deird1: Andrew - with James Bond style intro (Andrew james bond)
[personal profile] deird1
There have been quite a few Sherlock Holmeses in my life.

My very first Holmes was actually Hercule Poirot making a silly joke. He examines a crime scene, then announces to Hastings that the murder was committed by a left-handed redhead who had spent many months at sea (or something - I don't actually remember), and when Hastings cried "Poirot???" he grinned and, basically, told Hastings off for expecting Sherlock Holmes to be real.

My second experience of Holmes was, again, Agatha Christie being silly. Tommy Beresford was doing his best Holmes impression, and playing the violin very badly, while making observations that were slightly off the mark.

I never really got the impression that Christie was very keen on Doyle's stories, somehow.

Since then, I have encountered many, many versions of Sherlock Holmes, including:
- the original novels
- Young Sherlock Holmes
- the black and white movies (or at least one of them)
- Basil the Great Mouse Detective
- Dr House
- RDJ's steampunky Holmes movies
- Sherlock
- Elementary

And, oh boy, do I have opinions.



Arthur Conan Doyle was, in many respects, the father of the mystery novel (a genre I have more than a passing acquaintance with). And, much as with Tolkien and the fantasy genre, pretty much every mystery novelist in the world spends all their time either imitating him, or else reacting to him. Agatha Christie may not have liked Doyle's books so much, but she still talked about writing in "the Sherlock Holmes tradition", had Poirot invent his own fake "Mycroft" (his "brother" Achilles), and called Hastings "Poirot's Watson".

Most 1930s mystery authors are either trying to have super-observant detectives work out clues with a handwave and an "elementary, my dear Smith", or else having their super-snarky detectives hold forth about why observation isn't the be-all and end-all of crime solving.

Much as everyone's reacting to Holmes, however, I don't think everyone quite remembers who he is. Mostly, they're reacting to a stereotype of how they remember him being.


This had made things interesting with, for instance, the modern adaptations. I keep seeing Sherlock fans diss Elementary, because Holmes isn't like Holmes in the books. "Sure, the name's the same," they argue. "But he's not a pompous know-it-all who considers himself superior to lesser mortals and cares more about the problem than the people involved."

I have two reactions to this particular argument.
(1) Have they seen Holmes in Elementary? Because... he kinda is.
(2) Well, no. But he isn't like that in the books either.

(Yes, I realise these two reactions are contradictory.)


As it is, I think Holmes is a character with Traits A, B, C, D... all the way up to Trait Z. And each adaptation has picked a few traits that they consider the most essential to Holmes, and stuck with those. Hence, you have fans of Holmes: Super Detective* complaining that Sherlock Holmes the Zombie Killer* is ignoring "essential" Traits A, B, and F, and focusing on "irrelevant" Traits H, K, and P. "They might as well change the name, because he's not really Holmes without Trait B," they complain. Meanwhile, the Sherlock Holmes the Zombie Killer fans are wondering how on earth anyone could claim that Holmes is Holmes if he doesn't have "essential" Trait K and just focuses on the "window dressing" of Trait F.

* not a real show

Sherlock Holmes stories are, in essence, fanfic. All of them. And I don't think it's a matter of "Which show depicts the real Holmes?" so much as "Which show's Holmes do I prefer?"


Which brings me to my personal selection.

Holmes, in the original portrayal, is, in my opinion, a pompous git. And an annoying one. But that's still way better than most of his later portrayals, in which he is... basically an arsehole.

I liked Dr House. He was snarky. But I got rather bored with him always upping the "How Will I Be An Arsehole Today?" in every single episode. Sherlock's Holmes was even worse. All in all, by the time I flew to Germany a few years ago, I was quite sick of the whole character.

But plane trips are long and boring and have free television, so I took a moment to check out Elementary, just for kicks.

And this Holmes was rude, and snarky, and didn't care that much about social norms. But...


Scene 1 (five minutes into Mez watching this new show)
- Holmes wants to stop a crime scene from being cleaned up before he's had a chance to examine it.
- Rather than explaining, he simply kicks the janitor out, and then barricades the door behind him.

Scene 2 (Mez being intrigued enough to watch the next episode)
- Girl is kidnapped.
- Cop at the scene observes "She's a fighter."
- Holmes replies with "And if school girls could win fights against grown men, that would be a great comfort."


He was rude, yes. But he wanted to solve crimes and rescue people, and was rude in pursuit of cutting through all the bullshit that got in the way. He wasn't just rude to be rude.

Which I liked.


And then you have RDJ's portrayal of Holmes, who is just insane, and ridiculous, and thoroughly awesome. Don't know whether I like him or Jonny Lee Miller's version better. Let's just call it a tie.



All in all, I think everyone should choose the Holmes they want. And rejoice in how many different variations there are. It's kind of awesome.




A Brief PostScript

Because, whenever this topic comes up, some excited Sherlock fan will end up saying "But, clearly, Sherlock is just the superior version. It's obvious."


Yes. Yes it is superior. In its cinematography. That is superb. And that is the only thing I reckon is "obviously" superior about any of it.



Date: 2017-04-07 09:02 am (UTC)
londonkds: (Default)
From: [personal profile] londonkds
I get upset that Sherlock (and to a lesser extent House) seems to have convinced a whole generation of fans that all Holmeses are utter bastards.

Profile

deird1: lilac flowers, with text "how do they rise up" (Default)
deird1

May 2017

S M T W T F S
  12 3456
78910111213
14151617 181920
21222324 252627
28293031   

Most Popular Tags

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated May. 25th, 2017 10:32 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios