Thursday, January 19, 2017

Barack Obama and Sherlock . . . a period in time.

With the Obama presidency coming to an end this week and harsh headlines of all sorts making it look like BBC's Sherlock might not even want to return, one has to wonder if we might be looking at the end of an era in a lot of ways.

Both had their haters, and both made it easy for progressive thinkers to grow comfortable in the status quo and look to take things even further . . . only to get shot down? Only time will tell, but really, as much as a few would like to erase our societal memory of either Obama or Sherlock, their place in history is set, whatever your opinion.

The period from 2009 through 2017 isn't a decade that one can package neatly with some cute name like "the marvelous Moffeteens" or "the Molly Hooper age," but it will still be an era that gave us the great Sherlockian podcast groups, massive amounts of fan fiction, some of the most abstract extra-Canonical references ever tied to Holmes or Watson. (I'm looking at you, red underpants!)

As headlines go on about President Obama's high approval ratings as he leaves office and what are to many Sherlock's  low approval ratings on its finale, there are definitely some differences in exit strategies . . . if this truly is the exit for the latter . . . but there are legacies that will endure, in any case. And plans to be made for preparing to live in a world that doesn't have either.

But just as 1891 was the end of an era, once upon a time, and a radically different time called "the hiatus" followed, the world went on and eventually, even though some would say things were never quite the same, a certain return did take place. Sherlockians' belief in "the Return" is just part of the package that makes them Sherlockians, whether that spirit is embodied in a poem by Vincent Starrett or a narration by Amanda Abbington. Certain ideas of value endure.

Conan Doyle adding new stories to the Canon stopped at one point. The Complete Sherlock Holmes came into existence. The Baker Street Journal, thick and professional, went out of business at one point. The Baker Street Journal, New Series, fastened together with paper brads and typeset on a typewriter came into existence. Jeremy Brett's time on PBS stopped at one point. Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes came into existence.

BBC Sherlock isn't subject to term limits, and I have a feeling that we'll see the Cumberbatch/Freeman team reunited one day as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson even if the series doesn't have another season. But if this is the end of an era, the mile marker for a very special period in our Sherlockian history being over . . . and one that we won't fully understand the historical effect of for a while yet, like the Obama presidency . . .  

What a week.

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