Sherlock in the 21st Century

Nov 6, 2010 | Books & Tales, Contributors, Lorie Lewis Ham, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Lorie Lewis Ham

“I am not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high functioning sociopath. Do your research.” That is a quote from Sherlock Holmes in the new Sherlock series from the BBC currently playing on PBS on Masterpiece mystery.

Sherlock & Watson

I have been a Sherlock Holmes fan ever since I was first introduced to the stories as a teenager and he will always remain my favorite detective. While I have enjoyed various adaptations on TV and in movies, my favorite will always be the ones featuring Jeremy Brett. The new Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey, Jr. may have been a fun movie overall, but like many true Holmes fans I was complaining all the way through about the ways in which it was not true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s canon.

So when I heard about this new series called simply Sherlock, I was skeptical, however being the fan that I am I had to check it out. I must say I was pleasantly surprised. The creators of the show were involved as writers with the new Dr. Who, and you get some of the same feel in Sherlock as in that series.

The creators of Sherlock did something that I think was brilliant and that the new movies should have done. Instead of trying to recreate Holmes as some sort of action hero still set in the same time period leaving themselves open to comparison with the original stories and character, in Sherlock they have moved him to the 21st Century. I think for me as a Holmes fanatic, this has made all the difference in the world. It makes it far easier to overlook any differences.

Sherlock has maintained the basic characteristics that we all know and love—he’s eccentric, egotistical, brilliant, and messy, everything you would expect him to be. Even the flat at 221 B Baker Street is much similar to the original, with the addition of modern conveniences. Instead of really changing him, simply his setting has been changed, giving us something new and a bit different to enjoy.

I can completely buy the ways in which Sherlock has reacted to our modern technology—it’s completely in character. He of course would take advantage of any modern technology he had access to—he always did that even in the original stories. His antisocial nature would lend him toward texting and not calling people, and his ego would definitely lead him to create his own website. The only thing that jars me a bit is when we see some of his thoughts as text on the TV screen.

Co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, themselves self-confessed Holmes fanatics, have created a wonderful series. The casting is also excellent with Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, The Last Enemy) in the title role, and Martin Freeman (The Office, UK) as Dr. John Watson. The chemistry between the two actors is perfect. Though they aren’t what you would necessarily expect Holmes and Watson to look like in the original stories, they seem to be a perfect fit for this 21st Century version. When I watch Benedict, I see glimpses of a young Jeremy Brett in his movements and expressions.

Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) & Martin Freeman (Watson)

I wish that I had found out about this series a bit sooner, for if you want to see all three episodes you will have to hurry as the first two will no longer be available on the website after November 7. The three clever stories are: A “Study in Pink,” “The Blind Banker” and “The Great Game,” airing at 9 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings). I truly hope that there will be many more, and can’t wait to be able to get them on DVD and add this modern Holmes to my collection.

Episode synopsis:
“A Study in Pink”
A modern-day Sherlock Holmes teams up with former Army doctor John Watson to solve a case of serial suicides. Using his deductive skill, Sherlock corners a killer who has mysterious powers over his victims.

“The Blind Banker”
Pursuing the case of a banker and a journalist shot dead by a ghostly assailant, Sherlock and Watson uncover an antiquities-smuggling empire.

Airing November 7:
“The Great Game”
In a gripping match of wits, Sherlock solves crimes at a dizzying pace for a mad bomber who threatens to blow up innocent people.

“The Great Game” can be seen on the following dates and times, on Channel 18 in the Fresno area:

Masterpiece Mystery!: Sherlock: The Great Game
Sunday, November 7, 9:00 p.m.
Monday, November 8, 1:00 a.m.
Tuesday, November 9, 3:00 a.m.

For even more fun, you can be a part of a live Twitter discussion Sunday, November 7th, 9-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time with other Sherlock fans, and chat with other Sherlock Holmes and experts such as: @pbs; @masterpiecepbs; Scott Monty/@BakerStreetBlog BSI, editor of the Baker Street Blog and co-host of I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere; Leslie Klinger/@lklinger, editor of The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes; and Andrew Gulli, editor of The Strand magazine/@strandmag. Celebrate Sherlock Holmes and his powers of deduction anytime by tagging your Twitter posts with the hashtag #sherlock_pbs.

You can also participate in a live chat. There will be a special event live chat with Sherlock co-creators and writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat on Monday, November 8 at 12:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). If you can’t participate but want to be included, you can find Masterpiece on Facebook and Twitter @masterpiecepbs and post your questions now.

**Note: The chat time and guest lineup is subject to change.

The show website also has videos you can watch of past interviews with both the cast and the creators, sharing insight into the creation of the show, the casting, and the actors’ preparation for the roles.

The BBC has already commissioned a second series of Sherlock which will be produced in the UK late in 2011. Masterpiece is looking into making a deal for more Sherlocks and they hope to announce those plans in the near future. Watch here at KRL for updates as they are available.

If you love Sherlock Holmes as I do, don’t miss Sherlock’s arrival in the 21st Century!

Lorie Lewis Ham is our Editor-in-Chief and an enthusiastic contributor to various sections, coupling her journalism experience with her connection to the literary and entertainment worlds.



  1. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows: Movie Review | Kings River Life Magazine - [...] So, if you are not a big Sherlock Holmes fan like me you will enjoy this movie. It’s fun…
  2. A Little Sherlock Holmes Trivia and a Big Tumble | Kings River Life Magazine - [...] one more question. In the new BBC’s series, Sherlock, the Great Detective is in really big trouble in the…
  3. LL-Publications Blog - [...] one more question. In the new BBC’s series, Sherlock, the Great Detective is in really big trouble in the last…
  4. The Poisoned Penman By Dan Andriacco & Kieran McMullen: Review/Guest Post/Giveaway | Kings River Life Magazine - […] peak yet – a popular culture superstar, not just a cult figure. Fans of two popular TV series, Sherlock…
  5. Sleuthing – Family Style This Thanksgiving | Kings River Life Magazine - […] Mycroft and Sherlock work for and against each other on both the CBS Elementary version and the BBC Sherlock…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.