Books, General

Elementary, My Dear Watson

Remember when I said I would post everyday until I went travelling? Lol. Well I am at least remembering to blog more often.

shI love a good yarn. Be it in print, or on the screen, a good story is a brilliant thing. As a result, I read a lot of books, watch a lot of TV shows, and see a lot of films. My favourite book (To Kill a Mockingbird) film (Pirates of the Caribbean) and TV show (The OC) could not have more different characters, genres or critical acclaim, yet all hold a place within me that has yet to be replaced by any other. Along side these works, I place Harry Potter, which individually, on the pages of the novels or on the screen are not enough to be classed as a favourite, but hold up across a series of works. Out of all the works I have ever read, or viewed, one character, and his written stories, have graced the big and small screen, and made him one of the most infamous, and influential characters. Sherlock Holmes.

I don’t know about you, but there is something so intriguing and addictive about a good detective story. Throw in a slightly autistic, drug-addicted, unfriendly, loner with a superiority complex who strolls over the moral, and legal, investigative line, and you are onto an absolute winner. I don’t remember the first time I was exposed to the brilliance of Mr. Holmes, I just remember that I have always been aware of him. His relationship with Dr. Watson, and the more periphery, yet equally fascinating Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson, and of course the ‘bad-guys’. I hesitate to use the term ‘bad-guys’ with Sherlock Holmes novels, as many of them are not actually bad, immoral maybe, but not bad or evil.

I have read almost all the short-stories, none of the full-length novels as of yet, and have seen numerous TV and movie adaptations. Without question my favourite book so far is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, this might change when I read the novels, but I don’t have a favourite adaptation, or a favourite incarnation of Sherlock himself. Of the many I have seen, the actors and actresses who play Mr. Holmes, Dr. Watson, and all the other characters have brought different mental and physical elements to the role that have made each adaptation utterly unique.

Different actors as Sherlock Holmes clockwise): Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatcg, Johnny Lee Miller, Sir Ian McKellan, Basil Rathbone, Rupert Everett
Different actors as Sherlock Holmes clockwise): Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatcg, Johnny Lee Miller, Sir Ian McKellan, Basil Rathbone, Rupert Everett

I have not seen all the adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, in fact, I have barely scratched the surface. Many amous and revered actors have portrayed him on the radio, stage, big screen and small screen, including but not limited to: William Gillette, Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing, Sir Christopher Lee, Sir Roger Moore, Leonard Nimoy, John Cleese, Christopher Plummer, Frank Langella, Charlton Heston, Tom Baker, Peter O’Toole, Sir Michael Caine, Rupert Everett, and more recently Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatch, Johnny Lee Miller, and Sir Ian Mckellan, who is currently in-filming as the famous detective for a 2015 movie I am eagerly awaiting.

I have only really seen later adaptations of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures, with the exception of some of Basil Rathbone’s work; many believe his portrayal set the benchmark for future Holmes adaptations. While his portrayal is good, I don’t like it as much as the most recent ones. I am probably completely blinded by the fact they are recent, but they are good. I definitely want to have read every short story and novel before I proceed watching any more adaptations.

Mrs Hudson played by Una Stubbs and Rosalie Williams, Inspector Lestrade played by Eddie Marsan and Rupert Graves
Mrs Hudson: Una Stubbs (L) and Rosalie Williams (R), Inspector Lestrade: Eddie Marsan(L) and Rupert Graves (R)

 The most recent adaptations have taken two opposing methods of portrayal, and in all honesty, I am not sure which one I prefer. Method I mean, not adaptation (not that I have any more clue which one I prefer there either.) The RDJ versions are quite true to his narcissism and the dynamic between Holmes and Jude Law’s Watson is really good; but then it usually is. I like the old school feel to the films. I know this will be slightly tainted by my love for RDJ, but they are very good films. The other old school adaptation was Rupert Everett’s Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking. I admit, even with the love I have for Sherlock Holmes, it was not that which made me watch; it was the fact Michael Fassbender is in it.

Actors Portraying Dr. Watson clockwise: Ian Hart, Martin Freeman, Jude Law, Lucy Lui
Actors Portraying Dr. Watson (clockwise): Ian Hart, Martin Freeman, Jude Law, Lucy Lui

The TV shows Sherlock and Elementary, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller respectively in the lead role, are brillaint examples of how the premise of a 19th century story can be adapted into present time. I personally (and I think probably controversially) prefer Elementary, which is the American version. It’s not as self-aware as the UK version Sherlock, and doesn’t try to be too clever, which Sherlock is definitely guilty off. Plus it doesn’t make me wait years for 3 new episodes, and has a female Watson. I’m not usually up on the whole changing the gender of a character thing but I have to say, despite my scepticism, I really like Lucy Lui’s Joan Watson, it certainly adds a different dynamic between the pair. That, and Johnny Lee Miller is better looking, which I know shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but let’s be real here, we all judge books by their covers! That said, Sherlock is blooming brilliant, and I like it a lot, and think the clever plots, good writing, and the strong characters are exciting to watch; worth waiting the ridiculous amounts of time between series. C’mon Moffat, stop hanging round, and you two, Benedict and Martin, stop selling out and making Hollywood films!

Moriarty: Andrew Scott, Jared Harris, Natalie Dormer; Sebastian Moran: Vinnie Jones, Paul Anderson
Moriarty(L-R): Andrew Scott, Jared Harris, Natalie Dormer; Sebastian Moran: Vinnie Jones (L), Paul Anderson (R)

As I said previosuly, not all of the villians of Sherlock Holmes are bad-guys. In many of the short stories, the characters being investigated turn out to be relatively good, although on morally shakily ground (a lot like Sherlock himself.) Throughout the stories, however, there are more prominent bad-guys and rivals, such as Sebastian Moran, and the more well-known Moriarty. Moriarty is portrayed in a manner of different ways, from the academically fearsome Jared Harris portrayal, to the manically unhinged Andrew Scott, to Elementary’s risky gender changed Jamie Moriarty, played by the beautiful and cunning Natalie Dormer. The relationship between Moriarty and Holmes is probably my favourite within Holmes’ world; one of my favourites throughout fiction.

Pocket Penguin Classics 2008 editions
Pocket Penguin Classics 2008 editions

I bought these new versions of Sherlock Holmes books this week with the voucher I got from my University, and some of my graduation money, as a sort of present to myself for making it through my degree. I say they’re new versions, they’re not, they have been around for 5 or 6 years. I have never owned the books before in hard copy, only e-book versions on my nook, and decided I wanted these funky covered books. Considering how hard I am finding all the goodbyes (I didn’t really think they would bother me) I decided the treat was worth it. That’s also why I am watching more Elementary and enjoying Match of the Day before bed, make myself feel a little better. Nothing like detective work before bed.

2 thoughts on “Elementary, My Dear Watson”

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