Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Flying the colors.

Ah, the good old days.

Yesterday, I pulled out a t-shirt that I bought months ago on Teefury.com to wear. The gray shirt features a silhouette of Benedict Cumberbatch’s profile on a British flag background, with all sorts of Sherlock-stuff going on in his head. It’s not a perfect design, but it was the first Sherlock shirt I saw on Teefury, on sale for that single day, and I find that I’ve grown quite fond of it . . . for nostalgia’s sake.

It takes me back to a better, purer time, when Sherlock Holmes on television was a celebration of Sherlockian culture and lore, a fresh, innovative attempt at pushing a character I dearly love into the modern day, and an attempt that succeeded. England seemed to be excitedly reclaiming its native son, and for all my previous “Sherlock Holmes was an American” theories over the years, I was glad to see it.

England seems to know what to do with its legends. Merlin, Robin Hood, Dr. Who, Sherlock Holmes – they have plenty, and treat them fondly it seems. America has bungled so many attempts at those characters over the years, while our native legendary sons and daughters seem to be left to the whims of the Walt Disney Company. Zorro, Davy Crockett, Pocahontas . . . if you’re not a princess, you’re on the shelf, and even the princesses often have a way of failing. Many corporate hands seem to want to reach into any American icon’s development, which is one reason Superman, a classic American legend if ever there was one, never seems to get a solid break.

But Sherlock Holmes! Whether it was the production values of the Brett series or the clever workings of the Cumberbatch, Great Britain has shown us that someone over there gets Sherlock Holmes. We could quibble about details, but on the whole, both of those were productions that brought Sherlock Holmes fans together.  Things are a little different these days.

While it might be taking it a bit far to say a certain current production’s use of the name “Sherlock Holmes” on its main character could be the beginnings of Sherlockian Civil War, I wouldn’t rule it out just yet. If someone brought a cat into the Westminster Kennel Club dog show and half of the participants called it a dog, the serious dog-loving half might be polite and go along with the delusion for a few minutes, but eventually trouble would erupt. And while Sherlock Holmes fandom isn’t as strict as Westminster (at least in most quarters), I do find myself looking at the comments of many an old comrade like they just brought a cat into the dog show.

And now I’m finding that I take extra special pleasure in wearing my BBC Sherlock t-shirt. Flying the colors. Planting a flag. Whether the other side becomes dedicated enough to take up their own banner, we shall see.

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