Q: What do you think of the latest versions of Sherlock Holmes, the 21st-century Sherlock Holmes on BBC/PBS portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch and the Robert Downey Jr. movies?
A: Holmes is a perennially fascinating character — you can play him all sorts of ways. The Robert Downey version is a cartoon, but Benedict Cumberbatch is wonderful — it’s the portrait of a friendship (between Holmes and Dr. John Watson, played by Martin Freeman) that comes through, that’s important. A lot of guys would find his life with Watson a kind of boyhood dream, a clubhouse with Mrs. Hudson cleaning up the mess. Holmes lives precisely the life he has chosen. Most of us have to trim our sails a bit, make adjustments for family and career. Holmes goes his own way, he lives by his wits.
He (Cumberbatch) also has that wonderful theatricality. It comes down to magic — it’s sheer genius. Holmes touches all the right buttons for people.
Michael Dirda, writer of “On Conan Doyle”, in today’s issue of The Seattle Times