We all know the quote from the original Canon and know it well, heartfelt words from Watson after the death of his friend in "The Final Problem":
" . . . if I have now been compelled to make a clear statement of his career, it is due to those injudicious champions who have endeavoured to clear his memory by attacks upon him whom I shall ever regard as the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known."
And Sherlock Holmes was that best and wisest of men . . . once.
Caroline's focus is BBC Sherlock, who does have the occasional charmingly unwise moment. But if you were a person who didn't read, a person whose entire view of Sherlock Holmes came from Downey, Miller, and Cumberbatch, do those words still ring true?
Downey's Holmes has a wacky, impulsive side that really doesn't inspire "best and wisest."
Cumberbatch's Sherlock is pretty much there when he's on his game, but he definitely has some almost literally fatal flaws, like that compulsion to take the suicide pill at the end of "A Study in Pink."
And Miller's Mr. Elementary? Well, let's not even start on that one.
"Best and wisest" is pretty high praise, and one could put it down to Watson's grief causing a little hyperbole at his best friend's death. But for decade upon decade, Sherlockians have agreed with Watson on that point . . . Holmes was the best and wisest, without doubt or asterisk.
Yet modern storytelling seems to demand Holmes be "humanized" with some personality defect or the other, for comedic effect if Watson isn't carrying that ball, for one added story element, or just maybe to make him more "relatable." It could be for many a reason.
Even with his little quirks, I still tend to give Cumberbatch's Holmes credit for being the closest to "best and wisest" of the current crop of English-speakers. But it would be a good challenge for future Holmes creators to start with that phrase as their central premise, at least from Watson's point of view, and see what they can build from there.