Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century Episode 2
#02 The Crime Machine
Inspired by ‘ The Valley of Fear’
In which Dr Watson’s face is brought back to life. Back to life.
Once more into the void to look at episode 2 – The Crime Machine. With Fenwick and Moriarty both on the loose following the events of the first episode I imagine the recently revived Holmes is going to have his hands full. What plot developments are going to unfold? Let’s find out! (SPOILER ALERT: This episode is really terrible.)
Just like in the opening of episode one, we’re off to the Swiss Alps with Watson narrating again but this time in the present day, by which I mean the future. A few weeks have passed since The Crypnosis Crisis ended and Beth is still convinced Moriarty was behind it all. To prove her wrong Sherlock takes her and Watson to Reichenbach falls where Moriarty died over 200 years ago. Since fuel efficiency has comes along leaps and bounds in the future the drive by skycar. Oh has it been 40 seconds since the episode started? Time for another flashback!
Back to Reichenbach Falls of the past again, this time it’s Holmes telling the tale. It seems after falling from the path he managed to grab on to a tree sapling on the way down. Oh I see. He tried to hold on to Moriarty but lost his grip and his rival plummeted to his death. After that’s all been explained it’s back to the future, by which I mean their present, where Holmes directs Beth to a small cave where he buried the perished professor. Inside he explains the cave is frozen all year round and Moriarty should be exactly as he left him.
After moving a large boulder out of the way it’s confirmed that Moriarty is still there, though buried isn’t quite the right word for it. He’s suspended inside a block of ice which seems like it would be the most needlessly complex way of hiding of a body Sherlock could think of at the time. Sherlock notices a small hole in the ice and if you think you’ve worked out what’s happened to bring Moriarty back to life. Back to life. Then congratulations, you’ve worked out what’s happened to bring Moriarty back to life. Back to life. Beth hasn’t worked this out (she hasn’t seen the tiny hole) and points out that this raises the question of ‘Who’s tooling around London?’ which is probably the best thing she’s ever said in her life so she wins 20 points for her House. Then, for no reason other than the fact that something needed to happen at some point, the cave collapses and they heroically run away leaving old Deado inside.
Finally the title card appears and the episode starts properly. We’re back in New London, specifically at the Pimlico Zoo where an automated voice-over is giving us some background information. For a start all the animals are robots and there’s an option of an African Safari, a Jurassic Jungle, or Movie Monsters. So it turns out in the future nobody knows what a zoo is. I can’t be too critical though, the option of robot dinosaurs is….well, pretty cool. The voice is interrupted by a skycar crashing into the door and we see the shadow of one of the Movie Monster robots escaping. Oh well. We get a short montage of other crimes being committed – a blond man steals a necklace, a skycar full of plot-relevant looking electronic equipment is also stolen and there’s some dangerous driving going on elsewhere. Grayson tells Lestrade to get to the station – he needs every inspector on duty so that’s her and Robot Watson. WHAT’S BEHIND ALL THIS CRIME? COULD IT BE…THE CRIME MACHINE?
The Mystery Gang meet up with Grayson who explains there’s a ‘whole new criminal element!’ – it seems the recent crimes are being committed mostly by people who don’t have a criminal record. Holmes seem to know what’s happening and thinks it’s all very clever and Grayson responds with ‘What does a worm-eaten 19th century rentacop know about 22nd century crime riots!?’ and all I can say to that is YES GRAYSON. Holmes believes the crimes aren’t random at all – that the perpetrators are following orders from someone else and that person can be found in the Underground, as all the crimes have taken place near Underground access points. There’s quite good deduction music playing while he explains this, sounds a bit like the sort of thing you might hear when meeting a spirit in a cave in a SNES-era RPG.
They decide to head to the Underground entrance near the scene of the first, unspecified, crime, Holmes invites Lestrade and adds ‘The robot can come too. If it likes’ so there’s some CONFLICT there. Grayson needs to go on a course to learn how to Assert Himself In The Workplace as he initially refuses to allow Beth to follow but gives in when she narrows her eyebrows slightly.
At the Underground entrance the trio are approached by a youth on a hoverboard, like from off of Back to the Future, who offers to sell them a map which would just cost ’10 Credits off your eBay card’ so it seems the global economy will ultimately be taken over and controlled by the bootleg DVD marketplace. She introduces herself as Deirdre and is soon joined by her friends, Tennison and Wiggins. HOLMES FACT TIME! Book Holmes regularly used child labour by employing street urchins for spying, running errands and searching for people when he needed extra assistance. The leader of these youths was Wiggins. So this is a reference to that. HOLMES FACT TIME ENDS. Holmes then makes some deductions about Wiggins to show off and reveals that he’s Sherlock Holmes.
The party enters the Underground where they’re immediately confronted by a group of hoodlums who look like what happens when a TV show written by a middle aged, middle-class writer attempts to portray a subculture or a street gang. If you’ve ever seen the punk rock episode of Quincy then it’s like that. If you’ve not seen that episode then it’s still like the punk rock episode of Quincy, it’s just that I’m making a reference to something you don’t get. Beth identifies herself as a New Scotland Yard officer which doesn’t help matters – they know that means she’ll be carrying ‘one of them cool holotrackers’ which would let them know where all the Yard officers are. Hey guys, they’re right in front of you. Both of them. Then they attack her with lightsabers. They attack her with lightsabers.
Watson feels that, as gentlemen, he and Holmes should assist but Holmes is against it as Beth seems to be doing OK on her own. I guess the point of this scene was to show Beth as an ass-kicking Strong Woman, but leaving her to fight three armed thugs by herself really just makes Holmes seem like a bit of a dick. Just to compound this he reminds Watson that he’s not a gentleman, he’s a robot and therefore doesn’t count. Oh my goodness will this conflict be resolved by the episode I wonder. Hopefully something will be.
Beth defeats the New Age Outlaws and says into her wrist-mounted device ‘I have three felons to be picked up at the Oxford underground’ – at first I thought this was going to be the first indication of another member of the Yard besides Beth and Watson but there’s no reply – just a garbled electronic noise. I therefore assume she’s just recording a memo to remind herself to come back later and we’ve still got a one-woman one-robot police force. Wiggins points them in the direction of the Piccadilly line but doesn’t want to go with them so we’re stuck with the usual trio.
Making their way along the tunnel Sherlock hears something and notices the tunnel is vibrating while Watson detects illegal levels of ozone. I called up the London transit authorities and asked what the legal limits on ozone levels on the subway line and they asked if I had a real question. Then Fenwick turns up with a shit robot and attacks them. I mean it’s really shit. Looks a bit like a bipedal grasshopper but it’s bright red. Well, everyone knows there’s only one way to fight a rubbish robot – ineffectively.
The ‘action’ begins with Sherlock throwing his cane at the robot where it gets lodged in the machine’s neck joint. This achieves nothing whatsoever but the machine tries to pull it out anyway while Sherlock just stands there. Beth jumps next to him shouting ‘Look out!’ and shoots it with her future gun but the machine deflects the blast back to her and she ends up wrapped up with lasers. Then it’s Watson’s turn and, being a police department crime fighting droid, what weapon do you think he employs for the task?
- A) A werewolf
- B) A lasso
- C) Secret robot kisses
- D) Well it’s clearly B) but Jesus really? A lasso?
Watson manages to get the robot’s legs in the lasso and pulls them together so it falls over. It would be a lot like the battle with the AT-ATs in The Empire Strikes Back if that had been rubbish. Watson approaches the fallen machine but it punches him and then deactivates him by pulling out a wire. Sherlock, who has presumably just been standing about while all this has been going on, lures the machine onto the rail tracks and pulls a power switch, electrocuting it. Guess the energy crisis has been solved if there’s no problem keeping the power supply of an abandoned transport system running. There’s no time to celebrate though as Fenwick turns up to put everyone out their misery, knocking out the two humans and taking them to an abandoned train further on down the line.
Fenwick announces he’s not going to be taking any chances with the Yardie and that he’ll be Crimenotising (I bet that’s something he does with The Crime Machine. I bet it’s like Crypnosis but for making criminals. That’s what I bet) her personally. Then he immediately turns around and walks out the door with his robot, leaving the three of them unattended. Jesus, this episode. Obviously it’s a very common occurrence for the villain in a show to waste an opportunity to deal with the heroes but they normally have an excuse about a pressing engagement elsewhere or are so confident in the characters being unable to escape that they plan to deal with them later. They do not, ideally, announce they’re going to do something and then leave the room with no explanation as to why they’re not doing it. Needless to say after a couple of seconds Holmes is up and on his feet and trying to rouse the other two. In the case of Beth he does this by…tickling her nose with her hair. It’s the first thing he tries and they both act as if this is a thing people do to revive unconscious people but it isn’t. After Watson is brought back to life. Back to life. He removes their handcuffs and it’s time for them to escape.
Fenwick, to at least show some willing, locked the doors to the train and Beth steps up to try and get them open again. By running into them shoulder first. The sliding subway doors. She tries to barge open the sideways moving doors by running straight into the middle of them. Jesus, this episode. Watson offers to take care of things but Sherlock has a better idea and shoots the emergency sprinkler to set off a fire alarm so the doors open automatically. A lot of reviews I’ve seen of this show for some reason cite this scene as a great example to kids of solving problems with intellect rather than brute strength. To the surprise of precisely nobody I don’t really agree with this – first of all it’s a door, secondly – given how often the shots from various weapons in this series ricochet off of surfaces/enemies/robots/anything they’re supposed to hit it seems like a really bad idea to let off a shot in a sealed metal box. It also seems like it would be a more reasonable idea to assume that the fire alarm system on the abandoned carriage on the disused subway wouldn’t be working any more and just get the robot to open it but then I’m not a Concerned Parent, I’m just the schmuck over analysing a children’s cartoon on the internet. I just don’t think it’s the show to go to for Life Lessons is all.
After checking that the track is still live, by throwing a hammer at it, Sherlock tells Beth to get the rail car working again as once he’s stopped the crime wave (the one that’s being caused by The Crime Machine) they’ll need to make a quick getaway. After climbing a ladder he comes across Fenwick operating the The Crime Machine which is, of course, an inverted version of the Crypnosis machine from the first episode. It isn’t quite as sinister though, the people going into the machine appear to be quite happy about being rewritten and aren’t even struggling against it as the criminals in the first episode were. Though they do make an angry face at the end of the process to show they’re evil now. After the lady pictured above has been Crimenotised by The Crime Machine Fenwick tells her she’s going to be burglarising a computer firm, gives her a list of things she’s to steal and the octogenarian outlaw is on her way. So I guess The Crime Machine also gives people the skills and knowledge required to break into a tech company’s offices in the future and not just the impulse to actually do it. I’d be more cynical about that but, y’know, it’s The Crime Machine after all.
Sherlock sees what’s happening and it’s clear that The Crime Machine has to be destroyed. This…turns out to be remarkably easy. He smashes a small piece of glass on the machine which causes steam to shoot out all sorts of places that steam isn’t supposed to shoot out of. It’s clear The Crime Machine is about to explode so it’s time to beat a hasty exit but unfortunately on his way out Holmes is confronted by a giant!
No not really, it’s just one of Fenwick’s underlings. There are a lot of animation inconsistencies where characters and objects change size quite frequently in the show – the Mantis robot from earlier was, at various points, twice the height of Watson, the same height as Fenwick, bigger than Fenwick, smaller than Fenwick. I don’t want to point it out too often as it would get a bit tedious (as opposed to…well, whatever this is) and I’m only mentioning it out this time because it’s the only point so far in The Crime Machine part of the episode where I found myself somewhat entertained.
Sherlock falls over while backing away from the not-a-giant who takes a shot at him with another future gun. Suddenly Watson dives in and takes the blast meant for Holmes. Minion moves in for another shot but Holmes…uses his cane to gently nudge the villain’s arm slightly higher and Watson takes advantage of this to stun the baddie with his lasso. Oh sorry I meant with the energy beam he can fire from his wrist, he has that now. What? Even if this is explained as being something that only works on human targets at some point down the line I don’t care. It would have been less stupid than a lasso.
The battle over, Holmes expresses concern for Watson’s well being, which is nice, and the two of them run back to Beth and the carriage as The Crime Machine is about to blow. Has Beth repaired the train yet? Of course not. Sherlock gives it a kick and it’s working again, hurrah. Then The Crime Machine explodes. I mean it REALLY explodes – the aftermath is chasing the train down the line, there’s a shot of manhole covers exploding on the city streets. We do get a shot of Fenwick and a previously unseen accomplice running through a door and escaping but there was a second person waiting to be Crimenotised earlier who’s fate is unclear, and there’s no sign of the giant they stunned earlier. So it looks like they’ve killed two people which is a bit weird. Suddenly, for dramatic purposes, the power and brakes have stopped working on the train and it’s heading straight for a brick wall. Holmes works out, with a compass, that the Thames river is on the other side of the wall. I phoned the London transit authorities and asked if there was any section of the underground where a set of tracks had been laid leading to a brick wall directly above the Thames river and they told me to stop calling them unless I had an enquiry about timetables or ticket booking.
They crash into the river, Holmes and Beth swim ashore easily enough but there’s no sign of the much heavier Watson. Far from his earlier indifference and annoyance with his robot companion, Holmes is genuinely concerned for his safety and is worried that if he’s underwater for long the pollution of the Thames will destroy him. Beth says they can just get a new one but Holmes isn’t up for that at all, he only wants Watson. Fortunately that very moment Watson walks ashore, they have a quick chat and Holmes admits he’s fonder of the robot than he’d previously thought and it’s all quite lovely. Then Grayson pops up on Beth’s arm thing to tell her to come in ‘ASAmmediately’ to discuss the damage report. Hopefully he’ll bring up the two human lives as part of that.
Things wrap up back at 221b Baker Street again where Beth has had the place redecorated in it’s original style for Holmes to live in. It even plays a piano version of the Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century theme tune! Well it seems she’s done something good as Sherlock is delighted with the new old digs so well done Beth. Watson then comes in wearing an Elastomask so he now has the face of Human Watson. Rather than being creeped out at the prospect of being constantly hounded by the sight of his long-dead friend’s face Holmes seems quite pleased about it. Beth also tells him that he’s being retained as a consultant for New Scotland Yard which allows them all to work together without actually increasing the Yard’s headcount. Holmes is a bit miffed that he’ll be working under Beth, and he’s rebuked slightly for his sexist thinking in this brave new future where things are better for women. Watson is about to leave so he can power down at the Yard’s offices but Holmes won’t hear of it and proposes the two of them live together instead. Altogether now: AWWWW.
The episode closes on a silhouette of Moriarty down an alley on the other side of the street as Sherlock remarks that the Crimenotising (I hate writing that word, it looks stupid) caper isn’t over yet and that the real criminal is still out there. I guess Moriarty heard him cause he starts laughing to himself in an evil fashion. IT’S OVER AT LAST. Honestly if this episode had been a book I’d have thrown it out the window at this point.
Holy balls this episode. I was hoping to keep to fortnightly updates on this as there are 26 episodes altogether and that would have been really neat but I kept putting this entry off as I couldn’t quite facing thinking about it again and only really did it to get it out of the way. To be fair the beginning and the ending aren’t too bad and it’s clear the show is trying to establish an ongoing arc but the main story involving the titular Crime Machine is just really boring and infuriating in equal measure. My negativity might have something to do with the fact that I had to watch it more than once as the first time I went to start writing the summary I discovered I’d completely forgotten most of what actually occurred in the episode despite just watching it five minutes earlier. The title card claims it was inspired by ‘The Valley of Fear’ and perhaps, if you spent some time with a thesaurus, you could find some similarities beyond ‘there is a criminal gang in both stories’ but by far the biggest difference between the two tales is that this one is awful. Well, episode 3 surely can’t be as bad. Oh and I’ve decided to start an ongoing body count at the end of the summaries, as well as highlighting notable character moments from each episode, just because.
The World’s 2nd Greatest Detective: Sherlock knows Wiggins likes linguine because there’s a small piece of it on his shoe. Let’s all think about that for a minute.
Domo Arigatou Doctor Robotson: Heroically dives in front of a shot meant for Holmes, causing Sherlock’s heart to grow three sizes. Lassoed a robot.
Things Beth Does Right: Hires some workers to redecorate a flat to a satisfactory standard.
You’re Rubbish Moriarty: He just turns up and laughs for a few seconds at the end of the episode.
Body Count: Two.