|This text appeared in our 10/4/2012 blog.
For someone who enjoys Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes in all his various incarnations, the recent deluge of films and television programs portraying him has been most welcome, with perhaps one exception.
Having grown up reading Doyle's tales, I early on enjoyed watching Basil Rathbone's series of films from the 1940's. In moody black and white, Holmes whisks through the often fog-ridden back alleys of London deducing clues and finding the nefarious culprit just in time. Still a riveting portrayal to this day.
In the 80's and 90's, PBS Mystery! presented Jeremy Brett as the consummate Holmes. Recently, I have been rewatching these episodes and have found them to be just as absorbing as they were when I first viewed them. I highly recommend this series.
In 2009, I questioned the casting of Robert Downey, Jr., and Jude Law in as Holmes and Watson, but I was delightfully surprised by their performances and thoroughly enjoyed the films: Sherlock Holmes (2009), and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011). In particular, elements such as the use of slow motion to walk through Holmes' thought processes were especially effective.
In 2010 and 2012, Benedict Cumberbatch brought to life an updated Holmes in modern day London presented by Masterpiece: Mystery! Any skepticism I felt about this particular twist on the original stories was allayed by Cumberbatch's intelligent and humorous performance and the often clever writing by the authors. Though liberties have been taken with elements of the original stories, they all seem to have been made with an appropriate reference for the dearly beloved material.
Also in 2012, the television program Elementary, airing on CBS, has premiered. Having only viewed the first episode, I have mixed feelings on recommending it. (In particular, the first 15 minutes of the program were very disappointing.) Jonny Lee Miller's performance seemed rushed and anxiety ridden, and Lucy Liu seems to be suffering from a condition afflicting many young actresses today: zero facial expression. This modern day condition may be caused by botox, a fear of getting wrinkles, or perhaps by prozac-induced zombieism. I cannot say what Ms. Liu's condition is, but this viewer hopes that both of their performances improve, or it simply won't be worth watching.