The Return of Sherlock Holmes!

January 21st, 2014 | Posted in General

Sunday night The Lovely Anna and I watched the third season premier of “Sherlock”, the updated re-imagining of the classic character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle… it was great as expected. As a Sherlockian myself, I love this show. I wrote a review of it when I posted the above drawings as a Sketch o’the Week a while ago. All of what I said in that review stands true in the new episode, which bodes well for the rest of the season. I especially love the nods to some of the original canon in a few of the side stories and quick moments… among those in this past episode was the brief appearance of Mary Sutherland and her step-father from the 1891 story “A Case of Identity”.

Possibly the most fascinating thing about the show is how much it demonstrates both the timeless nature of the Holmes characters and stories, and how little our world has really changed in its fundamentals since the late 1800’s. Nearly everything that was important about the original stories fits neatly into our world of today, even though 126 years have passed since the first Holmes story appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887. Holmes is once again a celebrated and famous amateur detective thanks to the writings of Dr. John Watson, but his magazine and newspaper articles have been replaced by a blog. The wires and multiple postal deliveries that made up modern communications in the Victorian era are replaced by texting, but essentially serve the same purpose and in the same manner. Hansoms are now mini-cabs on the London streets. Holmes’ network of poor, anonymous, and ignored street urchins, the “Baker Street Irregulars” are now the poor, anonymous, and ignored homeless people of the city. Holmes’ vast indexes and newspaper clippings from the multiple newspapers of the day are replaced by the internet. It’s all there, but defined by 21st century technology.

I find it amazing that, despite the obvious advances in technology in the last 125 years, that so much of what we have today was essentially there in the late 18th century… albeit slower and more cumbersome in its delivery and execution. The Victorian era was a time when science and technology began to change the lives of even ordinary people… the proliferation and inexpensive availability of newspapers and other mass-communication publications, convenient public transportation and the slow but growing education of the public filled the time with glowing optimism even in the face of great poverty in some areas of the world. Holmes was one of the catalysts in that great public intellectual growth… and “Sherlock” delivers the same wonder and fascination the original stories did for those readers who were so outraged when Conan Doyle killed off his Great Detective that their outcry eventually brought him back.

Now, “Elementary” on the other hand… >:(


  1. Tyson Cole says:

    Just read your review. Beautifully said, and wonderful caricatures! I love Sherlock. No spoilers, but wait til you finish series 3! You might have to update parts of your review!

  2. Isaiah Shipp says:

    This is my second favorite sotw. My favorite is the one of Bela Lugosi!!! I have mentioned before that I would love to see a print series of the actors who played Holmes, however I would also be thrilled if you did a piece of all the Universal Monsters. I’m actually working on a piece like this but nothing compares to your caricature work!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks. Actually I am working on a Holmes print, which will be my next one. I’m picking some of the more famous actors who have played Holmes, even if only once, and some of the better known depictions in films and TV. Hope to have it ready in February.

  3. Bill Karis says:

    Spot on Tom! Loved the series and you captured them perfectly!!!!!

  4. Des Campbell says:

    Hi Tom. I wondered when you’d get a chance to see the new series glad you enjoyed it, you’re gonna love the next one. This third season was hugely popular here in old blighty!

  5. Spot on.
    I loved Season 3- Ep 2 in particular was particularly excellent. Moffat sure knows how to get a laugh, even* with the dryest of characters.

  6. Martin’s expression is perfect!
    Tom, since you have good knowledge about Conan Doyle’s work, I’d like to know your opinion on something about the show.
    The following comment may contain some broad SPOILERS about general aspects of Sherlock, nothing really specific.
    As you can see on the Baskerville episode or the first of the new series, Moffat apparently likes to raise the episodes’ plots to government level, mostly through Mycroft. That’s probably a deliberate choice, since
    Mycroft’s role in the show is much bigger – that wouldn’t be solely to cause some laughs when he teases his brother. However, in Conan Doyle’s stories, the closest Sherlock and his fellow Watson got to government scandals was in “Scandal in Bohemia”, right?
    What do you think about this subtle “James Bond” touch that Moffat gave to the show? Maybe it’s justified by Sherlock and Watson being younger and more adventurous?

    • Tom says:

      Actually the original stories Holmes had several cases with deep governmental ties. “The Naval Treaty”, “The Second Stain” and “The Bruce-Partington Plans” all involved stolen top secret governmental documents. In “His Last Bow” Holmes comes out of retirement and goes undercover to catch a German spy prior to the start of World War I. Other similar adventures are alluded to as well, with clients like the royal family of Holland and the Pope which are hinted as being of international significance. Mycroft is directly involved in only “The Bruce-Partington Plans” and one other story, “The Greek Interpreter” but plays off-stage parts in other stories. Moffat seems to like the government black ops angle, and although it was not a major theme in ACD’s original stories I think it’s an appropriate angle for the series.


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