Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No $#!+, Sherlock. - Comic Book Rehab Dime Novel, Issue #1

When people talk of adapting and updating Sherlock Holmes, they're really talking about the films. Whenever you see a new Holmes film with Watson and Lestrade left in the dust, that's not Conan  Doyle, that's Rathbone and Bruce. Curiously, the only time the 'canon' was ever faithfully adapted was when the late Jeremy Brett played Holmes in the !980's and early 90's in a series for British television that found its audience here in the USA on MYSTERY!. That's the exception.

Never mind exceptions, let's talk PERCEPTIONS. The new series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations is based on that. The new films with Robert Downey Jr. are taking their cues from Billy Wilder's "The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes" by completely embracing the 'friends of Giuliano' rumors. Kingsley Amis, in his essay "Unreal Policemen", wrote that the magnifying glass and the dozen roses belong to two different worlds. Sherlock Holmes with a girlfriend gets in the way of solving the puzzle, so he has no girlfriend, but as a consequence, his "buddy" becomes more than his creator imagined. People read too much, don't they? The character and the stories were popular enough to inspire a cottage industry of imitators - all following the same approach, all stuck with alleged 'bachelors-in-the-closet' in thinly-realized worlds of their own, and the rise of the 'hard-boiled' school becomes its opposite number, with strong emphasis on the "one girlfriend a book" rule that Ian Fleming established in the Bond novels. That doesn't mean no fan hasn't tried to dig further than the surface...

Back to Holmes. The new Sherlock series with Cumberbatch (which really sounds like something you have to look for in the supermarket aisle) is not bad, even if it borrows heavily from Doctor Who - both have the hero/villain showdowns - and the use of the internet and smartphones seems forced (Holmes relied a lot more on logical inferences than that showy parlour trickof deducing a man's profile his hat, but the use of maps is acurrate). The first adventure really got rolling with the final confrontation, the second was a little too Fu Manchu-y, and I have not seen the last, in which Moriarty is revealed to be a nondescript guy in a suit with a smug smirk. Ooo, those nondescript baddies...

To be continued... (really? yeah. I'm gonna find the thrid story. Hold your breath) ;)

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