Friday, December 7, 2012

Zombies, zombies, everywhere.

We have entered an age of zombies.

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.


  1. I'll keep watching and snark-tweeting if you will. After your blog I'm afraid if I look away for just one minute...[insert painful screams as if zombies were eating my brains]

  2. As one who believes she still has “the light of sentience" in her eyes, I saw the zombie apocalypse coming when I watched a preview of “Elementary” on YouTube months ago. I’ve been hiding in my own self-created Sherlockian world on Thursday nights ever since. But this week, I decided that if other Sherlockians like you had the courage to face the coming onslaught, I should at least come out and peek. So I watched a full episode of “Elementary.” Next week, I return to the safe cover of my own little world--writing my own story, reading the originals, and/or watching Brett. As Adam of "MythBusters" says, “I reject [this] reality and substitute my own.” Where it’s always 1895. I choose to believe the zombies can’t eat my brain if I’m there.

  3. With most of the commenters on TWOP I get the feeling that they feel obliged to "love/like" 'Elementary' because they think it's a way to get back at Moffat with whom they think they have a bone to pick, There's no genuine enthusiasm there, no excitement, no "squee". It seems all pretty lukewarm to me.

    As an avid viewer of 'The Walking Dead' I always wish the zombies a hearty good appetite when they again(!) catch one of the few survivors. These people are so damnably stupid that they deserve nothing else but to be eaten by zombies. It's like the Darwin-Awards in progress.

    Much like reading the TWOP 'Elementary'-forum.

  4. Well, in my opinion, the problem with 'Elementary' is simply that it claims to be a Sherlock Holmes adaption. It is not. It is an ordinary, generic crime show, that just happens to claim to have a connection to Arthur Conan Doyle's characters because of their recent success. Without 'Sherlock' (and perhaps the Robert Downey, Jr. movies as well) they probably wouldn't have bothered. My tip: If you want to watch an alternative universe American Sherlock Holmes and are not bothered if he is occasionally totally out of character: watch 'HOUSE'! Otherwise stick to the in-character-adaption(s) of your choice (personally I like both Rathbone and BBC-'Sherlock'). And yes, I was bored enough to watch several episodes of 'Elementary'. That was more than enough. May it rest in peace.