A modern reintroduction to the sleuth of the century
By Aidan Mouellic, Contributor
Genius is an overused word. We tend to label anyone with an impressive IQ a genius, when really a genius is someone who creates something out of nothing. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the Sherlock Holmes series, is one of those geniuses. Sherlock Holmes, the detective who primarily uses his skills in deduction and chemistry to solve crimes, first appeared in print in 1887. Between then and 1927, Holmes appeared in four novels and 56 short stories and solved countless crimes with his friend and assistant, Dr. John Watson.
The quality of writing and the rich detail present in the Holmes series makes these stories a joy to read and difficult to put down. For something written so long ago, the books hardly feel dated and are worthy of the term “timeless classics.” Today though, we live in a time when people do most of their reading online in short bursts; novels are not as popular, ergo fewer people are reading the works of Sir Conan Doyle. Fortunately, Sherlock Holmes and his adventurous ways are managing to be more popular than ever thanks to newer mediums.
In 2009, the Guy Ritchie-directed film Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Dr. John Watson became a massive hit and proved how popular the character of Holmes still was. Since then, there has been a sequel and a couple modern day interpretations broadcast on major television networks. One of the new series is Sherlock, first broadcasted on the BBC in 2010, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes. The other series, inspired by the popularity of the BBC series, Elementary, is set in modern-day New York City, and stars Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson.
These films and television shows have, for the most part, received critical acclaim and managed to bring the stories that Conan Doyle crafted back into the limelight—though the BBC version is by far the best of the bunch. The show is set in modern day London and has had two seasons broadcasted, with a third on the way. The show has a unique format, as each episode is 90 minutes long, and each season is only three episodes (currently totaling six). Sherlock feels more like a film series rather than a television crime-drama, which is, in every regard, a good thing. The adventure, humour, and clever plots come straight out of the pages of the original books, but have a modern twist that makes the series more relatable and appropriate for current audiences.
Martin Freeman, who recently starred in the title role of The Hobbit, plays Dr. Watson in Sherlock. In the series, he is re-adjusting to life in London after spending time with the army in the Middle East as a combat doctor, returning home injured. It is upon his return that he meets Holmes, and thus begins an inseparable friendship, blogging about their adventures and slowly turning Holmes into a local celebrity. Freeman and Cumberbatch work well on screen together, and there could not be a better-suited pair of actors for the roles. The whole show is filled with brilliant acting and riveting action; it’s an addicting combination.
Arthur Conan Doyle is hopefully smiling wherever he is, as his stories are still being told today with great effect on screen. To get the full experience one should read the books, but if you can only manage to watch Holmes on screen, you are still getting a good sampling of the genius that is Sherlock Holmes—or more appropriately, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.