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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BBC's "Sherlock" series

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?


  1. Agreed whole-heartedly. I can only hope that the 2nd series stays right up there with the 1st series, in terms of quality (and esp. storytelling).

  2. Absolutely agree! Despite being set over 100 years later this Sherlock is surely more faithful than other 19th Century Holmes.

    Cumberbatch does an excellent modern,yet traditional portrayl...partly do to the brilliant writing and partly due to his own amazing talent. And, I can't stress how much I love Freeman's interpretation of John. He gives a depth to Watson perhaps wasn't quite written out in canon, but was certainly there underneath.

    I would certainly be on the side of the BBC of the best 21st Century adaptation. The films are enjoyable and have their own special brand of Holmes fun and uniqueness, but when compared to the TV series it seems slightly off...even if it is set in the proper time period. I am really intrigued at this debate at I did my own comparison of the two most recent versions (Granada still is the most faithful to the canon, imo). And, that's were I believe the important difference be noted...

    I note my thoughts at: anglophiledelights.blogspot.com, if anyone fancys a look :)