Friday, December 27, 2013

The second morning call.

"I had called upon my friend Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas . . ."

Christmas is done, Boxing Day is done, and we finally get to the Sherlockian holiday of the season: Blue Carbuncle Day, Compliments of the Season Day, Call Upon My Friend Sherlock Holmes Day . . . I don't think we've ever really settled on a name for it. But it's a special day in Holmes world, and always more memorable to me than that arguable birthday (whose celebration seems to depend upon dinner weekends, much as presidential birthdays depend upon Mondays).

And in honor of this special day, this year, I'd like to pose a few questions for your consideration. One question, really, but with a few angles to it. So here goes:

If you were going to call upon Sherlock Holmes upon the second morning after Christmas, which Sherlock Holmes would you call upon?

Gillette? Rathbone? Brett? Downey? Cumberbatch? Miller?

First, consider it as a social call, as Watson is making upon this post-holiday holiday.

Got your pick?

Now consider it from a client's perspective. You're really in trouble, you want the best help you can get -- who's the first Holmes you summon?

We often talk about which incarnation of Holmes we enjoy, or which doesn't seem right to us. But we never really talk about which one we would depend upon, were he in our world and we'd come to a crisis. Maybe he's the same one to you in every case. But maybe not.

Looking at the six names above, I have a couple "definitely go-to" guys, one "I'd go but wouldn't like it," one "put him on the case and generally keep my distance," one "Thanks, but I can handle matters myself!" and one "I think I'll need some references."

And then there's that Holmes-in-my-head. You probably have one, too, especially if you started enjoying Holmes via reading before the movies or TV caught your fancy. That guy I'd move into 221B Baker Street with and write up his cases in a heartbeat. (Yes, I know, there are Watson fans out there who'd miss the guy, but they'd learn to like me eventually, just like we do with every new Dr. Who regeneration.) Any true blue Sherlockian would do the same.

So on this second morning after Christmas, take a few moments and go calling upon the Holmes or Holmeses you'd like to pay compliments of the season to, at least in your imagination. It's good to touch base every now and again to see what he's like these days.


  1. You had me worried for a second where it was going, . . . but you pulled it out in the end.

  2. Haha, wonderful question, Brad! So, here goes:

    Social call - Basil Rathbone
    I know him the least of all the Holmeses, but from what I've seen he seems to be the most polite one and would probably not snap at an elderly lady wishing him the compliments of the season.

    Business related (I'm a murder suspect and need clearing my name) - definitely only BBC's Sherlock would do! I mean, I really don't want to end my days in jail and I'm the only suspect, as I was found with smoking gun in one hand and bloody knife in the other when the police came barrelling in.... 8-O

    Gillette - have never seen him, of course, and therefore no trust in his abilities
    Downey - no thanks, I'd need to disinfect myself afterwards
    Miller - are you joking? Perhaps if I was missing something I really, really wouldn't want to be found... (perhaps I could hide condemning evidence in his flat on my way out?)

  3. Oh, I forgot Brett. Also a no, thank you. I wouldn't know where to look when he goes intro his eccentric jerks and jitters and when he starts shouting his curiously intonated remarks at me, I would probably murmur something soothing and extricate myself slowly from the room.

    Otoh I would really like to visit Ian Richardson and wish him merry Christmas. I'm sure he would offer me some eggnog or something.

  4. For a social call: Rathbone. After reading his autobiography, I think he would be an interesting person generally. And as Holmes, he still best fits my conception of the country-squire-turned-consulting-detective of the original stories. And since I would like to have a social visit with the "real" Sherlock Holmes, Rathbone comes closest still.

    Now if I were in trouble or needed a consulting detective for some reason, that's a more interesting question. I have to question how well the Sherlock Holmes as depicted by Gillette, Rathbone, or Brett would handle a situation in modern America. I know they could, of course, but there would be something of a leaning curve, and I might need help right now.

    Downey? Too much the clown; too erratic; not my choice.

    So that would leave the two able to deal with whatever I might need, right away, in the present day: Cumberbatch or Miller. Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes is great, of course, and immensely talented, a genius. But I am yet to see any sign from him that he really cares much, if anything, about his clients. All analysis and no compassion. Miller is abrasive and sometime weird, but as he himself stated in the most recent episode, he does have compassion for the people who need his help. And he actually works with the police. It's close, but I would pick Miller's Sherlock Holmes to help me. But I wouldn't want him (or Cumberbatch) anywhere near a social gathering, thanks very much. They both would certainly insult me, my friends, and our collective intelligence within moments.

    1. You said something nice about Miller's Holmes. . . do you know of where it is you tread?

      I can hear the slings and arrows heading your way as we type.

  5. Social
    1) Gillette - Have you not been to his castle - he knew how to throw a party - hung out with Mark Twain - and even had a miniature train in the yard and a boat on the river.
    2) Rathbone - known for holding the best Hollywood parties
    3) Meredith Henederson - Shirley Holmes has grown up, and I always preferred being social with the ladies
    4) Sir Kenneth Macmillan - we could attend the ballet together
    5) John Cleese - for the laughs alone

    Trouble or Consultation:
    1) Gentleman Jim Corbett - Heck he beat John L. Sullivan
    2) Leonard Nimoy - logical choice & that Vulcan thing is even better than baritsu
    3) Cumberbatch - need a tech man
    4) Vasilay Livanov - never breaks a sweat
    5) Chistopher Lee - can't beat experience

  6. Hmmm....I have a limited experience with film Holmeses, so I only have a few to go from.

    I don't know Gillette's Holmes...but although that train was cute, it's my social call, and not my kids' so....

    RDJ...Not after the second movie, no.

    Basil Rathbone....from what I've learned about him in "The Baz" blog, he seems like a wonderful person, but I've never warmed to him as Holmes for some reason, so probably not, although it was a near thing.

    Ronald fun, but not really Holmes for me.

    Matt Frewer....not enough data for an informed decision.

    Mr. Miller....knowing what they've shown us about his personal history, I think I'd feel uncomfortable with him.

    So--that leaves me with Jeremy Brett and Cumberbatch. For a social situation, I'd probably go with Mr. Brett--especially if that situation involved other people. I am not the most social of people, but Brett's Holmes seems like the type whom I could just wind up conversationally and watch him go. Or we could listen to music together, and he could tell me about it--like my old boss, who once talked for 9 straight hours about his music collection on a drive to Virginia--and was absolutely fascinating. As for Cumberbatch--what could he tell me about myself that I didn't already know? After that was over with, we could play cards. He would win, I could look at him, and it would be fantastic. In either case, I like to listen, they like to talk, so there you go.

    For an actual case? Cumberbatch, hands down. In this, I would choose a detective the way I would choose a doctor. When it comes to physicians, I am not looking for social skills or hand holding. I don't want a friend, I want an accurate diagnosis and treatment. I dont' need a detective to be my buddy either. I want him to get it right--whether I like the solution or not. My feelings are of no consequence in that sort of situation.

  7. "I would choose a detective the way I would choose a doctor. When it comes to physicians, I am not looking for social skills or hand holding. I don't want a friend, I want an accurate diagnosis and treatment."

    Absolutely with you here! I don't even get why you would look for a friend when all you need is an expert at the top of his field.

  8. Geeze. Doesn't anyone want to acknowledge the one true canonical Holmes -- Douglas Wilmer? (Shakes head, rolls eye.)

    1. Won't it be kind of tough to be social with Douglas Wilmer since he hangs out in The Diogenes Club these days (i.e. his cameo in "Sherlock"), and one knows you must be silent there :-)

    2. A Wilmer Retrospective - First portraying Sherlock Holmes in the 60s, Wilmer returned to the fold with a cameo in BBC’s Sherlock. A look at one of Mark Gatiss’s favorite Sherlocks! This is listed as a panel at the 221B Con April 4 - 6. Looks like someone is acknowledging your choice sir. I find this 2009 interview with Douglas Wilmer quite interesting -

    3. I assume 221B Con is some fannish thing?

  9. The symbolism of the new BBC silencing the real Sherlock Holmes so they can air their somewhat awkward, 21st-century Time Lord reimagining was not lost on this devotee of the Doyle Canon.