Sherlock

I've been a fan of Sherlock Holmes for as long as I can remember. Why? Well, I think there are several reasons. Partly - perhaps mostly - they are clever conundrums. We are presented with a puzzle, and a series of clues which our hero succeeds where ordinary mortals would fail.

There's also the historical context that makes this interesting too - the hansom cabs, baker street boys and long train journeys far afield. Whether reading the books or watching one of the many movies you get a real feeling for life in London in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There's an insite too into the working and upper class system, although I doubt we see much of the reality of the criminal class in Victorian London.

Holmes and Watson have a close friendship and this adds something to the tales too, but most of all I think the real appeal lies in Holmes' character. In fact on accassion he is a not very likeable person. He's cold and logical and unsociable. He is at times reclusive and uncommunicative. At the same time he has an immensely strong sense of justice. That's the appeal. We see this all the time in literature, film and television. We are drawn to the oddball, quirky, rude but brilliant characters like Gregory House and Carl Lightman.

So, if you want to make a new series based on the Conan Doyle characters, what do you do? In the past the answer has always been easy: create an historical drama. Re-create Victorian London and dramatize the original stories. But this time around we have seen an entirley different approach. This time the programme makers decided to set the drama in the now.

There are two new series running at the moment: Elementary and Sherlock. In both cases they have set the tales in the modern era, with Elementary based in new York with Jonny Lee Miller playing Sherlock and, in something of a break with tradition, Lucy Liu playing Watson.

In this version they have taken a slightly different approach to the makers of the other new Holmes, Sherlock. Picking up on Holmes drug use (he has a weakness for Opium in the Conan Doyle stories - quite legal of course in London at the time but nevertheless quite destructive). In Elementary Holmes is recovering from some serious drug addiction. In a nice tweak on the original this has been brought on by the death of Irene Adler, a woman Holmes much admired in the originals, and with whom Holmes had a love affair in this re-imagining of the stories.

His father (a figure who does feature in Conan Doyle's stories) has paid for a therapist - Doctor Watson - to move in and take care of Holmes as his companion. Watson is female in this version, and has retired from her Medical career.

Holmes is a welcome consultant to the New York Police, having impressed them with his ability to read and solve a crime in the opening episode. Therefafter the stories in this series are entirely new with no attempt to re-hash any of the original tales.

So, what you have here is an unusual detective series that has taken only the Holmes character from the originals. He is of course flawed and brilliant, has a huge library (proper books not digital) and a impressive command of modern technology but that is pretty much all. Irene Adler does feature, but all of the puzzles are new.

Jonny Lee Miller is an entirely credible Holmes though: he has the intensity and eccentricity to match the original.

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