Like millions of other viewers, I am a devoted fan of Sherlock, the hit BBC mystery-drama. Currently, I'm enjoying the third season as it airs in the US and loving every minute of it. And who else airs such a fine British drama but PBS? As a longtime proponent for public broadcasting, this could not make me happier. Quality Entertainment! No Commercials!! But, more importantly, as part of the long-running, name-changing, Masterpiece Mystery! series, I get that incredible title sequence!!! Which is, of course, the point of this post. Why praise the sharp drama of Sherlock when so many have gone before me? Instead, I'll share my admiration for the title sequence- not even of the show (too cliche)- but of the American public broadcasting channel which airs it. How's that for unique?
His work seemed inspired by the worst of human nature and of the highest forms of art." Gorey was witty and articulate, a true artist with a unique vision.
Anyone, in a story which seems so typical of an artist, Gorey put together a title sequence that, according to Lamb, timed in at around... 20 minutes. So basically, about a third of the show. As is the case with so many artists, pragmatism sometimes comes in second to brilliance. But I digress. In the nicest possible way, Lamb and Wilson told Gorey that they were looking for something a little... different and he gave them consent to design the scene themselves based on his iconic style. Paired with the wonderful music of Normand Roger, the end result has become the stuff of legends.
The sequence has changed slightly over the years. Different scenes and different presentation have been added. But the essence has remained the same: darkly elegant scenes which insinuated foul play. They invite the viewer into a beautiful, but dark world. It sets the mood just right with the right amounts of mystery and elegance that is so present in so many of the shows they have presented over the years. But, at the same time, the suspense is all slightly and intentionally contrived. It is dramatic entertainment at its best- wonderfully well done but... just entertainment.
Which is exactly what Edward Gorey's work is all about. It is dark. It is elegant. But it has a certain level of facetiousness, so you know that he is joking (darkly joking, but joking nonetheless) about a very serious topic. The epitome of this style appears in the title sequence when the famous Mystery skull on the gravestone sends the viewer a sweet little wink. Dark, suggestive, and wonderful.
"The Mystery of Edward Gorey" by Derek Lamb
PBS: Mystery Title Sequence