Season three of Sherlock premiered on Sunday, January 19 at 9:58 p.m. ET on PBS, so, we thought it would be a cool idea to take a quick look at the history of Sherlock Holmes.
First of all, what do you think the number 254 has to do with Sherlock Holmes? No, it isn’t the number of cases that he has cracked, although he has solved many; but, instead, it’s the number of times that Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on screen.
In fact, in 2012, Guinness World Records awarded Sherlock Holmes the world record for the most portrayed literary human character in film and TV.
The character of Sherlock Holmes was created in 1887 and since then, over 75 actors, such as Basil Rathbone who starred in fourteen Sherlock Holmes movies, Sir Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston, Peter O’Toole, Peter Cook, Benedict Cumberbatch (PBS series) and Robert Downey Jr. (2009 film Sherlock Holmes), have played the sleuth.
For someone who has been portrayed 254 different times, we wanted to delve in to what exactly makes this character so interesting, mysterious and popular.
The fictional detective sprouted from the mind of Scottish author and physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Basically, Holmes was a London-based “consulting detective” whose skill set and general abilities as a crime solver bordered on superhuman; or, maybe it was his incredible knack for logical reasoning that solved difficult cases.
Oh, and let’s not forget about good, old Dr. Watson, Holmes’ assistant and friend, who worked side-by-side with the detective to delve into mysteries and solve cases.
It’s evident to see that with 254 portrayals and counting that people are not only hooked on Holmes, but, it seems that people find the mystery genre enticing. Basically, Conan Doyle created the formula for this genre of classic English mystery. The formula usually involved a few predictable elements, like a “closed setting,” which could be an isolated house, for example; a corpse; a small group of people who are considered suspects; and, an investigating detective.
Next, each character involved in the storyline begins to think that the others are involved; thus, the suspense mounts and soon enough it comes to light that almost all of the suspected persons had the means, motive and the chance to commit the crime. More times than not, a narrator would reveal to the reader the clues and in the case of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson was the narrator. And, as always, the detective would put the pieces of the puzzle together long before anyone else could come up with a solution and would explain it to the “Watson” character, the loyal sidekick to the smart detective, at the end.
Now, writers continue to reinvent the wheel of the basic formula that was established by Conan Doyle to keep the original idea of the detective Sherlock Holmes fresh and more popular than ever. This leads us to the recent portrayals of Sherlock Holmes.
Currently, there are two shows on the air that are focused on this classic, as previously mentioned, Sherlock on PBS and Elementary on CBS, each of which offers their own depiction of the famous detective.
Both portrayals modernize the classic. For instance, Sherlock on PBS creates a modern-day version of the original Conan Doyle stories by allowing Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, to use technologies from this day and age to help him solve the crimes.
Additionally, Elementary modernizes the classic by transforming Dr. John Watson into Dr. Joan Watson, played by Lucy Liu, who works with Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) to solve some of the NYPD’s crop of impossible cases.
Are you in the mood for a mystery? Tune in on Sunday’s at 9:58 p.m. ET on PBS for season three of Sherlock!
Copyright New Show Studios 2014