The video above is not how we would traditionally view the epitome of intelligence in the London crime scene since 1887, Sherlock Holmes. This is a fan made video with nearly 60 000 views and there are hundreds more scattering the internet. You only need to search as far as fanfiction.net to see just how much audiences love Sherlock Holmes. You might think… ‘why does the fan base matter?’ Well according to Laurie Penny, ‘the significance of fan fiction is that it often spins the kind of stories that showrunners wouldn’t think to tell, because fanficcers often come from a different demographic,’ (Penny, 2014). So from this perspective, the fans are just as important as the show itself.
Recently there have been two versions of Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock, the British version and Elementary, the American version. The fan fiction revolves around the British version, Sherlock. But why does Sherlock have so many die-hard fans where Elementary does not? BBC writer Toby Finlay says ‘Sherlock Holmes is the closest thing we have to an authentic home-grown superhero’ and therefore fans, especially British fans feel a sense of pride towards the character of Sherlock. ‘He represents an idealised image of Victorian manhood, someone bound by a code of honour; a chivalrous, loyal adventurer – the intellectual knight errant, (Riddell, 2014). Sherlock Holmes has always been English, even Elementary (whilst set in New York) features a British Sherlock Holmes, and fans will never be able to remove that vital aspect of him from the character. The immense amount of fan fiction is proof that people strongly feel for the story and characters, therefore the incorporation of fan voices into the show epitomises the beautiful relationship Britain have with Sherlock Holmes. ‘The Americans have Superman, Batman, the canon of comic book folklore. Our legendary British hero is Sherlock Holmes’ (Riddell, 2014).
Elementary on the other hand is set in modern day Manhattan and has turned the traditional aspects of Sherlock upside down. With Watson being a woman (Lucy Liu) and featuring a muscular ‘bad ass’ Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) who sticks to American detective narratives as the ‘hard-boiled hero’ (BCM111 lecure, 2014). Elementary contains much more sexual desire and drug usage, something American audiences have always wanted. Whilst Elementary features plot twists to the original Sherlock stories, Elementary strongly resembles any other murder mystery show on television (like NCIS). Creator, Stephen Moffat describes Sherlock as ‘a love letter to Britain’ (BCM111 lecture, 2014)
Which one is better? The traditionally British Sherlock or the new aged Elementary? Will tradition prevail or will it make way to new and modern themes? Regardless of your preference the 19th Century hero Sherlock Holmes smoothly crosses cultural borders and is loved (and sometimes hated) by all.
Frew, C 2014, BCM111, ‘Sherlock and Elementary: Representing Englishness in Television Drama’, accessed 17/09/14, University of Wollongong.
Penny, L 2014, New Statesman, ‘Laurie Penny on Sherlock: The adventure of the overzealous fanbase’, accessed 27/09/14, http://Http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/01/sherlock-and-adventure-overzealous-fanbase
Riddell, F 2014, Times Higher Education, ‘Sherlock Holmes: a very British superhero’, accessed 10 October 2014, http://Http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/features/culture/sherlock-holmes-a-very-british-superhero/2010108.article