Friday, June 14, 2013

Ten Holmes adversaries I'd like to see.

Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty.

Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty.

Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty.

Bored yet?

When it comes to adversaries on film, on television, and in pastiches, a fan of either Irene Adler or Professor Moriarty should be one happy person. After considering "the Moriarty cliff" of the Holmes story cycle a few days ago, I'm now starting to wonder at how all of the recent adaptations are completely ignoring that rich stock of Sherlock Holmes adversaries they have available to them, many of them much better characterized than Irene or James.

So, this being the internet, where we have to list things out in tens (and also put every item on the list on a separate web page, just to jack up hit counts), I decided to come up with my own list of the ten Canonical baddies I'd love to see well portrayed in upcoming media. It wasn't hard at all.

1. Grimesby Roylott.

I mentioned him last blog, and his love of exotic animals, manipulation of family members, fearsome temper, and the fact that he makes Holmes show his mostly hidden super-strength bending that fireplace poker make him a character well worth developing.

2. Tonga.

A child of the wild set loose in the urban jungle of London? If the Downey movies want action, Tonga is the one guy who can supply it in spades . . . of course we might need the younger Cumberbatch to chase his energetic self across the city's fire escapes and rooftops.

3. Wilson Kemp.

Sure, he's kind of a low budget Moriarty, but I think with a little development, this creepy guy could stand on his own.

4. Baron Gruner.

What can I say? The guy has sex appeal and plays in a venue that Holmes is very unfamiliar with. A good Gruner story could give Holmes plenty of character work.

5. Black Peter.

What, you say? Black Peter was a victim, not a villain! Some of the Canon's most threatening villains are ones we first encounter after they're dead. Which is why I'll also list . . . .

6. Black Giorgiano.

Just for kicks, somebody might combine "The Red Circle" and "The Six Napoleons" to get some Italian gang action going . . . but not too much.

7. Culverton Smith.

Killing people with diseases isn't all that action-filled, but this guy was one devious bastard, and as far as anyone knew at the time, came the closest to actually killing Sherlock Holmes of anyone. Elementary even borrowed his tale to catch their Moriarty, so what does that say about him? (Well, yeah, I know. But still . . .)

8. Isadora Klein!

Please, please, please, Isadora Klein! Holmes may have called Irene Adler "the woman," but really, as adversaries go, I think Isadora could probably have kicked Irene's ass, just because she's actually nasty. Very nasty. Beat-you-while-breaking-your-heart nasty. A great villain.

9. Professor Presbury.

The monkey-man thing may have seemed far-fetched a few decades ago, but we've got genetics on our side now. Who knows what Presbury could come out like these days, with his mix of academia, romantic motives, and primate biology?

10. Dr. Leon Sterndale.

A man who has existed outside of society and has all the different rules, exotic resources, strong passions, and still a good bit of brains. Always a good challenger for the urban detective.

The original Canon of Holmes is so full of plum characters ripe for picking that it's amazing all of the folk adapting him find time to give us Lord Blackwood, "The Blind Banker," or  . . . well, that whole other series . . . without them. I suspect it's just that the more a character appears in movies or TV, the more they're going to appear in movies or TV, because movie and TV people watch movies and TV and thus think that Irene and the Prof are mandatory. But hope springs eternal.

And, c'mon! Isadora Klein!


  1. I concur! Especially with Roylott, Klein, and Smith! That would be awesome! Would love to see modern day adaptation of those stories.

    I have a question though. In BBC Sherlock, fans are theorizing that the dead Moriarty is the Colonel/brother not the Professor. If that happens, what would you feel about it?

  2. How about Jack Stapleton for devious badguys, plus he knows how to disappear at the end - ready for any sequels!

  3. I'd love to see Mary Sutherland turn out to be a criminal mastermind.