Too soon?

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

Maybe it’s just me overreacting here, but this montage seen on a TV in the latest episode of Elementary (3×15) feels a bit … unsettling. Sure, it’s been 14 years, but it still seems like bad taste to montage an airplane so close to the skyline of NYC, let alone One World Trade Center. Also, the newscast montage looks really fake.

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Search engines, how do they work?

This is about season 3, episode 4 of the rather entertaining CBS show Elementary, a show where these kind of errors always let my blood pressure rise a little bit higher because Sherlock is such an arrogant prick when it comes to errors made by everyone else.

So Holmes and Watson are interviewing a person of interest called Michael Webb – not that his name is relevant or anything. Michael Webb is a guy who doesn’t like to clean his apartment, but lucky for him, a friend of his entered him into a contest where he won a package of free cleanings. Isn’t that something! The cleaning company is called “Clean The House”, which is a rather appropriate name for a cleaning company, but Sherlock is not impressed. Instead, he’s asking Webb if it ever occurred to him to check out the company’s website because … yeah, why would he, actually?

Oh, because they don’t have a website! That’s a little suspicious in this day and age, at least according to Sherlock Holmes. I’m not entirely convinced – it’s certainly a rare occurrence, but in the end, a small cleaning business really doesn’t need an internet presence anyway. But that’s not what I’m rambling about – it’s this:

Image (c) CBS

Image (c) CBS

The face-palm is strong in this one. Entering something other than an URL into the browser bar of a smartphone – in this case it’s an iPhone with a made-up UI – would result in either the default search engine being queried for the search term or, if the phone has no internet connection, in an error message notifying the user about the lack of connectivity. It would not, however, display a 404 error, because that actually requires a file to be requested off a server. That did clearly not happen because the search term, and not an URL, is still displayed in the address bar.

The only chance a 404 error would be displayed as a result of this query would be if the search engine’s server was broken, but in no case would this lead to the screen Sherlock bases his suspicions on.

A game on phones

Elementary (CBS) is a great show – well written, funny, with a fantastic cast to boot. Sherlock’s deductions are usually hard to follow (that’s nicely put for “completely illogical”), but that’s fine since he’s so much smarter than most people smarter than anyone on this planet. He also knows about absolutely anyone and everything, which makes my observations about episode 22 in the show’s current second season even more relevant – Sherlock would never make such a rookie mistake.

So Holmes and his brother Mycroft are visiting a bank where the person they are currently looking for was working. There, Sherlock finds out his target person had a quite ingenious way to communicate with someone else: he used the chat on some rubbish video game. The presumed “video game console” is hidden in a potted plant in the guy’s office and looks like this:

Picture (c) CBS

Picture (c) CBS

While it may look like a portable video game console, it’s actually an iPhone 5 enclosed in a Logitech Powershell controller – something I’d expect Sherlock to be able to distinguish without even blinking. Interestingly enough, the show’s producers added a fake user interface to make it look more like a Playstation Portable:

Picture (c) CBS

Picture (c) CBS

Not saying they succeeded as the PSP’s interface looks fairly different, but at least it supports the claim that the internal storage is almost empty.

Why does this matter? Well, first of all, as I said before, the great Sherlock Holmes would have recognized this contraption for what it is – a cellphone with some plastic junk attached to it – and not called it a “video game console”. Second, using this device for the sole means of communication is incredibly unpractical as the controller actually makes typing on the iPhone even harder – you can’t reach the screen with both hands. There is absolutely no benefit to using the controller aside from the external battery, so why did the owner keep it attached in the first place?

But the third issue is the most problematic: iPhones are notorious for running out of steam very quickly. Since the owner was already dead for “over a week”, I highly doubt the phone would still be powered when Sherlock discovered it, especially since either WiFi or 3G would have been required for the chat function to work. The Logitech Powershell actually includes a second battery, but not even that would have kept it from shutting down. Ironically, a real portable Playstation – PSP or Vita – would have enough juice to stay on standby for a week.

As a little bonus, there’s a scene where Holmes is smashing his and Mycroft’s phone on the street. Ignoring the obvious idiocy of doing so, this scene was filmed at the corner of E 125th St & Madison Avenue in Harlem, and there’s a crew member visible:

Picture (c) CBS

Picture (c) CBS

Either that or that guy really likes to stand in the middle of a busy street talking into his jacket for no apparent reason at all.