There’s a shift in the characterization of modern adaptations of Sherlock Holmes that goes beyond the intensification and acceleration of contemporary storytelling. Conan Doyle’s Holmes is, despite his flaws, still admirable. Holmes is a flawed hero. Modern portrayals of Sherlock seem to lean into his flaws so strongly that there is almost nothing to admire except his brilliance. Why have our modern adaptations of Holmes become so critical? It may be, that as the most adapted literary hero in TV and film, modern storytellers have to offer a fresh spin, and the most natural spin is the rotation of water in the drain. In this regard, the darker takes on Holmes’s character have as much to do with belatedness as belittling. Something about Holmes’s quirks suggest that he’s circling self-destruction. In this sense, the later adaptations are merely picking up on features already embedded in Conan Doyle’s originals.
This is a conversation with JOURNAL contributing writer Phil Tallon about his article “The Fall of Sherlock: Investigating the Victorian Detective in a Modern Age”
***Note: The article and podcast discusses plot points of various Sherlock Holmes stories in book, television and movie formats which may be considered spoilers.***
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