I saw a recent pole, on another blog, asking; “Is the world of Sherlock Holmes getting to saturated with all the new movies and TV shows?”
Well, actually, yes. . . and no.
It is true that it has been many years, if ever, since the world Sherlock Holmes has had the wealth of material that is available now to draw upon. With new books, e-publishing, movies and TV shows, it doesn’t take much to find a source to feed anyone’s passion for Holmes.
There are many more games involving the great detective. Pastiche and short stories and novels abound to suit whatever form one seeks.
Is it all good? No, probably not. But it does keep the game alive and interesting.
There is often debate surrounding most of the works out there right now. Seemingly most of the debate surrounds the three visual presentations that are for the most part responsible for Holmes’ popularity at the moment; The RDJ movies, ‘Sherlock’ the English TV presentation, and our own ‘Elementary’, which seems to take most of the flack of these three.
Spawned from the popularity these shows and films have produced, are hundreds books and pastiches dealing with the great detective. Some try, whether succeeding or not, to remain faithful to the original, while others go off in any number of directions, from Steampumk, occult and any number of other genre’s you can chose from.
Some of it is scholarly and some, well, not so.
This popularity has even created a debate about whether one is a devotee or fan of Sherlock Holmes. And I think a very strong argument can be made for the need of these two distinctions.
Lines will be drawn in the sand about which side of the line we fall on, while in truth it should not be an offense to be in either camp.
But that is not want I want to discuss here today, but it is relevant.
Let us assume, not rightly or wrongly, but just for the sake of argument, that a Sherlockian (Holmesian) is someone who came by Sherlock Holmes by way, for the most part, of reading the original Canon. Either picking up the books in the beginning or seeking the books after seeing an earlier movie or, let’s say, the Brett series. But, however, the original stories are now the foundation for his or her Canonical love. When all else pales in comparison, a Sherlockian will always seek comfort in the original 60 stories.
The Canon is the source for all debate and reference about anything else that follows, whether in book form or on film. Stray too far from the Canon, whether we find it fun or not, the Sherlockian will be, at least somewhat, disappointed. It doesn’t mean we won’t still ‘Play the Game’, but the works will hardly seem real relevant.
Now, again for the sake of argument, let’s say a fan is someone who has come into the world of Sherlock Holmes by way of the TV show ‘Sherlock’ (I am going to leave the RDJ movies out of the argument because at the moment RDJ draws from a much larger pool because of his popularity in other movies) and that is the source of most of their knowledge of Sherlock Holmes. These are the ‘Cumberbabes’ and others who find the lead actor the biggest reason for liking the show. (I don’t have a problem with that and feel he is a great Sherlock Holmes, or at least could be). It would argue that the appeal of this show has almost become, to many, cult like, a distinction most Sherlockians would never want attached to their names. Roll playing if you will.
The appeal of the show has also made for some incredible merchandising. Everything from IPhone covers to the tea sets used in the shows. ‘I am Sherlocked’.
The show has also encouraged some worthwhile debate, and some not so worthwhile debate about the mental state and sexual leanings of Sherlock Holmes.
.And all this is wonderful, and great, for the Sherlockian and the fan.
Where the problem is (and this is just for the sake of argument, because, really, there is no problem) is wading through all the stuff that is out there and taking away, without breaking the bank account, all that is valuable to your chosen devotion to Holmes.
The ‘market’ is just so saturated at the moment, that picking and choosing has become a very time consuming adventure.
A lot this can be blamed, and I am not sure blamed is the right word, on the easy of e-publishing and the advent of blogging and web pages.
I remember when I started my Holmesian pursuits it could be months or longer between new material to add to my collection. There were certain books you had to hunt down, and new material came out rather sporadically.
Now new material, in the form of e-publishing, comes out almost daily and one must choose ones source carefully.
And here is where the ‘Yes’ comes in, in our original question.
Right now the world of Sherlock Holmes, I believe, is too saturated for the Sherlockian. The Sherlockian who is wanting to keep up with what is relevant to his or her world of Sherlock Holmes, without having the wade through a lot of chaff to achieve that goal.
I think with so much out there right now, some really bad stuff is getting too much attention, while some really good stuff may be being missed.
Such is the game I guess.
But here is also where the ‘No’ comes in, in our original question.
For the fan, the ones seeking anything new on Sherlock Holmes the world is not too saturated yet. They can’t get enough at the moment, especially if it is something that puts Sherlock Holmes in a different light from the original stuff. Their Holmes can be a sociopath, or Bi or Gay, and their Moriarty can be way out there in left field. And that’s OK.
They are the ones, at least for the time being, that are keeping Holmes in the public eye at the moment.
If we really think about it, it is only to much, or ‘Yes’, for those of us (and I put myself into that category) who like our Sherlock the way we have him pictured in our minds and don’t want to ‘defend’ or argue that anymore except to those we deem of like mind, Sherlockians.
It is ‘No’ for those who can’t get enough, in whatever incarnation, of Sherlock Holmes and prefer him less ‘Victorian’ than us ‘Sherlockians’.
The true answer to the question will only come in a few years, when RDJ no longer makes another Holmes movie, and ‘Sherlock’ has run out of steam because Mr. Cumberbatch has too many movie projects going on, and ‘Elementary’ no longer pulls in the ratings, when we see a mass exodus to the next popular icon.
The true test will be measured when the we see how many ‘fans’ keep ‘playing the game’ when ‘Sherlock’ is only in reruns.
If they then maintain a love of Sherlock Holmes, in whatever form they wish to pursue him, I think then we can call them ‘Sherlockians’.
At the moment it seems the ones who deem themselves ‘Sherlockians’ are almost putting the ones they deem ‘fans’ into the camp where we put ‘Dr Who’ fans.
I think there are several interesting things to observe over the next several years will be.
One, has the number of societies, scion or not, increased. And if so, once the current popularity dwindles, will those societies survive
Has the membership in existing societies increased or does the modern Sherlock Holmes fan not need the society structure that was once the cornerstone of the Sherlockian world. (I think this is something that can be discussed for many organizations now-a-days.)
And lastly, are the older societies open minded enough, at the moment, to welcome ‘fans’ into their world, hoping eventually to create another ‘Sherlockian’.
I know I have Sherlock Holmes in a place I am comfortable with. But I also know I don’t mind exploring with him in other possibilities, that I am also comfortable with. I have my lines I don’t like him to cross, and I won’t go there with you with him.
But I consider myself pretty open minded . . . . some what.
But that is only my opinion. And I look forward to yours.