The View from Sherlock Peoria
Beyond "The Girl In the Comic Shop"
There's a phenomenon that happens in those places traditionally haunted by the male of the species that I like to call "the girl in the comic shop" effect. Long years of patronizing dealers in DC, Marvel, and the like have taught me this one thing, if nothing else: Any female who walks into a comic book store automatically gets bonus hotness points added instantly. It happens in the military (as the comic strip Doonesbury has been playing up this week), it happens in comic stores, and it also happens in Sherlockian circles. (If you've seen how the Holmes birthday weekend in New York can turn a mild-mannered bookworm into a cleavage-wielding super-hottie, you know this to be true.)
So this week when I encountered a plucky band of bloggers/podcasters calling themselves "The Baker Street Babes," I took them at their word. Their podcast web site likes to use phrases like "Central London overfloweth with gorgeous, intelligent women with a thirst for murder" and "A podcast by sexy fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his lovely creation, Mr. Sherlock Holmes," baiting male web wanderers like sirens of the Sherlockian seas. What would Conan Doyle think? Well, I don't think his gentleman filter often let the words "Woo-hoo!" get to paper, but you just know it was in there.
So, suffice it to say that I started listening to their podcasts.
Their first episode starts with a very sweet opening dedication to Edward Hardwicke by Curly, the American member of the trio, quietly recorded like she's hiding out from her friends to give you the inside scoop on the episode. Their theme song comes up, sung by Caitlin Obom (who shows up as a guest on their second podcast) in a mellow fashion that doesn't quite prepare you for the giggly, chatty introduction to come.
There is a lovely vocal range to the initial Babes roster: Curly is an American in London, with all the inflections of her generation. Kafers is from York, with one of those British accents that makes you wish you had Henry Higgins's skill at tracking same. Artie is a transplanted German whose English has a Scottish lilt to it. Their "how I met Sherlock Holmes" stories are fresh and fun, the highlight of which is Curly's reaction when The Great Mouse Detective first gets mentioned.
"OH, MY GOD, YES!!!" she screams, with the intensity of a horror movie victim. She really, really likes The Great Mouse Detective, something that shows up more than a few times. But each of the Babes has their little personality points -- Kafers and her tales of riding the bus with friends dressed as Victorian men and A.J. Raffles, Artie's careful character analyses -- they're obviously having a whole lot of fun, and it's a lot of fun to listen to them as a result. Podcasts live or die on the personality and energy of their talkers, and the Baker Street Babes are riding the current wave of Sherlock in movie and TV with an unabashed glee that can't help but remind an aging Sherlockian burn-out like myself of times long-gone.
In the 1980s, a group of Sherlock Holmes fans banding together might seek recognition and validation from some of older, established club and start putting out a journal or newsletter to seek a larger presence in the Sherlockian world. But this is 2011, and the Baker Street Babes are demonstrating the new model of that old-school process. This is the era of the web-entertainer fan, of building Twitter presence, of publishing podcasts, of being a micro-star in a firmament of endless internet distraction.
In a time when much Sherlockiana is focused on times past, it's heartening to hear the Babes going on about the future, chasing down word on Benedict Cumberbatch's future projects, discussing Moffat and Gatiss's ability to keep a secret, and being totally in love with our latest crop of Watsons. These are their "good old days" of being Sherlock Holmes fans, and it's a real treat to hear them as it happens, rather than the memories of same from the Jeremy Brett era.
It is, indeed, a brand new day for Sherlock Holmes of late, and the Baker Street Babes are a happy addition to his age-old fandom. I look forward to hearing more of their adventures.
Your humble correspondent,
P.S. This week's Netflix wanderings brought up a little bit of obscurity that's just begging to be used as a trivia question someday. Imagine a movie whose plot is half-based on "The Red-Headed League." Now imagine that movie stars the whole cast of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" if you leave out Rob and Laura. Now populate that movie with characters played by Danny Thomas, Moe Howard, Steve Allen, Charlie Weaver, Forrest Tucker, and . . . oh, yes, Granny Clampett driving the Beverly Hillbillies truck. Remember . . . "Red-Headed League" . . . so it qualifies as marginal Sherlockiana. The title is, what else, "Don't Worry, We'll Think Of A Title."
Past 2011 Columns