Sherlock Holmes

The More You Holmes

From: Elementary, the last two episodes ever… /sniff/

Names: Altamont, Sigerson

Reference: In the last two eps of stellar Sherlockian show Elementary, we see and hear about Sherlock using these two names as aliases as he is feigning death. In the original canon, everyone (including faithful Watson) thinks Holmes dead, until he returns in fine form to solve the murder of Ronald Adair (which happens to be another character name from canon that appears again here). Sigerson is one of the canon aliases Holmes tells Watson about upon his return.

In Elementary, Joan Watson is in on the fake death, but has lost track of him, and so in the last ep, Sherlock tells her in a verbatim quote from the original canon story “The Empty House”:

“You may have read of the remarkable explorations of a Norwegian named Sigerson; but I am sure it never occurred to you that you were receiving news of your friend.”

Altamont is a moniker that original canon Holmes uses not in the 3 years during his death, but in a story much more chronologically late than that: “His Last Bow.” In this rare omnisciently narrated short story, Holmes (now in his 60s) foils a German spy, with the help of an elderly, automobile-driving, comfortably-waistcoated Watson. Holmes had masqueraded for two years as an Irish-American tough guy named Altamont, and, after the conclusion of the story, delightfully complains not only about his goatee, but the fact that his language is no doubt forever sullied by his long years of Americanisms.

The last episode of Elementary was called “Their Last Bow,” no doubt in honor of the canon story of almost the same name.

The More You Holmes

From: Elementary s7ep10

Title / Name: “The Devil’s Foot” / Mortimer Tregennis

Reference: Eponymous canon story tells of Mortimer Tregennis, who threw powdered Devil’s foot root into the fire at a card game his siblings were playing with him, before escaping, hopefully to inherit the family estate.

In the original, Brenda Tregennis’ lover, classic Victorian character Leon Sterndale, African explorer and badass, kills Mortimer vigilante style in revenge, with his own Devil’s foot root. Holmes finds Sterndale’s motives so sympathetic that he lets him go.

In the Elementary episode, “The Latest Model,” this exact story (including the year it happened, 1910), is the subject of a documentary made by a plagiarist of another character’s diligent research work, making the latter potentially homicidal. Sherlock & Joan aren’t investigating the Devil’s foot story, but the dangers of the men who retold it.

So, though the story itself wasn’t updated and enacted in Elementary, instead it was preserved like a period piece or a fossil, in the middle of the contemporary mystery being solved around it.

The More You Holmes

From: Elementary ep. 7.8

Character Names / Title: Three Garridebs

Reference: the eponymous short canon story is about a crafty American who targets a man named Garrideb, getting him to leave his house to look for the third Garrideb, so the false Garrideb can fetch a valuable criminal tool hidden in the real Garrideb’s basement.

In this episode of Elementary, the Three Garridebs is what gamers call a Side Quest, but it does sound like the mystery Joan and Sherlock solve during the episode’s commercial breaks is pretty similar, at the very least.

Fun fact: the Three Garridebs also show up in BBC series Sherlock but the less said about the rococo and ridiculous fourth season of that show, the better. Ahem.

The More You Holmes

From: Elementary ep. 7.5&6

Name: Odin Reichenbach

Reference: Of course, as anyone who’s read more than two original Sherlock Holmes stories knows, it’s at the Reichenbach Falls where the brilliant detective meets his demise. Or, at least, he did, until Arthur Conan Doyle was pressured enough to bring his creation back to life a decade later. Spoilers…

Naming an antagonist Reichenbach, especially when we know that Season 7 is Elementary’s last, is troubling to say the least. Will Reichenbach cause Sherlock’s fall at the end of the season, with or without a brief glimpse for the audience a la the end of BBC Sherlock season 2, or Batman: Dark Knight Rises? Or will the showrunners do this to us at the season’s halfway mark, and then give us an Empty House and maybe a Last Bow before the end of the end? We can only wait and see. I like to think it’ll be the latter–after all, typical seasons of Elementary are around 22 eps long, and we’re only on #6, with Odin Reichenbach having just been established as one of the most powerful villains this series has yet seen. So we’ll see.

(And why his first name is Odin–the All-Father, king of Norse mythology, one can only speculate. Me, I think it’s because god Odin sends his two ravens, Hugin and Muninn, out into the world to collect information, recounting it all back to him every evening when they return. Odin Reichenbach is the head of an all-pervasive social media platform, and is gathering information about the world all the time, just like his godlike namesake. I would be chuffed if he ended up losing an eye or hanging himself for more god-Odin parallels, but again one must wait and see.)

The More You Holmes

From: 2.1, Elementary 6.19

Title: “The Geek Interpreter”

Reference: in BBC Sherlock, The Geek Interpreter is one of a quick chain of plays on words from canon mysteries that we see breeze by in an illustration of Sherlock’s busy-ness. In this case, it’s a group of young comic book fans that notice the comics are coming true.

In Elementary’s most recent ep of this same title, we watch a brilliant mathematician interpret some data under duress, and her lovelorn PhD advisor hire Holmes & Watson to find her and her kidnappers.

Both shows use this title as a nod to original canon story “The Greek Interpreter,” one of the most chilling and (in my educated and well-read opinion) underrated stories in the canon. Though the ending is pretty anticlimactic–good on the Grenada series for making that right.

The More You Holmes

From: ep. 2.1, Elementary 6.11

Line/mention: in Sherlock, when Watson expresses excitement at his blog getting hits, Sherlock scoffs. Watson retorts, “this is your living, Sherlock, not 240 types of tobacco ash.” To which Sherlock replies, “243.”

In Elementary, Irregular member The Nose mentions reading Sherlock’s “monograph on the 140 varieties of ash,” and pointing out that his differences in Trichinopoly and Birdseye ash are wrong.

Reference: we first hear of Holmes’ monograph on the 243 types of tobacco ash in the very first story, novel-length A Study in Scarlet. It is mentioned more throughout the canon, including in The Sign of Four, where he declares,

“To the trained eye there is as much difference between the black ash of a Trichinopoly and the white fluff of bird’s-eye as there is between a cabbage and a potato.”

The More You Holmes

From: Elementary 6.2

Line: SHERLOCK: It was easier to know it than to explain how I knew it. If you were asked to prove that two and two made four, you might find some difficulty. And yet you are quite sure of the fact.

Reference: this quote in the Elementary ep is Sherlock’s response to an incredulous FBI agent (no spoilers–this ep aired recently), and this exact same quote, verbatim, was uttered by Holmes to an incredulous Watson, in one of the earliest moments in the duo’s relationship of detective and record-keeper. This exchange took place in the very first Sherlock Holmes story, the novel-length A Study in Scarlet, after Watson couldn’t quite believe how Holmes saw the commissionaire’s situation just by glancing at him out a window.

The More You Holmes

From: ep. 3.1

Character name: Sebastian Moran

Reference: In the original canon, Sebastian Moran is a colonel, not a peer of the realm, but he shares the distinction in this episode (very nearly named after the original story: “Empty House” = “Empty Hearse”) of being the central villain of the first story after Holmes’ return from his supposedly fatal end at the Reichenbach Fall.

Moran is one of several suspected terrorists Sherlock calls his “rats,” so when we find a bomb set up in a tunnel called Sumatra, we also of course hear the echo of a never-penned, only-mentioned adventure called the “Giant Rat of Sumatra.”

The More You Holmes

From: ep. 3.2

Event (culprit): The wedding photographer is the (attempted) murderer.

Reference: Well this isn’t from the original canon (though the name of the murderer [Jonathan Small] and the act of Sherlock catching him by handcuffing him to luggage is indeed from the original namesake of this episode, The Sign of Four). However, this particular plot point was so uncannily like an episode from an earlier TV series, one very Sherlockian in nature, that I can’t help but think Mofftiss were inspired by it and lifted it.

In episode 1.4 of stellar TV series Lie to Me, the reason Cal Lightman, micro-expression expert, can’t see malicious intent on any of the wedding guests in the wedding videos after the groom has been shot, is that the would-be murderer is actually behind the camera. The plot there involves a jilted jealous past love, whereas in Sherlock 3.2 it involves revenge against Major Sholto (another character name from the canon original).

The More You Holmes

From: ep. 2.1 (and also brought up frequently in the rest of Seasons 2 and 3)

Event (costume): Sherlock, in an attempt to hide his face from paparazzi, grabs a random hat from a costume rack as he leaves a building. It’s a deerstalker. He mutters, “I’m a private detective; the last thing I need is a public image.” The resulting pictures of him in the hat become iconic and famous.

Reference: Though in the canon, Holmes only wears hats like this when in the

Sidney Paget

Original canon illustrator Sidney Paget was a big part of the reason why Holmes has been pictured in this hat since way back then.

country, as is normal for a Victorian gentleman (and the hat is only mentioned in Doyle’s words once, as an “ear-flapped travelling cap”), the most famous image of Sherlock Holmes in global culture is that of his profile in the deerstalker hat (and meerschaum pipe, which is also not from canon). There’s a glorious line in ep. 2.3, when John is admonishing Sherlock about not being careful enough with his fame. He says, “That’s not a deerstalker anymore; it’s a Sherlock Holmes hat.” And he’s right.

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