On Sunday night, the PBS show Masterpiece Theater debuted in America the first episode of the 2010 BBC One series, Sherlock. This modern-day adaptation of the classic Sherlock Holmes genre brings Mr. Holmes presumably kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Did you know that according to the International Motion Picture Database (IMDb) that the character of Sherlock Holmes has appeared in more movie productions than any other fictional character, beating out even Santa Claus? Anne and I learned this, to our chagrin, last Friday night, at the charity trivia night contest that we attended.
Sherlock’s Dr. Watson is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s one was (the 1878-1880 one). Like the original version of this character this one is troubled by his war experience. Can you say post-traumatic stress syndrome? This one can. He is a wounded British Army doctor, discharged and left to wrestle with his own personal demons. It is through Watson that we first meet Holmes.
Sherlock’s Holmes is a self prescribed sociopath and not a psychopath as one of his many enemies on the London police force claims. He has no friends, is not interested in sex, is a drug addict and really only lives for the hunt, “Four serial suicides and now a note, it’s Christmas!” Any Sherlock Holmes production will always rise or fall upon the quality of their detective. Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch is a worthy contender. American audiences might remember Mr. Cumberbatch, or might choose not to, for his role in Atonement, as that most unwelcomed of all house guests. His shock black hair, pale complexion and watery eyes combine to create a Holmes that the entire London police force aptly refers to as “The Alien”.
21st century London not only penetrates this Conan Doyle ethos, it permeates it. Sherlock is alternatively, texting, losing, borrowing or finding a cell phone. Our century’s manners have also overtaken this incarnation of Mr. Holmes, mores the pity for that. One of the worst concession to our modern times though is the rewriting of that famous line, “Come on Watson, the game’s afoot” to “Come on Watson, the game is on”. Even with its flaws, it is television worth watching. At least, it is television that I’ll still be watching.
Graphics with this post come from the exhibit, Home Lands: How Women Made the West, which Anne and I saw on Sunday. Include are works from Georgia O’Keeffe, Eve Drewelowe and Aki Sogabe. Aki Sogabe’s work is one of a set of five in the exhibit that she used to design a mural for Seattle’s Pike Place Market. These three work’s protective glass coverings have caught reflections in my photographs that only somewhat detracts from their beauty.