So in the last week or so I’ve made my way through all 3 seasons of Sherlock and I have to say, I thought it was phenomenal, which is not a word I use very often to describe things.
I was expecting a very good show but what I got was, I have to admit, even better than my expectations.
In fact, going in expecting it to be good is almost an understatement, because it was more like I just knew, which is of course a dangerous approach to take proceeding the watching or reading of anything. After all, everyone has a book, film or series they were looking forward to that ultimately underwhelmed them.
Of course, there was the fact that Sherlock seemed to be a show that was universally lauded, something I couldn’t really have avoided hearing over the last couple of years.
But the reason I was so certain that it would be great, and that actually, it would be quite an achievement to make a hash of a new, modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes was just how bloody good the source material is.
Up until last year I had never seen any adaptation of Sherlock Holmes or read any of the books. So it might seem strange that I chose to make the character of Holmes the focus of my dissertation.
But I did and what happened is that I learnt first hand just why the character has endured and will most probably continue to endure forever more.
Whilst reading the books, what struck me was just how modern they were. The dialogue exchanges made me think of an Aaron Sorkin or Shane Black penned script: Sharp, incisive, witty, fast. I could imagine this easily working well taking place in today’s world in that flowing, stylish way that Sherlock does so well.
And as for Sherlock the character, it seems to me to be an actors dream to play someone so dramatic, so aloof, so intelligent, so, well, awesome.
In my dissertation I talked about how there is something extremely readable about following someone of such intellect deducing things in such a cavalier way. I wrote about Watson and how he is the perfect conduit into this crazy world of murder and intrigue.
As an added bonus I fell even deeper in love because the books talk not just of London, but of my London. The first book takes us to Brixton, just ten minutes away from where I grew up on the 322 bus. Then there is the Norwood Builder. I grew up in West Norwood. Conan Doyle himself lived in Norwood for a while.
But everything, everything, comes back to those written words and for anyone who has watched Sherlock (or Elementary) but hasn’t taken the time to read the books, then make that your next task. As Ruth Rendell rightly writes in his foreword to The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes
To derive the maximum satisfaction from his writing, Doyle’s fiction needs to be read.
And just to finish, if I had to pick just one quality that I love and that makes me laugh the most, it is how just ordinary Sherlock thinks the whole thing is.
From the man himself –
And it is here that I miss my Watson. By cunning questions and ejaculations of wonder he could elevate my simple art, which is but systematized common sense, into a prodigy. (The Adventure of The Blanched Soldier)