Научная статья на тему 'Media image of the serial “Sherlock”'

Media image of the serial “Sherlock” Текст научной статьи по специальности «Психология»

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MEDIA IMAGE / MEDIA PERCEPTION / ADAPTATION / INTERTEXTUAL PRACTICE / SERIAL SHERLOCK / SHERLOCK HOLMES

Аннотация научной статьи по психологии, автор научной работы — Vokhrysheva E.

The article researches the media image of TV serial Sherlock as an emotional and evaluative result of media perception by British professional media critics and viewers fans of the serial. it is stated that the positive media image is based upon the synthesis of appellation practice in a form of intertextual references to A.C. Doyle’s works and modernization of heroes and environment; originality and riddles of the plot; exciting directors’ and producers’ work and brilliant acting. Negative sides of media image are connected with stereotypic tape producing of some episodes, illogical plot development and twists and breaks of plot lines, weak revealing of some episodes, analogies with detective operas and James Bond films. Media image is differentiated in the opinions of media professionals and simple viewers. It also has the tendency to maintaining myth of the main hero and forming Sherlock Holmes as a reflection of current national identity and the nuclear essence of modern British hero.

Текст научной работы на тему «Media image of the serial “Sherlock”»

Media Culture

Media image of the serial "Sherlock"

Prof., Dr. E. V. Vokhrysheva Moscow City University, Samara Branch, Stara-Zagora,76, Samara, Russia, 443081 evadonna@mail.ru

Abstract: The article researches the media image of TV serial Sherlock as an emotional and evaluative result of media perception by British professional media critics and viewers - fans of the serial. it is stated that the positive media image is based upon the synthesis of appellation practice in a form of intertextual references to A.C. Doyle's works and modernization of heroes and environment; originality and riddles of the plot; exciting directors' and producers' work and brilliant acting. Negative sides of media image are connected with stereotypic tape producing of some episodes, illogical plot development and twists and breaks of plot lines, weak revealing of some episodes, analogies with detective operas and James Bond films. Media image is differentiated in the opinions of media professionals and simple viewers. It also has the tendency to maintaining myth of the main hero and forming Sherlock Holmes as a reflection of current national identity and the nuclear essence of modern British hero.

Key words: media image, media perception, adaptation, intertextual practice, serial Sherlock, Sherlock Holmes

Introduction

In modern scientific research the analysis of media image of some social phenomenon, event, or a person etc becomes actual. Media image is a part of media culture which is understood as "a sum of material and intellectual values in the media field as well as historically definite system of their reproduction and functioning in the social community" [Fedorov, 2010, p.22]. Such studies are very important as it is media images through which the psychological and information influence is induced on all members of the society or its certain groups.

Media images therefore prove to be emotional and evaluative, realizing binary oppositional juxtapositions for describing the object though through a lot of different expressive means of the language, and it's undoubtedly also an interesting subject of studies. If the media image is formed on the basis of foreign linguistic culture then it simultaneously turns into a didactic object which is significant as for the research of linguocultural stereotypes and for the foreign mass communication language studies.

Material and methods

The media object of this research is the British BBC TV serial Sherlock (2010 - 2017) by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. The plot of the serial is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's stories about the famous detective Sherlock Holmes but the action is transferred to current days. The directors Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are known for Doctor Who and Jeckill TV serials, and actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are staring in main roles of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson. In 2011 Sherlock has got the BAFTA TV award in the "The Best Dramatic Serial" category.

The serial consists of four seasons containing three series each: the first season comprises A Study in Pink [1 season, 1 episode. A Study in Pink], The Blind Banker [1 season, 2 episode. The Blind Banker], The Great Game [1 season, 3 episode. The Great Game]; the second season -A Scandal in Belgravia [2 season, 1 episode. A Scandal in Belgravia], The Hounds of Baskerville [2 season, 2 episode. The Hounds of Baskerville], The Reichenbach Fall [2 season, 3 episode. The Reichenbach Fall]; the third season - The Empty Hearse [3 season, 1 episode. The Empty Hearse], The Sign of Three [3 season, 2 episode. The Sign of Three], His Last Vow [3 season, 3 episode. His Last Vow]; the fourth season - The Six Thatchers [4 season, 1 episode. The Six Thatchers], The Lying Detective [4 season, 2 episode. The Lying Detective], The Final problem [4 season, 3 episode. The Final problem]. Between the third and the fourth seasons the special episode under the title The Abominable Bride appeared.

The objects of the research present also British critics' media messages and reviews in press and other types of media on Sherlock in the whole and its series; scientific research; viewers' commentaries on the serial in blogs, fandoms, internet discussions and corresponding sights.

The text of the serial and all these opinions are investigated by context analysis, cognitive and linguistic-cultural methods.

Discussion

The notion of media image is often defined as "a sum of emotional and rational judgments based on the information obtained through mass media" [Maruschak, 2012, p. 95] or as "a particular image of the reality, presented for the mass public by the media industry" [Bogdan, 2007, p.124]. In L.V. Hochunskaya's opinion media image is represented as encoded in media text author's value vision of the media object, which is characterized by a dialogical or polylogical nature and evokes evaluative reaction of the addressee. She states that the media image reveals itself and exists as a three-faceted phenomenon: as a visible world subject to interpretation by the author; as a media text world; and as a world perceived and interpreted by the addressee in accord to his/her individual psychological, intellectual, age and other characteristics [Hochunskaya, 2013, p.93].

In their works the researchers investigated the images of Russia, regions, cities, politicians and other public figures, groups and individuals [Galinskaya, 2013; Korzheneva,2013; Zelenskaya, 2014; Medvedeva, 2014; Terskih, Malyonova, 2015; Fedorov, 2015; Grigoryan, 2016; Machenin, 2016; Lobanova, 2017; Shmitko, 2017].

Among main properties specific for media images the scientists put a special emphasis to the following: 1) value orientation [Hochunskaya, 2013]; 2) accent on archetypical determinations of the addressee установка на архетипические детерминации адресата [Hochunskaya, 2013; Balalueva,2014]; 3) interpretation ability [Balalueva,2014]; 4) the reflection of the personal qualities of the author which is understood by the auditorium on the base of their own opinions and expectations [Grigoryan, 2016]; 6) creating not only by professional media critics but also by common internet users, who present their commentaries of the media object under discussion [Galinskaya, 2013]; 5) personification and mask in the process of constructing the image [Korzheneva,2013]; 6) the ability of indexation and intentional correcting [Zelenskaya,2014] 7) forming the media strata (the circle of like-minded people) [Hochunskaya, 2013].

V.V. Barabash and T.V. Sezonov distinguish between two ways of media image realization: verbal (by text means) and visual (by photos, illustrations and ad images). Verbal method is determined by the choice of topics of printed materials and the peculiarities of their presentation. Visual method provides for filling the content with a lot of illustrative material, ad images presenting different types. Visual components being light and semantically deep, easily remembered take an effective part in creating media images [Barabash, Sezonov, 2015]. As they

investigate the media image in entertainment magazines thus they pay attention only to graphic means of forming the media image. If we consider visual level as non-verbal and the possibilities of the internet then we may add to the list all means of realizing the media image such as audio, iconographic, clips and other types of visual representation characteristic of the net.

D.O. Smirnov exposes three levels of media images: 1) sign symbolic - comprising the wholeness of the media object; 2) conceptual - including the system of concepts, cultural meanings, values, ideas, verbalized psychological states which are realized through signs and symbols; 3) notional - reflecting the variety of individual senses, emotions, thoughts, images, motives, experience [Smirnov,2017].

N.V. Buyanova and P.A. Yagufarov analyzing the media image literature summarize briefly some functions of media images and name, in particular, two of them - functions of indicator and manipulation [Buyanova, Yagufarov, 2017, p.326].

The prime concern of foreign researchers also lies in the field of revealing media image functioning and social and psychological impact they produce [Gvirsman, Huesmann, Dubow, 2014; Müller, Schemer, Wettstein etc., 2017; Hermida, Hernandez-Santaolalla, 2018]. Thus they explore manipulative function as well as psychological-emotive one.

The scientists underline that stereotypic media representation may have long and unpleasant consequences on social and emotional stand of groups of people or individuals. So such authors as T.L. Dixon and Ch. L. Williams, using the UCLA Communication Studies Digital News Archive, sampled 146 cable and network news programs aired between 2008 and 2012. Findings revealed that Blacks were actually "invisible" on network news, being underrepresented as both violent perpetrators and victims of crime. However, Whites were accurately represented as criminals. Moreover, Latinos were greatly overrepresented as undocumented immigrants while Muslims were greatly overrepresented as terrorists on network and cable news programs. It gives way to ethnic blame discourse [Dixon, Williams, 2015]. D. Schmuck, J. Matthes, F.H. Paul support their point of view that stereotypical media content shapes the perception of racial groups and social policy. They investigate Anti-Islamic sentiments which have become central to right-wing populist mobilization in Western societies and which often results in negative portrayals of Muslims in political campaigns. They emphasize that these portrayals have detrimental effects on minority members' identity formation and attitudes toward majority members. A lab experiment with 145 young Muslims reveals that right-wing populist ad exposure increases perceived discrimination, which in turn decreases individuals' self-esteem and national identification, and encourages hostility toward majority members [Schmuck, Matthes, Paul, 2017, p. 445].

R. Kühne, P. Weber and K. Sommer explore the problems of media framing effects and their influence on emotional and cognitive processes of the recipients. The authors conducted an experiment in which the framing of responsibility for a social problem was manipulated (ambivalent vs. high-responsibility frame). They find that the high-responsibility frame increased the preference for punitive measures by increasing responsibility beliefs and eliciting anger [Kühne, Weber, Sommer, 2015]. K.R. Dale, A.A. Raney, S.H. Janicke, M.S. Sanders, M.B. Oliver conducted the project devoted to eudaemonic media experiences, presenting for the viewers three "inspirational" video and respondents providing real-time emotional reactions. This project reports evidence directly linking specific representations to content identified as "inspirational" and directly linking those representations to self-transcendent emotional reactions [Dale, Raney etc, 2017] therefore proving once more the idea of media content-framing-reaction dependence.

Another function of psychological nature was noticed by D. Kaplan, Y. Kupper and it is mobilizing and stimulating collective feelings of solidarity. Drawing on a study of Reality TV show Big Brother Israel, they demonstrate how several structural-interactional features of the show encourage viewers to shift from a position of bystanders to one of confidants and

companions of the contestants through messaging commentaries and opinions forming in this way a kind of mediated "public intimacy"—the staging of exclusive interactions in front of a third party. The emergent sense of collective complicity affects interactions between viewers and public discourse on social media serving to reaffirm the collective's solidarity [Kaplan, Kupper, 2017]. The scientists also mark that perceived support for one's opinion by the majority was found to have a positive and significant effect on the willingness to express opinion in the online sphere. The explanatory role of fear of isolation was more significant in the online sphere than in face-to-face context [Soffer, Gordoni, 2018].

In our opinion it's reasonable to separate out the appellative, manipulative and regulative functions of media images. Appellative function allows to draw attention of the public to a certain media object. Media message is created in such a way so that to affect the notice of the recipients to some event and to lead to cover it in a certain light. As I. Balaueva states, "any media text message goes through a process of coding which comprises several stages: basic -language system and a system of linguistic signs; non-coded - literal meaning; coded -ideological, symbolic superstructure which influences directly upon the value paradigms of the readers" [Balalueva, 2014, c.89]. Besides using the audiovisual symbols also helps create the genuine-to-reality-effect and appeals to emotional-sensitive side of a person.

Manipulative function lies in an impact the media image has on moral orientations and values of a person and society. It's closely connected with the regulative function as with the help of media images it's easy enough to correct opinions, positions, values, to manipulate consciousness and thus to regulate behavior.

Results

Result 1. On the base of prior research we may draw a conclusion that media image is a result of media perception giving a definite model of reality which comprises emotional-evaluative component affecting the consciousness of the recipients and created trough the different media (press,blogs,fandoms etc0 by professional journalists, scientists, bloggers, internet users and others. Media image does'n suggest a mirror reflection of the reality, but offers the auditorium the variant of its representative reading and tries to control the forming of necessary vision of the media object. The recipients mold their own personal senses as a result ofinteraction with media object and these senses may not coincide with those which are to be introduced in their minds by the mass media.

Result 2. The British TV serial Sherlock is a film text based on famous Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories about Sherlock Holmes. However it is not an adaptation of the stories but a media transposition and reference to the most significant and well-known moments of the content, as the serial's plot deviates from that of the Doyle's stories.

Steven Moffat in his interview says about the serial and its main hero Sherlock Holmes, "We wanted to bring him out of the faux-Victorian fog and see him for what he is" [Jeffries, 2011]. A lot of moments connected with the life of main characters are modernized. In "Sherlock" both heroes call each other by the names, so the communication between them is less formal. Sherlock gains a smartphone and nicotine patches. He wouldn't say: "Elementary, my dear Watson." He is younger than in original stories, and technologically cutting-edge. Sherlock Holmes is a man from a wealthy family, crime-solver who lives in contemporary London. Then Watson the ex-soldier, invalided out of the war in Afghanistan, coming home a bit bored because he'd rather be back at the front. So solving crimes with a psychopath excites him and makes his life loaded with adventures and emotions.

Result 3. Media image of the serial is composed in the viewers' perception as an intertextual practice, contributing to a dynamic interpretive exchange between the literary and cinematic texts, an exchange in which each text can be enriched, modified or subverted. In Ilana

Shiloch's opinion, "the overlapping and conflicting threads interweaving film adaptation and original text create an intertextual web that is the essence of all adaptation" [Shiloh, 2007].

The specific feature of this serial consists in transforming traditional A.C. Doyle's plots. It takes as a ground the images of main characters of the stories, follows their control points and creates new riddles and mysteries to be solved in parallel by the heroes and viewers. Consequently the series A Study in Bink is based on the story A Study in Scarlet; in series The Blind Banker, The Sign of the Three and The Six Thatchers there are intertextual allusions to the A.C. Doyle's story The Sign of the Four. The title of the series The Reichenbach Fall echoes with the name of Moriarty's death place in the original - Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland; and the names of military base Baskerville and hallucinogenic gas H.O.U.N.D. in the series The Hounds of Baskerville establish precise links with the classical work The Hound of the Baskervilles. Majority titles of the series are built on word interplay which suggests riddles for viewers and involvement into intertexual web (compare e.g. series His Last Vow and original title of the story His Last Bow; The Six Thatchers and The Six Napoleons).

Sherlock Holemes relocation into modern reality brings together the hero and the viewers who are borne in on facts of the serial: television, internet, information technologies, underground, air transport and others - all these improve viewers' perception and understanding of the content and enhance the interest to the screen events.

Result 4. Media image of the serial shapes as a multilevel phenomenon uniting value criteria of 1) the plot of the serial as a whole and by its seasons; 2) directors' intention and its implementation often in comparison with other versions and adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories; 3) heroes of the film and the actors performing the roles.

Result 5. The specific feature of creating a serial perception-based media image consists in the fact that critics pay more attention to film scenario, acting and producing.

Beginning with the first episode the serial has got positive responses from the media critics. The British edition The Telegraph put Benedict Cumberbatch to the first place in its own top-list of "the 20 greatest Sherlock Holmes", and Martin Freeman - to the third place in analogous rating list of John Watsons [Sherlock: the 20 greatest Sherlock Holmes, 2012]. The Newspaper The Guardian called the show "resembling a cross between Withnail and I and The Bourne Ultimatum, there is also a hint of Doctor Who about the drama; hardly surprising, since it has been written and created by Doctor Who writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat" [Thorpe, 2010].

Day Martin from The Guardian remarked that "the first of three 90-minute movies, A Study In Pink, is brilliantly promising". He also accentuated good work of scenarists and directors saying that "the deduction sequences are ingenious, and the plot is classic Moffat intricacy" [Martin, 2010]. One more journalist from The Guardian Sam Wollaston was greatly impressed by the main characters and actors who played them: "Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role ... has the right edge and energy, the razor-sharp mind, but also the lack of social skills and impatience that appears to border on cruelty. A Holmes that Conan Doyle would possibly approve of, I think. Martin Freeman's Watson is very good, too - closer to Sir ACD's thoughtful narrator than the bumbling fool so often portrayed on screen. Their relationship is spot on - a mixture of frustration, admiration and genuine affection. Even from Holmes. Characterwise, it's great". But he also stated that some of the plot's details were left unexplained [Wollaston, 2010]. Tom Suttcliff from "the Independent" thinks that "Holmes appeared a bit slow" investigating the case. In the whole in his review he produced positive opinion on the serial calling it a triumph of Gatiss and Moffat, "witty and knowing, without ever undercutting the flair and dazzle of the original" and despite the change of the Victorian environment to modern "wonderfully loyal" to the original "in every way that matters". To his mind the serial wins over because of not only intriguing plot but also because of a successful submission and charisma [Sutcliffe, 2010].

The Times writer Kaitlin Moran in her article "My love affair with Sherlock" talked about the reaction of the serial's creators on the success of the first episode: "On the night the debut episode - A Study in Pink - went out, the core cast and crew assembled at Moffat's house in Kew to watch it. "An hour later, I went and sat in the garden," Moffat says, "and looked at Twitter. I saw that Benedict was trending worldwide on Twitter, Martin was trending worldwide, Sherlock itself was trending worldwide. And people were talking about it with this... passion. As if they were lifelong fans - when, of course, they'd not seen it 90 minutes ago. Everything had changed in 90 minutes." [Moran, 2011].

The image of Iren Adler presented as «the dominatrix who brought a nation to its knees [2 season, 1 episode. A Scandal in Belgravia], drew the attention of the press and the viewers and the conservators unpleased by its such sexually explicit adaptation [Bespalova, Vokhrysheva, 2014]. The negative review issued the daily tabloid The Daily Mail which expressed the complaints of the viewers for too raunchy scenes, which were screened in an early-evening holiday slot to maximise ratings. One wrote on Twitter: 'Dominatrix?! Watershed anyone? My ten-year-old was watching that.' Another said: 'I don't think the storyline in Sherlock is pre-watershed suitable.' A third asked: 'How was Sherlock on pre-watershed with that slut walking round with no clothes on for most of it?!' [Revoir, 2012]. The BBC insisted that the scenes were not too racy for the timeslot and was shot with the right angles and positions of the body in this way hiding Lara Pulver's nakedness. And BBC spokesman shared that the studio is "delighted with the critical and audience response to the first episode, which has been extremely positive, and have received no complaints at this stage" [BBC Full Financial Statements 2012/13]. Producers deliberately emphasized her sexuality undermining her great intellect and formidable agency. By Jane Clare Jones's words, "not-so-subtly channelling the spirit of the predatory femme fatal, Adler's power became, in Moffat's hands, less a matter of brains, and more a matter of knowing "what men like" and how to give it to them" [Jones, 2012]. Series co-creator Steven Moffat said also that he had given Holmes an overtly sexual sparring partner to scotch speculation about a homosexual undercurrent to the relationship between him and Dr John Watson, played by Martin Freeman [Revoir, 2012].

Almost simultaneously with the serial there have been broadcasted two full-length classical film adaptations by Guy Ritchie with Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law in main roles. Thus almost in all critical articles and reviews there appear comparisons and contrasting of the film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and the serial Sherlock in accord to the row of items and preference is given to Ritchie's films which pull off the win [Heritage, 2012]. A deep comparison of two films by the criterion of canon loyalty was done by the Swiss edition Tages Anzeiger. Jean-Martin Büttner thinks that "Guy Ritchie downgrades the detective to an adventure hero" and "Downey Jr. gives the detective a punchline hunter, who completes his adventures with grimaces, spells and assorted martial arts. ... In Sherlock you forget all the other actors in the moment in which Benedict Cumberbatch comes for the first time as Sherlock Holmes in the picture: a gaunt, pale mid-thirties, who draws everyone's attention and hardly reciprocates. He looks cranky, gives himself arrogant and reacts sarcastically" [Büttner, 2011].

The third season caused ambiguous critics' reactions. Sam Wollaston greeted the appearance of the season with the words: "After the fall - an explosive return for Cumberbatch and Freeman, full of fizz, whizz and wit" [Wollaston, 2014]. The author likes a little childish sibling rivalry between Sherlock and brother Mycroft in the planning operation in case of Parliament explosion on Guy Fawkes's night, as well as the process of delicate reassembling of Sherlock's and John's friendship - always tricky when one has come back from the dead. Chris Harvey from The Telegraph announced "the triumphant return of the most charismatic, most fun character on British television, played by Cumberbatch with insouciant verve". Though Sherlock to his mind wasn't flawless but it was brilliant [Harvey, 2014]. However despite a lot of humoristic and interesting twists in the plot in the season first series he stated that Sherlock's

own explanation of how he faked his death felt "anti-climatic". He also disliked the idea that the criminal mastermind behind the parliament explosion plot would have risked giving his plan away by playing "a clue-filled game with Sherlock by putting Watson inside a bonfire which was just as ridiculous as Moriarty's Sherlock mask" [Harvey,2014].

Sharp critical opinions also concerned the second episode of the third season of Sherlock-The Sign of the Three. This series is devoted to the wedding of Mary Morstan and Watson and Sherlock's preparations to this event. In Rob Leigh's opinion, the series turned to be too comical and the humor was weak and predictable [Leigh, 2014]. But most critical remarks were turned to the work of scenarists and creators of Sherlock but not actors as they played brilliantly and as well depend on the plot. Nevertheless in spite of critical attitude of the press the third season gathered a record audience of 9,2 million viewers [Leigh, 2014].

As for a special Abominable Bride the opinions differ. Some of the critics think that return to the past was hardly necessary, as the main advantage of the film its modernity; the others consider it quite justified and feasible, as with modernity this episode in the Victorian setting turns to be connected by the possibility of Sherlock's drug trip in the mind, who'd deliberately overdosed and entered his hallucinogenic "mind palace" to prove that arch foe Moriarty couldn't have come back from the dead. It was also a metaphor for Sherlock's addiction - to puzzles, as much as that seven per cent solution of cocaine. As a whole the conclusion is made that this episode is a good start for a new season as it ended the hesitations about Moriarty's death and gives hints on Red Beard and a new villain and manipulator who produced a long-term plan. By C. Tomas's words, "...despite however confusing The Abominable Bride was at times, it was also a necessary story that had to be told before we could move forward. .it proved that there is still life left in Sherlock, and that the chemistry between the show's two leading men is still there. It acted as an extended epilogue of the prior season, but it could have just as easily been the first episode of Season 4" [Thomas, 2016].

The fourth season was expected with great enthusiasm and eagerness by critics and fans but the opinions also much varied. The Den of Geek reviewer thinks that the first episode The Six Thatchers fluctuates from comedy to spy thriller. And the central theme is an inevitability of fate - in this case Mary's fate (illustrated by an ancient Mesopotamian legend Appointment in Samarra). To the author's mind this episode more than any other one has done a lot to develop the psychology of characters: "This Sherlock Holmes is no longer a brilliant machine for solving mysteries, he's a person and he's in pain." [Sherlock series 4 episode 1 review: The Six Thatchers, 2017]. The British daily on-line The Daily Mail expresses the opinion through Christopher Stevens' words: "Sherlock has become so clever-clever, it's stupid". He also noted: "And the script mimicked every hackneyed espionage tradition - chess games during hostage rescues, flippant banter at gunpoint, torture sequences, and even some complicated plot explanations during a fist fight. Clearly, Gatiss is getting bored of Sherlock, and wishes he could write the next 007 film" [Stevens, 2017].

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw states that the fourth season premiere, The Six Thatchers, is the first time it's managed to be boring. "This time around, fast-paced storytelling was fully replaced by Sherlock's trademark flashy editing and love of montages. The main characters don't even seem to enjoy each other's company anymore, a fatal flaw in what basically reduces Sherlock to a buddy-cop show". She continues that Mary's death means we're unlikely to see the comedic atmosphere that drove episodes like The Sign Of Three, and even Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch — two of the BBC's finest actors — often appear to be phoning it in. She hopes that it may be interesting "to see Sherlock finally grow up a little and learn to care for the people around him, but only if the show manages to recapture the panache of its first two seasons" [Baker-Whitelaw, 2017].

The first episode was often criticized for disappointing - fragmented, hectic and plainly obvious plot, illogical moves, controversial outings for the show, not interesting riddles, lack of previous series' spirit and form.

However the recognition of some drawbacks neighbored upon other opinions. Lawrence from The Telegraph states: "The return of Sherlock has been a return to form and proof that Gatiss and Steven Moffat are two of the most inventive minds working in British television. Clever but not clever-clever, thrilling and gut-wrenchingly sad. Looks like the hype was worth it" [Lawrence, 2017].

The second episode The Lying detective has got more positive responses due to interesting riddles for Sherlock to solve, original and unexpected twists of the plot, introduction of a new ominous villain. The Lying Detective is a return to true Sherlock form - with a strong mystery for its two leads to solve, and the enticing introduction of a new villain" [Rottentomatoes.com]. The Observer reviewer Dana Schwartz emphatically exclaims: "I don't often say this, but thank god for Steven Moffat. After last week's muddling episode filled with confusing subplots, unmemorable lines, and exactly 0 interesting crimes solved, Sherlock is back in fine form with a Moffat-penned episode that gives us plenty of mystery and a genuinely scary villain" and at the end of her review she notes again: "That said, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are in the unenviable position of near-impossible standards, especially given the show's increased popularity, and the scrutiny that comes along with it. I'm happy to say that they hit the mark in the second episode of season 4." [Schwartz, 2017].

Media critics point out some disadvantages of the third episode The Final Problem - the main of which is that it's like James Bond film: the widening of kin circle, a drive to overwhelming sentimentality, inexpressive end and unfinished plot lines are also severely criticized. Aja Romano states: "There's ultimately not a lot of substance behind all of the sturm und drang that has led to this final episode, and there's even less logic. There is, however, a lot of high drama and plot shenanigans, and much of it is confusing. Full of frenzied plot twists, The Final Problem closed out the season and maybe the series with an episode that — if it really is the last — feels like a huge anticlimax that substitutes implausible drama and showiness for meaningful character development and any kind of narrative payoff' [Romano,2017]. Stuart Heritage also remarks: "The Final Problem felt like the outer orbit of Sherlock. It felt like it came from a place so utterly divorced from what it ever was, that it'd be a blessed relief if the next episode was just a meat and potatoes mystery caper. Wear the hat, play the violin, solve something impossible. Sherlock has become a parody of himself' [Heritage, 2017].

As Morgan Jeffrey states: The Final Problem has Sherlock ... unravelling puzzle after terrifying puzzle, as the great detective tackles his most personal case to date. And ... Sherlock must face his own dark mirror image. Even more so than Moriarty, Eurus ... is Sherlock gone wrong - all cold, hard logic and no feeling, her emergence highlights her brother's humanity and just how emotional he can be." [Jeffrey, 2017].

Result 6. The specific feature of the media image formed by the TV viewers and fans consists in the interest to the characters, personal relations and plot mysteries. London Sherlock Holmes Society utters a positive opinion on a mixture of classical stories details with modern environment [Utechin, 2010].

After the second season the question of how Sherlock survived generated a lot of discussions in fandoms, forums and social nets [Holehouse, 2012]. The most popular theories were with the help of a mask, dust-cart which may take a body away, the exchange of bodies, with the net of homeless, with Molly Hooper's help etc. Moffat stated that he had read a lot of forums but not on any one he had met a true version though in the episode there was a clue which everybody had missed [Jeffries, 2011]. The viewers noticed a row of mistakes in the logistics in the episode The Empty Hearse while John and Sherlock move in London

underground. We may cite Lucy Burton's twit: "More confused by Sherlock's appalling knowledge of the Tube than how he fell" [Senior, 2014].

The British viewers met the third season favorably as there were added a lot of humor and intrigues. The viewers liked main characters' images and new models of their behavior. In their opinions the creators tried a lot to surprise viewers with original twists in the plot: the viewers were glad that both detectives reunited and waited for Moriarty's return [Sherlock@Sherlock221B]. The second episode The Sign of the Three was liked by many, girls especially delighted Sherlock's wedding speech. The final episode His Last Vow has become the leader by maximum of positive responses. The viewers enjoyed the plot, the end and the hint to Moriarty's reemergence [Sherlock@Sherlock221B; Awesome Sherlock ].

The fourth season was also a hit and got a lot of commentaries from serial's fans and ordinary viewers. They think this season the most twisted and mysterious but coming to a climax and giving solutions of hints made in previous seasons. The fans do not want to part with the admired heroes of Cumberbatch and Freeman [Final Problem reactions].

After The Six Thatchers Mary's popularity grew as the viewers liked her to be a spy: "Mary is like James Bond"; others think that John deserves better; the women would like to see how Sherlock and Mycroft care for Rosy and who of them will stay alive; the fans also advise Sherlock "stop wandering about darkened swimming pools" as it is giving them heart attacks [Sherlock@Sherlock221B].

Compliments were made towards Moriarty's super effective reemergence under Queen's «I Want to Break Free» and its lucky film cutting as at first it's not clear that it's a flashback -reminiscence and not real resurrection. Molly Hooper's love confession to Sherlock was considered very touching and exciting.

Judging the episode The Lying Detective some viewers consider Culverton Smith a villain worth of Moriarty: the others think he is like a clown rather than a villain and may provoke only contempt and perplexity. The main sensation of the series produced Mrs. Hudson. Many viewers confessed that they admired her image which was represented in a new intriguing angle. In social nets there appeared a lot of fanfics imagining Mrs. Hudson's eventful and adventurous past In Twitter the commentaries are like slogans: "Mrs. Hudson for Prime Minister"; "England would fall without Mrs. Hudson". The opinions are quite rapturous: "best entrance award goes to Mrs. Hudson"; "Mrs. Hudson. Fast and the furious"; "Mrs. Hudson is, hands down, the most epic part of this episode, and we want to drive in her car" [Sherlock@Sherlock221B]. She is also admired in the last episode of the serial when she calls Mycroft a reptile [Final Problem reactions].

The viewers noted that the bullet shot by Eurus to John was a real shock. The emergence of a secret sister instead of a brother was also a lion of discussion: "That's like the biggest cliff hanger I've ever experienced"; "Much ado about poor dental hygiene & every one is crazy"; "Loved it! It's the twistiest twist in "Sherlock" yet!"; "Not fair! It's a low blow to introduce a twisted sister"; "Hated it! Culverton Smith was a brilliant enough villain. Adding a Holmes sister is over the top" [Day, 2017].

Result 7. Positive evaluation of the serial's media image is strengthened by the positive acclaim of the acting mastery and charisma.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Morgan Freeman are nowadays a recognized pair of detectives - Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson coming into the history of cinematographic Sherlokiana. The actors playing the roles of Moriarty, Iren Adler, Mary Morstan, Mycroft Holmes, Molly Hooper were also widely discussed and appraised by the press and in blogs.

The biggest interest of the public is drawn to B. Cumberbatch performing Sherlock. He presents Sherlock as a genial bad boy, super clever star, sexual symbol («Brainy is a new sexy») [2 season, 1 episode. A Scandal in Belgravia]. Modern Sherlock's ability to brain storm, by L. Jensen's mind, makes him the sexual symbol of the XXI century" [Jensen, 2014, p.28]. This opinion is supported by fans and other viewers [Nemetz, 2014]. He combines sharp mind, ability

to quick decisions and actions, extraordinary deductive competence, striving to scientific experiments. He is an adventurous and highly cold-minded eccentric. Cumberbatch's Sherlock is at the same time dangerous and vulnerable, being afraid of losing his global self-control and turning into a weak wreck in power of another person.

Conclusions:

The serial's media image is not unequivocal, but positive enough as the British audience favorably received this adaptation and picked it out as one of the best TV versions of the stories about private consultant detective.

Media image made by professional media critics is represented through the analysis of director motives and messages, acting tricks in the serial development. Media image in viewers' perception acquires personal senses emerging in the process of discussion and commentaries on characters' relations and emotions they generate.

As a while the media image corresponds with the aims of the directors who wanted to modernize the main hero and put him forward as a national identity indicator, to involve the audience into intellectual and intertexual game, to follow the plot and image development line.

Media image of the serial supports the tendency to make of Sherlock Holmes a myth. His personal traits of character - pragmatism, organized mind, ambitiousness and seriousness and original sense of humor - create a quintessence of a modern English hero. And Sherlock Holmes appears not an imaginary person but as that personality who fully influences the real life. Benedict Cumberbatch emphasizes the importance and the constant interest to this hero in his interview in Wall Street Journal blog: "Even in Victorian times, the character of Holmes was at the forefront of forensic science, pathology, and psychology — he's always been modern. Our version has a bit of fun with the old idea, that many purists hold, of Sherlock as a fastidious old detective; ours is done with fun, but also reverence for the original. There's also a timelessness to Holmes that if handled by the right people, can continue to entertain for years." [Kung, 2010].

The serial was so popular in Britain that it imprinted its influence on stylelife and fashion. The male clothes net "Debenhams", firm "Belstaff" got a lot of profit on sales of Sherlokian coat from the serial. Paul Costello produced his own collection of woolen coats and scarves in accord with the clothes the serial heroes wear. Alexis Petridis states: "... the last icon of the British male style is an imaginary asexual sociopath" [Petridis, 2010]. A little cafe Speedy's, located on the ground floor of the house which has become serial Sherlock's residence informed about a sharp growth of customers after the serial broadcast. The BBC's much-lauded detective series Sherlock has boosted sales of titles about his pipe-smoking namesake, as the show looks set for renewal. Sales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories have jumped 180% in three weeks [Stone, 2010].

The serial once more through its media image underlines the truth - the popularity of Sherlock Holmes is so great that nobody really cares if he has lived in reality or he is an imagination of the author.

Filmography

1 season, 1 episode. A Study in Pink. https://voriginale.tv/video/sherlock/337/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017) 1 season, 2 episode. The Blind Banker. https://voriginale.tv/video/sherlock/338/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

1 season, 3 episode. The Great Game. https://voriginale.tv/video/sherlock/339/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

2 season, 1 episode. A Scandal in Belgravia. https://voriginale.tv/video/ sherlock/340/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

2 season, 2 episode. The Hounds of Baskerville. http://watchseries.cr/series/ sherlock/season/2/episode/2 (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

2 season, 3 episode. The Reichenbach Fall. https://voriginale.tv/video/ sherlock/343/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

3 season, 1 episode. The Empty Hearse. http://filmatika.ru/ english_series/sherlok/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017) 3 season, 2 episode. The Sign of Three. http://filmatika.ru/english_series/ sherlok/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017) 3 season, 3 episode. His Last Vow. http://filmatika.ru/english_series/sherlok/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

193

3 season, 0 episode. The Abominable Bride. https://voriginale.tv/video/ sherlock/348/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

4 season, 1 episode. The Six Thatchers http://voriginale.tv/video/ sherlock/18277/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

4 season, 2 episode. The Lying Detective. https://voriginale.tv/video/ sherlock/18278/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017) 4 season, 3 episode. The Final problem. https://voriginale.tv/video/ sherlock/18279/ (Retrieved - 07.05.2017)

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