Updating a classic. This is a task that has befallen many a writer over the years. All those old novels that have been transposed to the modern-day. Some hits… some failures. Time after Time, riding roughshod as it does over the slurry of source material, is my favourite as it places Jack the Ripper and H G Wells in THE SAME FILM!!!
So… the man behind the good bits of new Doctor Who has brought Sherlock Holmes back to my TV screen. Only now it isn’t set in the 19th Century – we’re right here, right now. A world of mobile phones and texting. GPS, CSI, all the acronyms you can muster. I heard that a friend of mine, while watching the first episode, thought to himself “…hmmm, I bet COTWS (that’s C.onfession o.f t.he W.hole S.chool) is hating this”. Seems he thinks I’d naturally despise a modern update of the great Sherlock Holmes. Well, how wrong he was. ‘Cause I lurved it!
This is the second greatest detective of all time we’re talking about here. Why wouldn’t a modern update work? Okay, I suppose you’re discarding the Victorian setting, the ambience, the cocaine, Basil Rathbone and the black and white. But what you gain is the here and now. Sherlock Holmes pretty much invented ‘frenzics’ as we know it today. Your CSIs and, yes, even your Columbos would struggle to exist in a Sherlock Holmes-less world. I loved the update. What would Sherlock Holmes be like today? Well, I think the BBC got it right. I think ol’ holmes boy would embrace the modern. Embrace technology. He would be ahead of the game. He isn’t Miss Marple… He’s SHERLOCK HOLMES!!!
The ‘visualisation of thoughts’, text on the screen, was a novel twist – something I can’t remember seeing done before. Friends tell me that it has been done in film previously, and I could imagine that something similar must have been pulled off in a CSI series – but for me it was a mighty fine use of the visuals. To write on-screen a person’s thoughts… it saved a lot of time and was simply very clever. Holmes was portrayed again, quite rightly, as the intellectual loner. Portrayed in the same manner as the serial killer. Of course, the two are flip-sides of the same coin. A factor that most Columbo episodes use to their advantage. If the killer is a genius – it takes an even bigger brain to get the better of him. Or luck.
So, one episode done and dusted… two to go. Can the producers pull off the impossible? – Give me three 90 minute episodes with nothing for me to moan about? Probably not. But I look forward to the disappointment.