CBS Poised to Ruin Sherlock Holmes

In a bit of distressing news, Deadline Hollywood reported yesterday that CBS is planning their own version of a 21st century Sherlock Holmes. Current BBC Sherlock show runner and co-creator Steven Moffat wasted no time weighing in via his Twitter account saying:

Dear CBS. A modern day Sherlock Holmes? Where, oh where, did you get THAT idea? We’ll be watching!

I couldn’t be happier The Grand Moff added this bit of snark to the discussion insofar as the idea of an American CBS run modern day Sherlock sounds like a terrible idea.

For one thing, American TV already has a few modern day Sherlocks. House. Psyche. Monk. Etc. Further, there’s an American actor playing Sherlock Holmes on the big screen in the form of Robert Downey Jr. This is already overkill. Just because the character is in the public domain doesn’t mean he’s like Flat Stanley or something and you can just shove him in anything you feel like. Part of the misconceptions of Sherlock Holmes derive from him being misappropriated into the wrong time periods and being permanently stapled to a deerstalker cap, pipe, and cat. The BBC Sherlock undid some of this cultural damage, but it is still just a very good alternate universe speculation as to what the character would be like in the 21st century, and not a replacement or representation of the original stories. But it’s brilliantly done because there’s an element of restraint and the writers are huge fans of the canon. It pays tribute without the clean-slate arogance that usual accompanies a reboot or a reimagining. Sherlock is both of those things, but it avoids falling into the usual traps because it is an homage and adapation at the same time. This is a fine line to walk, and I’m not sure many can pull it off.

What could an American version of a contemporary Holmes possibly give us that Sherlock hasn’t done already? Or for that matter, that House, Psych, and Monk haven’t already accomplished? The answer is likely nothing. I know Holmes himself would be irritated that I’m speculating without data, but I think the precedent set by network television in America is all I really need here. Here’s a prediction for worst-case scenario of an American, uber-hip, modern-day Holmes.

  • The show will be called 221B or Baker Street
  • It will star some pretty boy like the guy from White Collar
  • Holmes will be super, super violent and beat the crap out of people all the time
  • Blake Lively will be involved. Probably as Watson. Or Mrs. Hudson, who is now a stripper and mother of three.
  • In a tribute to the canon, Holmes will do loads of cocaine, but now at raves.
  • Holmes will be unnecessarily, super, duper straight to the point of seeming like Bond.
  • He will be Fake-TV-Geeky and talk about Batman comics constantly.
  • The observations he makes will involve way too much smelling and not very much deduction. Like “oh the killer is wearing Glow, the Fragrance from J-Lo! Now we can find them!”
  • There will be a currently hip pop song used as the theme song.

I suppose there’s a possibility this could be more of a good thing, but I don’t think Sherlock Holmes fans need the headache of a crummy adaption that seems to only exist in order to let a big network capitalize on a recent trend.


Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com

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