My affection for him began four years ago in an unexpected way. It was a time of heightened stress. My husband Bill was in the hospital for an extended stay. My daughter Katie was finishing her senior year in high school. After being in the hospital for a week or so, Bill was transferred to a rehabilitation center. Katie was busy celebrating all those "last" moments of high school. My days were filled going between visiting Bill and attending Katie's year-end award ceremonies while trying to also have a more flexible work schedule.
I stumbled upon a free download for my Kindle of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I discovered the steady predictable world of Sherlock Holmes in the midst of my own world in flux. Those adventures kept me company. It is no mystery why reading them brought comfort to me. The short stories, no matter how complicated and seemingly unsolvable, were always solved. There was closure. There were clear answers. The end came and it was satisfying. I suppose that is what I needed.
The first Sherlock Holmes movie I had ever seen was in 2009 starring Robert Downey Jr. I loved his interpretation of Holmes. He had swagger. He was cocky and fast-talking. He wasn't the lanky, quiet, intellectual of the original adventures. But he was cool! When I read the book in 2010, I realized that Downey's Sherlock was not the same as the book. I was completely fine with that. My acceptance of that interpretation set the tone for my fascination of the all Sherlocks to follow!
Benedict Cumberbatch is Sherlock Holmes in the BBC show: "Sherlock". I love this one! Katie introduced this to us about a year after it originally aired. It is set in 21st century London. The cinematography is beautiful. This Sherlock is quiet, pensive, moody, and can be harsh. Why do I like him so?! Cumberbatch invites us in to the mysterious nature of Holmes himself. He is not easy to like and yet the people around him are loyal. There is something about him.
The art direction and the filming take you along on the ride inside Sherlock's brain. You see all the clues as the great detective does, at lightning speed. Sometimes the viewer feels brilliant as they deduce along with Holmes. But most often we are left in his dust!
In "Elementary", the ABC drama, Sherlock Holmes is played by Jonny Lee Miller. It is set in current day New York City. This version of Sherlock may be my favorite because we see all the sides to his complex personality. He is cocky and unpredictable; highly intelligent with a photographic memory; and yet vulnerable. Through this show we are invited in to the wounds that Sherlock carries and quite possibly led to the drug use that Arthur Conan Doyle included in the character he created.
A delightful twist of this incarnation is that Dr. Watson is played by Lucy Liu. Holmes and Watson first meet when she is hired to be his sober companion. Their respect for each other deepens. Holmes teaches her and invites her to be an equal partner. Voila! Holmes and Watson are a team.
I also just read The House of Silk, a new Sherlock Holmes novel endorsed by the Conan Doyle Estate and written by Anthony Horowitz. The characters and tone remain loyal to what Doyle created 127 years ago. It is a good satisfying read for fans of Sherlock Holmes.
So what is it for me that I can't get enough of this character and the people who surround him? I think it will always be true for me that I find a certain comfort in "witnessing" when an unsolvable problem is solved. I like the complicated, complex humanity that has evolved for this famous detective as new people embody his skin and his mind. I like that his own vulnerability helps him see when others are in desperate need of help. Sherlock Holmes entered my life when I needed a story that was clear: good guys and bad guys, clues that do not get over-looked, and an intelligent mind to sort it all out. I admit there may be some sentimentality in my affection for the character and adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I am ok with that. And...I think he is cool!
So Sunday night I will watch Sherlock and Thursday night I will watch Elementary. And maybe somewhere in between I will watch my DVD of the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie.
The game is afoot!