The Same Old Sherlock - or Is It?

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The same old Sherlock – or is it?

The new BBC TV series which is based on the original novels and short stories about Sherlock Holmes is quite exciting. But is the character Sherlock Holmes really portrayed in the same way or has he been modified in order to adapt to modern times? I think that the modern version of the character is more adapted to a modern audience, in more ways than is required when the setting is a hundred years later. The character obviously needs to change in order to live in our modern society, but more changes has been made than the necessary ones.

The most striking similarity between the two, is that they're both geniuses. It's too much of a trademark attribute for Sherlock Holmes to be altered, and examples of this can be found everywhere in the TV series and the novels. In the series, Sherlock's amazingly fast thought process is often illustrated, and so is his outstanding skills of deduction. From just looking at a man's suit, he can extract a considerable amount of facts about the person's personal life. For example, in the series he takes a quick look at the suit of one of the queen's employees, and can tell that the person in question sleeps on the left side of the bed, that he's an early riser, loves dogs and horses and that he went to a public school. This ability is eloquently put in one of the original novels, ”you see but you do not observe”[1], a quote from Sherlock himself. In the stories it is a tad harder to follow his thought process although there is no doubt about him being a genius considering his delicate plans and his knowledge of seemingly impossible things.

The Sherlock Holmes character in the stories is not a social genius by any means and his lack of empathy shows up from time to time. Still, he is in no way as socially awkward as Sherlock in the TV series. This modern Sherlock has a behavior on the verge of autism. He shows a complete lack of understanding of other people's feelings, as when he by rambling on about what he thinks about a woman ends up really insulting her. While this modern version is more extreme, there are also tiny hints in the TV series that Sherlock actually is a human being, contrary to expectations. Very tiny hints that he actually cares, most probably because we need a hero, and as such you can't really be completely unemotional even though he is allowed to be more of a nutcase today because our acceptance is higher.

Another trademark attribute of the great detective Sherlock Holmes is the smug kind of self-importance that he possesses. The original character has it, and again, the character in the TV series has a more extreme version of it. He seems to think that he is better than everyone which he probably is, but nonetheless he is not very humble. This is clearly shown on different occasions when he treats people in a way that implies that they are not worthy to share his plans, and instead he just tells them what to do.

Both of the characters have the side-kick named Dr. Watson. His intelligence is certainly above average but yet he is nowhere close to the brilliance of his partner which further implicates what a genius Sherlock really is. He is probably Sherlock's closest and only friend and even though Sherlock seems to be completely unemotional there are a couple of brief instances where his affection for Watson is shown, and it is quite clear that he really cares for his friend and helper. The best example of this is in the final episode of the second season of the series[2] when Holmes makes the decision to fake his own death in order to save Watson and the landlady Mrs. Hudson whom he also knows quite well. By doing this he really shows that under the rock hard surface there actually resides a human being, and by keeping this attribute he makes the main character more appealing and more realistic. Small hints of the same affection are rarely seen in the stories, even though they appear from time to time. Today's audience...
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