Indisputably Sherlock

Sreeram Hariharan May 30, 2012

Credits: PBS/WGBH


Ali Miller is an artist who works from home and does artwork on household ceramics and bags. Miller has been selling a teapot with picture map of UK for about a year without much success. It happened to appear in a crucial scene in season finale of second season of BBC series Sherlock and the orders for the teapot started flooding in. And now there is a waiting list to order one. It is just one example of the popularity of the hit TV series Sherlock, which has concluded its second season in the US.

Indisputably Sherlock

There have been many movie and TV adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s [ACD] famous fictional detective but none compares to this modern fast-paced adventure series. Steven Moffat and Mike Gatiss, co-creators of the series, completely rehashed the clean, prestigious and classy Victorian detective into a blackberry wielding and internet savvy “crime consultant” living in 21st century London. The iconic details [like 221st street Baker Street] are preserved and the stories have resounding similarity to the original. Viewers are challenged by intricate crime plots and in the end outsmarted only by the “the science of deduction”. There is always a feeling of believability in the story telling and there is bonus thrill of spotting parallels to ACD’s version.

Spoiler Alert Spoiler Alert Spoiler Alert

In the first episode of Season-1 titled "Study in Pink" [originally, "Study in Scarlet"] Sherlock deduces Watson has drunk brother by looking at scratch marks left on the smartphone where in original it was marks left while winding the watch. In both, the victim writes RACHE before death. In Study in Scarlet the clue turns out to be German “for revenge” of lost lover and the missing ring lead Holmes to the killer. In Study in Pink the same German translation is used as a red herring. It is such ingenious interweaving of story that makes both the purist and new generation go - “this is indisputably Sherlock”.

Moffatised

Steven Moffat honed his inventive writing skills in popular sitcom Coupling. It was considered one of the first sitcoms to use creative narration techniques such as non-linear storytelling. He parlayed the success into writing career for the hit Doctor Who series. Moffat brings the same dark humor and wittiness to Sherlock. His characteristic word play appears in titles of the series [Study in Scarlet, Scandal in Belgravia, The Speckled Blonde], clues that Holmes decode and various humorous interactions of the characters . In the hilarious prologue of Season-I Finale - “The Great Game”, grammar-challenged desperate convict implores to Holmes ”They say you are the best Mr.Holmes, without you I will get hung for it”. And Holmes replies with innate arrogance “No, no not at all Mr Berdwick. Hanged ...yes.”

Bromantic John

Along with the storyline, Moffat has borrowed plenty of characters from the original and time shifted them to modern slick London. And the new Dr.Watson blogs about the exploits at http://www.johnwatsonblog.co.uk/ You have the lovable idiot Inspector Lastrade, warm and affable landlady Mrs.Hudson, the trouble making brother Mycroft Holmes as head of Her Majesty’s Intelligence, Irene Adler as the high class dominatrix and even the gang of street urchins. However Dr.John Watson and his bromantic relationship with Sherlock stands out. First of all it is just John [in ACD version it was always Dr. Watson and his first name is mentioned only two times] and Holmes never says “It is elementary”. John act as the best compliment for Sherlock’s social gaucheness and his irritable inclination to show off. Their camaraderie and bonding is often mistaken for a relationship beyond flatmate often forcing John to go on an embarassing defense of his hetrosexuality.

Moriarty Moriarty, the consultant criminal.
Image Credits: PBS/WGBH

Moriaty - The legendary archenemy

Arthur Conan Doyle was so sick and tired living under the success of his first Sherlock Holmes series that he invented a criminal mastermind, Professor James Moriaty, just to kill Holmes. In “The Final Problem” both engage in a physical combat and eventually falls down Reinbach Falls. However, the demand for Holmes stories was so great that Conan Doyle essentially brought the great detective back to life by explaining that no one had actually seen Holmes go over the falls. Even though Moriaty appeared only in one of the stories of ACD, he was considered the only archenemy Holmes respects and reminiscences. The same Moriaty comes as “crime consultant” - the genius mind behind all machinations of clever crime in modern Sherlock. Their encounter in the season finale, aptly titled “The Reichenbach Fall”, has a rather dramatic climax. Already internet and blogosphere is filled with theories about the climax,.we'll have to wait for the third season to find out how Moffat is going to proceed with the character.

A bored Holmes once complained to Watson that "life is commonplace; the papers are sterile; audacity and romance seem to have passed forever from the criminal world”. It is always a fight for second place to Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes”. We seem to have a real contender now, bringing audacity and romance back to the world of Sherlock.

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