I'll admit it, I'm fussy about my Sherlocks.
That's kind of a "well, duh" statement to anyone who, even occasionally, reads this blog.
I hate Sherlocks who aren't smarter than any other random detective in the mystery section of the bookstore. I hate Sherlocks who are built out of a writer's personal non-Sherlock passions with a deerstalker and Invernesse cloak thrown over the top. And I hate "in name only" Sherlocks done by people who only came to Holmes because they saw a buck to be made there.
Yeah, I used the word "hate." I'm a hater . . . sometimes.
One Sherlock I don't hate, but merely find annoying are Sherlocks that go by the name "Arthur Conan Doyle." PBS's Masterpiece Theater is trotting another one of those out this weekend with their "Arthur and George." Poor George has to play Dr. Watson simply for knowing Conan Doyle as the author gets shoehorned into a Holmes-ish role once more.
Yes, yes, Conan Doyle attempted to solve mysteries once or twice. We all do. But trying to sell him as our "real world" Sherlock Holmes makes as much sense as trying to sell Abraham Lincoln as our "real world" Sherlock. Doyle wasn't Sherlock Holmes any more than Lincoln was. (And if you want to argue that point, I have one word for you: "fairies." Hush now.)
Translating any real person's story to the screen is hard enough. People are complex things, and fitting them into a movie plot that suits the needs of fiction . . . and these things are fictions, no matter how many facts one dramatizes . . . easily starts stealing away bits of their character even at the top skill levels. But add in "and we're also going to have him be like Sherlock Holmes" and things just go from hard to ridiculously hard.
Once upon a time, when Sherlock Holmes on screens big and small was a rarer thing, we only had four TV networks, and the internet didn't exist, I might have watched an attempt to play Doyle as Holmes out of sheer boredom. But these days, given the fact that I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and not a huge Conan Doyle fan (Yes, Virginia, there are such folk.), I will probably be letting "Arthur and George" pass until I hear a review or two.
For while actual Conan Doyle biopics would be a worthwhile watch, any attempt to sell me Doyle as a Sherlock is going to fall on deaf ears.