Continuing my preparations for The Great Sherlock Holmes Debate and my participation this Saturday in a panel discussion on re-inventing the classics, I watched again "A Study in Pink," the first episode of "Sherlock." It reminded me why I'm on the BBC team.
This production is immensely clever, without being too clever by half. The way certain familiar elements are updated may seem obvious now, but perhaps that's only because it's been done for us. I'm thinking of "Come at once if convenient, if inconvenient come anyway" arriving as a text instead of a telegram, Watson writing a blog instead of a book, and -- most delightful of all -- the "three-patch problem."
The way the famous "Rache" clue from A Study in Scarlet is updated for the computer age struck me as both fun for Sherlockians and satisfying for mystery fans. Remember, this is not supposed to be our Sherlock Holmes of history; it is Sherlock Holmes as he might have been if born late in the twentieth century and sleuthing in the twenty-first.
And yet, the Holmes character -- arrogant and unfeeling, and yet at times surprisingly sensitive -- is still largely present in the energetic portrayal by Benedict Cumberbatch. Martin Freeman's competent, dependable, and principled Watson is also faithful to the source -- actually more so than in some traditionalist interpretations.
For all of these reasons, and despite my love of the more traditional screen and radio interpretations of Holmes, I was really not all that tempted to switch to the new Traditionalist team in The Great Sherlock Holmes Debate. I'll stay where I am.
Which side are you on?
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