The Case of the Adaptation

This blog isn't in your face, its in my hand. Its Wednesday, August 17, 2011, the game is again afoot, and this is The Side. Quick announcement: my weekly comic book reviews will be out on Sunday as opposed to Friday for the foreseeable future. Due to some personal scheduling changes I won't be able to pick up my comics until Thursday at the earliest and that's not much time to get the reviews done by Friday morning.

Well, its plenty of time, but anyone who has actually met me will attest to the fact that I need as much beauty sleep as possible.


If you head into Barnes & Nobles and go into the Mystery section you may be lucky enough to find "The Complete Sherlock Holmes". Its two volumes at about eight bucks each, so for sixteen dollars you get it all including bunches of footnotes. I'm working my way diligently through volume one still. I did look into the back of the book for some of the notes and came across four questions. They were very much like the questions I would see in my literature text books in high school, but required a bit more thought.

One of these questions in particular caught my attention: "Do you think it is possible to tell an updated version of these stories considering today's technology?" Well, i think we have the answer to that...

If you haven't seen it yet, you can stream all three episodes, each about an hour and a half long, on Netflix. Its brilliant stuff.

And of course there's the big screen version which seems to franchising its way up.

I do have to say that I think they are dropping the Moriarty card a bit too soon. Then again, there's no way that he's going to be as brilliant as Andrew Scott's take on the character in the previously mentioned BBC series. There's a clip on YouTube featuring him, but its such a big spoiler that I torn between posting because its awesome and not wanting to ruin the ending of "The Great Game" because it was an incredible piece of work. As such, I'm going to err on the side of non-spoilery.

When I requested people name three literary characters I got a wide variety of answer, and Sherlock Holmes was in the top three. I do believe that this character will indeed stand the test of time and continue to be an inspiration and influence. One thing I do find fascinating is that the character works even if modernized. He's not like Batman who has been published regularly for decades. He had his stories. Then he had more stories. Then movies came along and he had movies. Then television came along and he had shows and cartoons. I've seen him in his natural 19th century setting. I've seen him in a cartoon in the far future in which Watson was a robot. I've seen him in the present.

He works because he's a person. For all his flaws and quirks, he is a brilliant and capable who strives to see justice done. And he's not an ideal person. He has a drug problem. He's obsessive. He's not terribly sensitive. Yes, I'm still talking about Sherlock Holmes and not Greg House. As you can see from that last line, what Holmes is and what makes him tick still resonates with audiences today.

I do find it interesting, especially since I heard the recent flap about the impending WORLD WAR Z movie, is that no one really gripes that the original books aren't being followed closely. After all, the Robert Downey Jr movie wasn't "A Study in Scarlet". Maybe some people passionate about Holmes realize something that's important when considering any adaption: its an adaption. Its not going to be the same. You can stray, but as long as you stay true to the characters and the intent of the story, then things can still turn out alright.

I do think there's a direct relationship to the amount of content from the original source and the willingness of readers to go along with adaptations. In the case on smaller projects like novels or short series of comic books (ex: WATCHMEN) any variation from the source material is frowned upon. Subjects with more content to draw from (ex: BATMAN, SPIDER-MAN, SHERLOCK HOLMES) tend to get a little more leeway from fans.

So don't be a hater. At least until you see the movie or TV show or whatever. Then if it sucks, go ahead and hate all you want.


From "When I was Cruel".

Alrighty, I'll see y'all back here Friday. Be prepared for foul language.

1 comment:

Linda Butler said...

Thank goodness I'd already seen Sherlock or I would have disemboweled you for the Mortiarty spoiler.