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Sherlock: A Prevailing Character

Updated on April 16, 2015

The Changing faces of Sherlock:

From the most notable to the least memorable:

1st and foremost: Benedict Cumberbatch, plays the eccentric detective in BBc's Sherlock

2nd: Robert Downey Jr.: plays the detective in the Motion Pictures 'Sherlock Holmes'

3rd: John Lee Miller: plays the detective in the American adaptation 'Elementary'

4th: Michael Cane: plays Holmes in the film 'Without a Clue', another adaptation.

5th: John Cleese: Played the role in the comedy adaptation 'The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It.'.

6th: Basil Rathbone: He appeared in 14 Hollywood films made across 1939-1946 as Sherlock Holmes.

A Most Recognizable Man:

Sherlock Holmes is a hosehold name, a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He is a London-based "consulting detective" whose abilities border on the fantastic and is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases.

Holmes first appeared in publication in 1887but was also featured in four novels and 56 short stories. The first novel, A Study in Scarlet, was the setting for the first BBC episode of 'Sherlock', called A Study in Pink.

Sherlock Holmes grew tremendously in popularity with the first series of short stories in The Strand Magazine. As the years went on however, more and more simulacrums of Holmes have been created, from film to TV shows and online games. Holmes has become the eccentric character that every household knows of.


Most notably the best Holmes actor...
Most notably the best Holmes actor...


Modern Adaptations:

The three most notable modern adaptations of the detective and sidekick Watson are the recent films and Tv shows, The Sherlock Holmes film (with Robert Downey Jr) was a massive success, as it placed Homes in the 1800's, where his flatmate (Jude Law as Dr Watson) race to stop a ritual killing spree across London. A good film, with very clever techniques, it made around €500,000,000 in the box Office, making it a massive Success. Downey Jr, certainly played the Detective well making him one of the best Sherlocks ever.

And now for TV adaptations, both a modern take on the famous Holmes and Watson duo, but with very different takes on them too. First 'Elementary', where John Lee Miller plays the detective, its set in the USA and has a woman paying Watson, whether that was to shake the story up or what, I don't know, all I know is, I didn't like it. Its an all around good show, where the eccentric crime detective and his partner try to solve many mysteries, all the while trying to save themselves from the Villain Moriarty and outwit him. However, this take on the classic tries to shake the story up too much (and without giving away any spoilers) combines two equally important characters in a way that makes the other redundant. It tries to be free of the original Holmes story too much and for that it lacks much of the greatness the original had. Johhny Lee Miller has said of this change "It’s a completely different imagining and a different take for so many different reasons". The ratings however show a massive fan base for this series, with it gaining just over 4 million viewers this new years.

BBC's Sherlock, created by Gatiss and Moffat, has to be one of the best adaptations of this character and his adventures with Dr Watson. One of the most intriguing TV series for a very long time, it has become an international success, gaining an almost cult following worldwide. The Visual techniques employed in this series are very effective and similar to the Films portrayal of certain events. Both film and series use slow motion techniques, both utilize key words to describe the person that Holmes is looking at as he deduces what's the persons all about. In the first Guy Ritchie film, we see Holmes taking part in a bare-knuckle boxing match through his perspective. We see how he examines his opponents and the flaws he intends to exploit before he exploits them as well as the amount of power he needs to apply to certain points of the body. Cumberbatch however, see's words around the person he is examining, words that expose the persons everyday habits and social situation.

Cumberbatch too is more obnoxious and rude then the original Holmes character who was always distant and moody, as he tells a journalist in season 2 that she 'repels' him, for simply doing her job. He is completely socially awkward, has no sense of comradeship (except when it comes to Dr Waston) and feels little compassion for the people around him, and yet he always has friends around him, be it his landlady who takes care of him and Watson because he made sure her husband got the death penalty, or Lestrade, a detective who works with Holmes.

the best detective duo since ....hmm, no they're just the best detective duo ever....
the best detective duo since ....hmm, no they're just the best detective duo ever....
I think the whole female audience is 'sher-locked'....just saying
I think the whole female audience is 'sher-locked'....just saying

Guess why he's so popular:

It's not the science of deduction that gives Holmes his power over us though, In 'The Sign of Four', Holmes declares: "I never guess. It is a shocking habit - destructive to the logical faculty." Yet the type of reasoning which Holmes uses in most of Conan Doyle's stories includes a good deal of guesswork have a look at both types of reasoning:

  • deduction, where we move with logical certainty from general principles to a particular conclusion.
  • Induction, where we move from particular observations to general principles.

Deduction is dependable as long as the premises are true, while induction yields probabilities that can always be falsified by events.

The type of reasoning Sherlock Holmes uses is of another, more hypothetical kind - sometimes called abductive reasoning - that can't offer certainty or a precise assessment of probability, only the best available account. As Sherlock says in one of his more famous quotes:

"When you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Here Holmes is describing what he calls reasoning backwards - moving from the facts to an explanation of what has produced them by a process of elimination.

When Holmes can identify an unlikely pattern in events, it's by using what Watson describes as his "extraordinary genius for minutiae". As Holmes tells Inspector Lestrade: "You know my method. It is founded on the observation of trifles."

Holmes notices things other people don't, and then comes up with hypotheses that he tests one by one. He bases his conclusions on evidence, however, he reaches these conclusions by simply using his best judgement of the situation.

With some of the qualities of a late 19th Century decadent, Holmes turns to detection as he does to his cocaine habit - to stave off boredom and Holmes/Cumberbatch always looks bored with life simply because he can deduce the facts so simply using this method. This is why we see him and Watson interviewing people who need their help, if the interview is boring, the likelihood is, Sherlock wont be interested, he needs a challenge. Its like a child that doesn't want to do a puzzle he's already figured out, he wants to find another one he can't try to figure out.

But he's not just playing at being a detective, he really wants justice to prevail, and where necessary he's willing to disobey the law in order to ensure that it does.Sherlock is therefor the romantic hero ready to defy authority for the greater good and stand by his sense of morality.

He is very much the mystery in the stories, on the one hand he seems devoid of human feeling - "I'm a high-functioning sociopath," as he describes himself in the BBC series, which makes perfect sense. Then we see moments of true passion (not romantic passion) and love towards the people around him....without giving any spoilers.....he protects Marya and Watson's relationship knowing that it will bring him down in some way. He is always willing to go that extra mile for the people he cares about, and quite the opposite for people he doesn't care for.

Interview with creators and actors

The Best Sherlock ever:

So, who would you pick as the best Sherlock Holmes of all times

See results

CumberB*tches Unite!!

Why I love BBC Sherlock:

Cumberbatch and Freeman's friendship is particularly entertaining. Sherlock has been done over and over again, but he's a classic character for a reason, his uniqueness, his demeaner, his way of solving every case just by opening his eyes. Sherlock takes the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and adds twists into every aspect of the story. From how Sherlock views a crime scene to the characters involved with the case, you never know what's coming, which is quite unusual for this day and age where most people can anticipate the ending to films and TV shows, Sherlock makes audiences completely oblivious to what is going to happen. In each series finale, the last minute of the show will usually attract the most gasps from its audience, where you think the stories over, and suddenly its not, something you were not expecting happens......its certainly good for cliff hangers.

Another impressive feat for the creators of Sherlock is the unusual brotherly relationship between Sherlock and Mycroft. Both are highly intellectual and constantly trying to one up and out smart the other. Mycroft Holmes can be considered the most powerful person in Britain. He basically works for the monarchy, he does the stuff that most people would run a mile from. Sherlock on the other hand, is almost the vigilante of the story, he works on his own (except for Watson) without the help of the Monarchy, he has no interest in joining Mycroft and this often leads to awkward and totally quirky moments between the two. At one point Sherlock is off around the world undercover, he is in serious danger and who comes to save him only his big brother Mycroft, although he does wait until after Sherlock has been beaten to a bloody pulp...but that's their relationship. They love each other and hate what the other stands for.

Sherlock also has three seasons consisting of three 90-minute episodes each, and because its on BBC there's no ads! It just keeps getting better right? Yep its like watching a series of films for each season.

Bonus features of the show: If you're the kind of person who thinks Benedict Cumberbatch is attractive (and if you don't, there is definitely something wrong with your eyes, I would suggest an immediate eye test), then this show is perfect for you. He's certainly in his element as Sherlock Holmes. Martin Freeman is adorably awkward, and really enhances the whole Holmes/Watson relationship with said awkwardness. He is straightforward when around Holmes and has no problem saying what he thinks. But the funniest moments are when he see's something he just can't believe. an example of this is when he see's an attractive women come out of Sherlocks bathroom in just a shirt. At this point Watson hasn't yet figured out whether Sherlock is even into women or not, but with perfect subtly, as Holmes prattles on about something completely different, Freeman is so confused and looks around bewildered as if he's not sure what he just saw.

I think he'd know......
I think he'd know......

How Handsome can this guy get?!

I mean... come...on!
I mean... come...on!

Last but Not Least: The CumberB*tch Phenomenom

So, after Sherlock made it on screens and gained much well deserved popularity, Cumberbatch too made it big. Having been named the Hottest actor, he has gained a massive fan-base of women, who now refer to themselves as 'Cumberb*tches'. This is a massive phenonemon, as his career isn't as big as Ryan Gosling or Brad Pitt, nor does he have that clean, Hollywood look about him, he has suddenly become one of the most talked about actors for the past two years.

Followers of him have been involved in the hype of 'Sherlockology', they have set up blogs devoted to him and twitter accounts that explain every Cumberbatch problem in the world: "Gradually buying all the pieces of Sherlock's wardrobe for your significant other".

He says of the Cumberb*tch title "I'm a little disturbed because I think they set feminism back a few years!", then suggesting that 'Cumberbabes' would be more appropriate. I have to agree. Personally I prefer a Ben-addict Cumberbabe..much more appropriate I think. Since his role as Sherlock he has taken on many diverse roles from the Villain in Star trek to Wikileaks Julian Assange in "The Fifth Estate', giving a powerful performance. When asked if he was worried about how Assange will respond to his performance, Cumberbatch replied "the Cumberbitches have got my back, so I’ll be fine.” He has always been very gracious to his fans and this little statement portrays this very accurately. His Cumberbabes or the Cumbercollective, will always support him it seems, which he appears to find reassuring.

So no matter where he goes and what role he plays, he will always have a following of dedicated, often cer-azy women who are willing to support him. The Cumbercollective will surely live on for a long time, with no signs of it letting up at the moment. For the record, I don't think it is all about his looks ad charm either, I think hes an amazing actor who deserves a lot of respect, he plays Sherlock perfectly, takes on roles that he knows may be harmful to his image and for those of you who think he is so close to Sherlock that he's hardly acting at all, apparently that's not he case, he finds it very difficult at times to get into the sociopath role, the mechanical, unemotional Sherlock does not come naturally, as he said in 'Timeshift: How To Be Sherlock Holmes' documentary.

We certainly hope he continues to grace us with his presence on both Big and small screen.


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