If there is one person I fantasize being, it is the chain-smoking and cocaine-loving bohemian sociopath, Sherlock Holmes. I was first introduced to this god-man by Dr John Watson, a medical practitioner who sometimes go by the name of a beknighted Arthur Conan Doyle. That was more than twenty years ago, and my precociously prepubescent mind just got baited.
Six books short of its protestant biblical counterpart, the Doylesian canon was my scripture and Holmes my saviour-god. Not unlike his more famous counterpart, this victorian bloke is also a mythic individual, birthed in fiction and made a god by his admirers. While he is godlike in his ratiocination, he can be less than a primate in his disdain for intimate friendship, sentimentality and socially normative behaviour. He is also one arrogant son-of-a-gun.
Just like Yesu Christus.
It is no wonder I felt so aroused by English actor Hugh Laurie’s portrayal of the irascible Dr Gregory House, a Sherlockian figure who combats disease with a dispassion that is at once refreshing and cognitively poignant. His epistemology can be somewhat Dawkinsian, which I suppose is a more honest position than the Gouldish alternative.
As such, if there is anyone who could incarnate himself as Sherlock Holmes, it would be Hugh Laurie. He not only looks the part with his aquiline countenance and nerdy gangly figure, he speaks a Sherlockian accent that can only come from an Etonian and Cambridge education.
If first impressions are anything to go by, my rubbishing Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is forgivably expected. He seems too young, too clean, too…too postmodern. Besides, boy do I hate that mammalian mop on his head.
But last night’s virgin episode of BBC’s Sherlock on Mediacorp Channel Five was amazing grace. I was lost but now am found, blind but now I see.
A Study in Pink is a brilliant showpiece of how this bulwark of rationality and critical thought can be reincarnated into 21st century London. I have yet to witness any demonstration of the classical hitchslap, Gregory House-style, from Cumberbatch’s character, but I realise that while House‘s home audience is religiously american, Sherlock’s is as atheist as any CoE mouse.
It is also a good thing that Mediacorp did not scissor away any of the conversational allusions to homosexual relationships and their moral right to exist in society. Think of the scene whereby the landlady of 221B Baker Street ask Dr Watson if he wants a separate bedroom from Holmes’. Or the chuckle the owner of an eatery has with Holmes’ “date”, Dr Watson.
It is a pity that Season One has only three 90-minute episodes. So does Season Two. Why does BBC produce their TV series so skimpy (Primeval too has very minimal number of episodes per season), their soap operas not counting.