Sherlock Holmes

Last year, the BBC came out with three Sherlock Holmes stories, all set in modern London. Holmes has a cell phone and texts (cell phones actually play crucial roles in almost all the stories), Watson blogs, rather than writes, and the horse cabbies are all motorized now. It’s really wonderful, and B. and I have watched the episodes numerous times. This January, the second season begun, and we’re now two episodes in. Our only complaint is that it can be really complicated to follow the multiple story lines, but since that just means we have to watch them twice, there’s no harm done.

On a related note, while scrounging around the Internet for inspiration for a conference talk I’m giving later this month, I happened upon the KUER podcasts from PRI:Radio West, hosted by Doug Fabrizio. The first episode I listened to was about Sherlock Holmes, and it was riveting. Leslie Klinger was the guest, and I really want a copy of his book, The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. They talked about a lot of things, including an almost secret society of Sherlockians, made up of Holmes experts (I think most of them are scholars, and they like to treat the Holmes stories as biography, instead of fiction. That’s intruiging, right there, and the inner academic in me wants to play along). But they also talked about Watson, and they were spot on in saying that Watson is central to the stories. Sherlock Holmes is fascinating, but you’d never want to be his friend and hang out with him. No, you come for Holmes and stay for Watson, and it’s only through him that the stories are accessible.

I’d go as far as to say that most of the humanity that Holmes exhibits is accessed through Watson. It’s a very different relationship than, say, Poirot and Hastings in Agatha Christie’s novels. Hasting muddlings are a neat counterpart to Poirot’s vain murmurings, and you need him to access the story since everything happens in Poirot’s head, but Poirot can (and does) exist without Hastings and yet be Poirot. Holmes can’t, not in that way. Not even in the modern, virtual version. Okay, enough with the literary criticism.

Anyway, if you like podcasts, go add this one to your iTunes. It’s accessible, smart, engaging, and, as far as I can tell, about any random thing that can happen on this earth. This should make for a neat array of interesting tidbits you can drop into any awkward social situation, ensuring that while you still seem awkward, you at least seem smart and awkward. That’s a win, right?

2 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes

  1. Elske says:

    Fascinating, on how those characters interact with you as a reader!
    In that sense the movie (or the second one, fresh in my memory, at least) starts fairly close to the book’s characters, where Holmes forgets that Watson is getting married, does not organize him a bachelors party, doesnt really even pay attention to the fact he’s getting married, and in short, is a horrible friend. Although at the end, as these things go, you need to find out that Holmes, deep down, is human and has a heart and will actually go quite far for friendship. I guess hollywood can only take that much villainification or dehumanization in a hero.

  2. Hmm, interesting. We started watching the second movie but stopped a bit after Mary got thrown off the train. Our version was a little dark and with all the fighting, all we saw was shapes moving and grunts of pain😉 we’ll have to try again.

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