Friday, November 30, 2012

Going on a Diet Mr. Mycroft?

"Mycroft Holmes was a much larger and stouter man than Sherlock. His body was absolutely corpulent, but his face, though massive, had preserved something of the sharpness of expression which was so remarkable in that of his brother. His eyes, which were of a peculiarly light, watery gray, seemed to always retain that far-away, introspective look which I had only observed in Sherlock’s when he was exerting his full powers." - The Greek Interpretar

It would be putting it mildly that Sherlock Holmes' brother, Mycroft is big. Mycroft Holmes was portrayed as being quite immense and fairly lazy, lounging around the Diogenes Club (when he was not working for Her Majesty's Government). But, what is quite unusual is that in many adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Mycroft Holmes is not depicted as being the large gentleman he is described as.

The first time that a lean Mycroft was seen in films was Christopher Lee's characterization in Billy Wilder's, "The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes." Lee's Mycroft is a crafty and devious spy who cannot help but interfere in his younger brother's affairs. Lee's Mycroft Holmes is one of the most enjoyable depictions of the character - his pompous charisma simply oozing in his scenes with Robert Stephens' detective. It is very possible then that Christopher Lee's portrayal of the great detective's elder brother influenced Mark Gatiss' equally fantastic portrayal in BBC's "Sherlock."

Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes
One cannot help but like Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes. First glimpsed in "A Study in Pink," Mycroft introduces himself to John Watson as Sherlock's "arch-enemy." It is not revealed until the end of the episode that this mysterious umbrella-toting figure is not James Moriarty, but Mycroft. In "The Great Game," Mycroft returns and it is revealed that Mycroft is in fact going on a diet, explaining his thin appearance.

Gatiss is a pleasure to watch. He plays the part of Mycroft as though his childhood feuds with his brother are in full-swing and any altercations between Mycroft and Sherlock are very funny indeed. "I'll be mother." Mycroft says as he pours tea in Buckingham Palace in "A Scandal in Belgravia." Sherlock sourly replies: "And there's our childhood in a nutshell."

This begs the question - if the actor is good enough, does Mycroft Holmes really have to be described exactly as he is in the canon? I am as much a stickler for canonical accuracy as any other Sherlockian, however with such gifted actors as Christopher Lee and Mark Gatiss taking on the part, Mycroft Holmes is just as remembered as he ever was - even if he is on a diet.

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