Occasionally, I publish articles for I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere, an excellent Sherlock Holmes news site.
Here's my newest article, just published on the site:
Sherlock Holmes vs. Tarzan--By the Numbers
#4. Jonny Lee Miller
From one of the "modern" Sherlock Holmes TV shows, Elementary, I have chosen as my #4 spot Jonny Lee Miller's portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, New York City setting and all. There are obvious parallels between Miller's portrayal of Holmes and Benedict Cumberbatch's portrayal of same (of which more later). Both have a frenzied sort of air about them much of the time, as they whip out their cell phones and search the internet. Both of them have a jaunty, contemporary fashion sense, as well as a knack for irritating pretty much everyone, including their respective Watsons. And yet, as much as I enjoy Miller's version of the great detective, it has never quite struck the same chord with me that Cumberbatch's version immediately did.
In fact, when I first watched Elementary, my initial response was "ho hum!" I thought we had already seen the definitive modern Holmes in Benedict Cumberbatch. Then I gave the American show another chance, and gradually became quite interested in Jonny Lee Miller's unique take on the character of Sherlock Holmes. As the show developed, I realized that Miller actually plays it quite differently from his counterpart across the pond. And certainly the dynamic between him and Joan Watson (Lucy Liu) is radically different from the dynamic between John and Sherlock in the BBC series.
Jonny Lee Miller's Holmes strikes me as far less confident than Cumberbatch's portrayal; this is a man whose drug use has changed him. He seems more conflicted, less at home in his skin, than most versions of Holmes I've seen. He realized he's different from everyone else, and this knowledge causes him a great deal of pain and confusion. Also, as far as the overall story arc goes, the shorter weekly format of Elementary has enabled Miller to develop his character in a more complete fashion than most other actors who have played the character. So why doesn't Miller's Holmes rate higher in my esteem?
I think part of the problem is that, as the second season went on, I gradually became less interested in the series. Elementary became, as I saw it, a kind of typical procedural crime drama, with Conan Doyle's characters grafted onto it. I actually haven't watched an episode of the show since the middle of Season 2. So, my apologies if I've missed some major character developments that might have come later. Overall, I think Jonny Lee Miller has given us a very fine reading of the role; I just think there are a few actors who have done it even better.
For the next several days, I'm going to share my top five favorite actors who have played Sherlock Holmes over the past decades of film and TV adaptations. These are merely my personal opinions, and they have evolved over time. I imagine they may continue to evolve as time goes on...
#5. Basil Rathbone
For my late grandfather, who helped introduce me to the Canon many years ago, Rathbone quite simply was the Sherlock Holmes. When I discovered Jeremy Brett in the early 80s, I thought that claim was ridiculous. To my way of thinking, Rathbone was too dashing, too handsome, too much of a "leading man." Looking back, I realize that I had formed this opinion not from watching any of the Rathbone/Bruce films, but from seeing still pictures. Now that I have seen several of those films, my opinion has changed a bit.
While I still find Rathbone too handsome, there is something impressive about how comfortable he obviously felt in the role. His sense of humor is evident, his physicality is effortless, and the role seems to fit him like a comfortable pair of shoes. As a side note, Nigel Bruce isn't nearly as silly as I once thought. Together, I believe the pair caught the easy camaraderie that comes across in the stories. Sure, the stories in which these two actors found themselves began to be repetitive over the course of 14 films, and much of the dialogue is extremely corny. But I can see how they became the standard film versions of Holmes and Watson for an entire generation.
Nowadays we are blessed with some excellent modernized versions of Sherlock Holmes, versions that reimagine the classic characters in a 21st century setting. Sherlock and Elementary have been smashing successes, and despite some moans and groans from "purists" (or Victorian era fetishists), viewer reaction to these programs seems to be largely positive.
Back in the 1980s, around the time I was graduating from high school, CBS attempted a slightly different approach to modernization of the Holmes/Watson characters, with their TV movie The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987). The idea was supposed to kick off a series which never materialized. In this film, Jane Watson (a descendant of Dr. John Watson) discovers the cryogenically frozen detective Sherlock Holmes, who then finds himself in the middle of an unfamiliar modern world.
You can watch the film on YouTube, divided into short segments. See the video below:
As my very first post on Baker Street Babble mentioned, we're living in a particularly active time for adaptations of Sherlock Holmes on the big screen and the small screen. (And the computer screen...) We've got Sherlock, Elementary, the Guy Ritchie films, and Ian McKellen playing the retired Holmes in Mr. Holmes. But the list of actors who have donned the deerstalker stretches back into history...
This Nerdist article shares a gallery of 15 of the most prominent actors to have played Holmes since 1922. The author points out that 130 actors have played the famous detective over the past 100 years. Who will be next, I wonder?
ISOSE RECAP of "The Abominable Bride"
This is a very effective recap of the most recent episode of SHERLOCK. (WARNING: big time spoilers!)
Even though I'm not the biggest fan of the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films, this is some lovely artwork...
There are plenty of reviews of the recent Sherlock episode, "The Abominable Bride," on the World Wide Web at the moment. I Hear of Sherlock has done a handy roundup of five reviews from their site, one of which I've already shared on this blog, as well as a pretty complete recap of the episode.
Den of Geek also has this review that I think is pretty insightful. They also posted a delightful article entitled "34 Things You Might Have Missed in The Abominable Bride."
As for me, I watched some bits and pieces of the episode again this morning, and I have to say, even though I really enjoy several moments of the character interactions, I think the overall story failed to land. I mean, by the end of the episode, did we really take a single step, story-wise, from the end of Season 3? I don't think so. Ultimately, I find this one-off addition to the Sherlock series kind of a placeholder, and a mix of the sublime and ridiculous. Worth watching, but not particularly crucial to the story the writers are telling. I can only hope that when they choose to film some more episodes (some time in 2017?), they give us a little more completely thought out season.
One of my other passions beyond Sherlockian matters is the Bible. I collect Bibles, and my collection currently contains about 250 volumes. I blog about the Bible as well, at biblebookshelf.weebly.com
So I was intrigued by this post from blogger Eric McKiddie, a pastor from Wheaton, IL: 10 Tips on Solving Mysterious Bible Passages from Sherlock Holmes.
Bible Bookshelf Blog
10 Tips on Solving Mysterious Bible Passages from Sherlock Holmes
I've had a DVD collection of the American TV series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes for quite some time now, but hadn't gotten around to watching any of the episodes. The series aired in 1954, and starred Ronald Howard as Sherlock Holmes (no relation to film director Ron Howard). He's actually pretty good, and the first episode, which I've shared below, takes a lot of its material from A Study in Scarlet. I think it's actually worth watching. Enjoy!
I'm a stay-at-home dad, and Director of Music Ministries at a United Methodist Church in Mt. Juliet, TN, and a longtime fan of Mr. Sherlock Holmes.