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Friday, July 19, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Today our new Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch, turns 37.

He is a remarkably talented young man. I've seen him in many productions over the year. I've thought he was marvelous though he had not hit the radar deep enough for me to make a connection between the young boy in the "Other Boleyn Girl" and the brusque man in Sherlock. Of course, in those other roles, he was not portraying a character with which I'd had any prior connection. When one signs up to be Holmes, one must be examined.

I've written about the best Holmes, Jeremy Brett and his Watsons David Burke and Edward Hardwicke. So you all know that the Holmes bar is set rather high. And I must reiterate why that is so. With the Granada programs, the aesthetic was taken directly from print. Each person involved in those productions read the original stories. The very words of Conan Doyle determined every detail from the wardrobes, set dressing, script and the mannerisms of each of the actors. Very few productions remain true to the original. Beyond that, a great many productions operate using the producer's impression of what the stories are. I despise that.

Not because I am a purist, or a puritan, as I've said before. But because it is a lack of originality. If you want to build a detective build one, give it a new name. Give it the faith of your own writing to let it stand alone. But no, most of these people create a character, slap a familiar name on it and hope that everything will travel the road to riches. If you are going to do Holmes do him right. Basil Rathbone was Holmes in a Bond disguise. And every other Holmes, until Brett, has been some facile facsimile of the original.

Between the original writing and Brett's example, Benedict has had a great deal to live up to. I am always determined not to like a new Holmes. But I have to say, it didn't take too long to like him. And once I liked his performance it didn't take long to love his Holmes as much as I love Jeremy's. And you know me... once love has set in fealty is not far behind.

It's been mentioned in many places that he feels overwhelmed by the sudden sex symbol status. And I guess a bit perplexed by it all. But what can we say? Geek is chic. And there is not a geek in modern pop culture who has lived as long as Sherlock Holmes. There is a built in fan base and all he has to do is not screw it up.

To ensure that he does not, he read all the stories. So now he is Holmes personified. And that is how he is a sex symbol. He is a living breathing Sherlock Holmes. Of course, as with all actors and their parts, he is more than the sums of those parts. And it is easy to forget that he isn't just his characters. And I think that is why people are so interested in him personally. We are getting savvy as fans. The Geeks have a great example of how awesome a star can be in the Wheaton. And he has taught us that our heroes are in deed human. So we are getting better at being good fans.

We want to know more. Knowing more can make us better fans upon the meeting. No one wants to be mobbed at dinner with requests for autographs and photos. No one wants to be accosted on the street while they are shopping for sundries and the like. So in knowing more we can be better fans. That is naïve on my part I know. Because that is also how crazy stalker people are made. But I do hope that we fans realize how gracious the stars are these days. Despite annoying paparazzi, the stars are more approachable than ever. And that kind of grace requires grace in return.

So for his birthday, I send out the wish and hope that while Benedicts popularity grows he meets only grace and kindness on his journey. And that the Queen Mum gets her act together and gets that man a knighthood!!!!!!!

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