Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sherlock and Batman

Scott D. Parker

Comparison can be a terrible thing, you know?

CBS's "Elementary," the modern Sherlock Holmes show for American audiences, still doesn't get a lot of love. Yes, it seems to win its timeslot (don't know; haven't checked, but I watch it every week) and that will ensure its existence. But it seems to suffer by comparison with the other Sherlock Holmes versions out there, especially the modern ones.

Why? Why this particular series and this particular character when other characters don't get that heavy scrutiny?

I love Batman. Back in 1989 when the first Michael Keaton film was released, it was awesome. I had turned my back on the 1960s TV show. That wasn't a true Batman. Then, the 1990s movies pretty much proved the point. Later, with the Christian Bale version and its uber realism, the Keaton films look campy by comparison.

There's room for both interpretations, to be honest. In recent years, as the phrase "The Dark Knight" has stood in for the darker, realism of the Bale Batman, Adam West has started referring to his Batman as "the Bright Knight." His was fun. Keaton's was a direct transplant from the then comics. Bale's was "real." Even Kilmer and Clooney had parts that were, um, "memorable."

The same is true for Sherlock Holmes. The BBC Sherlock is the one for Holmsian geeks. It's a direct retelling of the classic stories as if they were being told in our century. It's an update rather than a different twist. The BBC stayed more in the spirit of the canon than has Elementary. The BBC asks the question "What if Sherlock Holmes's stories took place in the 21st Century?" Elementary asks a different question: What if Sherlock Holmes existed in 21st Century New York? See the distinction? "Took place" vs. "Existed." That's how I see the different versions.

And it makes all the difference for me. I can geek-out with the BBC and catch all the Easter eggs thrown our way, but I can also watch Elementary and be just as entertained and see their own Easter eggs. Bees anyone?

Batman always gets reinvented every generation or so. Just last year, with the Court of Owls story arc, the writer, Scott Snyder, brought something completely fresh and heretofore unknown to the 70-year-plus franchise. Elementary is doing the same thing. So is Downey. So is the BBC.

Sherlock Holmes is an even older franchise and I, for one, am glad to be living in an era where we have two TV versions and a movie version. And I'm looking forward to see what kind of episode CBS puts on after the Super Bowl. I'd love to see Elementary gain some more viewers and ensure its longevity.

Book Signing Event:

For anyone in Houston today, our very own Joelle is going to be at Murder by the Book this afternoon with Dean "Miranda" James. Come on by and say hello to two DSDers.

No comments: