(I apologize, this gets a bit rambly toward the end…or through the whole thing…I’m not sure what the original point to this post was…or if it had an original point. I just have a lot of feelings about Sherlock okay.)
When I was 11, my dad had a copy of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous collection of stories, Sherlock Holmes.
It was one of the turning points for me as far as my reading habits went. I had always read a lot, but prior to that I had gone with religious fiction and historical work, which would continue for several years as my obsession with Queen Elizabeth I and World War II ran their courses during Junior High, but I read more and more secular fiction, fantasy, and, as much as it might be embarrassing to me, romance novels.
I have to say that I spent a long time obsessed with Sherlock Holmes in Junior High. I quoted it, read it, got my hands on every pop culture version of it that I could find (which wasn’t anywhere near all of them, as I keep finding more in recent years), and did at least 2 projects in school (one of them was extra credit) on the books.
I would like to say that I was a Sherlockian before it was popular to be a Sherlockian, but I know that’s not true. I’ll just say that I was a Sherlockian before most of those in my generation discovered the stories.
Somewhere between Junior high and High school I lost the Sherlock fever. It was likely a combination of factors, ranging from having more friends, having more school work, beginning my obsession with writing, spending a lot more time on the internet, and discovering my love of Mercedes Lackey, R.A. Salvatore, Elizabeth Moon, and many other fantasy authors.
I was a nerd in high school alright, I admit it.
Okay, I’m still a nerd.
Anyway, in 2009, a wonderful director (whose other films I watched at the behest of The Conservative New Ager) named Guy Richie came out with his version of Sherlock Holmes, staring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams.
I saw the movie twice in theaters, once with my family and then with my girlfriend at the time. My obsession was reawakened and I started reading the stories again, off and on, and getting involved with the newly thriving online groups of fans. There was an entire side to the fandom that I hadn’t been aware of when I was in elementary school and junior high. Pastiches, fanfiction, music, creativity. I was enraptured.
Then in 2010 Steven Moffat, a man whose Doctor Who episodes have always been a favorite of mine (i.e. Blink), and Mark Gatiss, the king of the trolls as far as the Sherlock fandom goes, whose acting and writing for Doctor Who have been superb as well, decided that they were going to create their own version of Sherlock Holmes. Moffat says, in the extras on the DVD, that he and Gatiss decided that they had to take their own chance to make their version because if they didn’t they would always regret it.
I personally think that’s a great sentiment for everyone, everywhere. It’s why I write, why I want to publish. Not because I want to be famous, but because I know I will regret it if I never try.
Watching the show made me ecstatic.
Dr. John Watson: You do seem…
Sherlock Holmes: Excited?
Dr. John Watson: Manic.
Sherlock Holmes: I am.
Dr. John Watson: Verging on…
Sherlock Holmes: Ecstatic?
Dr. John Watson: Psychotic.
– Game of Shadows
I never miss a chance to quote Sherlock, in any form.
Sure, some complaints have been made by fans about the show, but I think it’s spectacular. There are not many shows that can, in the course of 6 episodes, give you such an emotional connection to the characters. Though I suppose that has more to do with the intense connection to the stories and characters that I already had.
More than being just pop culture, the stories can teach lessons. Whether that was what Conan Doyle meant for them to do or not.
A man’s intelligence and creativity can make him famous, make him beloved by people, but, as we saw in Sherlock it can turn on you as well.
People can change. They can grow. As DI Lestrade says in the first episode of Sherlock: Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day—if we’re very very lucky—he might even be a good one.
That sometimes we need to be Sherlock.
Rational – “Will caring about them help save them?”
Pessimistic – “Don’t make people into heroes, John. Heroes don’t exist, and if they did, I wouldn’t be one of them.”
Doing what needs to be done, regardless of consequences. – “Yes, but I’m not my brother, remember? I am you. Prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you.”
And sometimes we need to be John Watson.
Faithful – “You told me once that you weren’t a hero. There were times that I didn’t even think you were human, but let me tell you this: you were the best man and the most human…human being that I’ve ever known, and no one will ever convince me that you told me a lie.”
Caring – “There are lives at stake, Sherlock! Actual human live— Just, just so I know, do you care about that at all?”
Willing to do anything to protect a friend – “Yeah. Well, apparently it’s against the law to chin the Chief Superintendent.” & “A kill shot like that over that distance from that sort of weapon, you’re looking for a crack shot but not just a marksman, his hands musn’t have shaken at all so clearly he’s acclimatised to violence. He didn’t fire until I was in immediate danger so obviously has a strong moral principle. You’re looking for someone probably with a history of military service and nerves of steel…”
Sometimes heroes don’t wear shining armor or spend all their time fighting injustice, for the sake of good. Sometimes they are selfish, brooding, and bored.
And somehow that makes the idea of the hero less difficult to live up to in our own lives.
And sometimes we just need to believe in something, not because it’s real, not because it’s a higher power out to help us, but just because believing in something gives us the strength and purpose we need to keep moving.
“I was so alone. And I owe you so much.”