Sherlock Co-Creator Defends Premiere With a Cheeky Poem Aimed at Critics

Did you have issues with Sunday’s Sherlock Season 4 premiere? Well, be careful, because co-creator Mark Gatiss might put you in your place with a well-crafted rhyme.

After “The Six Thatchers” featured Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes in a bone-crunching fistfight, The Guardian‘s Ralph Jones complained that the character was becoming more James Bond than brainy sleuth. Gatiss, who also plays Sherlock’s brother Mycroft on the show, responded on Wednesday in proper British fashion: with a lyric poem (entitled “To an Undiscerning Critic”) pointing out that Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock stories had plenty of action, too.

The first lines:

Here is a critic who says with low blow
Sherlock’s no brain-box but become double-O.
Says the Baker St boy is no man of action –
whilst ignoring the stories that could have put him in traction.

After citing numerous examples of the classic Sherlock Holmes kicking butt, Gatiss ended his poem with a reference to the great actors who’ve portrayed the iconic detective through the years:

There’s no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill,
Her Majesty’s Secret Servant with licence to kill
From Rathbone through Brett to Cumberbatch dandy
With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy.

But the complaints of too much action might not cease anytime soon: In TVLine’s Winter TV Preview, Gatiss himself hinted to us that the Season 4 finale, airing Jan. 15, “is probably more action-packed than we’ve done for a long time, if ever. Definitely more fighting.” Sounds like this butt-kicking Sherlock is here to stay… so get used to it.

Is Sherlock getting too action-packed? Give us your take on the Season 4 premiere in the comments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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22 Comments
  1. chellemabelle says:

    Seriously, too action packed? (Facepalm). Think they’ve brilliantly captured the essence of Sherlock (action included), while providing the modern equivalent of the original books/stories at their time.

  2. mary says:

    Critics are complaining of too much action??? really???

    • Eva says:

      That’s simplification of the criticism; critics are complaining of not enough crime solving and of the spirit of the show shifting too towards a (not particularly original) spy thriller.

  3. Annie Sisk says:

    The criticism was fair. Sorry, my fellow Americans, but not everyone wants to see every “hero” (antihero, whatever) turned into Bruce Willis or what-have-you. However, there was a much bigger problem with the premiere episode of season 4 (series 4 for you Brits), and that’s the schlocky way it treated … well, the biggest development in the episode, let’s say, in order to protect the delicate sensibilities of the spoilerphobic amongst us.

    • Angelo says:

      Agreed. The mythology they’re attempting to create is bigger than Sherlock himself. A few clever lines taken from Doyle’s canon, but they’ve travelled too far from Doyle. This isn’t really Sherlock Holmes anymore.

      • Annie Sisk says:

        I’m not even sure it’s this *version* of Sherlock Holmes anymore.

      • PatriciaLee says:

        I read one Sherlock Holmes story when I was 18, then promptly read the complete collection. That remains one of the most amazing summers of my life, over 50 years ago. I’ve loved every derivative I’ve encountered, since. There, just, cannot be enough variety of one of the most amazing character teams ever written in the history of mankind. Come on, this is Doyle who believed in fairies (other entities) as a distinct possibility. His work is broad and open to a wonderful amount of derivative variety.

    • peterwdawson says:

      I agree with the sentiment but Bruce Willis is kind of a terrible example as while he’s played some over the top heroes, his most iconic role was that of an everyman cop who seemed to survive more on luck and calculated panic than any real superior skill.

  4. Laura says:

    While I gotta say that there are better episodes than this one, the criticism is way too harsh. I loved the premiere and I’m excited for more.
    Some episodes are better than othersC that’s normal, Sherlock is a high quality tv series :)

  5. A.K. says:

    Love me some Mark Gatiss! While the 221B scenes between John and Sherlock are my favorite, it would get old really quick if the show was just them sitting around talking about deductions 90% of the time. It’s really a disservice to ACD’s creation to focus solely on the cerebral aspect of Holmes and not on the fact that he did get his hands dirty with action!

    • PatriciaLee says:

      Right on! I, always, remember Holmes as one sneaking around in dirty clothes, working to figure out what’s what and who’s who, eventually tricking and trapping the guilty one (or letting her go). The cerebral aspect was just one of many, to me. He was, actually, a man of action.

  6. Eva says:

    I lovelovelove Mark Gatiss, but he’s trying to downplay completely fair criticism…

    • PatriciaLee says:

      Why does he waste his time? I was so shocked by the negative reviews of Houdini & Doyle, I just don’t pay attention to anything they say about Sherlock Holmes stuff.

  7. PatriciaLee says:

    It is so funny to hear criticism about Holmes becoming like Bond in recent filming, when the character was most likely the spring board for Bond, historically. I wonder if these critics have read all the Sherlock Holmes stories.

  8. Dee says:

    Wondered why they turned Mary into an assassin, then killed her off. Really liked before the assassin past. The show seems to have losted its edge of story line. Not as good as it was.

    • PatriciaLee says:

      I agree with you about missing a step and not “as good as it was.” OK, I could suspend belief and go along with the assassin past. It had its own charm, though like you, I was sad to give up Mary’s previous delightful canon version. However, what really landed with a thud was a trained Tarantino-type assassin, just giving birth, not putting her child first, not doing anything to stay alive to protect her. She jumps in front of a bullet to save Sherlock? (Mr. Brilliant who has never needed help before?) That, completely, tossed me out of the story. That would never have happened. Hopefully, I can forget about it in future shows.

  9. tvdiva says:

    Tell the critic to go watch something else rather than complain about a show that everyone else seems to like just fine.

  10. Walkie says:

    I have no issue with the action. I’m more frustrated with the sloppy storylines. The premiere was a complete mess.

  11. kath says:

    Too much action wasn’t my problem.
    Killing Mary Morstan for the endless bromance was.