Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!
When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer realised they had a hit on their hands with 1934’s The Thin Man, it was inevitable that they’d demand a sequel. Two years later, they got it with After The Thin Man. The title references the fact that the action takes place directly after the first film. That had ended with the two leads boarding a train in New York for their home in San Francisco. The sequel starts with them arriving. This title went on to become effectively the brand for these films; four more were to follow with Thin Man in the title.
Oh, Auntie. After a year of bigger and smaller disappointments and only one moderate success, you’ve shown me you can pull it off. And how… 2010’s Sherlock was a great treat: funny, exciting, smart. But it was also only three episodes, one of which was decidedly weaker than the others. Would a 1 1/2 year hiatus help? Judging from the New Year’s Day episode and season starter “A Scandal in Belgravia”, the answer to that is a definite, loud, positively orgasmic “Yes!” Honestly, has there been witty dialogue, chemistry between the characters and stylish execution like this in any UK production in the last couple of years?
No, “Scandal” wasn’t perfect; it did have a couple of very cheesy moments, two of which weakened the female guest star in ways that are perhaps a bit iffy (mind you, I wouldn’t agree with the extent to which Jane Clare Jones criticises the episode), and it was perhaps too self-consciously cute with its references, punning and otherwise, to Doyle’s original stories (I groaned at the “Speckled Blonde”, though I loved the hat bit). Regardless, the episode was pretty much perfect in terms of being wonderfully entertaining – and just when you thought the humour might become self-congratulatory, Sherlock throws a scene at you that works as drama, showing that for all his brilliance, the main character is deeply flawed. The series is a fan of Sherlock-as-genius, but it doesn’t make the mistake of becoming fanboyish – or -girlish, although I gather that Benedict Cumberbatch does make for rather yummy eye candy. Then again, the testosterone brigade can hardly complain after a guest starring spot by Lara Pulver that would have made Mary Whitehouse’s head explode.
Oh, and the dialogues! If you were wondering where the sparkling repartee of a The Thin Man had gone, look no further: the Beeb’s been stockpiling it, refining it and quite possibly enriching it with steroids. This exclusive trailer from The Guardian website may be a bit weird, but it has a fantastic exchange between Holmes and Watson:
So, BBC, bring it on. Give me what you’ve got. And I’ll be willing to forgive you for the wasted potential of Exile.