The Customs of the Garret (FAQ)


Shouldn't your site be called "221D Baker Street"?

No. Mr. Moffat and Mr. Gatiss blundered badly on that one. See my note on the matter. The correct address for the building is 221B Baker Street. It looks to me as if Holmes and Watson had rented the whole house above the first (ground) floor (Mrs. Hudson's living quarters). Apparently, the same is not true of Sherlock and John, although how Mr. Moffat and Mr. Gatiss rationalize them having their bedrooms on the main hallway of their floors and not within a closed apartment, I don't get. As Sherlock would say, I think they failed to think it through.

In any case, the garret apartment was the traditional locus of the impecunious wordsmith, regardless of what was going on in the rest of the house, so that's where I have taken up my residence. I may even have a separate entrance so that Holmes/Sherlock and Watson/John are not troubled with the sight of such an insignificant personnage.

Are there spoilers in your articles?

Yes. I'm sorry, I couldn't see how to write reviews without them.

You say "Watson" in one of your reviews. Do you mean the Sherlock character or the Conan Doyle one?

When comparing an adaptation with an original, the problem of which version of a character being referenced arises. I have solved this by generally referring to a character by first name when it is the Sherlock version and by last name when the Conan Doyle character. Therefore, I would say "John" when referring to the character in "A Scandal in Belgravia" while saying "Watson" when referring to the original character in "A Scandal in Bohemia."

There are some obvious problems with this approach. Mrs. Hudson does not have a first name in either version, so I will try to specify with her when it is not obvious which I mean. (I am not in the fan community, so I will not adopt "Martha" as a solution to the Mrs. Hudson problem nor any fan solution to any future problem of the kind.) As awkward as it is, I will try to say "Jim Moriarty" for the Sherlock character and "Prof. Moriarty" for the Conan Doyle character. Referring to "Greg" to indicate Sherlock's Lestrade is entirely unnatural, but I shall have to adopt it to avoid saying "Lestrade in Sherlock," "Conan Doyle's Lestrade," and similar expressions. Other such awkwardnesses will doubtless occur.

Why do you spell like an American? Don't you know all these folks are in the UK?

As I am a speaker of standard American English, that variant of the language, with its spellings and preferred words, will rule here. (I am a copy editor by profession, so I'm quite a good speaker of American English, although of course not an infallible one.) Naturally if I'm quoting someone, the original usage shall reign. I may fix punctuation when I just can't stand the error. (When it comes to language usage, I'm very nearly as anal as Sherlock.)

You say very little about the direction or the acting in Sherlock. Why? Don't you think they're important?

It should be noted by readers that I am only commenting on the writing of Sherlock. I may occasionally note a bit of direction or acting that I liked or (only very occasionally) did not like, but writing is my field, where I feel competent to express an educated opinion. That makes it my focus on this site.

I will not accept, however, that there is a thing called "writing for television" that is somehow a different animal from fiction writing in general and therefore exempt from its rules. A good television work has good plot, good characters, good dialog, and all the other attributes of good writing or it is not good television. So please don't e-mail me and say, "But you don't understand writing for television." If you say that, it is you who do not understand writing.

What's this "authenticity" you're on about?

I will also consider that there is an attribute of Sherlock characters called authenticity. A character is held to be authentic (in the usage of this site), if it conforms to the spirit of the Conan Doyle character, despite minor changes to bring the character into a modern context. For instance, that John is a full medical doctor capable of practicing in modern medical contexts is an acceptable change from Watson, who is not a full doctor (Holmes specifically mentions in "The Field Bazaar" that Watson has only a bachelor's degree and therefore is not actually entitled to be called "Dr. Watson"). This change in fact lends to John's authenticity rather than detracting from it. Since Watson could practice medicine in his time and place, keeping that detail the same would deprive John of an important part of Watson's character: practicing medicine.

On this site, authenticity in Sherlock will be held inherently desirable. That is, of course, an opinion, but it appears to be an opinion that the Sherlock writing team shares, despite the lamentable failure of Irene Adler.

Why are your reviews so negative?

It may be seem by some that my reviews tend to be negative. Please keep in mind that I dearly love the series Sherlock, I am harassing all my friends into watching it, and although I had to order it from the UK, I even got a cane like the one John has in "A Study in Pink" (if I have to have a cane to walk, I might as well have one that is meaningful to me).

If I seem to be negative, it is only that I think, as good as this series is, the creators fall into some mistakes into which I would hope future writers will not fall. I will note whether I think the episode under review is a generally strong one or weak one, both as a member of the series and as an episode in general. Also, whenever I make a criticism I do try to come up with alternatives the writer could have used. I'm not terribly creative, I'm afraid, but I do my best.

Just who are you anyway?

So that you know my outstanding biases, here's a little about me.

My name is K (just the letter, thank you), and I am a white, single, child-free, Aspie woman in my late forties living in a small city in Upstate New York, where I have lived since the mid 1980s. (NYS residents can probably even tell which small city, just from my politics!) I did, however, spend the first twenty years of my life in a horrible nouveau riche suburb of a city in southwestern Ohio. My parents came from southwestern Ohio (mother) and northeastern Ohio (father), and I got on with neither of them. I lived for ten months in the United Kingdom a very long time ago (1986–87 academic year, University of York). (It's so long ago that I find the London Eye an offense to my sense of the "rightness" of the London skyline. It drives me nuts every time I see it.)

I have a sister (younger by three and a half years), a two-and-a-half-year-old male dog (Aussie Shepherd, American Staffordshire Terrier, and something that yodels) and a two-and-a-half-year-old female dog (Chihuahua/Dachshund), all of whom, along with my sister's mastiff mix, live with me. My sister prefers not to be named, but she is much smarter than I am and so contributed a great deal to my understanding of the Sherlock episodes. Any errors of any sort in this site are mine, though.

As said above, I have Asperger syndrome, despite not being diagnosed until I was thirty-eight (the condition wasn't recognized—in the United States, at least—until I was twenty-nine). Therefore, although I am nowhere near as intelligent as Sherlock, I do tend to identify with him more than a bit, including that whole asexual thing. (Really, people, there are so many better things to do with one's time! For starters, you might try concentrating on getting a real grasp of the English language.)

I know you all love "I am not a psychopath. I am a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research!" but really, folks, only those of us who actually are high-functioning sociopaths (e.g., on the autistic spectrum) should be allowed to use it. If you're not so diagnosed, please stop stealing our thunder. It's the least you owe us for having to live in a society made for you, not us.

I am trying to gain some sensible perspective on Benedict Cumberbatch, but I must confess to being rather a Cumberbunny.

I am not sure how it might come up in a review, but since it is a very strong bias that I know I have, I mention it: I am politically very passionately very far left. Obama is not a socialist, and I know that because I am and I find him much too far to the right.