When I was young ‘Sherlock Holmes’ was rather an old-ish sort of chap, wearing a funny hat, incessantly smoking a pipe, looking through a magnifying glass and occasionally uttering the magic words, “Elementary my dear Watson…”
Naturally, as I grew older I became increasingly aware that there is much more to this character than a deer-stalker (the weird hat) and a pipe. Indeed, the image I have of him now could not be more different.
As he has become progressively more popular, he has obtained a certain desirable and crushable personality to my mind.
This has been greatly helped by the fact that we currently have no less than three big names playing the same character in three different adaptations: Robert Downey Jr in the Guy Ritchie movie adaptations of 2009 and 2011; Benedict Cumberbatch in the well-famed BBC series Sherlock which started in 2010; and Jonny Lee Miller in the CBS series Elementary, which started in 2012.
I can’t quite wrap my head around the exact reason why the character has become so suddenly in-demand, but I must admit I’m quite enjoying the ride. Perhaps it’s the fact that the time we live in could be somehow connected to the time in which the novels were originally set.
The constant fears of mass destruction because of environmental issues, Mayan Calendars, to say nothing of the risks human beings pose for themselves, might be seen to mirror the zeitgeist of Conan Doyle’s time. It was, after all, a time plagued by new scientific discoveries and an awareness that the world they had been so accustomed to was changing to an uncertain future, with new concepts nobody had ever dreamed of beforehand emerging at every corner.
It is perhaps this element of fear of the unknown and the element of mystery that makes Conan Doyle’s creation so translatable to our time. (Or perhaps it’s because people are once again starting to see that witty might just be the new sexy… but possibly that’s just wishful thinking…)
Whatever the reason may be, the character has once again become quite an icon, and people can’t seem to get enough of him, no matter how many re-boots he gets.