Sunday, April 14, 2019

The spectrum of Sherlocks

A blizzard and a "Free Watchathon" deadline pushed me into charging headlong into Miss Sherlock this weekend, and one thing became quickly apparent: This brilliant adaptation of Sherlock Holmes is on the far end of a spectrum of Sherlocks compared with the most common sort we see.

At that end of the Sherlock spectrum is the likes of Sherlock Gnomes. Deerstalker -- check! Victorian-ish London -- check! Mature men with British accents -- check! All the trappings that visually and audibly signal a Sherlock Holmes are there. All the things a child would recognize as Sherlock Holmes, and why not? Sherlock Gnomes is a movie for children.

Miss Sherlock, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Definitely not Victorian nor London. Definitely young women in both the Holmes and Watson roles. Definitely no British accents, as they aren't even speaking English. And yet, Miss Sherlock does an incredible job of capturing the characters in a way an adult mind totally understands and recognizes.

The personalities of Sherlock and Wato-san are a little different, their stories are a little different as we get to explore what aspects this pair brings to the surface, but they are still dead-on Holmes and Watson, as familiar as ever. And better still is the way Conan Doyle's plot devices are buried just below the surface of each episode -- at some point a Sherlockian familiar enough with the original Doyle will have to shout, "It's 'Stock-broker's Clerk!'" or "'Three Gables!' It's 'Three Gables!'"  Yet the tweaks on the old tales make them fresh and leave something fun for the new viewer to discover when they finally do get back to those stories.

BBC's Sherlock ripped the lid off a real can of Sherlockian whupass when it showed the world that our lads didn't have to be trapped in their original Victorian package, and Miss Sherlock takes that torch and runs it further along in its eternal (We hope!) marathon.

Sherlock Holmes can exist anywhere, anywhen, and in anyone when a talented creator does their job.

Which makes the appearance of things like Doyle's Rotary Coffin and its motto of "No Holmes barred!" all the more understandable for coming along when they do. The Sherlock explosion has surely only just begun, and while we can't collect every piece of Sherlockiana in our libraries any more, we can still experience as many faces of Sherlock Holmes as we can.

The best of which show us that Sherlock Holmes and John H. Watson that exist in ourselves.

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