Deconstructing Sherlock

So the second series of the fabulous BBC Sherlock Holmes as re-imagined by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss ended with the apparent death of our hero as per the original Conan Doyle story (though this time no waterfalls were involved). Rather than a post trying to make me look clever with yet another Molly / Mycroft faked the death theory (we know they did, but how?!) I turn my attention instead to the approach taken in the story to the deconstruction of our here. I use this as  an excuse to wander through the Holmes genre in general then unexpectedly link it to another TV show (well it was unexpected to me!). Do stay around…

Deconstruction 2012 style

Along with everything else good about Sherlock I thought the approach taken by Moriarty to get Sherlock thoroughly discredited was wonderful. Andrew Scott was wonderful as he slowly turned the arch villain into the children’s TV actor hired to make Sherlock seem to be more than he was. By the end even we could have wondered whether or not the great detective was real or just a tissue tiger. John Watson of course kept the faith.

Other examples

I was then minded to recall the film Without a Clue with Michael Caine as Holmes and Ben Kinglsey as Watson. Here the conceit (in the style of the TV show Remington Steele) was that Watson was the genius detective who hired Caine merely to play the part of the great detective.

Many years ago I read a novel where Holmes (and Moriarty) were clones from the future trapped in the Victorian era and Holmes hired an actor to play Mycroft!

So as you can tell there have been many deconstructions over the years.

How did the Victorians react to Holmes?

Many years ago (though not as many as last time) I was at an airport (Glasgow?) and picked up a coffee table book on Holmes to pass the time. It included a brief list of copy-cat detectives that sprang up to cash in on the halo effect of Conan Doyle’s success. One of these was the wonderfully named Sheerluck Jones who solved cases not with logic but with blind luck. Amusing but maybe not more than once; then again…

Which brings me to…

Watching the recent (2012) first series of Dirk Gently on the BBC (not the Christmas special which I didn’t like at all) I was struck by both how much better it was than I had imagined but also that Dirk was in some ways a version of Holmes with a completely different approach to problem solving (holistic if you will). Having thought this I then feel that the production values are not unlike Sherlock. There is also a Dr Who link – Adams produced Who in the 70s and created Dirk; Moffat steers the Who ship today and helped bring Holmes back to the small screen.

Not sure what it all means, but hey!


About Tony Jones
Big Finish writer, reviewer and blogger, I'm interested in science fiction and Doctor Who. I review for CultBox, The Doctor Who Companion and others. I am also Lead Writer for Starburst Magazine, and write the occasional piece for Vortex, the BSFA critical magazine.

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