no theories, just simply observe and draw inferences from your observations.
- It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. Insensibly, one begins to twist the facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. It biases the judgment.
- The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of this profession.
- They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains. It’s a very bad definition, but it does apply to detective work.
- The height of a man, in nine cases out of ten, can be told from the length of his stride.
- When a man writes on a wall, his instinct leads him to write above the level of his own eyes.
- To a great mind, nothing is little.
- It is a mistake to confound strangeness with mystery. The most commonplace crime is often the most mysterious, because it presents no new or special features from which deductions may be drawn.
- There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.
- Often what is out of the common is usually a guide rather than a hindrance. In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backward. That is a very useful accomplishment, and a very easy one, but people do not practice it much. In the everyday affairs of life it is more useful to reason forward, and so the other comes to be neglected. Most people, if you describe a train of events to them, will tell you what the results would be. They can put those events together in their minds, and argue from them that something will come to pass. There are a few people, however, who, if you told them a result, would be able to evolve from their own inner consciousness what the steps were which led up to that result. This power is what I mean when I talk of reasoning backward, or analytically.
- There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps. Always lay great stress upon it, and practice it till it becomes second nature.
- Detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner.
- Never guess. It is a shocking habit – destructive to the logical faculty. Observe the small facts upon which large inferences may depend.
- When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
- The main thing with people when you talk to them in an investigation is to never let them know that their information can be of the slightest importance to you. If you do they will instantly shut up like an oyster. If you listen to them under protest, as it were, you are very likely to get what you want.
- Women are never to be entirely trusted – not the best of them.
- It is good to adopt a system of docketing all paragraphs concerning men and things, so that it would be difficult to name a subject or a person on which one could not at once furnish information.
- When someone thinks their house is on fire, their first instinct is at once to rush to the thing which they value most. It is a perfectly overpowering impulse.
- Often the strangest and most unique things are very often connected not with the larger but with the smaller crimes, and occasionally, indeed, where there is room for doubt whether any positive crime has been committed.
- As a rule, the most bizarre a thing is the less mysterious it proves to be. It is your commonplace, featureless crimes which are really puzzling, just as a commonplace face is the most difficult to identify.
- Usually in unimportant matters there is a field for the observation, and for the quick analysis of cause and effect which gives the charm to the investigation. The larger crimes are apt to be the simpler, for the bigger the crime the more obvious, as a rule, is the motive.
- It should be your business to know things. To train yourself to see what others overlook.
- In an investigation, the little things are infinitely the most important.
- Never trust to general impressions, but concentrate yourself upon details. On examining a woman’s appearance, you should realize the importance of sleeves, the suggestiveness of thumb-nails, or the great issues that may hang from a boot-lace. In a man it is perhaps better first to take the knee of the trouser.
- Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to bring it home.
- The most difficult crime to track is the one which is purposeless.
- Depend on it, there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace.
- You must look for consistency. Where there is a want of it you must suspect deception.
- Your eyes should be trained to examine faces and not their trimmings. It is the first quality of a criminal investigation that you should see through a disguise.
- Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky thing. It may seem to point very straight to one thing, but if you shift your own point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different.
- Your method should be founded upon the observation of trifles.
- The ideal reason would, when one had been shown a single fact in all its bearings, deduce from it not only all the chain of events which led up to it but also all the results which would follow from it. As Cuvier could correctly describe a whole animal by the contemplation of a single bone, so the observer who has thoroughly understood one link in a series of incidents should be able to accurately state all the other ones, both before and after. We have not yet grasped the results which the reason alone can attain to. Problems may be solved in the study which have baffled all those who have sought a solution by the aid of the senses. To carry the art, however, to its highest pitch, it is necessary that the reasoner should be able to utilize all the facts which have come to his knowledge; and this in itself implies, as you will readily see, a possession of all knowledge, which, even in these days of free education and encyclopedias, is a somewhat rare accomplishment. It is not impossible, however, that a man should possess all knowledge which is likely to be useful to him in his work. A man should keep his little brain-attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.
- Often the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner.
- Read nothing but the criminal news and the agony column. The latter is always instructive.
- The most practical thing that you ever can do in your life would be to shut yourself up for three months and read twelve hours a day at the annals of crime. Everything comes in circles. The old wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up. It’s all been done before, and will be again. Then when you have heard some slight indication of the course of events in an investigation, you should be able to guide yourself by the thousands of other similar cases which should occur to your memory.
- An investigator should look at everything with reference to his own special subject. One, for example, can see some scattered houses along a countryside, and become impressed by their beauty. But to the investigator, the only thought sometimes should be a feeling of their isolation and the impunity with which crime may be committed there.
- Crime is common. Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon logic rather than upon crime that you should dwell.
- Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest. Nothing has more individuality, save perhaps watches and bootlaces.
- Always in an investigation you should put yourself in the man’s place, and, having first gauged his intelligence, try to imagine how you would proceed under the same circumstances.
- Results are come by always putting yourself in the other fellow’s place, and thinking what you would do yourself. It takes some imagination, but it pays.
- It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental and which vital. Otherwise your energy and attention must be dissipated instead of being concentrated.
- Make it a point of never having any prejudices, and of following docilely wherever a fact may lead you.
- In an investigation, it is only the colourless, uneventful cases which are hopeless.
- In an investigation, always look for a possible alternative, and provide against it. It is the first rule of criminal investigations.
- The features given to man are means by which he shall express his emotions, and you can read a man’s train of thought from his features, especially his eyes.
- Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it.
- As long as the criminal remains upon two legs so must there be some indentation, some abrasion, some trifling displacement which can be detected by the scientific searcher.
- The Press is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it.
- One characteristic that the detective should have in the Science of Deduction and Analysis is the ability to throw the brain out of action and to switch all thoughts on to lighter things wherever you think things could no longer work to advantage.
- Education never ends. It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.
- First real insight into the character of parents is gained by studying their children.
- Your thoughts about dogs should be analogous. A dog always reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. And their passing moods may reflect the passing moods of others.
- When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals. He has the nerve and he has the knowledge.
- When you follow two separate chains of thought, you will find some point of intersection which should approximate to the truth.
- Do not agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from the truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers.
- It is always good to have someone with you on whom you can thoroughly rely. Local aid is always either worthless or else biased.
- It is my belief, founded upon experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.
- The average petty thief has a more extensive knowledge of the value of objects, than the average collector.
- The best place to hide anything, is where everyone can see it.
- It’s often a mistake to accept something as true, merely because it’s obvious. The truth is only arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue.
- One of the first principles in solving crime, is never to disregard anything, no matter how trivial.
- People generally forget in assuming a disguise, that the shape of the ear is an almost infallible means of recognition and identification to the trained eye.
- Facts are always convincing. It’s the conclusions drawn from facts, that are frequently in error.
- To the trained ear, footsteps have a characteristic rhythm as identifiable as fingerprints.
- When murders are committed, there usually is something that unfortunate victims have in common, that might indicate the motive. If, on the other hand, they appear incidental, then they are sometimes a part of something more sinister.
- The science of detection is very much like stringing a handful of beads. In an investigation, the suspects are the beads, where you then must try to string them together with some thread to make a connection, in order to solve the mystery.
- Houses, like people, have definite personalities.
- Surgical instruments that save life, are hardly more pleasant to look at, than those that take it.
- Murder like matrimony, generally has a motive.
- In this profession, one has to take chances.
- Egomaniacs are always so much more chatty when they feel they have the upper hand.
- Suicides, invariably leave notes behind them. Murders do not, and when you drive a person to suicide, that’s murder.
- Often a good disguise to assume, is that of a postman. No one ever looks twice at a postman.
- When women are involved in crime, their method, whatever it is, is apt to be peculiarly subtle and cruel. Feline not canine.
- Poison is a woman’s weapon.
- Whenever setting a trap, in order to catch someone, it’s best to bait it with the food they like.
- In an attempt to solve a crime, it’s best to duplicate the conditions under which the crime occurred.
- Never trust plans already made by other people, they have a habit of becoming to widely known.
- Sometimes to leave one unguarded, can be a skillful trap for one’s opponent.
- The imagination is where crimes conceived, and where they’re solved.
- Even when facts clearly indicate one thing, it is not always the case. That’s why so many murders remain unsolved. People will stick to facts, even though they prove nothing. Now, if you go beyond facts, use the imagination as the criminal does, imagine what might have happened, and act upon it, you will usually find yourself justified.
- An investigator always needs something more than legends and rumors. Proof, you must have proof.
- When examining footprints, it’s good to know that, clubfooted people invariably bring their full weight down on the toe. If other peculiarities arise, such as, the footprint being balanced from toe to heel, then the footprint must have some other compensating deformity to explain it, such as, the footprint being made by a person not really clubfooted, but wearing a clubfooted shoe.
- The obvious always appears simple.
- No matter what situation arises, one must adapt oneself to the tools at hand.
- Every crime, always exhibits a pattern and a purpose in it.
- Purpose and motive are the last things a sane man would imply, if he were posing as a madman. Unless there is method in his madness.
- The temptation of the sudden wealth, could possibly turn a once seemingly harmless person, into a ruthless killer.
- Murder is an insidious thing. Once a person has dipped their fingers in blood, sooner or later they’ll feel the urge to kill again.
- The terrifying part about blackmail is, that the victim is afraid to fight the accusation, no matter how false. Once the accusation is made, their name becomes smeared and sometimes their life is ruined.
- Anything is possible, until proven otherwise.
- Never trust the obvious.
- The deductive mind never rests. It’s not unlike a finely tuned musical instrument, which demands attention and practice. Problems of logic, mathematical equations and riddles are some ways of fine-tuning the mind.
- A great detective relies on perception, intelligence, and imagination.
Sherlock Holmes: When I met you for the first time yesterday, I said “Afghanistan or Iraq?”
Dr John Watson: Yes. How did you know?
Sherlock Holmes: I didn’t know, I saw. Your haircut, the way you hold yourself, says military. The conversation as you entered the room – said trained at Bart’s, so army doctor. Obvious. Your face is tanned, but no tan above the wrists – you’ve been abroad but not sunbathing. The limp’s really bad when you walk, but you don’t ask for a chair when you stand, like you’ve forgotten about it, so it’s at least partly psychosomatic. That suggests the original circumstances of the injury were probably traumatic – wounded in action, then. Wounded in action, suntan – Afghanistan or Iraq.
Dr John Watson: You said I had a therapist.
Sherlock Holmes: You’ve got a psychosomatic limp. Of course you’ve got a therapist. Then there’s your brother. Your phone – it’s expensive, email enabled, MP3 player. But you’re looking for a flat-share, you wouldn’t waste money on this. It’s a gift, then. Scratches – not one, many over time. It’s been in the same pocket as keys and coins. The man sitting next to me wouldn’t treat his one luxury item like this, so it’s had a previous owner. The next bit’s easy, you know it already.
[indicates back of the phone, which has been engraved with the inscription “Harry Watson – from Clara XXX”]
Dr John Watson: The engraving?
Sherlock Holmes: Harry Watson – clearly a family member who’s given you his old phone. Not your father – this is a young man’s gadget. Could be a cousin, but you’re a war hero who can’t find a place to live. Unlikely you’ve got an extended family, certainly not one you’re close to, so brother it is. Now, Clara – who’s Clara? Three kisses says romantic attachment. Expensive phone says wife, not girlfriend. Must’ve given it to him recently – this model’s only six months old. Marriage in trouble, then – six months on, and already he’s giving it away? If she’d left him, he would’ve kept it. People do, sentiment. But no, he wanted rid of it – he left her. He gave the phone to you, that says he wants you to stay in touch.
Dr John Watson: How can you possibly know about the drinking?
[cuts to a close-up of the phone’s charger port, showing obvious scratches around it]
Sherlock Holmes: Shot in the dark. Good one, though. Power connection – tiny little scuff marks around the edge. Every night he goes to plug it in and charge but his hands are shaky. You never see those marks on a sober man’s phone, never see a drunk’s without them. There you go, you see? You were right.
As the season 4 of television masterpiece Sherlock Holmes been officially confirmed to be aired on the new year day (1/1/2017), it’s humbling to reflect on what a phenomenon Sherlock and his friends have created worldwide in terms of clinical script writing, transcending acting as well as deductive thinking.
Back in July 2010, the world was a subtly different place. Martin Freeman was the nice one from The Office. Benedict Cumberbatch was actress Wanda Ventham’s son. Sherlock Holmes was a Victorian. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat were two writer-producers looking at the inauspicious summer launch-date given to their unconventional new crime series, and wondering if it would prove as detrimental as an 800ft fall from an Austrian waterfall.
The signs from their employers were not immediately reassuring. BBC drama commissioners had viewed the first three episodes, but, paralysed by Lestrade-like obtuseness, were refusing to commit to more until the ratings came in. The viewing public, though, did not consider this a three-pipe problem. Over seven million people tuned in to see Cumberbatch and Freeman solving their first case – a 21st-century riff on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet. They concluded that setting Holmes and Watson loose in the modern world was not a travesty, but a homecoming; that the furiously clever, desperately lonely private detective and the wounded soldier returned from Afghanistan were as much figures of our own age as the gaslit one into which they had been born.
Six years on, Sherlock is a phenomenon. Its leads have big international careers. The agreeably Hobbity face of Freeman can be seen on the side of passing buses. Cumberbatch has played a Star Trek nemesis. Sales of Doyle’s stories have lurched upwards by 180 per cent. Go anywhere with Gatiss, and a fan will offer him a deftly knitted simulacrum of Freeman, or a copy of The Sign of Four translated into Uzbek, or an elaborate theory about how Sherlock escaped the cliffhanger ending of the finale to the previous series, The Reichenbach Fall. “I never thought it would be like this,” he says. “There are only so many ways you can fall off a building.” Only a few days remain before the the new series is premiered at 9pm on New Year’s Day and the nation knows what he’s known all along: “I’m very glad everyone is finally seeing it. It’s been like living with a terrible burden.”
I’m watching the season 1 probably tenth time, yet it is still as invigorating as it has ever been. Pure intellectual bliss.
Dr John Watson: We don’t know a thing about each other. I don’t know where we’re meeting. I don’t even know your name.
Sherlock Holmes: I know you’re an Army doctor, and you’ve been invalided home from Afghanistan. I know you’ve got a brother who’s worried about you, but you won’t go to him for help because you don’t approve of him, possibly because he’s an alcoholic, more likely because he recently walked out on his wife, and I know your therapist thinks your limp’s psychosomatic – quite correctly, I’m afraid. That’s enough to be going on with, don’t you think? The name’s Sherlock Holmes, and the address is 221-B Baker Street. Afternoon.