In the past year, several Sherlocks have arrived on the scene, most notably Robert Downey Jr.’s action hero and the BBC’s sociopathic sleuth, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who recently made his way to the US via PBS. If the current flavor isn’t to one’s taste, other varieties are readily available. Sherlocks have trod the boards in London, entertained crowds at fringe festivals, and taken on a dinosaur on “mockbuster” Asylum’s DVD.
Although fascination with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant creation seems to be more fashionable than ever, the way Sherlock is portrayed says as much about today’s audiences as about this timeless character. In an age when opinion, rather than objective analysis of fact, seems to permeate everything online or onscreen, from supposedly hardcore journalism to reality-based entertainment, a character who dispassionately analyzes evidence and deduces logical conclusions is a welcome change. The latest incarnation, called Sherlock, certainly provides a way of looking at the world far differently than through the emotional filters and ratings-grabbing sensationalism bombarding viewers 24/7. This Sherlock is more single-mindedly focused than the most dedicated member of CSI, and deftly solves the requisite mystery, but Sherlock, more than the typical whodunit, gives viewers more to figure out.