One of the first series I remember reading was the Sherlock Holmes stories. By the time I was 11, I had read everything in the children’s section at my local library (remember that the publishing field in children’s and teens wasn’t nearly as prolific as it is now). It was the first time I went into the adult stacks. I felt so grown up, especially when I started reading the stories. I think it was the first time I used a dictionary while reading for pleasure. I loved the complex plots, Dr. Watson’s observations, and most of all Sherlock’s power of deduction. After watching a few new re-inventions of Sherlock, I remembered when I tried to become Sherlock’s protégé. I observed details about relatives and said them aloud. As you can imagine, my observations went over like a lead balloon. I concocted my own recipe for lifting fingerprints, which consisted of shoe polish and baby powder. I think it took me two whole weekends to clean up my mess. I recruited my little sister to be my Watson, keeping a journal of my witty remarks. My mother had enough and I was told to read something else. I don’t know how happy she was when I brought home Stephen King, but at least I didn’t ask for a dog!
My favorite things about the Sherlock stories haven’t changed over the years. In fact, with new Sherlock stories being made into movies, mini-series, and television series I’m ready to rediscover the original stories. If you haven’t tried any of the new Sherlock’s, I urge you to give them a try:
There are many twists and turns in the television series, Elementary, featuring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock and Lucy Liu as Watson. Miller’s Sherlock is a recovering addict who fled to New York City to begin anew. His Dr. Watson, played by a woman, is his live-in sober companion who keeps him on the straight and narrow. Their chemistry reminds me of Mulder and Scully in the X-Files days. Their cop partner is played by Aidan Quinn, who is fabulous as always! The storylines in NYC are never dull. Plus, they develop the arch-enemy Moriarty plot line throughout the season. It builds to a climax in the final episode of the season with a twist you will never expect! I keep waiting for Lucy Liu to whip up one of her Kill Bill fight scenes, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe when the second season comes out on DVD.
Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and Game of Shadows features Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock and Jude Law as Watson. These movies are highly entertaining on so many levels. The signature highlight being the slow-motion fight scenes. Sherlock, being a student of martial arts, gets himself into physical danger at every turn down a dark alley. Of course, you can’t help but laugh at the banter between two A-list actors in every scene they appear together. The endings of the two films are always surprising, with an Ocean’s 11-style recap.
The BBC’s hit mini-series features Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson. My husband and I were apprehensive in watching this series. We loved Elementary so much, we didn’t think that another version of the story could compare. I’m glad we decided to watch this after much coaxing from my fellow librarians! The BBC version has its own trademark on the classic stories and in no way diminishes or competes with the American television series. The close-up camera details of the murder scene and victim bring details to the viewer as Sherlock is observing them. I can never quite figure out how Sherlock is going to solve the case, but he inevitably does.
OWL has all the original Sherlock stories. If you’re looking for a place to start reading the classics, here are a few ideas:
“Scandal in Bohemia“: This story is the one and only where Irene Adler makes an appearance. Irene has been magnified in my favorite films to be Sherlock’s love interest / girlfriend / wife, though in the original story she outwits Sherlock and never returns into his life.
“The Adventure of the Final Problem“: This is only one of two stories that have Sherlock’s nemesis, Moriarty, in it. Sherlock refers to him often, but he only appears in two stories. You meet him in the flesh and see him for his true “Napoleon of Crime” self, as Sherlock describes him.
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band“: Author, Conan Doyle, identified this as his favorite story. He loved it so much, he wrote and produced a play based on this story. The plot is very complex and involves a “cold-case” murder that was committed two years prior.
With four novels, and 56 stories I think I’m going to be busy a while!
Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who will be watching other Jonny Lee Miller films over the weekend.