TV, movies, zombie walks, zombie 5K runs . . . the shambling undead have struck a nerve with modern man (and woman). If you consider the theme of most reality TV shows, you can quickly find a clue to what the attraction: they're the one sort of human that everyone can look down on. They're stupid. They're ugly. They stink. No matter how badly you've let yourself go, you've still got one up on zombies.
Once upon a time, however, we enjoyed fictions of the sort of human we could look up to, and Sherlock Holmes was right up there with the best of them. Classy, intelligent, successful. The guy was just cool, living in what was at the time, the great center of English-speaking culture.
But in the age of zombies, do we also need a zombie Sherlock Holmes?
I'm not sure whether that phrase "zombie Sherlock Holmes" means "Sherlock Holmes for the zombies"" or "Sherlock Holmes who is a zombie." Or both, which is entirely possible.
A shabby, hobo-fashionista who dogged moves through a shabby and grim metropolis, letting Pop-up Video facts fall endlessly from his scruffy mouth, providing weekly entertainment to mindless masses whose numbers provoke horror in those with the light of sentience left in their eyes.
If you've ever watched AMC's The Walking Dead, you know the kind of grim persistence a zombie Earth creates in the survivors. And as the strange experiment we call "watching Elementary" continues, I'm noticing a similar headspace coming on for some of us among the Sherlockian faithful.
Keeping up with all things Sherlock has always had moments of biting the bullet and enduring a film that wasn't quite up to modern standards, or some strange foreign thing with Holmes dealing with intestinal issues. But they were always isolated occurrences, single events that were survived and then done. But this week-in and week-out listening to a person who is so far from Sherlock Holmes being called by that name, seeing a Watson whose designation as "companion" seems to have little to do with actually accompanying that person, and a cast of supporting characters with no continuity in the lore of the original Holmes, or even in their own fictional reality . . . it wears at the spirit like the Highlander of flu bugs.
Sure, we could ignore this zombie infestation of Sherlock Holmes culture. We could pretend Sherlock Holmes will still be Jeremy Brett or Basil Rathbone when this is all over. But Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch have already upset that apple cart, in productions that both added their own very nice touches to the legend. The times are a-changing.
Best pay attention, despite the unpleasantness. Because the zombies always get the ones who aren't looking first.