Monday, April 20, 2015

SH&D: The Brothers Holmes.

Once upon a time, a writer named John H. Watson, M.D., wrote a series of autobiographical tales which had certain continuity gaps. Wound locations, periods of marriage, days and dates . . . he left so many contradictions which devoted Watson loyalists labored for nearly a century to explain. Why did they go to such lengths? Why did they care?

Sherlock Holmes.

And now, we are finally realizing the importance of another chronicle of that same legendary figure with similar details in need of study and explanation. Dr. Watson's agent this time was one Paul Bates, also known for scripting the film Nazis at the Center of the Earth. And to avoid confusion with another movie entitled Sherlock Holmes, it has been retitled by many a fan with the more distinct "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs."

So where do we begin, in smoothing the little bumps in this 2010 discovery?

Why, at the core conflict of the case itself, of course! At a time when speculation is rife about a third, perhaps villainous, Holmes brother coming up in the fourth season of BBC's Sherlock, we have already seen him. And his name is Thorpe Holmes.

He is obviously not Mycroft Holmes, who was the British government. No, Thorpe is a younger, obviously hater of Mycroft and that same government. A jealous younger brother who won't even acknowledge Mycroft's existence, mention his name, or otherwise refer to him in any way whatsoever. And a brother who not only has enmity toward Mycroft, but as a former Scotland Yard inspector, has some issues to work out with Sherlock as well, probably doing a slow burn for years over Sherlock's aiding of the force that left Thorpe a cripple.

But Thorpe's story is stranger even that what we've seen on the screen. Noted Robert Sherlock Holmes expert Ben Snyder has let slip a rumor that Thorpe Holmes was originally thought to be Sherlock's uncle, rather than his brother. Uncle? Brother? Uncle? Brother? It's a real Chinatown conundrum. And given that scandal proposed in The Seven Per-Cent Solution, that Sherlock's mother had an affair with his math tutor, would how much more dark and cocaine-inspiring-depressing to propose that his math tutor was also an evil paternal grandfather, and that Thorpe was the progeny of that so-wrong relationship.

And ask yourself this question: Why is Thorpe Holmes the only person ever to call Sherlock, "Robert?" Everyone else in the world, including Mycroft Holmes, calls Sherlock "Sherlock." What makes Thorpe insist upon "Robert?" Unless "Robert" was the name of said evil paternal grandfather, whose name was banished from mention to all but that same man's son once the scandal came to light.

The addition of Thorpe to the Holmes family adds much gothic drama to those old country squires, living, for as Sherlock once said, "It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside." Note the words "founded upon my experience."

Thorpe, Mycroft, and Sherlock, three brothers, each dealing with dark origins in their own way.

What other possible lights might "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs" shed upon the legend of the master detective? New studies await!


  1. For someone who is critical of a certain television show you seem to have embraced fanfic as acceptable.

    1. I have a theory that Sherlockians who got to see Rob Dougherty at a conference years ago gained a build-in fondness for "Elementary." Having been to a con with Ben Syder, I now have a similar built-in fondness for "Sherlock Holmes and Dinosaurs." And as far as fanfic goes, I shall always value a product of enthusiastic fans over that of network worker bees.