Friday, December 6, 2013

Top 5 Things that Have Made Sherlockians Happy

I am going to be a little outspoken for this one. Of course this list will be my own personal opinion, but I'd like to speak on behalf of most Sherlockians. The following is a list of the top 5 things which without doubt evoked something of a smile from fans of the world's greatest detective.

# 5 - "Come at once if Convenient..." - Say whatever you like about the two Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. Some fans love them - some fans hate them. They are surely partially responsible for breathing the back of life breath into the detective if nothing else. However, most Sherlockians criticize the films due to the presentation of Holmes as an action hero.

But, both films in the franchise have paid homage to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories. The hints are subtle, but if you know your canon, there are times that will make you smile. One of the most memorable moments for me at least, was in "Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows." While infiltrating Professor Moriarty's munitions factory, Holmes dispatches a note to Watson which runs: "Come at once if Convenient...if Inconvenient come all the Same."

While the little scene doesn't propel the plot forward at all, it is a superb moment for Sherlockians as it of course references the note which Holmes sent to Watson in "The Adventure of the Creeping Man." The vignette also proves that someone behind the scenes of the film knows their Sherlock Holmes very well.

#4 - Titan Books - As I have written elsewhere, Sherlock Holmes pastiches are in an abundance. Some of the best pastiches I have come across have been released through Titan Books. The publisher is behind "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" series, a book series which reprinted a number of out-of-print pastiches. These included "The Veiled Detective" a brilliant character study by David Stuart Davies, "The Giant Rat of Sumatra" by Richard Boyer, the finest version of the untold story I have come across and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes" by Loren D. Estleman.

Recently, Titan Books' series has included some newly-published works from authors including Guy Adams, James Lovegrove and George Mann. In addition to pastiches, Titan Books is also responsible for printing some excellent non-fiction books. David Stuart Davies' "Starring Sherlock Holmes" and Alan Barnes' "Sherlock Holmes on Screen" are both essential guides to Sherlockian film.

#3 - Doctor Who Series 7 - I know what you're thinking - how is connected with Sherlock Holmes? The second half of the series (which commenced with the 2012 Christmas special, "The Snowmen") owes something to the great detective. "The Snowmen" scripted by Steven Moffat is truly Sherlockian in nature. The Victorian milieu and mysterious style evoke the Sherlock Holmes stories exactly. Arthur Conan Doyle is directly mentioned, and the Doctor even dresses up as the detective in one scene - surely the highlight for me.

The Doctor does a bit of sleuthing in Mark Gatiss'
"The Crimson Horror"
Later in the series, the TARDIS team of the Doctor (Matt Smith) and Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) returned to Victorian England to investigate "The Crimson Horror," an episode written by Mark Gatiss. Gatiss' episode mirrors the Sherlock Holmes stories even more, and sees the Doctor doing quite a bit of detective work. What's more, one of Doyle's many untold stories, The Repulsive Red Leech, is referenced in dialogue.

It will always - always - bring a smile to my face when Sherlock Holmes is referenced outside of Sherlockian circles. These nods and asides to fans of the detective are sure to make one crack a smile - or at least a grin.

#2 - Doyle Reprints - With the success of "Sherlock," the BBC has reissued the Arthur Conan Doyle canon adorned with photos of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Surely a marketing ploy from the BBC, the book series has at least spawned some new interest in the canon.

These recent reprints are only the most recent set of re-releases. Whenever I go into a mystery section of a bookshop and see multiple copies of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" or "The Hound of the Baskervilles," I'm instilled with a sense of confidence. Sherlock Holmes has been a part of this world for more than 100 years, and it doesn't seem like he's on the way out at all.

#1 - Montage - The montage in the beginning of the "Sherlock" series 2 opener, "A Scandal in Belgravia" contains some of the most brilliant references to Arthur Conan Doyle ever. Although played for laughs, the montage, which sees Sherlock and John investigating a number of obscure cases. Cases referenced include: "The Speckled Band," "The Greek Interpreter" and "The Naval Treaty."

One of Steven Moffat's many sly references
Not only does the opening feature references to Doyle, but other pieces of Sherlockian interest. John Watson's blog counter is forever stuck 1895 (a nice acknowledgement of Vincent Starrett's poem, "Always 1895") and another entry is entitled, "Sherlock Holmes Baffled," the title of the great detective's screen debut in 1901. Writer Steven Moffat has without doubt created one of the greatest pieces of Sherlockian fan service in years.

I'm sure that there are others, and if none of the above things made you a satisfied Sherlockian, I understand. Any others that I left out? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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