At what point does a written work move from having adaptations to having interpretations?
Whatever that point is, we're definitely there with our friend Sherlock Holmes.
As my personal struggles to deal with CBS's Elementary as anything Sherlockianly viable have evidenced, we don't all share the same vision of that creature with the label "Sherlock Holmes" attached to him, and given our increased ability to give those visions creative expression . . . well, interpretations are going to abound in the years ahead.
The new web series, Baker Street, featuring Jane Watson and her companion Sherlock Holmes is not just a "gender bent" version of Holmes and Watson -- it also has a certain sort of "fan bent" versioning to it as well. In the past couple of decades, we've seen the rise of an over-sympathetic attitude toward Dr. Watson and an almost antipathy toward Sherlock Holmes that seems to stem from a view of Watson as the long-suffering "girl" in their "couple," and Holmes as the rude, non-understanding "boy." And as the movie Without A Clue seemed to prophecy, the higher Watson gets raised up to someone special in his own right, the more Sherlock Holmes has to be lowered to that status I've characterized as "broken Holmes." Mix those two concepts, and you can see a bit of where Baker Street originates from in our cultural zeitgeist.
Baker Street is a well-made series, primarily a two-woman show, and will definitely make you ponder your own views of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in this day of interpretation over adaptation. Jane Watson is the main character, narrator, and troubled hero of the piece. Sherlock Holmes is her nerdy little room-mate whose place in this world is something both Jane, and the rest of us (even those who think they know Sherlock Holmes) are unsure of. Both actresses are well-cast, and their relationship is much more antagonistic than Holmes and Watson of the Canon . . . which one wonders is a part of the difference between a male pair of fellow lodgers and a female one.
Jane Watson's relationship with the professor she works with is a little creepy due to their age difference (and was there any doubt as to what his last name would be?), and her video explanation of working with Holmes while doing yoga in the third episode is extremely distracting to anyone with a traditional XY lifestyle. There is more of Gilmore Girls to the series than Starsky and Hutch (Anybody got a more current action buddy cop show reference? That's just sadly dated.) as the show is more dialogue based than fights-and-chases, but that seems to suit it just fine.
As all this may intimate, I'm not entirely comfortable with Sherlock Holmes and Watson as presented in Baker Street, due to whatever age/gender/taste issues I've gained over the years, but I'll be back to watch it if and when it returns. It's a very good effort and definitely worth trying out.
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