Category Archives: Sherlock Holmes

A collection of essays detailing my opinions and thoughts on Sherlock Holmes.

My 5 Favorite Sherlocks (That You Haven’t Heard Of)

Yesterday, I posted my top five favorite portrayals of Sherlock Holmes that you’ve probably heard of. Today I show my five favorite Sherlock Holmes portrayals you’ve probably didn’t know about.

Igor Petrenko

Star of the recent Russian series of “Sherlock Holmes,” Petrenko portrays a farsighted, neurotic Holmes. It’s not canonical, but it is compelling. sddefault

Clive Merrison

A radio actor who portrayed Holmes on BBC Radio 4 for over twenty years. He is the only actor to have portrayed Holmes for every single canonical story. merrison

Barrie Ingham

Barrie Ingham was the voice for Basil of Baker Street, known better to many people as The Great Mouse Detective. Basil_nice.sized

Tom Baker

When I was young, I managed to catch a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles featuring Tom Baker as Holmes. I haven’t been able to find a copy since, but that once-glimpsed portrayal has stayed with me for decades. 08

Peter Cushing

Another “famous actor you didn’t realize played Sherlock Holmes” was Peter Cushing, who played the detective on BBC television in the 60s. 4039-8873

BONUS HOLMES: Jason Gray-Stanford

He was the voice actor for Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. FUCK YOU DON’T JUDGE ME. Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century_holmes

My 5 Favorite Sherlocks (That You’ve Heard Of)

Let me start off by saying this: this list is so terrible I went out of my way to start fights on the Internet about it. Seriously, I went online and ranted about it specifically because I wanted to get into fights about how bad it was. Naturally, most people agreed with me, and I got a number of people asking for my own top five list.

However, the problem is that everyone has their own Sherlock Holmes, in much the same way that everyone has their own Doctor Who. It’s really hard to pick my personal top five, and it’s certainly hard to rank them. So I’ve decided to cheat in two ways: I’ll give you two top five lists, and I won’t rank them. Today’s list are the top five Sherlock Holmes portrayals you’ve probably heard of.

Basil Rathbone

Probably the most iconic Holmes, and certainly the one that many people who have never heard of Holmes think of (even if they don’t know his name).


Jeremy Brett

The most faithful Holmes, and one of my personal favorites. He lived the part in so many ways that he really was Sherlock Holmes.


Robert Downey, Jr.

I know a lot of people don’t like his portrayal, he led the way to the modern resurgence of Holmes love, and his portrayal is more faithful than people give him credit for.


Jonny Lee Miller

Surprisingly no one who reads my blog, I’m quite taken with Miller’s portrayal of a modern Holmes. He’s not beloved by everyone (like RDJ), but Elementary is certainly shaping our perception of Holmes.


Benedict Cumberbatch

You can’t leave this man off the list. He simply is Sherlock Holmes to many people, in much the same way that Jeremy Brett and Basil Rathbone were.


Tomorrow: five of my favorite Sherlock Holmes portrayals you probably haven’t heard of.

Peer Review: “Close to Holmes” by Alistair Duncan

As usual, full disclosure: Alister Duncan is one of my peers at MX Publishing, and I got a copy of this (via iBooks) for free for review.

Usually when I do cardio for my workout, I watch videos on my iPad Mini. Last week, I forgot to side-load my episodes of Elementary, and the wi-fi in the gym was terrible, so I decided to try and read. Looking through my queue, I noticed I never got to reading Close to Holmes. Curious, I opened it up. I ended up reading through my workout, on the ride home, and well into the night.

Unlike some previous books I’ve reviewed, this isn’t a pastiche. Rather, it’s a nonfiction book. A tour guide, really — it goes around London circa 2008 and relates various streets, buildings and areas of the city to their relevance to the canon. Its comprehensive, entertaining, and full of great drawings, images, and modern photos of the areas in question. It goes deep into some corners of the canon, and even ties in some outside Sherlockian scholarship to key points (such as the probable location of certain buildings that Conan Doyle obfuscated in his writing).

If you’d like to learn more about London, it’s a great book. If you’d like to put images to the names in the canon, it’s a great book. If you’d like to dig into location-specific Sherlockian theories, it’s a great book. Luckily, I happened to be someone who was interested in all three.

Close to Holmes is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including Amazon USA,  Barnes and Noble,  Amazon UK,  Waterstones UK,  Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), Amazon Kindle,  Kobo,  Nook  and iBooks for the iPad/iPhone.

Elementary 216/217: “The One Percent Solution” and “Ears To You”

Episode 216: The One Percent Solution

Lestrade: These two episodes are fortuitously grouped together, as they both showcase G. Lestrade.  I talked a fair amount about Lestrade back at the beginning of the season, but there’s more to go into here. (I’ll cluster my comments together for ease.)

His tenacity (such as his stubbornness in tracking down John Bowden and Shawn Menck) is canonical. He’s called a “bulldog” in Hound of the Baskervilles, and “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” showcases both this quality and his foolishness (also showcased in this episode):

“When he arrives he will be met by the obtuse but resolute Lestrade, and I have no doubt that we shall have all our details filled in.”

Interestingly, it is also “The Cardboard Box” in which we first learned that Lestrade’s first name starts with “G.”

But Lestrade does have a strong sense of justice, as we see in both episodes. No matter his failings from Holmes’ perspective, he is always “the best of a bad lot,” and there is a reason why Holmes continues to work with the detective.

Seven-per-cent solution: The title “One Percent Solution” is a play on a famous quote from The Sign of the Four:

“It is cocaine,” he said, “a seven-per-cent solution. Would you care to try it?”

“Seven Percent Solution” is also the title of one of the most influential pastiches of modern times, written by Nicholas Meyer in 1974 and made into a movie in 1976.

Episode 217: Ears to You

Severed ears: Speaking of “The Cardboard Box,” the setup for this episode is very similar to that story — two human ears are mailed to someone, packed in salt. In the original story, the ears were not matched, however.

Alphonse Bertillon: The French biometrics researcher was not only extremely influential to Victorian criminology, but he was referenced twice in the original canon. The first time was in The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which Holmes is considered the “second highest expert in Europe” after Bertillon. In “The Naval Treaty,” Holmes “…expressed his enthusiastic admiration of the French savant”.

Off-Topic: 221b Con!

As a digression, I want to remind readers that I’ll be at 221b Con next weekend! I’m on five panels, and I’ll have copies of Watson is Not an Idiot for sale at the MX Publishing table. That’s a lot of hotlinks, but it’s just because I’m very excited. Last year was a wonderful show, and I’m looking forward to going again! If you go, say hello and mention that you’re a reader of the blog.

My Panels at 221b Con

I just received word of what panels I’ll be speaking on at 221b Con next month. Here’s the blurb for each as well:

Canon 101 – Unsure where to start? Want to know the jokes behind the Speckled Blond and the Geek Interpreter? Here’s the panel to ask questions without judgement.

The Napoleon of Crime – Why do we love Professor Moriarty? Was he even real? Or was he just a figment of Sherlock Holmes’ imagination?

“One Fixed Point in a Changing Age:” Sherlockians in the Digital Era – What does it mean to be a fan in today’s world?

Watsons Through Time – A look at the many different actors to portray Watson.

Women in Sherlock – From Sally to Mary, Irene to Mrs. Hudson, a look at the women who make up the Sherlock universe.

I’ll also be at the MX Publishing table, selling copies of Watson is Not an Idiot. Stop by and say hello!

Elementary 214/215: “Dead Clade Walking” and “Corpse de Ballet”

This is unfortunately a short post, and these two episodes are, in a lot of ways, two of the weaker ones of this season. The only canon nod I could find was in “Corpse de Ballet,” where Holmes makes a reference to his monograph on tobacco and the value of identifying it (which Watson actually uses).

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about a compare and contrast between Sherlock and Elementary (as well as some thoughts on the new Russian series), but this article at touches on a lot of what I’m thinking right now, and touches on some gender politics I hadn’t considered.

Elementary 212/213: “The Diabolical Kind” and “All In The Family”

Sorry for the delay on these — things have been crazy in my life, but when I had an unexpected snow day at work, I was able to catch up on my Elementary watching. Sadly, there aren’t many canon references in the past two episodes, but there are a few to point out.

Episode 212: The Diabolical Kind

Moriarty: Naturally, the biggest canon reference is to Moriarty herself. I’ve already touched on her previously, but I’m in love with this character.

Clay: In passing, one of the men in the gang is called “Clay.” This could be a reference to “John Clay,” the villain of the story “The Red-Headed League.” Holmes himself called John Clay “the fourth smartest man in London,” and many pastiches consider Clay part of Moriarty’s network. So while this is very likely an explicit canon nod, it’s also a pastiche nod.

Episode 213: All In The Family

Mafia: Believe it or not, the Mafia does make an appearance in the original canon. Sort of. The story “The Red Circle” references a few Italian organizations of the time, and the Red Circle itself is a renaming of the Black Hand (confirmed by a copy of Doyle’s original manuscript, where “Black Hand” is crossed out and “Red Circle” written in its place). At the time, the “Black Hand” was (incorrectly) used to describe both the Mafia and the Camorra, another contemporary criminal organization based around Naples. So, a roundabout reference to the Mafia, but one nonetheless.