By Jaime Weinman - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 0 Comments
Sherlock Holmes used to be a dour Victorian, and now he’s the detective who’s bringing sexy back. Or at least that’s the impression you’d get from the latest television trend: modern-day versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. Robert Downey Jr. was a younger-than-usual Holmes in the 2009 film version, but in recent TV adaptations Holmes is much cooler. People are watching Sherlock, the hit BBC drama starring 36-year-old Benedict Cumberbatch as a contemporary, computer-using Holmes, or they’re tuning in to Global to see Elementary, in which Holmes lives in New York and Watson is a female doctor. “I think the character of Sherlock Holmes is innately attractive,” says Naomi Roper, who runs a fan site for Cumberbatch. He’s even more attractive now that he’s been converted into a contemporary TV hero.
The traditional portrayal of Holmes is as a haughty intellectual with a bumbling sidekick. Aidan Quinn, who plays a key role on Elementary as a policeman who turns to Sherlock for help, says he “just knew Holmes from the Basil Rathbone movies,” in which the character was middle-aged and distant. The new Holmes shows have gone in another direction. Cumberbatch has become an international heartthrob, with fans dubbing themselves “Cumberbitches.” And in Elementary, Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes is an anti-authoritarian rebel, particularly when it comes to wisecracks: Quinn says most of the humour is between Holmes and Watson, with Holmes exposing other characters as square and humourless. Continue…
By Jessica Allen - Friday, October 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM - 0 Comments
Hint: Nobody is actually watching it
Our entertainment writer sheds light on why the ratings of the four big U.S. networks are collapsing. Can the networks fix this? Or do they just need to adjust their business model for the inevitable declines? Have a listen to find out more. (Bonus: Jamie explains why I shouldn’t feel so bad for watching Honey Boo Boo.)
By Brian Bethune - Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 12:20 PM - 1 Comment
The sleuth of baker street returns with the first authorized novel post-Conan Doyle
Since his first appearance in print in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has never fallen out of pop culture’s good books. But sometimes he’s hotter than usual, as he was in the 1970s, with Billy Wilder’s film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and Nicholas Meyer’s novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and as he is now. And just as the Holmes of a generation ago reflected that era’s concept of the iconic detective—a hint of homoeroticism between him and his faithful John Watson in Wilder’s film, drug addiction and Freudian analysis (by Freud himself) in Meyer’s novel—so too does today’s Sherlock suit our times.
In 2009’s Sherlock Holmes, and surely in its sequel, A Game of Shadows (which opens in theatres next month), Robert Downey Jr.’s incarnation of the sleuth of Baker Street defeats his opponents as much with mixed martial arts as with his wits. In the brilliant British TV series Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch’s title character has been literally updated: Holmes, more overtly Aspergian than ever, and Watson (Martin Freeman), as loyal and as damaged by war in Afghanistan as the original, roam 21st-century London. All that was missing from Holmes’s contemporary resurgence was more of the real thing, more Holmes à la Arthur Conan Doyle—an absence Anthony Horowitz has now filled with his sublimely Holmesian novel, The House of Silk.
It’s the first post-Conan Doyle novel to receive the imprimatur of the author’s estate, and for devotees of the canon—as the 56 Holmes short stories and four novels are known—the estate couldn’t have chosen better. Horowitz is a prolific writer for TV (Foyle’s War, Agatha Christie adaptations) and novelist (35 mostly young adult titles) and an impassioned Sherlockian since age 16. He’s crafted a superb, note-perfect Holmes story that races along like a runaway hansom cab, but Horowitz’s smartest work may have come before he wrote a word, in the cunning way he structured The House of Silk.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, October 22, 2010 at 4:20 PM - 0 Comments
A cheeky new series plants Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the 21st century
“Afghanistan or Iraq?” Mere seconds after being introduced to Dr. John Watson, Sherlock Holmes deduces he is an army doctor, injured on the battlefield. He just isn’t sure which one. Watson is dumbfounded when Holmes continues: the injury is now psychosomatic and though he is in financial trouble, Watson can’t turn to his sibling, an alcoholic, because they are estranged. The sleuth is right, of course. He’s rarely wrong.
That’s the start of the charming and luxuriously complex reimagining of what co-creator Steven Moffat (Dr. Who’s showrunner) calls “the biggest hit in fiction”: Arthur Conan Doyle’s mystery stories. In a daring move, Moffat and his creative partner in crime, Mark Gatiss, wrench Holmes from the constricting, archaic world of Victorian London, where he’d become “a dusty relic,” and plant him firmly in the 21st century, all the better to see the “modern, scary, cutting-edge young man” of the early books. Smartphones replace telegrams while an online blog subs for Watson’s journal.
This new Sherlock—which airs commercial-free on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! starting Oct. 24—moves at a speed that rivals Holmes’s frenetic synaptic pace, enhanced by wearing three nicotine patches simultaneously. (“Impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days,” Holmes laments.)
By Colby Cosh - Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 2:39 AM - 38 Comments
I realize nobody has all that much interest in being strictly fair to insurance companies, but I’m sort of horrified by the way the Nathalie Blanchard story is being handled in the press and electronic media. The evidence for the notion that Ms. Blanchard lost her long-term disability benefits “over Facebook photos” appears to amount entirely to “She says she was told that’s what happened.” Now, she could be quite right. Manulife admits it does use Facebook to investigate disability claims, as anyone would expect them to do. Here’s a news flash for particularly naïve children and desert-dwelling stylites: an insurance company following up a suspicion of a false claim uses every kind of evidence it can scrape up. Its hirelings will quiz your neighbours, co-workers, and friends! They will rummage through your garbage! They will engage in photo and video surveillance! They’ll Google you until the cows come home!
In short, this is, like this spring’s “Craigslist killer” news story, a narrative to which the supposed cynosure of attention really has no special relevance. At all. It would be nice if news organizations could get together, run one last banner headline announcing that THE INTERNET EXISTS, and be done with these trumped-up technology angles for all time.
Anyway, since we don’t know what other evidence Manulife’s investigation turned up, and they are bound not to tell us, it seems inappropriate for the headlines and the secondary commentary on the story to take Blanchard’s version as the gospel. Which is exactly what everybody is doing, even though Manulife may have had a dozen other reasons for cancelling the claim.
I’m not suggesting, mind you, that they necessarily do. An insurer makes decisions like this with hypothetical litigation in mind. That’s not necessarily conducive to clear thinking: it’s conducive to thinking like a juror, which may well be the diametrical opposite. It would not be surprising if some excitable junior associate had been shown Blanchard’s Facebook pictures of fun in the sun and thought “Well, well, well. These will be awfully hard to for her to explain to a jury.” You would have to be an idiot to think that such pictures are, in themselves, good evidence that Blanchard is not depressed. And, unfortunately, the world is full of idiots.
The key question for an insurer, however, is not whether Blanchard has depression, but whether she is making bona fide efforts to return to her job. Her duty isn’t to stop being ill, but to do what she can to get as well as she can and start earning her paycheques again. There are plenty of seriously depressed people who still manage to drag their butts out of bed and punch the clock most days. Blanchard’s statements to the CBC leave me wondering a little about her self-understanding, and since thousands of bloggers and editors apparently have no trouble questioning Manulife’s credibility, I feel quite licensed to wonder.
She says, for instance, “that on her doctor’s advice, she tried to have fun, including nights out at her local bar with friends and short getaways to sun destinations, as a way to forget her problems.” I suppose that a physician treating depression would recommend, in a general way, that his patient should try to get exercise, seek pleasant new experiences, maintain strong social networks, etc., etc. On the other hand, I can’t see any doctor having a display of travel brochures on the wall of his office, or publishing a guide to Eastern Townships nightlife. Again, pictures of Blanchard at a bar cannot possibly demonstrate that she is not depressed. But they could show that she was defying a doctor’s advice concerning the safe use of psychiatric medication, or the consumption of alcohol itself, if she were at risk of co-morbidity from substance-abuse problems.
Blanchard also says, by the way, that she “doesn’t understand how Manulife accessed her photos because her Facebook profile is locked and only people she approves can look at what she posts.” I hope that since this interview, someone has taken her aside and gently explained the Sherlockian maxim that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” In this case, the compelling conclusion is that somebody Blanchard trusted snitched on her to the insurer, perhaps in a spasm of dudgeon over her insurance-subsidized lifestyle. It happens. In fact, it was known to happen before there was such a thing as Facebook.