Since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation of Sherlock Holmes in 1897, everyone has been obsessed with the world’s greatest detective.
Witty, fascinating and undeniably genius, the enigma has been portrayed in a variety of forms: books, the big screen, and, most recently, TV. For those of us that can’t get enough of the mastermind, here is a comparison of his three most recent depictions.
Sherlock Holmes, the films
Guy Ritchie does a phenomenal job directing both Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011). Starring the brilliant Robert Downey Jr. as the consulting detective and Jude Law as his faithful sidekick Dr. John Watson, the two roam the streets of Old London to the soundtrack of the enchanting Hans Zimmer. In the first adaptation they engage in a battle of wits, after executed serial killer Lord Blackwood mysteriously returns from the grave. In the more recent version, Holmes faces off against arch nemesis Professor Moriarty, pitting two magnificent minds together in a battle to the death.
Both films encapsulate the eccentricity and mastery of the protagonist, while captivating the audience through exciting storytelling and script writing. The series of clues unravel seamlessly and excitingly, as Holmes and Watson work to solve the puzzles that originally stifle both them and viewers. Unfortunately, while the movies may be my favourite version of Sherlock Holmes due to their length, detail, plotlines and acting, the existence of only two in the last seven years forces me to put these films to the bottom of the pile as my least favourite recent Holmes adaptation.
The little known Jonny Lee Miller does an incredible job in the American version of the TV show. Set in New York, Holmes and Watson are consulting detectives with the NYPD. Lucy Liu is fantastic in the only female lead, bringing Joan Watson to life with her own storyline and character progression. While the compulsory storylines of Moriarty and Irene Adler are great, it’s really the day-to-day crimes the pair solve that showcase the astonishing detective work of the team. Accompanied by the authenticity of Jon Michael Hill as Detective Marcus Bell, the crew always manage to decipher the evidence and solve the insanely high amount of murders and mysteries in the Five Boroughs (if the NYPD deal with anything comparable to this in real life, they all deserve Oscars… or whatever non-movie people get).
However, the best aspect of Elementary is its unique backstory. We meet Joan Watson as a sober companion attempting to help Sherlock recover from a drug addiction, but when her contract expires Holmes takes her on as an apprentice. Slowly she begins to acquire her master’s talents. Over four seasons and 96 episodes, the audience really gets to see the progression of the two characters and their relationship, while simultaneously following their fascinating adventures. I highly recommend Elementary for any Sherlock or TV show fan with 96 hours free.
It’s the third and final Sherlock adaptation, and one that may see Benedict Cumberbatch taking the cake for his portrayal of the great detective. Dry delivery, quick wit and an undeniably English look work perfectly alongside Martin Freeman’s classic British style. The UK version is a very modern take on the old classic, with ten 90-minute episodes released since 2010 and a fourth season on its way.
Set in present day London, each episode explores an unimaginable tale of mystery that Holmes and Watson manage to unravel in ways more improbable than ever. Almost all of the ten episodes feel like gripping mini-movie dramas that combine the mystery, intrigue and magnetism of the characters with complex plots. More so than in the previous Sherlock depictions, the cinematography is weaved so creatively throughout the detective’s escapades that you feel a part of the action.
Most of the episodes are based on Sherlock Holmes novels, and you can appreciate that they have tried to capture the details and intricacies of the books. I really feel like the show depicts the world’s greatest detective in the way he was meant to be, massively contributed to by Cumberbatch’s charismatic, bold and intelligent interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. This just has to be my favourite version of the mastermind and I can’t wait for the next season to start on January 1st 2017.
So do you agree that the UK Sherlock is the best of the lot? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!