Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What makes a good Sherlock Holmes?

Sherlockians can quibble all day long about this actor or that, this production or that, this author or that . . . and we often do, for days, months, even . . . years.

But in the end, what makes a good Sherlock Holmes?

Let's ignore the small stuff, the facial features, the voice, the words used in a given tale.

What makes a good Sherlock Holmes?

Go deep on this one, really reach into your core for it, get to that place where you feel Sherlock Holmes. And I don't mean those cheap pop little feels, "Oh, Sherlock has died!" "Oh, that dog is so scarey!" "Oh, the food is so great at this Sherlock party!" And, no, we're not talking about fanfic Sherlock Holmes . . . that may be the Sherlock you think you want, but it's not the Sherlock Holmes who got you going to start with.

When THAT guy pops up again, it's always a wondrous day. An inspirational day.

I was thinking about that day this morning, even though it isn't here just yet. And the cause of that thought is a name that could be rather controversial when it comes to the topic of "good Sherlock Holmes."

That name?

Steven Moffat.

Forget the infinite inverviews and news-snippet quotes. "Sherlock Holmes could be a woman?" Yeah, we've been there, done that -- catch up, clickbait news media, not an interesting quote. No, what got me high on Moffat this morning wasn't that far off return of BBC Sherlock. No, it was the return of that other character he has a little something to do with. That other character who seemed to get his groove back this week, in a story that reminded me a lot of good Sherlockian scholarship.

Stephen Moffat has a certain talent for looking at a mythos and pulling something out that was there all along, we just hadn't thought about it yet. He's done with with Sherlock Holmes, he's done it with Dr. Who, and he seems to . . . when he works at it . . . pull the trick off more than once. And he seems to be able to remind me what makes a good Sherlock Holmes, even when he's not writing Sherlock Holmes.

Because to me, good Sherlock Holmes isn't a comfy chair, a sleep aid, or an exploration of some human failing. Good Sherlock Holmes, when it cuts through all the crap, is an inspiring example of what we could be.

And anybody who can write that guy, from Conan Doyle on, is a person who I'm glad is on this planet.

1 comment:

  1. He pulls the mythos out of the Canon and shines a light on it. True. His writing is genius in that way.

    I don't think Moffatt is substantially different from any of the other very talented and genius fanfic writers I have read, however, who do the same thing. I view his Sherlock Holmes as a very compelling and interesting Sherlock Holmes; Moffatt has brought greater dimension to my understanding of the character with his vision, as does every great fanfic writer.

    But I should also say that, to be completely honest, I quibble somewhat with Moffat's vision. While I adore BBC Sherlock in his own way, I don't quite go for the rude / sociopathic dimension that has been brought to the character. I much prefer the original in this respect. One never felt that Holmes was rude because he had Asperger's or didn't know how to behave; when he was rude it was because he intended to be rude. And it was a relatively rare occurrence, reserved for special occasions, not simply a free-floating, random affair that looks primarily like bad breeding.

    Not to take away from Moffat's genius. Just to say that he has his own take on Sherlock Holmes, just as every fanfic writer does, and while he has realized his vision beautifully in his writing, and with Cumberbatch's help, I have read other fanfics that bring to life a Sherlock Holmes that is more to my liking. None to surpass the original, to be sure, but some that are right up there with him.