Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why Sherlock Holmes will never have an amusement park.

Ever since I was a wee Sherlockian lad, I dreamed of a Sherlock Holmes World.

Not a fantasy, not a science fiction story, no! An actual physical place we could visit, like an area of a Six Flags build to look like Victorian London. Or one of those historical re-creation villages. Or a Las Vegas theme casino. Or best of all, a whole Disney kingdom!

We saw a touch of it years ago, when Derham Groves presented a design for a Sherlock Holmes Centre, and in the dreams of many a Sherlockian since. And recently when Disney announced they were doing a Star Wars land in Disney World as a part of their massive Star Wars multi-media assault, it suddenly struck me that those hopes and dreams were inevitably, futile.

Sounds horribly depressing right?

I mean, why Star Wars and not Sherlock Holmes?

Well, for the same reason all of those intellectual real estate agents are going to fail to produce the next Marvel-Studios-style multi-movie franchise universe. Because very few intellectual properties can support their own universe.

I know, I know, plenty of fully realized worlds of fiction out there. And the world of Sherlock Holmes is one of them. But Sherlock Holmes is just one man.

The Marvel universe of superheroes of many super-men and super-women, each with their own story to tell. The same goes with Star Wars, even though it's been mostly ensemble cast chunks so far. A whole lot of interesting characters with interesting stories to tell.

But when you get away from Sherlock Holmes in the Sherlock Holmes universe, Sherlock Holmes World loses its luster so very quickly. Quick, tell me Dr. Watson's story! He met Sherlock Holmes and they had adven . . . oh. How about Irene Adler? She dated a king and then outfoxed Sherlo . . . oh. Professor Mori . . . naw.  Mycro . . . ulp.

Every single character in Sherlock Holmes's universe seems to lose their cool factor when you yank Sherlock Holmes completely out of their story. Sure, you can completely make up a story, but have you ever seen one that had sticking power? Because we all know Irene . . . well . . . or Mycroft . . . not completely . . . or . . .

Even Victorian London without Sherlock Holmes becomes simply historical London. The blacksmiths putting horseshoes on horses are the same as any other historical blacksmiths putting horseshoes on horses. But let Sherlock Holmes come into the stable disguised as a groom to find out something about Irene Adler, and suddenly that blacksmith's kind of cool.

In order for a Sherlock Holmes World to be a really cool amusement park, Sherlock Holmes would have to be everywhere in it with you. He's kind of the key factor there. Wander out of his bubble too far and you find what many a writer has found when they try to break-out their own character from their Sherlock Holmes pastiche: It ain't got that zing if Sherlock ain't in the thing!

Ah, well, one more innocent dream dashed upon the rocks of too much contemplation. The danger of passing years.

Feel free to prove me wrong, though, you tourist-trap builders of tomorrow. Please!


  1. Back in 2014 there were announcements for Sherlock World? BBC shows lined up for £2bn UK theme park in Kent. I'd have to more research to see how that's coming along, if at all.

  2. What if it were packaged as an Experience? Sherlock Holmes teaches you to see the world as he does? You could put on a deerstalker or Belstaff at the start of the ride. Lestrade shows up to ask for your help. You can pick up a magnifier or an iPhone, and off you go. If you do well, Mrs. Hudson withholds tea, since you're probably behaving unpleasantly. If Irene Adler shows up, uh-oh, you'll suffer more but have fun (maybe you're on a roller coaster and the tracks separate at that point, and your car goes the more challenging route). If you solve the mystery, Watson ejaculates. If you do poorly, the worst thing happens: you have to go crawling through to the dark to the Diogenes Club to get Mycroft's assistance. The capstone ride could be the freefall over Reichenbach. Don't worry about solving that one; you survive either way. I dunno, I think it could work... ;-)