“Sherlock”. It’s a BBC series. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Yup.
Actually, “Sherlock” is based on the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. They started out as serials in a newspaper, published in pieces. It went on so long that Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls. The readers were so dismayed that they wrote so frequently and vehemently that Doyle was forced to return his beloved character to print.
Before “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” there was no 221B Baker Street, there had never been a detective protagonist so renowned, and forensics was considered basically voodoo. Sherlock Holmes has been the inspiration for many a fictional and non-fictional character. People love his ability. On the other hand, Sherlock himself is not the pure hearted character we want him to be.
Let me say first that I love the new “Sherlock” series. It has been a great reinvention of an old story. I especially loved the induction of technology; text messages on screen, deductions printed out to be seen, and the overlay of evidence for the viewer. Making John a veteran of our generations Middle-East war hit home for a lot of people. Sherlock loses his addiction to a dangerous drug. Women are given more adventurous roles. The police don’t look so stupid or petty in most cases. The acting is superb, the scarf was a great replacement for the deerstalker, and the reveals are amazing with or without any knowledge of the original content.
Really, when “Sherlock” hits Masterpiece on PBS I’m going to watch it without hesitation. (The first episode is awaiting a re-watch, I owe it more attention before making a judgement.)
However, I’m an old timey fan of Sherlock Holmes. You will never beat Jeremy Brett (in my opinion) as an actor portraying the detective, but then you’ll never beat the books. Sherlock Holmes has always been the epitome of calm but prepared, strong but knowledgeable, tactful but reclusive. He was addicted to cocaine because his brain needed to be stimulated. Not because liked the feeling of the drug (though I’m sure he didn’t dislike it), but if his mind wasn’t occupied he probably would have been insane. Sherlock was capable of love, compassion, and understanding. He chose justice.
John on the other hand was ruled by his emotions. He failed to see facts because he saw people. His time in India wasn’t a trauma but a badge of honor. John Watson was the soldier that Sherlock Holmes needed. John was a filter, a buffer between Sherlock and his audience. He was not, and never should be, a romantic interest of any kind. And that’s what I’m writing about. My biggest annoyance with this new series and its fans.
The creators and writers of this new series have gone out of their way to put an emphasis on the relationship between Watson and Holmes. The fans latched on to that and created a link between the two men that never existed. Sure, Watson and Holmes were friends. Watson was probably Holmes’ best friend. They understood and trusted each other when no one else would. They neither needed each other nor wanted to be without each other. But they were not romantic.
I can deal with the fans. “Shipping” and “OTPs” are understandable. The fans will attach desire where there is none simply because they can. But the writers and creators only spurred those feelings. Creating scenes where Sherlock appeared jealous, where the two men share deep looks, where reading between the lines could grant ideas unsuitable, or scenes where you don’t even have to look at those spaces the lines cover it. It rakes on my nerves.
For this show to be so terrific, it sure is terrible. Watson is pouty, Holmes is childish, and together they fumble at being representations of the icons. If you’re not a fan of Sherlock Holmes, you’ll love this show. It’s witty, intelligent, modern, and not entirely frill. If you’re a long standing fan of Sherlock Holmes you will either love it as a standalone or hate it as an addition.
I could write a college level essay with examples and comparisons but I don’t think either of us have the time. Basically, there are moments when this show is entirely perfect. And then the other moments are just bad reinterpretations. “Sherlock” is good. Great compared to a quite a bit of modern television. But don’t get lost in its initial charm. Get to know Holmes in print. It’s much more fun.