Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are back — in many different guises. Not only are Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the process of filming Guy Ritchie's anticipated sequel to the motion picture that was a well-deserved box office hit in 2009, but Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star in Sherlock, a BBC TV adaptation set in present-day London that surprised me with its cleverness and creativity.
Sherlock, which recently aired on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery, was created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (co-creator of another great BBC series, Coupling), and they do a phenomenal job of mixing Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories with modern situations and technology. For instance, like his literary counterpart, Dr. Watson has recently returned to England from military service in Afghanistan. Unlike the Victorian Holmes, Sherlock is addicted to texting and GPS technology. Both this series and Ritchie's film versions feature wonderful actors with sparkling dialogue, depict an entertaining and awe-inspiring London, and will keep you guessing with exciting plot twists.
Holmes lives on in book form, as well. Graham Moore's new novel, The Sherlockian, alternates between the story of a series of murders in 1900 that Arthur Conan Doyle attempts to solve, and the story of the violent death of a Holmes scholar that a fellow Sherlockian attempts to solve. It's gotten good reviews, and is a captivating read, especially for those who, (unlike me), are the Holmes and Doyle fanatics that the book's title describes.
In fact, when I started reading the book, I was reminded of the death of Richard Lancelyn Green, a Sherlockian whose strange death in 2004 raised eyebrows around the world. This "Mysterious Circumstance" was especially interesting to people at the Newberry Library, where I worked at the time. The Newberry owns an extraordinary collection of Doyle-related materials, and I had just been involved with the fundraising and promotion of an exhibit featuring these items. Green was the exhibit-opening lecturer, so we were shocked to hear of his sudden and unusual demise. I later discovered that Graham Moore's book was partly inspired by this event.
But I digress. All this just goes to show that some characters, and the stories that surround them, are timeless and endlessly engaging. A couple years ago, for instance, it seemed like everyone was writing about and adapting Jane Austen's books and characters (The Jane Austen Book Club, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, etc.) For whatever reason, it's the season for Sherlock. Elementary, my dear.
What Holmes originals, spin-offs, or adaptations do you recommend?
Great blog! I really enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes television series starring Jeremy Brett. I can't wait to see the new BBC series, it sounds like a fun update.
Thanks, Angela! I agree--in my opinion the Jeremy Brett series is the gold standard, although my dad swears by Basil Rathbone.
I'm a Jeremy Brett fan too. In some ways he was very Holmes-like off-screen -- obsessive, suffered from depression and substance abuse, and he seemed to channel the character to an almost unhealthy degree, but he was fascinating as Holmes.
I'm addicted to Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes in the PBS series. He is mesmerizing as the modern, aloof, techie, probably-on-the-spectrum, Sherlock Holmes. The guy is so strange, I can't take my eyes off of him.
Beside's being familiar with technology, the Masterpiece Theatre's modern adaptation is flirting with Holme's sexual orientation. He's openly stated that girls are not his "area" and innuendos that he and Watson are more than just partners in crime are made several times. Will Sherlock Holmes finally come out? I just wish season two would come sooner than Autumn 2011!
Was just looking over various things on Sherlock and came across this. Great show..Great acting.
The writers and Benedict have all said they meant to show that Sherlock was really not interested..period...its not his area to have female relationships (distracting..no interest) and there has never been a time that they are aware of that he has ever shown any interest in men. He's just who he is and they see him as asexual.
He understands it all but just like the solar system if it doesn't mean anything to him then he blocks it out. It's all in the brain for him.