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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. mx_mond
    March 12, 2018 @ 10:45 am

    “It doesn’t, of course, or at least not in Series Three”

    It’s very interesting that in Sherlock Moffat ultimately failed with narrative substition. Almost as if The Canon proved to be a black hole, warping space and exerting its pull, so that escape was ultimately impossible. I wonder why that happened. Was Moffat just too tired after series 9 of Doctor Who? Or was it a fanboyish impulse to “be faithful”?


    • The Oncoming Hurricane
      March 12, 2018 @ 11:28 am

      I would look at the credited writer, and suggest that fetishisation of canon feels much more Gatiss’ thing. Moffat does bear some of the blame, but most of the crime would be being unable to say no to his writing partner. It doesn’t feel like an aesthetic choice he’d make if left to his own devices. The tiredness possibly comes in with finding another way of subverting a fridging.


      • mx_mond
        March 12, 2018 @ 12:12 pm

        Good points. In attributing the decision-making power to Moffat alone, I’m being unfair to both him and Gatiss. And you’re right in that the adherence to canon seems much more of a Gatiss thing.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          March 12, 2018 @ 6:45 pm

          I am comfortable assigning full responsibility to each of them, but I’m inclined to focus on Moffat as he’s the one running the show I’m actually writing about.


          • mx_mond
            March 12, 2018 @ 7:35 pm

            Also fair. In any case, I’m really looking forward to The Six Thatchers essay.

    • Set Spade
      March 12, 2018 @ 11:33 am

      Especially interesting in light of the fact that Moffat seemingly wrote a get-out clause right there, in His Last Vow.

      “Mary Morstan was stillborn in October 1972. Her gravestone is in Chiswick Cemetery where – five years ago – you acquired her name and date of birth and thereafter her identity.”

      It’s like the episode is deliberately trying to make a sacrifice required by the bloodthirsty Canon. The person called Mary Morstan did die, but our Mary isn’t actually her, so we’re in the clear.

      Or not.


      • Przemek
        March 13, 2018 @ 9:24 am

        Damn. Now I wish they used that.


        • Dan
          March 14, 2018 @ 11:50 am

          I’m pretty sure the taking-name-from-grave thing was a nod to The Day of the Jackal, given Mary’s occupation and all.


  2. David Anderson
    March 12, 2018 @ 5:54 pm

    On not quite the subject of the Eruditorum,
    how is it that Phil Sandifer is not planning to cover Doctor Twelfth and the other Dr Men books?
    I was in a small independent bookshop earlier this week and they had a rack of them by the counter.
    Maybe if the Mr Men aren’t on his radar as an American he doesn’t get the full ramifications of the joke. (I don’t know what the nearest US equivalent would be. Dr Seuss?)


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      March 12, 2018 @ 5:55 pm

      Gotta leave something for the book version.


    • David Anderson
      March 12, 2018 @ 6:24 pm

      The obvious Pop Between Realities not mentioned is
      Jessica Jones.


      • Elizabeth Sandifer
        March 12, 2018 @ 6:41 pm

        Just don’t see it as that exciting a lens on the Capaldi era.


        • Leslie L
          March 27, 2018 @ 1:57 pm

          Could it be an companion side piece to the Tenth Doctor era, and how it shadows it in various ways?


      • Przemek
        March 14, 2018 @ 9:25 am

        You reminded me of the excellent “You’re not ten anymore” meta-joke. Good times.


  3. Echo
    March 12, 2018 @ 9:48 pm

    Hooray, more Eruditorum soon! But I mostly read the site on mobile, and there are some weird layout problems on there that have been plaguing me since I started reading. Is there any way this can be looked into?


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      March 16, 2018 @ 1:13 am

      There’s a full site redesign coming down the pike that will, God willing, address this.


      • Echo
        March 17, 2018 @ 2:02 am

        Thanks El! Give me a shout if you’d like any help 🙂


  4. Daibhid C
    March 13, 2018 @ 7:33 pm

    Regarding the “unguessable” twists; I guessed one of them.

    Well. That’s not exactly true. I completely overshot one of them, taking for granted that we were meant to understand the text overlayed on Magnusson’s field of vision the same way as we understood Sherlock’s. And therefore, I thought, there was probably a twist there — like maybe he had smart glasses and these things were actually appearing in front of him.

    So when it was revealed that this wasn’t what was happening, it struck me as a particularly audacious double bluff.


  5. Dan
    March 14, 2018 @ 11:52 am

    Even now, I think shooting Magnusson was a lame move. I could do that! What’s the point of being Sherlock Holmes if you can’t come up with a better solution?


    • Tom Marshall
      March 14, 2018 @ 3:33 pm

      …but Steven Moffat is saying that, where it comes to Rupert Murdoch, there is no better solution.

      Even if you’re Sherlock Holmes.


      • Dan
        March 14, 2018 @ 5:46 pm

        I know Murdoch is a stain on humanity, but any character ever could do what Sherlock did. The point of pitting Murdoch against Sherlock is so Sherlock can best him in a uniquely Sherlockian way.

        It’s like Columbo: we expect him to get the bad guy in an ingenius, watertight way. If the murderer had just left fingerprints, we’d feel cheated.

        Fictionalising real life people is a way to bring them into the orbit of characters who can confront them in a way which is consistent with their fictional world.


        • Przemek
          March 15, 2018 @ 10:17 am

          I see your point, but I think in this case even Conan Doyle admitted that murder is pretty much the only option on the table.

          I think that Sherlock did actually confront Magnussen “in-character”. It’s just that Magnussen pushes this character to his limits. That’s his modus operandi: he identifies other people’s breaking points and threatens to apply pressure. Lady Smallwood breaks if she loses her reputation. Mary breaks if John finds out who she is and leaves her. John breaks if he loses Mary. Magnussen rightly assumes that Sherlock breaks if he stops being a hero. But Sherlock is willing to break himself, to become a villain – and that’s how he wins. By being willing to do something that’s “out of character” for him.

          What’s interesting is that shooting Magnussen doesn’t really break Sherlock. If the Doctor just shot a villain dead in cold blood, that would definitely break him. He can kill billions as a last resort but never like that. He needs to be kind to function as a character, he needs to always look for another way. But Sherlock isn’t about being kind, or being just, or, apparently, even being a hero. He’s about thinking outside of the box until he solves a given problem. And so when presented with a Gordian knot, he just cuts it.


        • Aylwin
          March 15, 2018 @ 10:38 am

          The essence of it is consistent with the original story the episode is based on (though Moffat did change the specifics of how it resolves, rejecting Doyle’s moral cop-out). Of course, anything can be changed when your general approach to the material is as freewheeling as Sherlock‘s, but still, the resort to naked force is a key part of what’s being adapted rather than a new creation. It’s supposed to be a story where the character steps outside his normal pattern of behaviour, and if you change that you rather lose the point of adapting that story at all.

          And I don’t really see the point of fictionalising a real-life villain just to say “but a superhero could beat him with his superpowers”. So what?


        • Daibhid C
          March 16, 2018 @ 6:45 pm

          To prarphrase Dirk Gently, the phrase “I could do that!” is a misleading one, because the fact is, you didn’t.

          I’m pretty sure I couldn’t shoot Murdoch. The fact Murdoch remains unshot suggests to me that probably most people couldn’t shoot Murdoch. It looks to me like it would probably take a very specific kind of person; perhaps someone who felt a moral obligation to help others, but at the same time was also the sort of person who others kind of expected would probably kill someone eventually.

          “One day we’ll be standing round a body, and Sherlock Holmes will be the one that put it there.”


  6. Jake
    March 14, 2018 @ 9:53 pm

    Wondering how you feel this tracks with Press Gang, from Spike’s “I’d kill a dragon for you” through the suggestion, brought to a head in There Are Crocodiles, that Lynda herself may be the monster. Kids’ show or not, I have the feeling it assembles most of the key pieces of the Moffat toolkit.


  7. Przemek
    March 15, 2018 @ 12:25 pm

    If the map briefly shown behind Mycroft in this episode is to be believed, the dangerous Eastern European country that Sherlock is exiled to to do some important undercover work is apparently Poland.

    As a Polish viewer I find it exceedingly hilarious.


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