Sunday, March 20, 2016

MacGyvering an occupation.

Sherlockians like to draw parallels between current pop culture and Sherlock Holmes wherever possible. So if it were 1986 and I was about to write what I'm about to relate, it might make sense. This being 2016, however, the fact that I'm going to write a Sherlock Holmes blog post centered on the main character of the TV show MacGyver might seem a little dated. But was you cross a certain age line, these things probably happen.

And who knows, I could even just be channelling a synopsis of some Sherlockian newsletter article I read from three decades ago . . .

Anyway, it struck me this morning that government agent Angus MacGyver was never a character we would think of as "a Sherlock Holmes," Sherlock Holmes was definitely something of "a MacGyver."

MacGyver was famous for cobbling together whatever tools or tech he needed from whatever random parts were on hand . . . the one I remember best was the time he made a welding torch out of the components found in a bicycle. Whether it was turning a cargo net into a rappel line and harness or making explosives out of kitchen cleaning supplies, MacGyver took ordinary items and made extraordinary use out of them.

Sherlock Holmes was familiar with local dirt.

Sherlock Holmes knew what plants were poison, and their effects.

Sherlock Holmes had a working knowledge of British law.

Sherlock Holmes was up on his anatomy, and effects of damage to said anatomy.

Sherlock Holmes was a skilled fighter.

That's just taking things from a list Watson made early on, but it shows several things that, taken by themselves, where "good to know" sorts of things, but nothing that impressively out of the ordinary for someone to know. It's what Sherlock Holmes did with them, by putting those ordinary skills together in the right combination that made his use of them extraordinary.

Sherlock Holmes was a sort of MacGyver of knowledge and skillsets, taking all those pieces and parts and making a career all his own out of them. And he was doing it about a hundred years before we even knew what "MacGyvering" was.

Good old Sherlock. Always finding ways to impress, even when you flip him around to look from another angle.


  1. Nope, not working for me. . . . .

  2. It does for me! I have often thought the same, but hadn't bothered to actually shape my thoughts into an understandable explanation.

    MacGyver took ordinary things and re-combined them into something useful for his actual purposes.
    Holmes took trivial facts and re-combined them into something logical to explain some actual problem.