Monday, November 8, 2010

Sherlock Holmes From Century to Century

A needlepoint I completed about three decades ago depicts the sign of the Sherlock Holmes pub in Charring Cross. I always find a place for it, wherever I live.

Looking at the new Sherlock Holmes on PBS

I'm an unabashed fan of Sherlock Holmes and have read the Holmes stories over and over. Each time I read them, they bring delight anew. The Atlantic storms raging outside the windows of 221 B Baker Street. Mrs. Hudson bringing a cold supper to the sideboard. The tobacco in the Persian slipper on the mantle. Dr. Watson reading the Times while Holmes scrapes away on the violin. Then suddenly: the game is afoot!

I find the stories irresistible. And they are as beloved now as they were in the 19th century when they first appeared.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who got so tired of Holmes he tried to kill him off at Reichenbach Falls in a fight with Moriarty and was forced by popular opinion to bring him back again, might be astounded to know how his creation has endured.

Sherlock Holmes is the most frequently portrayed character in English language fiction. And now, there is a new version of him for the 21st century.

The new series, called, simply, Sherlock, brings the consulting detective into modern London with its Cool Britannia, the London Eye, and glass skyscrapers adjacent to St. Pauls. Holmes uses an iPhone, a laptop, and his formidable talents to solve a series of baffling mysteries. But eh gads and gadzooks! The third installment was Sunday night, November 7, 2010, and there is no fourth installment scheduled. And the third installment was a cliffhanger! Featuring a confrontation with Moriarty!

The new series was created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and the writers of Dr. Who, so it is hip and funny and yet somehow true to its original. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. Watson is a veteran of--and this is truly wonderful--the war in Afghanistan, and since his own doctor fears that Watson is suffering from PTSD, he urges him to meet new people to take his mind off things.

He does exactly that when he answers an ad and meets his new roommate at 221 B Baker Street.

The new Sherlock Holmes is tall and lean and a little bit stranger than the original, but the solid Dr. Watson is as relatively normal as ever. Trying to make the occasional date. Hoping Holmes will one day think of the feelings of others. Running about London with him helping to foil evil deeds.

The creators have discovered, as have all of Holmes' readers through the ages, that London is as much a character in the stories as are Holmes and Watson. And that the struggle of good versus evil in the world is always fascinating and goes on into eternity.

Hooray for the new Sherlock. Now for heaven's sake let's see the next set of mysteries so we can learn how Holmes and Watson escape from the mad Dr. Moriarty, and live to tell us the wondrous tale.

"I am not a psychopath, Anderson. I am a high functioning sociopath. Do your research."

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