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Tuesday
Nov022010

"Sherlock" 

One of the more embarrassing and kind of depressing sites I saw in London was the Sherlock Holmes Museum. It is indeed at, or at least near, 221b Baker Street, and comprises a spacious souvenir shop full of Holmes-related gewgaws, and a three or four story home done up to look like the famous fictional detective's residence. It's stuffed to the gills with fake memorabilia from Holmes' adventures. It also has a sad and tired old man in Victorian garb who greets you in a mumbling monotone. "I'm Sherlock Holmes. This is my home. Over there is my violin. There's where I shot Queen Victoria's initials into the wall with a pistol. Please feel free to look around." He so clearly didn't want to be there, on display and looking pretty ridiculous for tourists, that I slunk out of the room at once and headed upstairs. The place was a tourist trap to be sure, but there was a steady stream of us falling for us.

My youthful exuberance for Holmes had never been lower. I enjoyed the recent Guy Ritchie-directed movie, a solid-enough popcorn flick that was a thrill ride at the time and quickly forgotten. Now comes an even more dramatic re-invention of the world's only consulting detective, this time from the BBC. "Sherlock" takes the Holmes and Watson characters and moves them to the modern era. Watson is still a doctor and still a veteran of the Afghan War, and Holmes still consults for the police. But this Watson is more haunted by his war and this Holmes is viewed by many cops as a psychopath or, at the very least, a total weirdo. They've done a great job keeping the essential elements of the character while at the same time updating many of the classic conventions for 2010. My favorite little touch is that they call each other James John and Sherlock instead of Watson and Holmes. Also, there's a lot of texting. 

The first episode was great. Nearly perfect in fact. The second one meanders a bit, but is still quite solid. The third and final episode should air this Sunday, and the stories are self-contained enough that you should be able to watch it and enjoy it if you can't catch up before then. I do hope they make more of these! And check out the new Sherlock's personal site here: http://www.thescienceofdeduction.co.uk/ and James' John's blog here: http://www.johnwatsonblog.co.uk/

Reader Comments (4)

I agree with you on the BBC's updated take on Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent as Holmes and Martin Freeman's Watson is a good foil. Will wait to see what you make of third episode, I thought it sat somewhere between the 1st and 2nd overall. I'm hoping the the second 'season', if 3 episodes really counts as such, will consist of more than 3 episodes. UK tv shows generally have shorter seasons - quality not quantity the makers would probably say ;)
It made me go back and watch the Basil Rathbone era Sherlock, which after the first few films moved Holmes from the late 19th century to the 1940's, the film plots being amended to serve as war propaganda.
A minor point - you made two references to John Watson as James in the above blog entry.
November 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Ward
You're right on the James/John thing. I'll fix it! But I swear I heard him say James in the show. But I'm usually wrong about such things. Memory's tricky that way.

I'm a big fan of the Jeremy Brett era myself. Sherlock fighting Nazis I'm sure made sense for the time, but those films never really worked for me for some reason.
November 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterRick Dakan
If I'm feeling flush I might purchase the dvd box set of the Jeremy Brett era Sherlock, but I have a few other box sets to watch before that could occur. Looking forward to hearing more about your London visit.
November 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Ward
I was about to remind you that all the Jeremy Brett episodes are on Netflix Watch Instantly, but I'm not sure that actually helps you, Alex.

More London musings soon!
November 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterRick Dakan

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