Holmes Anonymous, Final Meeting

A bit late, but I finally managed to get around to watching one of the Rathbone films—specifically, The Hound of the Baskervilles, released in 1939.

 image from amazon.ca

image from amazon.ca

In hindsight this was not the best decision on my part, mostly because Baskervilles is very much Watson’s case, and Holmes isn’t in the story for long. He sends Watson off at the beginning of the story to investigate the case Doctor Mortimer brings to him, and Watson corresponds with him through-out by writing letters detailing his findings. Little does Watson know (spoilers!) that Holmes actually follows him to Dartmoor incognito, claiming that if he had come as himself, he surely would have been tracked and therefore been unable to work the case.

The first thing I noticed about Rathbone is that he's a much warmer, human Holmes than any of the other adaptations I’ve seen. He seems less like an inhuman entity and instead just your typical, albeit incredibly smart gentlemen. He looks how I imagine Holmes to look, but feels almost more tangible than in other adaptations, which I felt detracted from the character. Although he still had a flair for dramatics, I always imagined Holmes to be more than human, and a bit more obvious in his uniqueness compared to his peers. Despite that, Rathbone’s acting was superb, and had I not already been familiar with the story, I would have been taken by Holmes's disguise as Watson was (though I probably would have been able to guess it was him).

I think what was most surprising to me was Watson, played by Nigel Bruce. Perhaps it was because Bruce was younger than Rathbone, but his Watson also seemed younger than Holmes. I found it a bit unusual, since many of the adaptations I’ve seen had a younger Holmes. Despite that, he fit the usual characteristics for Watson: portly and mustachioed, eager to help, and although not necessarily dim-witted, definitely nowhere near Holmes’s intellectual equal.

Altogether, I found the film enjoyable, charming, and spooky at times, which fits in to the original story well. I haven’t seen many older films, so it was interesting to see a difference in filming, acting, and effects (or lack thereof.) While I’m not sure if Rathbone will be able to win the spot in my heart currently occupied by Brett’s Holmes, I am looking forward to seeing more of his work.

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Kora Burnham 

Kora is a self-proclaimed paper and book hoarder. She enjoys horseback riding and farm work. She was saved by a llama once. She likes to read, write, drink tea, listen to music, play video games, and watch television. Occasionally, she takes naps.  

Links: Twitter || Blog || GoodReads

Holmes's Inspiration: Immense

Holmes is an exceptional fictional character not only for the amount of time he has been popular, but because of how much he has influenced in the world. He has inspired advancements in crime scene investigation and space exploration, to inspiring other fictional characters. 
 

Batman
Yes, one of the greatest superheroes in creation was inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Not especially surprising, considering “DC” stands for “Detective Comics.” Bruce Wayne is efficient in scientific knowledge, hand-to-hand combat, and deductive reasoning, which he uses in place of superhuman abilities to fight crime in Gotham City. Wayne even has his own “Watson” in the form of Alfred Pennyworth, a former army medic who even wrote about Batman’s cases, much like Watson did with Holmes. In the beginning, Pennyworth even resembled a mix of Watson and Holmes: Short, round, and complete with a deerstalker and pipe.

 Image from Wikipedia.org

Image from Wikipedia.org

Scene from the Star Trek movie. Spock quoting Sherlock Holmes.

Star Trek (Spock and Data)
Star Trek's Data was fond of Holmes and his deductive abilities, using his methods to help perform his own duties. Several references to Holmes were made in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, including Holmes’s arch nemesis, Moriarty.

Although he might not necessarily have been inspired by the character, Spock has been shown quoting Holmes in the past, claiming it was something an “ancestor” of his once said, stating, “An ancestor of mine maintained that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains–however improbable–must be the truth.” (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.) He also makes a similar statement in the first Star Trek film.

House
Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) from the television show House has also been heavily influenced by Holmes (the clues are in the name! House, Holmes? Wilson, Watson?) House is narcissistic and unsympathetic towards his patients, is portrayed as having a Vicodin habit, has musical abilities, and psychological and deductive methods to solve medical cases. These skills parallel Holmes's abilities, cocaine addiction and general attitude toward his clients. Not to mention, House resides at 221B Baker Street, the same as Holmes.

Other similar characters to the original Holmes characters include Jack Moriarty (Professor James Moriarty) and Irene Adler as a made-up love interest for House.
Characters from Sherlock Holmes have made appearances in Batman, Wishbone, Futurama, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Real Ghostbusters. With the rising popularity of Holmes in today’s culture, I would not be surprised if we continue to see his influence in other television shows and movies to come. 

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Kora Burnham 

Kora is a self-proclaimed paper and book hoarder. She enjoys horseback riding and doing farm work. She was saved by a llama once. She likes to read, write, drink tea, listen to music, play video games, and watch television. Occasionally, she takes naps.  

Links: Twitter || Blog || GoodReads

Holmes is Where the Heart Is: Old-School Adaptations

Last entry, I discussed the more “modern” Sherlock Holmes adaptations: Sherlock Holmes (2010), BBC’s Sherlock (2010) and CBS’s Elementary (2012.) Now, I’m going to discuss three older adaptations: The Great Mouse Detective (1986), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and Granada Television's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series (1984.)

#3. The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

 Image from Amazon.ca

Image from Amazon.ca

Private Life is essentially a parody, featuring an idiotic, bumbling Watson (Colin Blakely) and a slightly more sensitive Holmes (Robert Stephens).

Holmes is given a case when a delirious woman named Gabrielle is brought to Baker Street. Together, Holmes, Watson, and Gabrielle work on her case, running into a cast of colourful characters–including  the Loch Ness monster.
It’s one of my favourite adaptations because of the dry humour, and I like that Gabrielle is not Holmes’s love-interest. Holmes doesn’t necessarily “win” in the end. As a Holmes adaptation, it shares some similarities to “The Bruce-Partington Plans” though it’s still rather removed  from the story, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.

#2. The Great Mouse Detective

Don’t let the cartoon mice fool you. The Great Mouse Detective is, in fact, heavily based on Sherlock Holmes , though it started as a series of children’s novels by Eve Titus called Basil of Baker Street, which first came out in 1958.

Although the film isn’t exactly based on a Holmes story, there are several clever nods to the canon series: including Basil’s housekeeper, Mrs Judson; (originally Mrs Hudson) Basil’s canine companion, Toby; (Holmes often made use of a hound named Toby) and Basil’s upstairs neighbours, (who share an uncanny resemblance to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson ).


The Great Mouse Detective was my first introduction to Holmes, and although I didn’t understand the references, I enjoyed it. Now that I’m older, I’m still able to enjoy the movie–maybe even moreso now that I understand the references. It’s cute, clever, and great  if you have children and don’t want to be subject to typical Disney-style musical numbers.

#1. The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes

If you’re looking for a television series that is the Sherlock Holmes stories come to life, Granada Television's The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (starring David Burke and Edward Hardwicke as Watson, and Jeremy Brett as Holmes) fits the bill. To me, Jeremy Brett is Sherlock Holmes; he’s who I picture when I read the original stories. He’s sharp, a little bit weird, a little bit grumpy, but has a sense of humour and is capable of expressing sympathy for others. The episodes are straight-up adaptions of the original stories, the first being A Scandal in Bohemia and, in my opinion, the best version of Irene Adler to date.

In my opinion, Granada is the best adaptation currently available. Jeremy Brett was a brilliant actor. He made Holmes his own while still staying committed to the original stories, and it shows.

 

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Kora Burnham 

Kora is a self-proclaimed paper and book hoarder. She enjoys horseback riding and doing farm work. She was saved by a llama once. She likes to read, write, drink tea, listen to music, play video games, and watch television. Occasionally, she takes naps.  

Links: Twitter || Blog || GoodReads

 

Holmes is Where the Heart Is: Recent Adaptations

Several lists are floating around the internet depicting which adaptation of Sherlock Holmes people think is best. Some I agree with, some I don't. The beauty of Holmes is that there are so many adaptations, even if you're not the biggest fan ever, you'll probably find one you like.

There's a difference between “favourite” and “best”. For this exercise I decided to split some of my favourite adaptations into two categories – recent and older – and from there sort them by what I think is the best.

#3. Elementary

 Image from Amazon.com

Image from Amazon.com

Began 2012 on CBS, starring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson.

Elementary is set in modern-day New York City. Sherlock Holmes is a scruffy, heavily-tattooed recovering heroin addict who consults with the NYPD. Joan Watson is an ex-surgeon who is hired by Holmes's father to be his sober companion. Their relationship begins purely out of business, but slowly a friendship buds, until eventually Watson decides to continue her work with Holmes, without pay.

Although it's far-removed from the canon, it's a unique twist on the character. Although I still sometimes find it hard to believe that I'm watching Holmes and Watson, I believe CBS took a daring move with Elementary, and I think it worked wonderfully and, out of the three, Elementary has the widest audience appeal.

#2. Sherlock Holmes

Released 2009 and 2012, starring Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Dr John Watson.

Sherlock Holmes was the film that really got me into Holmesmania, so I owe it my thanks (or blame, however you want to look at it). It's set in a gritty, steampunk Victorian London and features a messy, chaotic (and short) Holmes. Though it occasionally makes nods to the canon, it's pretty far from the original stories. Downey's Sherlock Holmes is more of a caricature of the original rather than a direct adaptation. When we enter the story, Watson is seemingly well beyond fed up with Holmes's antics, no longer starry-eyed and unable to hold back his enthusiasm for Holmes' deductions. Despite its departure from the original, Sherlock Holmes and its sequel are charming, funny, and heartwarming. 

#1. Sherlock

Began 2010 on BBC, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as John Watson.

I have to admit that, out of the three, Sherlock is my favourite adaptation. If you want canon-heavy episodes and a believable – if perhaps incredibly young – version of these characters, Sherlock is your best bet.

Each episode is laden with details right from the original stories. The episodes are over an hour long and play out like mini-movies, with beautiful scores and fantastic cinematography. Although this Holmes is perhaps colder, and a bit more harsh than the original, the fact that the show keeps canon close to its heart won me over, and is why I list it at #1. If you're looking for Sherlock Holmes in the twenty-first century, Sherlock delivers.

 

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Kora Burnham 

Kora is a self-proclaimed paper and book hoarder. She enjoys horseback riding and farm work. She was saved by a llama once. She likes to read, write, drink tea, listen to music, play video games, and watch television. Occasionally, she takes naps.  

Links: Twitter || Blog || GoodReads

 

Holmes Anonymous, First Meeting

My name is Kora, and I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan.

I remember being little, watching The Great Mouse Detective over and over again and being terrified when Ratigan and Basil fought inside Big Ben. I remember watching a 10 minute cartoon featuring Holmes as a dog, bending forward with his magnifying glass to inspect the ground. I might not have understood the references, but even back then, I loved the character. That was just the beginning.

Fast-forward several years later. My friend Alex recommended that I check out the Sherlock Holmes movie, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law. It took some convincing but I eventually relented. I loved it, and immediately hit the bookstore to see if I could find the original stories.

 Image from wikipedia.org

Image from wikipedia.org

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published the first Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, in 1887. Despite his distaste for Holmes, and even a failed attempt to kill him off, Doyle continued writing Holmes adventures until he retired him permanently in 1927.

Except it's now 2013. One hundred and twenty-six years since Holmes' first appearance, and he is still everywhere. I've explored several adaptations, ranging from radio shows, to movies, to canon and non-canon (work by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and works written by other authors) stories. There is an alarming amount of material to sift through. However, I have yet to see, any Basil Rathbone adaptatipon, and many Holmes fans would consider this blasphemy.

A brief explanation: The Sherlock Holmes series began in 1939. It is hailed by many Holmes fans as the quintessential adaptation. They believe that if you're going to indulge in any version of Sherlock Holmes that is not canon, it should be Rathbone's Holmes.

What I'm saying is that I've committed a horrible sin as a Sherlock Holmes fan.

So my plan over the course of the next few months is to watch Basil Rathbone's adaptations, and check out some other Holmes – or Holmes-inspired – material, and discuss those here, along with the ones I've already seen. At the end I will see if what I think is the best Holmes adaptation changes once I've seen Rathbone in action.

Dig out your tobacco pipes and don your deerstalkers: The game is afoot.

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Kora Burnham  

Kora is a self-proclaimed paper and book hoarder. She enjoys horseback riding and farm work. She was saved by a llama once. She likes to read, write, drink tea, listen to music, play video games, and watch television. Occasionally, she takes naps.  

Links: Twitter || Blog || GoodReads