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January 17, 2014

BBC's Sherlock: Changing Characters for the Better?

sherlock Sherlock is back from the grave, at least when it comes to the third season of BBC’s popular Sherlock series. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of this series, it is meant to be a modern rendition of Arthur Conan Doyle's famous Sherlock Holmes stories. In the Sherlock TV series, the setting is modern London, giving Sherlock and Watson the ability to solve crimes with tools that would have surely made the original dynamic duo of Doyle’s books drool. Now, I can be a known stickler for accuracy when it comes to my favorite books being adapted for television or film, so I should be absolutely irate at the number of discrepancies in the Sherlock series – especially this recent Season Three. Right? RIGHT? When I started watching Sherlock back in Season One, I nitpicked and poked, looking for a way, any way, to make the episodes apply directly to the books. But now, as I’m deep into Season Three, I’ve kind of given up on this idea. Weirdly, I’ve become a big, big fan of BBC’s Sherlock series without feeling like I constantly owe it to my man Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to be raging and roaring about everything the series has done incorrectly. Don’t get me wrong, I think accuracy is important and I spend a lot of time terrified that my favorite books will be brutally mauled by their movie renditions, but the Sherlock series is brilliant precisely because it seems to have found a delicate middle point between what the fans of Doyle’s books demand and what the viewing public needs to stay entertained. Simply put, the Sherlock Holmes books are not for everyone. I’ve known people who have given up after a single story while others (like myself) have read and enjoyed each and every one multiple times. Different strokes for different folks. TV culture today has also created a demand for shows which are fast-paced, intelligent, and don’t allow you a single moment of boredom. And we want characters we can relate to and understand, not those which are so detached from us that we can neither sympathize nor empathize with their mindset. If you’ve read Doyle’s stories, you’ll know that the original Sherlock Holmes character was, well, pretty difficult to handle. He was anti-social, no-nonsense, and lived only for the chase while Watson was the doddering good friend, always hanging on for the adventure. If there’s one thing the Sherlock TV series has managed to accomplish it’s this: they’ve brought all the dislikable characteristics of the two main protagonists and transformed them into slightly more humorous and endearing prototypes of the original characters. Sure, the TV Sherlock is still socially awkward and can be insulting at times, but he’s been given a strangely human side which allows for the viewer to feel more of a connection with the character. The series’ John Watson, on the other hand, feels things much more acutely than I could have imagined he ever would have in the books. The emotions and character he brings to the friendship with Sherlock, his unwavering loyalty tinted with the occasional outburst where he vocalizes his strong feelings for the detective, all this makes his character less of the staunch soldier and more of a sensitive soul. And I like it. Sure, there’s probably plenty of room for improvement, as the Sherlock series has on occasion wandered a bit too far from Doyle’s original tales for my liking, but I plan on continuing to watch and already consider myself a fan of the TV series despite its flaws. What about you? How do you feel about the blatant differences and the subtle points which have taken Sherlock Holmes from the foggy old London straight into the modern age? Is accuracy a realistic expectation? Or should we give it up and simply enjoy the books and the TV series as separate works of art? And if you’re really loyal to Doyle’s books, we have an awesome Sherlock Holmes poster which is created using Doyle’s original words! You can always just hang it next to your television set to serve as a reminder of the true-blue original when you’re checking out the Sherlock TV series. Enjoy! :)