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Posted at 07:03 PM ET, 01/06/2012

Winter TV Press Tour 2012: ‘Masterpiece’ execs bask in successful year, and, of course, discuss that ‘Sherlock’ nude scene


Executive producer Rebecca Eaton, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss at the press tour. (Jake Landis - PBS)
PBS’s “Downton Abbey” returns Sunday and its 10-episode third season resumes shooting in February. “Sherlock” is returning in May for a three-episode second season — still starring Benedict Cumberbatch, who’s now being talked about like some kind of rock star because he’s been cast in JJ Abrams’ latest “Star Trek” re-boot.  And, overall, the “Masterpiece” franchise under which both fall, is up 30 percent in the ratings compared to the previous season, not to mention an actual underwriter for 2012.

“It was the kind of year television producers dream about, pray for, sacrifice goats for, light votive candles for — we had a bell ringer of a year,” “Masterpiece” exec producer Rebecca Eaton gushed giddily at Winter TV Press Tour 2012.

 Eaton came to press tour to promote a handful of new “Masterpiece” programs, including that second season of “Sherlock” with cast members, including Cumberbatch, who apparently survived the first season cliffhanger in which Sherlock appears to have died. Yeah, right. Eaton, noted, still giddy, it “annoyed millions and millions of television viewers — just what we want to do, because then they will want to see the second series.”

 Yes, it’s the best of all possible worlds at “Masterpiece” these days.

 One teensy glitch. The second, mini-season of “Sherlock” feature a brainiac dominatrix who, being very good at what she does, strips down to her diamond studs and Louboutins and a whip, in order to ensnare our tightly wound hero.

 “Apparently last week there was a bit of an uproar in the U.K. over a naked scene?” one TV critic sniffed at “Sherlock” panelists, in re the season’s New Year’s Day debut in the UK.

 “Sherlock does not take his clothes off,” Eaton hastened to explain to the American TV critics.

 And, it’s just two minutes in a 90-minute episode and “there is nothing that you see. It’s very suggestive — it’s very clever camerawork,” said Lara Pulver, who plays dominatrix Irene Adler.

 “It’s supposed to throw off [Sherlock’s]  radar…it’s used as a device of character to create a situation of control,” chimed in Cumberbatch, via satellite from London.

  “It’s not about nudity being displayed…she’s a dominatrix. Nudity is nothing to her,” added Pulver.

 Ah, but nudity is something here in these United States of America, where men are fearless and women are clothed — particularly on public broadcasting.


Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes (Courtesy of Hartswood Films - BBC for MASTERPIECE)
 So it maybe would have been better had Pulver not boasted, “It was no mean feat for me to shoot it, being naked for eight hours in just a pair of Louboutin shoes. [It] was a challenge and one I’ve never met before.”

 And perhaps Cumberbatch should not have giggled, “It’s great publicity, isn’t it?”

 “I mean, if anyone wants to create a storm in a teacup over it and sell papers the size of telephone directories with sort of hot-air arguments of any description,” he continued.

 “You betcha!’ responded several TV critics, in their heads anyway, and began to put the finishing touches on reports about the shocking nude scene:

 * Lara Pulver addresses ‘Sherlock’ nude scene — New York Daily News.

 * ‘Sherlock’: a dominatrix, a nude scene, and Holmes in love? —   Entertainment Weekly.

 * ‘Sherlock’ star defends TV show’s nude scene — Newsday.

 * Sherlock Holmes and the case of the nude woman — Minneapolis Star Tribune.

 While they quickly filed their reports, Pulver described a moment in the scene in which Sherlock just holds her hand. “It’s electric…he touches her hand and it’s like they’re making love,” she said. 

“This is sex on public television: he touches her hand,” jumped in Eaton – such a pro!

Pulver noted the “hypocrisy of papers” in the UK, decrying the nudity “but then posting three pictures of me naked in their paper.”

“I’m sure more kids under the age of 13 saw pictures of me in their newspaper than what anyone possibly did [on TV]…although we did get over 9 million [viewers],” she simpered.

Ha! In this country, where men are courageous and newspaper editors are no dummies, they ran the reports of outrage without the photos.

By  |  07:03 PM ET, 01/06/2012

 
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