By Jenn, Baker Street Babes
Photos by Melinda Caric [flickr] (Please credit if you use these photos for any graphics, edits, or anything of the sort. Prohibited for commercial use.)
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At 6:10pm on Wednesday, I was waiting for a cross town bus that just isn't showing up. Naturally, I was getting a little anxious, looking at my watch, wondering how long it was going to take me for me to get to 59th street and Lexington avenue during evening rush hour. It’s New York City after all.
At 6:20pm, I opt for the cab whose light is on and driving in the direction I am traveling. I am NOT going to be late for the PBS Sherlock. I'm representing the Baker Street Babes, and I don't want to make a bad first impression. 5 Minutes and eight dollars later I am standing in front of the Florence Gould Theatre which has a line of people halfway down the block. Well, at least I wasn’t late.
And neither was my fellow Baker Street Babe, Taylor, who I am meeting for the first time! Not two minutes after I arrive, Taylor is walking down the sidewalk in my direction. Accompanied by two friends, Sarah and Jess, Taylor and I are embracing like old friends. We’ve "known" each other for about a year and we're finally in the same place, at the same time, meeting. I'm surprised the world didn’t implode.
After a few moments of confusion about what is going on, the doors finally open up to the event, and the line slowly moves its way into the building. Once downstairs at the reception, we find PBS has provided some lovely refreshments for guests. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to properly partake in them, because we are busy trying to find Melinda, our newly appointed Baker Street Babes New York City Photographer. Thankfully, with the help of her height, she was able to find me.
After quickly downing drinks and checking coats, we made our way into the theatre for the main event, a screening of the first 35 minutes of “A Scandal in Belgravia,” followed by a Q&A. We found ourselves lucky enough to have seats in the VIP section, and ran into our friend Always1895, or Matt to the rest of the world. We all sat together in the second row, hardly believing our luck to be so close to the action (Although, we would come to find out in a few moments we were going to get quite the neck workout during the screening portion).
While we waited for the show to begin, we looked around to find hundreds of people filling the auditorium, the vast majority female. I silently wondered how many of those people in the standby line were able to get into the viewing. Not too long after settling in, the lights dimmed and suddenly an opening promotional video of PBS shows was projected on the screen. All my favorites were there; Downton Abbey, Nature, Frontline, Masterpiece. However, it was the images of Sherlock that incite so much excitement I wonder if my ear drums are going to burst. The love fans have for this show is enormous, and they have no trouble expressing it.
After the video, the Vice President of Programming for Channel Thirteen in NYC, the lovely Stephen Segaller, came to the microphone to welcome all the guests. This is when we learn how far people have traveled to be here tonight. Canada, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, even South Korea! I'm sure I'm forgetting some of the places mentioned, but I was having trouble wrapping my head around the distance people came to be there. And to think, just an hour before I was worried I was going to get caught in rush hour traffic crossing town.
Knowing everyone in their seats is already excited for the night, Mr. Segaller introduced the special guests who are joining us following the screening; Rebecca Eaton, Executive Producer of Masterpiece Theatre, Steven Moffat, co-creator of Sherlock, Sue Vertue, Producer of Sherlock, and that other guy. The entire audience erupts into cheers, knowing he is referring to the man who plays Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch.
And with his final words, “It’s Elementary, my dear audience,” Mr. Segaller wraps up, the lights dim again. I could actually feel the excitement vibrating through the room as the beautifully familiar Edward Gorey Masterpiece!Mystery animation started.
As many listeners will know, this isn’t the first time the Babes have seen A Scandal in Belgravia. And, from what it sounded like in the rest of the audience behind us, it wasn’t their first time either. I will admit I was excited to be seeing the show on a big screen, even with my head tilted all the way back against the seat to view it. But, I’m not complaining. We were sitting in the second row for better viewing of the Q&A to follow. And as an added bonus, my sinuses actually cleared for the first time since the beginning of allergy season.
I’m not going to bore anyone with a review of what was screened. Without giving anything away to people who haven’t seen the episode yet, it started with the pool scene from The Great Game finale and ended when Sherlock discovers he has a new text alert on his phone. (As a shameless plug, you can listen to our Episode 16: A Scandal In Belgravia when we talk about our impressions of it following the airing in Britain.) I would like to add no matter how many times I watch this episode, the jokes are still funny, the acting is still brilliant, and the story is still mesmerizing. I don’t think I could ever grow tired of it.
In what seems like no time at all, the preview finished, the screen retracted into the heavens, and the lights came back up. Without hesitation the special guests make their way onto the stage. Rebecca, Steven, and Sue come out one by one to clapping and cheers. But people clearly saved their lung capacity for Benedict, who walked across the stage to screams of enthusiasm.
Rebecca began the Q&A session by explaining 10,000 people applied for tickets to attend the screening tonight. 10,000 people for a few hundred seats. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.
(Insert choice elevator music here)
Still hard to fathom isn’t it? Two days later and I still can’t wrap my head around it. But clearly, everyone realized how lucky they were and beyond thrilled to have been given the opportunity. And they are all definitely fans, because when Rebecca falters slightly on Benedict’s resume, the audience fills in the missing pieces without hesitation. The actor looked humbled and amazed that so many people were aware of his work.
Rebecca also took the moment to reveal production for the third series of Sherlock is slated to start in early 2013, which received a round of applause. As fans of the show, it’s nice to have a time frame to look forward to.
The Q&A portion of the night was filled with a lot of love, laughs and insight into the process of how the show is put together. One audience member attempted to ask a question without giving away the ending to “A Scandal in Belgravia.” She was convinced there were people there who hadn’t seen the whole episode yet. This caused Moffat to quip, “I really don’t think that’s true.” He asked how many people there hadn’t seen the full episode yet. Taylor did a quick count of the hands that were raised and it wasn’t more than 15 people out of the bunch.
The topic of how the American versions of Sherlock being cut slightly different from the British version came up. What I didn’t realize was that Hartswood Films are the ones who make the edits, not PBS, to fit in the time constraints. Benedict said he hates the edits. I think most Americans who are familiar with the British versions would agree. It’s always jarring when a favorite line or moment has been removed to keep the story moving.
Rebecca asked the other guests whether or not the production had anything to do with the pilot, and possible series, of Elementary, which CBS has shot and Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are playing Holmes and Watson, respectively. A moment that could have quickly turned sour was rescued when Benedict gave a very diplomatic answer, stating there is currently two Sherlock Holmes franchises that are doing well, the BBC’s and the Guy Ritchie films. Why can’t there be room for a third? This received warm applause from the audience.
Other topics that came up include how Benedict prepared for the role, whether or not a lot of backstory was thought up for Sherlock Holmes (Steven said no, Benedict said he has a backstory for the detective), whether or not drug use would make an appearance in future episodes, and Jeremy Brett being Benedict’s first Sherlock Holmes. I’m not ashamed to say I was thrilled to hear Benedict and Danny Boyle are trying to transfer their award winning production of Frankenstein to Broadway.
When the Q&A came to close, two lines were formed for the opportunity to meet the guests. The line to meet Benedict Cumberbatch extended all the way out of the reception area, around the corner, up the stairs, and outside to the sidewalk. The line to meet Sue Vertue and Steven Moffat extended just outside the room. We decided to introduce ourselves to Sue and Steve, who we learned from Amanda Abbington had heard of our podcast before. They were absolutely delightful and genuinely pleased to be able to put a couple of faces to the name Baker Street Babes. We grabbed a quick picture and thanked them for their time.
We looked to see how far the line to meet Benedict still went before leaving. Unfortunately, some people who had been waiting were turned away because there wasn’t enough time to get to all of them before the building closed. But I’m told some of those people were able to get the chance to meet him briefly as he was exiting the building later.
After retrieving our coats and bags, we climbed the stairs back out to the street and fresh air. We made our way to a nearby bar, laughed about how much fun we had, and enjoy our adult beverages. All in all, it was a fantastic night and I’m happy to have been able to be a part of it. Special thanks to PBS for inviting The Baker Street Babes!