Thursday, April 28, 2016

Because Sherlock Holmes will always disappoint you . . .

I've been contemplating those poor souls whose faith in the BBC Sherlock tells them that eventually Sherlock and John are going to have that Big Moment Kiss and finally admit their feelings toward each other. They, like all of the rest of us, are . . . and I really do hate to say this . . . doomed to disappointment.

I mean, suppose they're not much different from those happy souls who, in July of 1891, discovered a brand new short story character called Sherlock Holmes in The Strand Magazine. A couple happy years and "AYEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" -- off Sherlock goes over Reichenbach Falls. Killed off by his incredibly mean author, never to return. You want to talk disappointment? They had it.

"Oh," you may say, "but they got him back ten years later?"

But did they? Many's the Sherlockian who has theorized Holmes wasn't the same after that return, and have you read "The Mazarin Stone?" And eventually comes "The Retired Colourman," and, most assuredly, there comes old friend disappointment again, even if you were enjoying that last crop, which was not without its issues.

Come 1939, Basil Rathbone stars in a pair of lovely Victorian Sherlock Holmes movies. Eventually, he's driving around America, hunting Nazis with a curly hair-do. Fans might have been a little disappointed there.

The year 1949 rolls around, and someone discovers a brand new Sherlock Holmes story from the original author titled "The Man Who Was Wanted." Sherlock Holmes was actually the man who was really wanted, wanted enough for everyone involved to overlook a few problematic details for long enough to publish the thing, then eventually . . . eventually . . . the disappointment came in learning it was pure fanfic.

Conan Doyle's son writes some stories with and without a popular mystery writer of the day in 1954 . . . hopes rise for a bit. And fall. Halfway through the volume, if they stuck around that long.

Going to a theater in 1970, you might have gotten to see a wonderful Billy Wilder film called "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" and thoroughly enjoyed it. No disappointment there, right? None whatsoever . . . well, until you find out that there was at least an hour more of content that got cut under studio demands, much of which was lost forever. A little disappointing, that.

A 1974 Sherlock Holmes novel hits the best-seller list  . . . HOORAH! You go to read it and find a pretty drug-addled Sherlock in need of celebrity intervention. Boooo . . .

In 1984, Jeremy Brett took the Sherlockian world by stormy petrel in a almost Canon-faithful series of hour-long adaptations. Until they became two-hour, somewhat less faithful tales and Mycroft Holmes developed X-ray vision.

1989 . . . well, we won't talk about 1989.

Yes, all of these things had their fans who will deny any disappointment in them whatsoever. But each of them did disappoint some lover of Holmes somewhere, and probably much more than one. Because Sherlock Holmes will always disappoint you eventually. The only way not to have that happen is to stop after you read or watched the BEST Sherlock Holmes thing you ever encountered, which would make you a rare human indeed, and truly, not much of a fan. Or to just go totally, absolutely true-believer whacko and live in a state where it all actually pleases you . . . in which case you are even more rare and probably not able to function in society without a caretaker.

Because Sherlock Holmes will always disappoint you . . .

. . . until he doesn't.

Because you know what? If you live long enough, Sherlock Holmes will spring back to his best form all over again. Unlike us, the ravages of age never take him for long, he gets to reincarnate constantly and non-consecutively, and he has all of humanity trying to help him be at his best.

It's we who have to deal with the disappointment, own it as our own, and keep the faith that our friend will be back to visit us again, as true friends do.

I think he got that from Watson. Onward.

1 comment:

  1. 'If you live long enough.' After Holmes went over the Reichenbach - he did not return for ten years - there must have been those unfortunate Sherlockians who did not live to read of his return - Things can always be worse. They had a smaller canon, but, perhaps, less disappointments also.