Nothing like cold steel, eh, Holmes? | Street Jazz

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nothing like cold steel, eh, Holmes?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 10:15 AM

There are certain movie roles that are said to be “actor-proof,” in that no matter who plays them - even badly - , the character will live on in the hearts of fans everywhere. Among such characters are Tarzan, Superman, James Bond, and, of course, the leader of the pack, Sherlock Holmes.

A lot of people, when pressed, can think of Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, when asked who played the master detective, but the number of actors who have inhabited the role must be like the demon that Christ met in the Bible:

Call me Legion.

Even Roger Moore essayed the part once, in Sherlock Holmes in New York. It’s better than you might think; John Huston played Moriarty,,  and the wonderful Charlotte Rampling played Irene Adler.

Now comes Robert Downey Jr,, who is set to play Holmes in a film directed by Guy (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) Ritchie. They promise that not only will it be true to the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, but that Holmes will be a “bad-ass.”

Yeah, right.

******

A Study in Terror - Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper

This is what happens when people who don’t know much about their source material announce “here I am, to save the day!”

Anyone truly familiar wiith the films will know that Holmes is certainly capable of getting the job done, and can even get down and dirty, when he needs to. There is the great fight on top of the train in The Seven Percent Solution, or probably one of the most violent Holmes films, A Study in Terror, in which he takes on Jack the Ripper.

Kicks his butt, too, baby, in one of the best fight scenes I’ve ever seen in a Holmes movie.

There is a wonderful scene when Holmes and Watson are walking home after a night in a Whitechapel pub, and are descended upon by several goons. Our stalwarts make short work of the bad guys. As they prepare to leave, Watson looks approvingly at Holmes, who has used his sword/cane, and says in approval:

Nothing like cold steel, eh, Holmes?”

I just thought, wow, I’m inviting you guys to my next party.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Study_in_Terror

******

And there’s even a book - and the X Files connection

Ellery Queen novelized the film, which came out in the 1960s. Now where can I find a copy of that?

There’s also an X Files connection, in that John Neville, who plays Holmes, also played a character known as the Well-Manicured Man in that show. He’s the conspirator who was blown up in his car after helping Fox Mulder in the first X Files movie.

****
Quote of the Day

It's surprising how much of memory is built around things unnoticed at the time. - Barbara Kingsolver, "Animal Dreams"

***

Killing off the Lone Gunmen? Still seems like an insane idea, Chris Carter

Spin-offs are kind of a hit or miss proposition. For every Maude there is an After-M*A*S*H, or an Enos. Spin-offs occur when producers take minor - but interesting - characters and see if audiences will connect with them in a deeper way.

It's all a crap shoot.

One of the better experiments was The Lone Gunmen, a spin-off from The X Files, which featured the conspiracy buffs/computer hackers whom FBI agent Fox Mulder was constantly consulting. Over the years, the trio's popularity had grown to the extent that their own series seemed a natural extension of the parent show.

The Lone Gunmen can best be described as counterculture patriots. Never conventional, they nevertheless often managed to be better informed about the doings of the government than Mulder and fellow agent Dana Scully were at times.

The show made its premiere on Fox on March 5, 2001, in an episode which will probably never be shown on television again, due to its uncomfortable connection with 9/11. In the episode a rogue government agency is plotting to take over an aircraft (via remote control) and crash it into the World Trade Center. They come uncomfortably close to doing so, as well.

Watching it now, even seven years on, is a little creepy, given what happened only a few short months later.

In the second episode our stalwarts (Richard "Ringo" Langly, Melvin Frohike, John Fitzgerald Byers (Tom Braidwood, Bruce Harwood, Dean Haglund, Stephen) are joined by two new cast members. Stephen Snedden plays Jimmy Bond, a wealthy supporter of their newspaper, The Lone Gunman. Jimmy is well-meaning but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

He also has more insight into the human heart than the cynical Lone Gunmen.

The other addition is Adele Harlow (Zuleikha Robinson - Hidalgo, New Amsterdam) whose name is an anagram for Lee Harvey Oswald. Though she is their rival, she often helps the quartet out in their cases.

Their cases truly range from the sublime to the ridiculous, as they pursue Nazis, a water-powered car, tango-dancing smugglers and assassins of all shapes and sizes.

Two episodes in particular stand out. In the clever "Planet of the Frohikes," they come up against an intelligent chimpanzee seeking aid in escaping from a government laboratory. It's full of "Planet of the Apes" references, some going by so quickly you'll have to replay the episode to
catch them all.

And in "The Lying Game," Jimmy Bond is forced to impersonate FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner, through the use of some Mission: Impossible style disguise fakery. Mitch Pileggi of The X Files shows fine comedic form here - why is he always stuck playing hard-asses?

Though their adventures on The X Files found them assisting Mulder and Scully against various government conspiracies, on their own series the trio seemed to find themselves battling corporate skullduggery. Which is just fine with me; those who know about such things realize that the corporate world can be just as deadly as government work.

Canceled after 12 episodes (but in 2008, it might only last a week), the Lone Gunmen returned to occasional - though important to the plot - episodes of The X Files. In the final season of that show, they were killed off in the infamous episode, "Jump the Shark."

Kill off the Lone Gunmen? Chris Carter, are you insane?

To add insult to injury, the two newest agents on the series (Doggett, Reyes) interacted with the trio throughout the episode, with Scully and Skinner only appearing for their funeral. Mulder, being "on the run" - ask your friends, I ain't got the time - wasn't in the episode at all.

It was a poor way to treat characters who had helped make the series as popular as it had become.

The characters returned as ghosts in the final episode of the series, in a brief scene with Fox Mulder. Rumor had it that the actors were very unhappy to return in such a capacity.

Extras on the DVD include TV previews, a short documentary, and the episode of The X Files which killed them off, "Jump the Shark" - which, despite my kvetching, is actually a pretty entertaining episode, and ties things up pretty well, all things considered. I would have included the "origin" story of the Lone Gunmen from the parent series, but I'm sure fans all have episodes they feel should have been included.

rsdrake@nwark.com


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