Every so often, when a remake or new edition of a classic character comes out the makers of the new version spend
money on creating something about the history of the character. It’s totally designed to really be a very long ad for the new project, but in the right hands some great pop cultural knowledge gets saved too. Two great examples of that were books, Maverick: Legend of the West by Ed Robertson (a new revised version came out in 2012) and Kung Fu Book of Caine by Herbie J. Pilato. I’ll have to add to that great example list the documentary Unlocking Sherlock.
Of course a lot of it is about the series Sherlock and the ideas and rationals behind it, but Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss are clearly Holmesians of the first order and really know the original Doyle stories and the broader Holmesian fandom. That fandom is huge, even before this latest group of shows hit (including not only Sherlock, but Elementary and the Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr.). Moffat and Gatiss talk about how Holmes popularity from the beginnings of movies allows you to trace the development of film through the various adaptions of Holmes alone. They point out the origins of later additions like the deerstalker hat and the calabash pipe. They discuss Watson’s roles and how the movies changed his depiction over time. They even point out their favorite moments in other Holmes films, why they loved them, and how they incorporated them into their own work. This documentary gets full marks from me. While there were some things not included I would have liked to see them address, I have a feeling the thing could have been the length of The Civil War or Eyes on the Prize if they hadn’t kept it in check and cut something. So I urge you to watch the documentary, watch Sherlock the series, and read the original books and maybe someday we can visit the museum that’s not quite at 221B Baker Street.
Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.