It is a universally accepted fact that BBC Sherlock is THE only Sherlock Holmes adaptation set in the modern day. Except, you know, it isn’t. Now, before either Sherlock or Elementary graced the screens of our TVs, laptops and Tumblrs, there was quite a few modern-day versions of Sherlock. This is something that easily gets tossed aside in favor of squabbling over whether Lucy Liu or Martin Freeman made a better Watson, or whether today’s Sherlock Holmes would be a tall, dark and handsome sociopath with a taste for designer clothes or a grungy, gnarly, sassy hipster with more novelty t-shirts than Redbubble can stock.
We here at 3 Chic Geeks have picked out all the most popular Sherlock adaptations set in the modern day, and created a handy dandy little list for you all to consult while arguing. For obvious reasons, we shall disregard anything that was created before the year 2000 or is not set in the modern day. Also, since similar lists have been put together before, we’re going to make reading it worth your while by including silly doodles instead of actual photos. Sounds good? Okay, let’s take a look…
1. House, MD
“What?? What are you on about, Freak Geek? House is a medical drama! It has nothing to do with Holmes!” is what you are probably asking the screen really loudly right now. Believe it or not, House is one of the first Sherlock Holmes-for-TV adaptations of this century. Instead of a detective investigating crime, House is a belligerent, pill-popping doctor who does not stick with protocol and deduces the most obscure of diagnoses at the drop of a hat. His building number is 221B. Additionally, several beloved Holmes characters (such as Irene Adler and Moriarty) are re-purposed and slightly renamed. Basically, altogether, these little bits make House, MD one of the first modern-day adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. And it’s not lupus. It’s never lupus (except for when it is but shh).
2. The Mentalist
One of Sherlock Holmes’s greatest abilities is being able to tell the profession, habits and life story of a man just by observing him. This ability is mirrored by the protagonist of The Mentalist, Patrick Jane, who was a successful (if fraudulent) celebrity psychic before teaming up with the fictional California Bureau of Investigation to help track down a serial killer who had taken the lives of Jane’s family. The Mentalist does not make any references to the ACD canon version of Sherlock Holmes; however, Patrick Jane’s abilities are similar to those of Sherlock.
3. Psych USA
I know you know that I… really like drawing pineapples. Ok, no, wait, that’s not it. Psych follows around the adventures of Santa Barbara-based faux-psychic Shaun Spencer and his hapless childhood best friend Burton Guster (aka MC Clap-Yo-Handz). Spencer was trained from a young age by his policeman father to be super-observant and have an excellent memory, to be an ultimate deducing crime-fighting tool for the Santa Barbara PD. Of course, things didn’t work out that way; instead, Shaun Spencer grew up to be a drifter who rode a steel horse around the country. Tides changed, however, and Spencer returned to Santa Barbara and started up PSYCH, the psychic detective agency. Spencer’s accuracy rates are nowhere near stellar, probably due to the fact that he as a character has a smaller attention span than a squirrel in an acorn field; however, he is also a gifted actor in social situations and is able to cheat lie detector tests and fool people into thinking that he is exactly what he is… a harebrained psychic who gets lucky a lot. Alternately, this show would be titled Shaun Spencer and the Escape From Responsibility.
Bones, also known as The AU Where Angel is a FBI Agent, sets loose former sniper Seeley Booth and forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan and has them off solving crimes with the power of microscopes and guns. Brennan is socially awkward, opinionated, and possesses a keen intellect. Possessing the logical mind of a scientist since she was a child, she seeks evidence of everything, the logic of any situation. Booth, on the other hand, is a devout Catholic who trusts his gut instincts and hates clowns. Of course, they clash often, arguing over evidence versus faith, God versus atheism, and pop culture references versus “I don’t understand that reference”. The character of Temperance Brennan echoes the machine-like, cold exterior that Sherlock presents to the world throughout BBC’s adaptation; however, unlike Sherlock, Brennan is secretly an author of bestselling crime-solving thrillers that center around forensic anthropology. Really, though, I’m just watching this show for ZZ Top cameos and Angela/Hodgins but don’t tell anybody.
This adaptation follows Adrian Monk, an OCD, germaphobe former police officer who can tell by the pattern of blood spatter on somebody’s Halloween costume if they’re a killer or a trick-or-treater. He left the police force after the tragic death of his wife, Trudy, by a car bomb which he believed was intended for him. He was forced to get a nurse, Sharona Fleming, which allowed him to work as a consultant and private investigator for the police force (who is replaced later on in the series by Natalie Teeger). In total, Adrian Monk has 312 phobias and this makes doing pretty much everything a challenge. Reminiscent of Mycroft Holmes, Adrian Monk has an older brother by the name of Ambrose. Ironically enough, Ambrose Monk’s first appearance is in Mr. Monk and the Three Pies… which does not stop us from shipping Mycroft/pie in the least. Or Mycroft/cake. Or Mycroft/croissants…
You may be wondering what all this means, other than the fact that there are a lot of television writers out there who are big Sherlock Holmes fans. While this may be true, more important to our discussion here is the way in which the Arthur Conan Doyle canon has so strongly affected not only detective narratives but all narratives with a detective vein to them. ACD effectively created a new character archetype, one that has persisted strongly throughout the years.
Chances are wherever there are detectives, doctors or forensics , there will also be an intelligent and occasionally socially unaware person with stunning powers of observation and problem solving.