Sherlock – BBC – Series 2 – Why so much Blasphemy my dear Watson?

During my childhood I grew up watching the classic black and white Sherlock Holmes movies starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson. In a series of 14 movies released between 1939 – 1946, these familiar films contain various adaptations and re-inventions of the original Conan Doyle stories of which 12 movies were set in the 1940’s. Sadly this series did not portray Watson quite accurately.

In the 1980’s – 1990’s we saw an excellent return of Holmes and Watson in the series made for TV starring Jeremy Brett. For me, and from a viewpoint of the acting alone, the Jeremy Brett series is the cream of Conan Doyle adaptations and is greatly admired by many who know and have read the original stories.

However, what we find today with the more recent Sherlock Holmes adaptations is a somewhat confused re-interpretation of Holmes which is about as accurate to Conan Doyle as Braveheart was to William Wallace.

Over the last 2 years or so there has been a number of modern re-interpretations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s private consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes on both cinema and television.

In 2009 the cinema was hit with a blockbuster version of Sherlock Holmes re-interpreted as played by Robert Downey Jnr. Downey played Sherlock as a somewhat comical, messy Chaplinesque type character. In 2011 the screen was hit yet again with a Downey playing a Sherlock who was this time more like ‘Iron Man’ than Holmes. Thus, Sherlock moved from Chaplinesque to Iron Man.

In the recent BBC series, ‘Sherlock’, and distinctly throughout series 2, we saw a Sherlock who is somewhat cold and aggressive and lacks the quality of respect of the character within the original writings. Though well acted and well made, the stories moved a little and were often unclear and a little more far fetched than the original Conan Doyle stories, likewise we also find a Watson who is now distinctly and repeatedly guilty of blasphemy against the name of Jesus Christ.

This blasphemy can be found in all three episodes of series 2.

Likewise, in episode 1 of series 2, “A Scandal in Belgravia” we find a distinct atheist influenced statement from the script, in which Watson while in conversation with a very odd interpretation of Irene Adler, made a distinct atheist statement. In a response to a comment concerning mobile phone texts, we heard Watson say, “Sherlock always replies to everything. He’s mister punchline, he will outlive God trying to have the last word”.

This statement is odd, since Sherlock does not actually exist so how can he outlive God?

The series concluded with episode 3 “The Reichenbach fall” which contained an out of character portrayal of a suicidal Moriarty who near ruins Sherlock and then commits suicide by putting a gun in his mouth and firing it without any sign of armed police showing up? But still, a surprising event concluded with Sherlock appearing to commit suicide by jumping off a building and crashing to the floor, yet within moments and yet again another blasphemous use of the name of Jesus, it became apparently clear that Sherlock had actually faked his own death.

I watched the episode and compared it with the original Conan Doyle ending and I could not help but regard the original ending far better and more realistic than the modern. However, I noticed from the modern version a distinct paralleled mind game complete with a simulative subliminal reference to the death of Jesus, which in this case Sherlock appears to have died and is soon resurrected and stands watching his closest friends visit his grave. This comparison was also made a little more evident when ‘Radio Times’ published a review by David Brown on 15th January 2012, in which Brown said, quote, “Even Jesus took three days before His miraculous resurrection”. Thus containing a very immature and distinctly poor reference to the resurrection of Jesus as though it took Jesus 3 days to rise again and thus Sherlock rose from the grave quicker than Christ. The difference is that Jesus did actually die as history proves and He did raise Himself from the dead which is also a historical fact. He did not merely appear to make a careful plan to jump off a building with restricted landing view and apparently into a padded parked van on the road?

However, the problem is that the Sherlock BBC TV series was created by two modern atheist screenwriters, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and it is apparent when considering modern atheism in Britain that the screen writers are inwardly using Sherlock as a spokesman for modern atheism and I am curious to know if there is a larger game afoot? After all, Conan Doyle was a spiritualist and not an atheist.

Likewise we not only did we hear the Watson of this series make such a dogmatic atheist statement that Sherlock will outlive God, but we also hear Watson blaspheme the name of Jesus more times than I care to mention.

Which begs the question; how is it that we hear so much blasphemy these days and why is so much of this blasphemy directed against the name of the Christian God?

Why is blasphemy against Jesus Christ permitted on screen yet we do not hear the same for Mohammed or Allah?

Is this fair?
Is this right?
Is this moral?
Is this acceptable?

Don’t take me wrongly, for my faith is very strong and I am not offended by blasphemy, for people merely bring destruction upon themselves, and likewise, I am good with re-interpretations of classic stories but maybe the BBC should stop playing the coward and maybe next time the scriptwriters for Sherlock series 3 should try adding the name of ‘Allah’ or ‘Mohammed’ in their long list of blasphemies, if they dare!

We like Sherlock and maybe people may make more accurate versions once again, but until then the question remains; is Sherlock now being made a spokesman for modern atheism which thinks it will outlive God?
I leave the matter for the moment in Conan Doyle’s own words from the familiar and intellegent Sherlock we all know;

There’s an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”

Sherlock Holmes
His last bow

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  1. #1 by Allallt on April 23, 2012 - 8:53 AM

    If you think Sherlock is being used to be the voice of atheism, you don’t think Moffat thinks much of atheism, do you? Sherlock is an emotionally stunted socially awkward person, probably with asperges syndrome.

    My word, you are sensitive aren’t you. In the world of the BBC Sherlock series Sherlock is real, as is Watson.
    Get the context right! Sherlock is assumed to exist for the purposes of the script. It’s not some complex 4th-wall breakdown of comparing fictions. So when Watson says “He will outlive God…” it’s simply a comment on the stubbornness of the asperges Sherlock the BBC created. It’s hyperbole to the point of comical effect. Also, making a comparison to an unspecified God does not make it your God.

    As for Sherlock’s resurrection, well the reason he is resurrected is because (a) that’s true to the books and (b) for suspense for the next series. If you think the imagery is too biblical I think you’d better check why. It’s not an issue for the Bible to stand as a text to which allusions can be made, is it? The idea of Sherlock’s death and resurrection is even less blasphemous by your own admission: you think Jesus actually died and came back, Sherlock faked death!

    (Moriarty’s suicide is not out of character. Sherlock had him cornered (it’s like chess). As long as Moriarty was alive Sherlock had a piece to play. It’s actually a good literary interpretation of how they tumble down the waterfall in the books–but this is besides the point)

    As for Watson saying “Jesus” and not “Mohammed”… well, no one says “Mohammed” to express surprise or shock. It’s simply not something that happens. People do say “Jesus” to that end. That’s simply the linguistics of our language.

    It’ll be interesting to see if Sherlock somehow manages to tackle some Islamic terrorist plot, but it seems doubtful. Sherlock’s hand never did deal with something so superficially obvious as ‘the local terrorist group’.
    Lets not forget that ::SPOILER ALERT:: (a courtesy you didn’t extend to your readers in this post) Sherlock does save Irene Adler from a group of stereotyped Muslim extremists. Is that not as (if not more) religiously and culturally intolerant than anything you thought worthy of mentioning here? Why wasn’t that worthy of mention? It trumps any religiously founded complaint you made here.

  2. #2 by Simon Peter Sutherland on April 25, 2012 - 10:02 AM

    Thanks for your comment. Some good points, some not so good.

    1) You say “If you think Sherlock is being used to be the voice of atheism, you don’t think Moffat thinks much of atheism, do you? Sherlock is an emotionally stunted socially awkward person, probably with asperges syndrome.”

    1) A. Of course I think Sherlock is being used as a voice for atheism, have I not made that clear? And as for your comments concerning Sherlocks character, his character is genius, serious intellect, an attribute that atheists delight in. Your thoughts are offline there my friend and not consistent.

    2) You say “My word, you are sensitive aren’t you. In the world of the BBC Sherlock series Sherlock is real, as is Watson.”

    2) A. Not really. You have anything against being sensitive?

    3) You say “Get the context right!” Q. What? You also say “Sherlock is assumed to exist for the purposes of the script. It’s not some complex 4th-wall breakdown of comparing fictions. So when Watson says “He will outlive God…” it’s simply a comment on the stubbornness of the asperges Sherlock the BBC created. It’s hyperbole to the point of comical effect. Also, making a comparison to an unspecified God does not make it your God.”

    3) A. Of course it is a script, Sherlock is not real, it is the script that is the problem. Saying that Sherlock will outlive God by having the last word, can have more meanings to it that you claim it to have. That is my point. Seeing things on the surface does not prove that there is nothing underneath.

    4) You say “As for Sherlock’s resurrection, well the reason he is resurrected is because (a) that’s true to the books and (b) for suspense for the next series. If you think the imagery is too biblical I think you’d better check why. It’s not an issue for the Bible to stand as a text to which allusions can be made, is it? The idea of Sherlock’s death and resurrection is even less blasphemous by your own admission: you think Jesus actually died and came back, Sherlock faked death!”

    4) A. The faked death of Sherlock was not true to the book in any way really, he did not even jump in the book, he merely won over Moriarty and then hid away. The script was hardly anything like the book.

    As for Jesus’ resurrection, it is a historical FACT that Jesus died under Pontius Pilate and we also have eye witness accounts that He rose from the dead. That is a foundation of Christian doctrine, not based upon fairy-tale myths or any of that nonsense. but upon individual accounts from eye witnesses. If you doubt that then you are ignorant of historical reality. Something common amongst modern atheists.

    How can Sherlocks faked death be seen as blaspemous? Sherlock is not God, Jesus was God, He could do whatever He wanted to do. Come on, thats a poor argument you made.

    5) You say “Moriarty’s suicide is not out of character. Sherlock had him cornered (it’s like chess). As long as Moriarty was alive Sherlock had a piece to play. It’s actually a good literary interpretation of how they tumble down the waterfall in the books–but this is besides the point)”

    5) A. Not really worth an answer. Read the books and see if you can find one hint to a suicidal Moriarty. I can’t.

    6) You say “As for Watson saying “Jesus” and not “Mohammed”… well, no one says “Mohammed” to express surprise or shock. It’s simply not something that happens. People do say “Jesus” to that end. That’s simply the linguistics of our language.”

    6) A. There are countless shows where Jesus name is not blasphemed. Would you like me to list them for you. Come on. People use that language in films to provoke and express how they really see Jesus. He is an offence to them,

    7) You say “It’ll be interesting to see if Sherlock somehow manages to tackle some Islamic terrorist plot, but it seems doubtful. Sherlock’s hand never did deal with something so superficially obvious as ‘the local terrorist group’.
    Lets not forget that ::SPOILER ALERT:: (a courtesy you didn’t extend to your readers in this post) Sherlock does save Irene Adler from a group of stereotyped Muslim extremists. Is that not as (if not more) religiously and culturally intolerant than anything you thought worthy of mentioning here? Why wasn’t that worthy of mention? It trumps any religiously founded complaint you made here.”

    7) A. Bravo!!! Bravo!!!

    You imagine that you trump my argument by one observation? Yes, they may well have been Islamic extremists, but I think you will find that the average Muslim would stand against extemists too. My article was not concerned or within the context of even mentioning a topic such as Islamic extremists, I only referred to the FACT that no one uses any common language against Islam. But you could say that Jesus can be found in Islam, Yes, you could say that, but I would certainly argue that a certain Jesus is found in Islam, but He is not the Jesus of Christianity, but a mere Prophet, but even Jesus Himself said that He was more than a Prophet.

    However, I see no trump in any of your comments, but thanks for leaving them anyway.

    My argument stands and your denial will not change a thing!

  3. #3 by CB on January 16, 2013 - 1:19 AM

    I just have a few comments. Muhammad and Allah (who is technically the same God as the Christian God; Christians are “people of the book” according to Islam.) are not “blasphemed” in Western culture because Christianity has had *the* strongest influence on Western culture. The Battle of Tours effectively kept islamic culture away from Europe. Even today with the internet, the lack of knowledge of Islam and religions is a bit shocking. Christianity is just more familiar to everyone.

    Also, I don’t understand how having a character who is intellectual and a genius equates to atheism. Atheists don’t have a monopoly on intellect, just ask Isaac Newton, C.S. Lewis, Francis Collins, and many others. It’s a huge assumption to make that it’s the voice of atheism. I’m not saying it’s the voice of Christianity or any other religion, it’s simply devoid of religion, merely secular entertainment. Don’t think that’s a bad thing.

    Also, I’d like to reiterate what the above poster said. Watson’s comment about Sherlock outliving God was merely hyperbole to highlight Sherlock’s stubbornness. No hidden meaning about religion, again this is just secular entertainment.

    I realize that this is a year later, but I’m a new Sherlock fan and happened to stumble upon this.

    ~CB

    • #4 by CB on January 16, 2013 - 4:27 AM

      ONE MORE THING! Steven Moffat, writer of Sherlock, has commented that Sherlock fans have missed a clue as to solving the Reichenbach fall mystery. I’m pretty sure the truck-with-landing-pad has been dismissed, or at least that’s not the entire picture. I wouldn’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched. ;P

      ~CB

      • #5 by Simon Peter Sutherland on January 16, 2013 - 10:28 AM

        Does it matter? He has most likely re-written the script now, based upon what people are saying.

    • #6 by Simon Peter Sutherland on January 16, 2013 - 10:41 AM

      I do not agree at all that Christian God and “Allah” are one and the same. I have reason for this; “Allah” does not affirm that Jesus was crucified but denies it, (Surah 4. 157) the Qur’an also claims it is “Blasphemy” to say “God is Christ” (Surah 5. 17) and also claims that Christians are cursed for saying it (Surah 9. 30) Thus, if one is to identify a being by proof texts, then “Allah” is not the Christian God.

      Anyhow, back to Sherlock; If you read the original books of Sherlock Holmes by Doyle, such as the end of “The Blue Carbuncle” you will see that Sherlock is not devoid of religion. In fact he makes many statements in the original books that more than suggest that he had deep Christian Theological conviction.

      The problem I have with modern atheism, through my dealings with it, is that they they lay claim to things, and put religious people and Christians down to be being stupid ignorant or deluded and make out that all clever people are atheist. That is a decpetion and a flawed idea, and when one knows what modern atheism is like, and when one knows that the writers are modern atheists, one can see how the influence of that idea can be seen in this version of ‘Sherlock’, maybe even with the aim of spreading the influence of modern atheism to a large audience?

      Also, the every time that the name “Jesus Christ” is used in a script in this way, it becomes ‘religious’ since it lacks respect for Christianity and for Jesus Himself, using His name to express disgust.

      They don’t do that with “Allah” or “Mohammad”.

      I think, they know what they are doing. There are other words that could be used and this was pretty blatantly obvious.

      • #7 by CB on January 16, 2013 - 6:45 PM

        I understand that you have your theological reasons for not believing that the Muslim god is the same god, but the Muslims do see Christians and Jews as “people of the book” for worshipping the same god. They do not hold Jesus with quite as much significance as Mohammed, obviously, but still consider him a great person and prophet. But I suppose this is a completely moot point in regards to your post.

        When I was saying that Sherlock was secular, I was referring specifically to the BBC series. It’s secular, and using “Christ” isn’t meant to invoke religious sentiment just as the word “b****” is hardly ever used to call someone a female dog. The meaning meant to convey (in this case frustration) doesn’t have to do much with the original meaning. That being said, I can fully understand why it upsets you.

        The “he’ll outlive God trying to get the last word” comment is just hyperbole. God, even if you aren’t religious, is understood to be an eternal, superior being. Saying Sherlock is going to outlive something eternal and superior just suggests his stubbornness.

        As for intellectualism and atheism, I’m a psychology undergrad student and my research centers around personality and belief. I’ve seen quite a few studies showing the relationship between the personality trait openness to experience and atheism. Openness to experience is related to intellect, being open to new ideas, creativity, etc. There certainly are those atheists who bash Christians as stupid, unintellectual, etc. But just as Christianity isn’t monolithic in belief, neither is atheism. Atheism is merely the lack of belief in God or a higher power, and not all atheists believe that Christians are inherently stupid.

        I think you’re reading way too much into this. Many people, much to your chagrin I’m sure, use “Christ” to express frustration, and it’s not seen to be as censorship-worthy as other expletives, making it more TV-appropriate.

        ~CB

      • #8 by Simon Peter Sutherland on January 16, 2013 - 8:12 PM

        Understood. Thanks.

        Just like to add that although I understand your points about Islam, I see the whole Islam issue as focal to the Qur’an as a proof text, although Islam as a religion of people is not always about the Qur’an, since many Muslims do not read it, as a source Theologian I look to what the actual text says rather than what the religion on the whole says. I do this with Christianity also.

        I understand that the Qur’an refers to Jews and Christians as followers of the same god or ‘people of the book’, but I see things further than that, I see the spiritual condition of the author, that the author is using the established historic leaders and the religions of Judaism and the Judeo-Christian tradition as foundation for a new religion. In this case, a 6th century AD religion which used established people and traditions and texts as foundation stones in a new building. JW’s do this, Mormons do this, most new religions and ideas do this, they claim some kind of historical position or person to their idea and use it to further their new thing. Many Christians do this with St Augustine. But does that mean that the actual god, gods or God of Islam and Christianity are one and the same, I don’t think so.

        Based upon the Qur’anic text, I do not embrace that idea.

        Regarding the blasphemy issue, you could say it is upsetting, yes, but I’m strong enough to let it wash over my back, but the bigger problem I see is that people can say things like that on TV, radio, or whatever, yet there are other words that people could use, yet if they did, they would be in trouble. If people were to use homosexual names as swear words, or lesbian names, or Buddha, or harikrishna, or whatever, then would they not be in trouble in some way? Why? If the name of Jesus can be used in this way, as a swear word, then why does secular tv not use other names also? No one uses homosexual swear words on the media do they? Even the song “Fairytale of New York” has the word “faggot” edited out, yet they don’t edit out insults or blasphemies towards Christianity do they? Why not, its just as harmful to people as insults to homosexuals are.

        I don’t hear people say ‘O Buddha’ or ‘O harikrishna’ or whatever on tv like they say Jesus. Why not? Is that equality?

        Maybe the secular media world needs to go all the way then and if they are willing to use Jesus Christ as a swear word, they need to do the same with Mohammad and Buddha and harikrishna and other religious leaders? Or, maybe to be more fair, there needs to be a reform of blaspemy laws?

        I think a reform would be the best option. A reform that would cut religious, blaspemous and bigoted and all insults that offend in this manner out altogether.

      • #9 by CB on January 17, 2013 - 7:35 PM

        Ok then this is an issue about society and the use of “Jesus Christ. Not Sherlock being an atheist TV series. And that was the reason I commented in the first place.

        (Again, other religions are less likely to be used in such way because it’s Christianity that has ruled the roost in Western culture. Nobody knows what Zoroastrianism is, so no one is going to be screaming, “Ahura Mazda!” when something goes wrong. Christianity has been the dominating religion in Europe for centuries and centuries. That can’t be denied.)

  4. #10 by Simon Peter Sutherland on January 18, 2013 - 11:28 AM

    You said, “other religions are less likely to be used in such way because it’s Christianity that has ruled the roost in Western culture…Christianity has been the dominating religion in Europe for centuries and centuries”

    Ah, so it is a religious issue then? A retaliation maybe? An attack?

    Maybe even ‘Sherlock’ is a retaliation too? by the anti-Christian BBC perhaps?

    Well, religion is not going away, neither is Christianity, in fact it is growing stronger, so its either Christianity that is going to be the dominant religion of the future or Islam. That can’t be denied either.

    Which one would you prefer?

    I tell you now, Muslims are not tolerant like Christians, and that religion is growing fast. So if Islam were the future, it would be better for everyone if the blaspemy laws were dealt with now rather than later. They will not tolerate people insulting Jesus like Christians do. That can’t be denied either.

    I think there needs to be a reform of blaspemy laws.

  5. #11 by Unofficial Consulting Detective on June 20, 2013 - 11:32 PM

    Thank you so much for pointing all this out! I tried to watch a teeny weeny bit of this series and I nearly vomited! Why? First, the Good Doctor is not the one from the canon. Second, the Great Detective is totally NOT the Mr. Holmes we love! And third, the BLASPHEMY!!! Why did these stupids want to CHANGE the canon. Jeremy Brett will ALWAYS be “The Sherlock Holmes” to me!

    • #12 by Simon Peter Sutherland on June 30, 2013 - 4:55 PM

      Your welcome. Beware of the new series. Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone were the perfect Holmes. Edward Hardwicke was a fantastic Watson. Basil Rathbone was excellent in “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” and “The Scarlet Claw” and Jeremy Brett’s finist momments, I think, were in “The Blue Carbuncle” “The Six Napoleons” “The Second Stain”.

  6. #13 by Lightpost on January 6, 2014 - 5:47 PM

    Hi, I’m not sure if replying to this is the same as reviving old forum threads. I just want to say that I completely agree that they’ve used this modern Sherlock to “promote” atheism. I was rather offended after watching Season 3’s second episode. I’ve read the books and as far as I can remember, Sherlock wasn’t an atheist. It’s a fun show but I don’t think I can continue watching it anymore.

    Anyway, I guess this is just little part of the prophecy about anti-Christs/non-believers and Satan himself will rule….

    Sigh.

    • #14 by Simon Peter Sutherland on January 6, 2014 - 7:41 PM

      Agreed. I’m going to write another article and I’m just collecting the texts. In episode three, this ‘Sherlock’ made a typical ‘new atheist’ comment at this ‘Watson’s’ wedding.

      I thought episode one of series three was pathetic and confused and poorly written. Downey was better to watch than that, and ‘Sherlock Holmes 2’ was nothing like Sherlock Holmes. I like reading the original stories by Doyle since they help with understanding the history of the Police force and English history, and help the reader think, but this tv atheist nonsense, is not a patch on the original books. Even though I hardly watch British television these days, I’m through with it, I’d rather watch Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett any day.

  7. #15 by Narco hip hop on August 23, 2014 - 6:36 PM

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I think that you ought to publish more about this topic,
    it might not be a taboo subject but typically people don’t speak about these subjects.
    To the next! Many thanks!!

  8. #16 by Daisy Jane on July 4, 2016 - 3:28 AM

    I recently discovered the BBC Sherlock and really fell in love with the acting and the characters. While watching Season 2 I winced in my spirit as they suddely began to blaspheme the name of Jesus. Why Oh why ruin such a good show? 😦 I began to google why is Jesus used as a curse on Sherlock and thankfully your blog came up. This is so thoughtful and well-written and I really enjoyed it. The quote from the original Sherlock at the end was perfect. I see I’m a little late to this since it is dated 2012 but thought to thank you anyways. Cheers… Looking for a show to replace Sherlock 😦

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