It has long been a theory of mine that a great actor at playing Sherlock Holmes is also a great actor at playing the villain. Rathbone had his Sir Guy of Gisbourne among others. Cumberbatch had his Khan. Christopher Lee had Dracula, as did Frank Langella. The commanding presence of Sherlock Holmes has a certain similarity to the arch-villain -- both very good a dramatically explaining an evil plan, the villains just doing it before the crime while Holmes tends to do it after.
And then there's that fondness pasticheurs have for pitting Sherlock Holmes against serial killers. Be it classic Jack the Ripper or some original creation, since Doyle was writing before psychotic serial killers were in vogue, his body of work left a void modern writers just love to fill.
With these two Sherlockian tropes in play for so many years, it was kind of fun after wandering late-to-the-party through four seasons of the TV show Dexter, to see Elementary's Jonny Lee Miller pitted against a serial killer.
Of course, as the Dexter fans out there already know, in this particular case, the serial killer is the good guy. And Jonny Lee Miller is a bad, bad guy. A motivational speaker and head of a serial rape gang. Miller doesn't have quite the same villainous presence as a Rathbone or Lee in Dexter . . . and I have to wonder if that lies a lot in the pitch of his voice for me. So many great Holmes/villain actors have those deep resonating tones, and Miller always seems a bit reedy, especially when he's doing an American like Dexter's Jordan Chase.
With all the analytical tech we mere mortals have at our disposal these days, it's probably only a matter of time before some enterprising Sherlockian uses voice analysis comparisons to pick out the perfect Holmes voice. Able to strike terror into the heart of a criminal and soothe a nervous client, with many other abilities in between, the ideal Sherlock Holmes voice is something really special.
Basil Rathbone stands as one of the great Sherlocks of all time because he was successful both as a movie and radio Holmes . . . the latter being the perfect test of whether or not one can evoke Holmes from voice alone. And while Benedict Cumberbatch has done Cabin Pressure, his character Martin Crieff is hard to pull a Holmes out of, and it's even harder to imagine that we'll get a lot of movie/radio Holmes combos in the modern day. (Fun to imagine Martin Freeman hawking Petri Wine with some announcer who strolled in off the street, as Nigel Bruce once did, though.)
Of course, I could be imagining Martin Freeman's Watson getting married as he is on BBC1 this weekend . . . but this being America, I'm still getting Jonny Lee Miller. And pondering villainy and vocals of Sherlock Holmes. (And whining, when I could do the web thing. Yeah. I know.)