We call the sixty stories of Sherlock Holmes our "Canon," our "Sacred Writings," giving it a tongue-in-cheek Biblical status. Handed down to us by Conan Doyle like Moses handing the Ten Commandments down from the mount, etc., etc. But even the Bible wasn't always the Bible. You know there had to be a time when the Old Testament had been sitting there for a while, and along came the New Testament, causing the Old Testament Bible-ockians some serious grousing over their morning manna-flakes and milk.
What am I babbling about now, you ask?
Well, that Nashville Scholar of note, Gael Stahl, passed along a link today to Ariane DeVere's transcripts of the first two seasons of Sherlock, and seeing those words in print didn't just make a light bulb come on for me, the clouds actually parted and the Great Gaslamp of Baker Street shone its light of realization down upon me, imparting a single notion that just wouldn't go away. It was a notion that had popped up before in jest, but given what we've seen in the last couple of years, I suddenly found myself giving it more credence. I was far from the first to have the idea, and I definitely won't be the last. But there it was.
And I really hate to even utter the words, as I know the reaction that will definitely come from certain quarters, but we're reaching the point where it must be said. So here goes.
If the Doyle sixty is our Canon, the Moffat/Gatiss nine (at the moment) is starting to look like our New Testament.
Now, wait, wait . . . I'm not saying this out of pure fan love of BBC Sherlock, though I do have a certain fondness for Cumberbatch and company over all other modern incarnations. I'm saying it based on the ripples that one production has caused in our world. It used to be said that aside from Jesus and Napoleon, no man ever had more written about him than Sherlock Holmes. So let's take that a step further: in the history of Sherlock Holmes, has any set of new stories of Holmes had as much written, drawn, discussed, and created about them as the BBC Sherlock tales? Has any other set of new stories of Sherlock Holmes inspired the meet-ups, the media attention, and the actual events that BBC Sherlock has?
Jeremy Brett had, and has, his fans. Laurie King likewise. But no one has eclipsed and predominated this hobby in so short a time as the Sherlock of "A Study in Pink." No one.
Your tastes may follow a different path, to be sure, but can you honestly say that any other set of new Sherlock Holmes tales comes as close to meeting the qualifications for being "the New Testament of Sherlock Holmes?" Or has anywhere close to the same chance as being remembered as the second coming of Sherlock Holmes by Sherlockian believers in decades to come?
It's easy to dismiss video as ephermeral, mere photons coming from a screen, flickering and gone. But something about seeing the words written out gave that new Sherlockian text a weight in my mind that seemed to say, "This one is solid. This one is here for the long haul." Just an impression that came to me, and as it did, felt like something more than the light of a bonfire soon to burn out.
Of course, being somewhat of a heretic, I hate to bring up the subject of bonfires and burning. We all know how these sorts of declarations go. But you just never know how history is going to play out. Could our current wave be more than just fleeting fad? I'm starting to wonder if it has some potential.