Remotely interesting: Holmes: changing a classic

Sherlock Holmes was a dab hand at deduction. He observed, he deduced, then he solved.

Despite being fictional, he would have observed, for instance, that fellows with tattoos were invariably from the criminal classes.

Truman Capote knew that little truism.

''I have seldom met a murderer who wasn't tattooed,'' Capote said.

''I know from experience that there's always something terribly flawed about people who are tattooed.

''Most people who are tattooed, it's the sign of some feeling of inferiority, they're trying to establish some macho identification for themselves.''

Sherlock Holmes was eccentric, certainly. He kept his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into his mantelpiece.

But know this: Sherlock Holmes would not have had tattoos all over his back and arms.

Sherlock Holmes would not have identified himself with the criminal classes. He would not have had a feeling of inferiority. He would not have needed to establish some macho identification for himself.

So why does Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) have tattoos in Elementary, the updated version of A. Conan Doyle's classic, coming soon to Prime?

Let's move on to Dr John H. Watson.

Everyone knows Dr Watson received his medical degree from the University of London in 1878, and trained at Netley as a surgeon in the British Army.

Everyone knows he joined the British forces in India, saw service in the second Anglo-Afghan War, and was wounded at the Battle of Maiwand.

Everybody knows he is not now, and has never been Lucy Liu!

So why is Dr Watson Lucy Liu in Elementary, the updated version of A. Conan Doyle's classic, coming soon to Prime?

What next? Starsky and Holmes? CSI Baker Street?

In Elementary, Joan Watson is assigned as a ''sober companion'' for Holmes, who has just come out of rehab.

He has moved from his former life as a consultant at Scotland Yard to New York, where police allow him to tramp across crime scenes, act all hyperactive, and help them solve crimes.

I don't know. Young people might like it.

I prefer to remember Holmes like this: ''Holmes lay with his gaunt figure stretched in his deep chair, his pipe curling forth slow wreaths of acrid tobacco, while his eyelids drooped over his eyes so lazily that he might almost have been asleep were it not that at any halt or questionable passage of my narrative they half lifted, and two grey eyes, as bright and keen as rapiers, transfixed me with their searching glance.''

And that was the narrative of John Watson. Not Joan.


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