They say that this generation has a decreased attention span; that we go for anything fast-paced and instant; that if something doesn’t come fast enough, we eventually tire of it.
But fans of the BBC’s Sherlock seem to disprove this claim.
The series is so popular that an introduction is hardly necessary. It’s basically an adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s all-too-famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes, solving baffling cases in a seemingly godlike but amazingly logical manner. He’s so famous that some people actually used to send mail to his equally well-known address, 221B Baker Street.
Sure, a character as famous as Sherlock must have had a lot of adaptations already, dating way back before this generation. But BBC’s Sherlock gave the character a modern adaptation, with Sherlock living in the same world as we do, a world of e-mail, internet, laptops, tablets – the same fast-paced arena of today. While previous adaptations oftentimes re-make a story from Conan Doyle’s collection, this version creates stories of its own, but with elements of the original canon interspersed in the story, like familiar characters (e.g. Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Lestrade, Moriarty, Irene Adler), famous lines (e.g. “I’m lost without my blogger” [Boswell]), or even clues that remind you of one of Sherlock’s original adventures. Of course, it would not be a Sherlock story if you did not include the detective’s many eccentricities, his obsession for logic, disregard for biased emotion, and impeccable genius.
Well, so what? Reading my short account of the series would make you think it’s just any other adaptation, and everyone would eventually tire of it, too. Sherlock may be popular, but he’s also a very old character, a ‘been there, done that’ variety. You may also have heard about the American version of the canon, dubbed Elementary and airing on CBS, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. It came out a little while after BBC’s Sherlock, but it’s still a contemporary version. It still presents familiar people, Sherlock’s bizarre behavior and crime-solving prowess. Several episodes of this series would definitely keep fans wanting more, but would eventually die out. Not so different from any other series, right?
Like I said, the fans of BBC’s Sherlock apparently disprove the idea that our generation would easily tire of a series like this. I say this because Sherlock’s first season aired back in 2010, with three episodes, only three episodes. These episodes were a mere one week apart, with each episode being ninety minutes long. After this first bout of success, instant fans were itching for more, especially since the last episode ended with a cliffhanger. Well, fans did get more when the second season aired – two years later in 2012. It still had the same three-episode, ninety-minute formula. This season featured three of Conan Doyle’s most famous stories from the canon with a modern twist. This series ended with another cliffhanger, and we’ll soon see how it was resolved. Series Three will air in four days – on January 1, 2014 – roughly another two years after the second series.
You’d think all that waiting, all that short-lived happiness would have been a bad move for BBC. They’d lose so many fans if they kept them waiting. But no, these fans patiently waited, and they somehow became more and more enthusiastic. People who’ve read Conan Doyle or have been long-time fans of the stories and adaptations love this version. People who’ve never heard of Sherlock before watch in awe as the plot unfolds before them. Almost everyone is talking about it, and those who don’t can’t help but wonder what the commotion is all about. A lot of people I’ve recommended the series to eventually became fans themselves.
I confess that I am a fan of Sherlock, too, not just of this series but of the original canon as well. I love how the creators of BBC’s Sherlock, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss were able to stay loyal to Conan Doyle’s work while still captivating the series-enthusiasts of today. I love how Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have this impeccable chemistry onscreen. I love how the elements I loved when I read the stories reappeared in a fresh light when I watched Sherlock.
But Sherlock got me thinking not so much because of the amazing plot, the surprising twists or the compelling talent of the actors. It got me thinking because of the fans; of the passion, the patience and the perseverance it took for them to keep loving Sherlock. My favorite Sherlock-devoted site, Sherlockology (http://www.sherlockology.com) is actually fan-created with all the information about the series – characters, scripts, wardrobe, scene locations, soundtracks, series updates, you name it. There are Sherlock trinkets and collectibles everywhere – bracelets, T-shirts, mugs. Even Sherlock’s wardrobe in the series has men adapting the same look.
It’s amazing how fans can come together in support of something that entertains, fascinates and inspires them. For fans to be this devoted, everyone behind this phenomenon must be doing something incredible. Only something so magnificent and so brilliant would keep a generation like this hooked for so long.
I understand that some fans may take on a hiatus while waiting for the series; they may move on to other interests and activities while the new season hasn’t aired yet. They may even get hooked on other series, upcoming films or other players in pop culture. But I believe a phenomenon like Sherlock just stays with you. It’s like a dormant volcano waiting its next eruption.
To all Sherlock fans out there. I applaud you for the undying enthusiasm. I join you in brimming anticipation of the much-awaited third series. We’ll be seeing Sherlock again. Hang in there everyone.