The Emmys: Why Sherlock Didn't Win

All right, since you've been asking. I could go the easy route and say simply that the competition was stiff, but truthfully, when taken as a whole within its category, most of the other stuff was simply better. I want to be clear here: Sherlock is a fan and critical favorite, but that doesn't always translate to ATAS and/or Emmy gold. And being asked to take A Scandal in Belgravia as a made-for-television movie didn't help things. It doesn't stand well on its own. Look at the first 15 to 20 minutes, which requires both an understanding of Holmes canon and the previous series (season) to fully comprehend and enjoy.

One could argue that, even though the Academy was only voting on the one episode (movie?), they are not entirely able to separate that from their conception of the series as a whole. Psychologically speaking. But it is possible to sit down and watch just the one episode with a completely critical eye. And that's what Academy voters were told to do. Just because they might like it (i.e., find it entertaining) doesn't mean they'll vote it as best.

Here are some of the ways Scandal fell down. 1. Steven Moffat beats viewers over the head with this idea that he's very clever. From the cutesy ringtone on Moriarty's phone to the cutting back and forth as Sherlock and Irene "prepare for battle" . . . Honestly, it's exhausting to see him trying so hard. 2. Benedict Cumberbatch—who is a fine actor, at least some of the time—ran into some problems in this episode: (a) being unable to fake playing the violin very well, (b) spending a good deal of the episode moping and wandering for what seemed like no very good reason, and (c) that tacky scene in which he playacted at being a priest, but which really just came off as bad acting of bad acting. 3. Those who enjoyed the original Irene Adler from Doyle's story found this take to be a shade off, seeing that she doesn't win in the end after all. In fact, Sherlock has to save her? Really? (Moffat's track record in writing and depicting women has been a knot of discussion, and Scandal dragged it all out again.) 4. And this is more general: British and American sensibilities are different. And Sherlock as a character, who goes between bouts of quietude and mania . . . At best he appears bipolar (something viewers understand), but at worst the actor simply seems inconsistent in his efforts. Remember that not everyone watching the show knows Doyle's original, and a good program won't require them to in order to enjoy and connect with the characters as they're currently written and portrayed. I get the sense that during a chunk of Scandal, viewers were asking, "WTF? Why is he acting that way? What's his problem exactly?"

Finally, with all the talk of a new British invasion on American television, it's possible that Academy voters closed ranks to safeguard their side of the industry, thereby shutting out a lot of the British programs.

Downton does better on this side of the pond because (a) Americans can kind of understand WWI Britain in a way we don't understand—and are sometimes even threatened by—modern Britain, and (b) it's quite simply written with more finesse. I do think Sherlock might have had a chance if one of the other episodes had been on offer. Hounds could have stood alone quite neatly, and Benedict had that lovely scene beside the fire in that one which would have showcased his work better.

Rumor has it the third series of Sherlock begins filming this coming January March, and that it will probably be the final series as well. Last shot at Emmy gold for that group, then. Better make it count.

No comments: