I like me some Sherlock Holmes. I like the pure goods, the straight Conan Doyle, but I also spent a while digging into other authors’ takes on the character. I’ve read the Misadventures, the Solar Pons, an adventure of Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock reset in the punk scene, all kinds of takes.
Not so much recently, mind you, but these days, I’ll gladly take in the alternate takes on screen. I rather liked Zero Effect (I hope I get a legal chance to view the unaired TV version at some point). The recent Sherlock Holmes movie wasn’t a good movie overall, but the interpretation of the characters was a legitimate if clearly alternative take.
PBS is running the BBC’s Sherlock on its Masterpiece Myteries show, and this is a fun one to watch. It resets Holmes in modern day, jettisoning almost all of the standard imagery (which one kind of has to do; those old films where Holmes fought the Nazis are kind of painful). In the new version, Holmes is a fairly young man who quite embraces modern tech – largely seen through heavy texting (which makes sense) and repeated statements that Sherlock has a web page (which doesn’t seem right). They embrace him as someone who is crazed for investigation, understand him as an extreme character, and it works. I’m unfamiliar with the actor who plays him, but he reminded me in slight ways of Jim Hutton, the actor who played TV’s genial take on Ellery Queen.
Watson is a guy on the edge; he’s a veteran of Afghanistan who is numbed in the present world, a seemingly button-down guy who actually needs the excitement. Paired with Holmes, they are extreme folks in a world which needs them but does not fit them.
There is definitely some fun stuff here for the Holmes buff, for the folks who will recognize how they take a clue from the original A Study in Scarlet and flip it upside-down. Some of this is taken to a silly level at times, but it’s well worth watching for the serious Holmes watcher. I’ll leave it to someone else to judge if it is worth it for the Holmes first-timer (although I suspect that those people should find Holmes by reading the pure material.)