January 25th, 2010

krazy koati

He's the strongest, he's the quickest, he's the best

One of the program blocks on my old-time radio station is ``Brunch with the Brits'', which offers miscellaneties from British radio, which is where I learned just how rushed the conclusion of the second series of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy really is. I'd never heard it before. But I usually miss the first half since the ``Brunch'' starts at noon and I'm normally at lunch that hour, but for a weird change I happened to not be eating in the lunch room most of the hour.

What was playing and what I heard most of, for a change, was a Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula story. I can't guess who wrote it and I suppose it's not a unique project, considering what will happen with popular characters originating in nearby decades who're out of copyright. The baffling thing about it was that the author decided, as best as I can tell, that it was meant to be a sort of secret history alongside the events of Dracula, so that Van Helsing still slays Dracula somewhere in Transylvania. (I assume that's how it ends; I've never actually read the book, but I have seen Nosferatu several times.)

I guess the idea's fine, if Dracula had reason to go to England, but it forces an impossible anticlimax into the story: Holmes can go chasing Dracula just fine but he can't do anything to him. So all Holmes does is learn the mystery of the vampire, which everyone in the audience already knew because we've seen 110 years of riffing on the Dracula idea already. A clever enough treatment could wallpaper over that self-sabotage, but this one didn't find a way, so the result at the end was ``why was this ninety minutes of radio drama, exactly?''. What's the point of having Holmes and Dracula in the same story if Holmes isn't going to catch Dracula?

They closed out the block with the audio from an episode of Yes, Minister, though, so the Brunch ended at 2 pm on an up beat.

Trivia: On visiting Egypt in 1895 Arthur Conan Doyle discovered the Sherlock Holmes stories had been translated into Arabic by the Khedive and were issued to the police as training textbooks. Also surprising but less amusing was an officer who examined Doyle's face with great care and concluded the writer showed ``criminal tendencies''. Source: Conan Doyle, Detective, Peter Costello.

Currently Reading: The Wilson Plot: How The Spycatchers And Their American Allies Tried To Overthrow The British Government, David Leigh.