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Sherlock BBC, Writing

Sherlock mistakes, revisions, and writing

When I watch “The Great Game” ( the 3rd episode of the Sherlock TV series) There is one mistake that always leaps out at me. In the Carl Powers case, in hour 3, Sherlock yells out Clostridium Botulinum as if he has just identified the cause and an image of bacteria is flashed on the screen.

When I saw that the first time I said, “yeah right!” because I’ve been a microbiologist, and I know that you can’t look into a light microscope and see a colorized electron microscope image of a bacteria.

What’s worse is that I’ve seen that exact image before. It’s this one.

Even if Sherlock did happen to own an electron microscope that he kept in his kitchen,( yeah right,) bacteria don’t wear name tags, and one bacillus bacteria looks pretty much the same as any other bacillus so you couldn’t tell the harmful Clostridium Botulinum from a harmless form of Escerichia coli simply by looking in the microscope anyway.

The way to tell is to grow it on a plate and look at colony morphology. Then perform chemical tests to verify the identity. Your problem is that the time limit shown in the show makes it very unlikely that Sherlock would have had enough time to grow the colonies to adequate size given that it takes about 12 – 24 hours to get a good colony size for identification.

So they were wrong on that one. There are other mistakes that they mention in the commentaries such as the painting that should be on board instead of canvas, and the amazingly rapid phone connection with no signal outages. But these exceptions prove the rule that for the most part SHERLOCK does a really good job in making the deductions sound plausible.


I just got my Sherlock season 1 dvd this week, and it includes the 1st pilot (a study in pink). This has the same story as the aired pilot except that one is 60 minutes and one is 90 minutes. I find watching both is like taking a master class on revision. I see so many things that were changed, and with some attention you can see why they work better in the new pilot.

It’s a rare thing to happen. Doing the same script again with almost all of the same people. It’s like a play, where the cast and crew keep improving as it goes through its run. I look at some of the choices that were made and how they were changed and it informs my own writing.

I can see where some sentiment was removed from Sherlock. I can see where some characterization was added to John Watson. The improvements make it work that much better. It is so beautiful. It is a hard thing for a early writer to live up to.

As you may or may not know if you read my blog, I am writing a Sherlock script for the “Empty House“, the episode in which Sherlock Holmes returns. I am not writing it to get a job on the BBC staff. I think the odds that Gatiss and Moffat will let anyone else write this episode are so remote, that they are not worth mentioning. The reason that I am writing it is the same reason people make copies of the Mona Lisa. They want to copy the brush strokes and see if their own work improves.

The other reason is one of prediction. I can’t say that I am not greatly satisfied when something that I predict comes true on the screen. I used to predict things in Harry Potter all the time, but once the books came out, no one would believe me unless I had time stamped forums to prove it.

I hoped that the blog would get me critiques from the fans that were desperate to know what was going to happen next. But then again, this has backfired before. Just look at Harry Potter and the Porcelain Doll.

Anyway, I am trying my best to observe and understand the changes in order to mimic a good script. The truth is this story is so different from my own work that it’s hard to see the similarities, but it’s worth it if you are having fun.

Well I think that I must be having fun because I just realized that if Sherlock took John on a stake out like he did in the Conan Doyle story, then John would probably bring up the fact that he hadn’t eaten in a while, and Sherlock would be disappointed in his frailty. My take on it would be something like:


So how long do you expect us to have to wait here?


Until something happens.


You didn’t happen to bring any food or snacks with you by any chance?

Sherlock sighs.


Oh John! You are so …visceral.

-R 😉

About rozzychan

Rosalyn Hunter is the principal writer on the series Lunatics. Please support us. http://lunatics.tv


2 thoughts on “Sherlock mistakes, revisions, and writing

  1. Reblogged this on Sherlock Holmes and commented:
    Plausible script deductions in the Sherlock TV Series …

    Posted by Dr Watson | May 2, 2012, 3:13 pm


  1. Pingback: The Imposter – #015 Kelp Culture: Part II with Dean McKeown and Hannah Lowey | The Imposter Podcast - April 21, 2016

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