Sherlock Holmes is the New Justin Bieber

The event held on Wednesday by PBS in preparation for their airing the second series of BBC’s Sherlock was a bit of a mess. This wasn’t due to any negligence on the part of PBS or the event organizers. Simply, it looks as though they had just not counted on what many of us Sherlock enthusiasts would have expected all along: droves of shrieking, hair-tearing fans. Like those videos of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.

This was only part of the madness that was last night’s PBS Sherlock event.

A brief recap of the event itself: there was a short reception with lots of nibbles and alcohol, a screening of the first 35 minutes of “A Scandal in Belgravia,” (careful, spoilers in that link) a Q&A session with Rebecca Eaton from PBS, Sue Vertue (producer), Steven Moffat, and the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch. Then they went into another room and signed autographs. They could not stay long enough to sign for everyone. Fan rage ensued.

It became clear the moment I saw the teens crowded in front of the wine bar that perhaps PBS had anticipated a different sort of crowd. (They were carding, don’t worry.) These events are not best likened to a donor drive or an educational preview; this was like a mini Sherlock convention, attendees decked out in deerstalkers and buttons professing their love, fans having turned up from all over the globe. (Literally, someone came from Spain.) The screening was like a rock concert: laughs in all the right places, but more importantly, every time one of the fine gentlemen (Sherlock, Moriarty, Mycroft, Lestrade) showed up on screen, the audience erupted in screams loud enough that I had to fight the urge to cover my ears. One woman next to me in the press section, who didn’t seem to know what the whole deal was, turned to me and made the comment, “This is like a Justin Bieber concert. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

And that’s what people aren’t getting yet, out there in the big bright glitzy world. The new pop stars, the new Brad Pitts? They’re geek heroes. They’re smart, sharp-looking men who play characters full of wit, brains, and maybe a little bit of magic.

Sherlock Holmes is the new Justin Bieber.

Fans were eager to give back to a show that they felt had given them so much, and there were many bearing gifts, including some absolutely gorgeous artwork and a 1898 copy of Faust. Again, it was that sense of community that I always love about fandom, people turning in the crowd to face someone who they had met through Tumblr, Facebook, Livejournal, fan communities, and all sharing in something special. It’s the one thing that news sites and fan interviews always fail to capture.

With regards to social media done right, screens were setup at the reception showing everyone who was tweeting using the hastag #SherlockPBS. It took off like a shot, encouraging more fans to tweet until they eventually had a Trending Topic on their hands.

While it was kind of them to host a Q&A and then live-stream it for fans, it was frankly too long, which led to another problem: the autograph lines got cut off. Right at me, I was actually the person who they put the hand in front of. (The person whose book I was going to get signed: I’m sorry, hon. I did try!) Which meant that I didn’t get to ask Cumberbatch if he could confirm the whole Star Trek casting news for me, and for that, I apologize to all of you. (I’m so sure I could have gotten him to admit it, yea or nay; apparently all you have to do is pull his hair.) Of course, this is the problem with a long Q&A—if it had been shorter, more people could have gotten on the autograph line, which is where everyone asks questions anyway. But, I digress.

The reaction was a scene unto itself, anger and tears and discussions about how long people had been waiting in line that morning. My sympathies to all of them, waiting in the line for an hour and a half and hoping every step of the way. Then again, I passed by Cumberbatch as they ushered him into an elevator to get him out of the building, and I felt more sorry for him —  the poor guy looked like he could use a solid 12 hours of uninterrupted slumber. (I’m guessing he didn’t get it, the promotion gamut being what it is.)

Here’s an interesting seeing-Cumberbatch-up-close snippet for all of you: Those of you who have viewed people you normally see on screen up close and personal, you’ve probably noticed that they don’t look quite the same in real life. It’s not that they look worse, it’s just different. The camera and makeup and lighting, they do things to people. So you might approach a screen star and find yourself thinking “oh, this is how they actually look.”

Benedict Cumberbatch looks exactly the way he does on screen. It was honestly alarming. A friend theorized that he must be part of some strange genetic program designed to create camera-perfect actors.

And to think, Sherlock‘s not even mainstream in the U.S. yet. Can you imagine what will happen if it explodes like they’re intending? How many devestated fans they will have to fight off then?

As for news from the event itself, I’m sorry to say that the episodes will be shaved a bit in the PBS versions. Obviously if you haven’t seen it, you won’t know the difference, but my recommendation is to watch PBS to give them the viewership and ratings, then download the BBC version to watch properly. (Anybody who loved that whole ashtray bit from “A Scandal in Belgravia” knows what I’m talking about and will agree with me.)

Also, is there any way that we can just get big screen showings of each episode? Because it was incredible up there, twenty feet tall and booming with glorious surround sound.

So that’s the game, everyone. The fans are unanimous: brainy is, now and forevermore, the new sexy. Weasley Sherlock is our king.

For more coverage of the event and the mania (as well as the location of all photos used, check here, the PBS Storify account.

And don’t you dare forget to watch Sherlock, starting on Sunday, May 6!

Emmet Asher-Perrin is still admittedly awed by Cumberbatch’s cheekbones. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.


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