Sherlock Holmes

I’ve recently been enjoying the new Mystery series Sherlock on PBS (originally on the BBC). Episodes are presently available for viewing on the Masterpiece Mystery page.

Sidney Paget's Sherlock Holmes

Sidney Paget's Sherlock Holmes

I got into reading mystery stories at an early age. I recall borrowing Sherlock Holmes books from my elementary school library and devouring them in an afternoon. Over the summer, I would read Agatha Christie novels and then (for my library’s summer reading program) create chain links of construction paper for every hour that I had read. My best friend and I even formed a detective team during our after-school extended day program, solving one notable case of  a message written underneath the auditorium stage.

For Hallowe’en one year I dressed up as Sherlock Holmes (cape, improvised deerstalker cap, pipe made out of papier-mache, and large magnifying glass), and the next year I dressed as Hercule Poirot (bowler hat, large luxuriant moustache, vaguely French/Belgian accent, possibly a suit with white gloves — it was a long time ago, I don’t remember all the details). Nobody recognized me as Poirot; in fact, many thought I was Charlie Chaplin even though my moustache was clearly too large! At one point, I was reading so many British mysteries that I lost my school’s spelling bee by spelling the word ‘honorable’ as its British cousin ‘honourable’.

In any case, while I am a fan in general of mysteries and the Mystery series, I’ve particularly liked the three Sherlock episodes aired this fall. It is set in modern times (for example, Watson publishes his tales of Sherlock’s adventures on his blog) but much of the show’s character remains true to the original stories. There are some nice tie-ins for those familiar with the Conan-Doyle books, including Watson’s having recently returned from the war in Afghanistan — equally apt in those times and today.

After watching the first episode, A Study in Pink (loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle’s first Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet), I returned and read the original to refresh my memory and see what had been kept versus what plot elements were entirely changed. It had been at least ten years (and maybe fifteen) since I last read that novel, and I enjoyed reading it again in a new light. To summarize, the crime’s commission was quite similar in nature, but the motive completely different.

Just having watched the third episode (the final for this season), The Great Game, I plan on rereading both The Five Orange Pips and The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, referenced therein. Other Holmesian fans: were there additional stories referred to or taken from in that episode that I missed?

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5 responses to “Sherlock Holmes

  1. I’m making my way through The Adventures. (Checked out a second edition copy from the school library. It was an Xmas present to mother and father in 1893!) I feel like I’ve caught some references in other stories as we’ve gone, but am blanking out on any actual instances. There’s a bit of Study in Scarlet that got picked up in episode 3 instead of episode 1. Feel like I need to reread and rewatch a lot more.

    • nyates314

      About the solar system & Copernican Theory? That rang a bell for me too, after rereading ASIS a few weeks ago.

      Agreed that a thorough re-reading of the canon is in order (for me: The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, with footnotes taking up half of every page). And then watching the episodes over again!

  2. So what do you think of the modern setting, with cell phones and computers? And the main characters so young? It seemed a little jarring at first, but I guess they are more accessible to the younger crowd – no insult intended.

    • nyates314

      How old were Holmes & Watson when they first met? I would have guessed late thirties (maybe early forties), since their career together spans 20-30 years and includes great physical agility (e.g. chase scenes). The actors are in their mid-thirties, so doesn’t seem too far off! :^)

      The modern setting I surprisingly don’t mind. It could easily have been done poorly, like some of the “updates” to Shakespeare, but I think this was pulled off reasonably well. The show’s creators argue that Holmes took advantage of the latest science of his day, and would surely have used today’s latest technology to help catch a criminal. So, all in all, not too bad.

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