Monday, December 08, 2014

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Sherlock Holmes

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective, Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print in 1887’s A Study in Scarlet

Sometimes after that -- as TV rose as an art form  in the mid-20th century-- the character migrated to the air-waves. Since the mid-1960s, the great detective has appeared in a number of televised adventures, and has been portrayed by a number of actors.

In 1959, Alan Wheatley played Holmes in a BBC production.  

In 1954, an American production starred Ronald Howard.  

In the 1960s, Douglas Wilmer and Peter Cushing each played the role on a British TV series.  

And from 1984 – 1994, Jeremy Brett portrayed Holmes for Granada television and for many fans, defined the role.

In recent years, we have seen Holmes re-imagined as a 21st century detective, both as Benedict Cumberbatch on Stven Moffat's Sherlock (2009 - ), and by Jonny Lee Miller on Elementary (2012 - )

Uniquely, Sherlock Holmes has also intersected with science fiction television at other memorable junctures.  

In 1987, an episode of Filmation’s cartoon series BraveStarr featured a two-part back-door pilot for a series called Sherlock Holmes in the 23rd Century. The series never arrived, but Jonathan Harris made for an interesting Professor Moriarity.

And on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987 – 1994) it was established early in the first season that Data (Brent Spiner) had an obsession with the literary detective.  In “Lonely Among Us,” the sentient android used Holmes-esque deductive reasoning to solve a puzzle involving a body-jumping alien. 

By the second season, Data was embarking on full-blow Holmesian adventures in Victorian London in episodes such as “Elementary Dear Data.” There, he encountered the nefarious Professor Moriarty, a villain who recurred in the sixth season story “Ship in a Bottle.”


  1. Peter David made the suggestion that, since there are two successful Holmes TV series, it would only be logical for the two Holmes to appear on each others' series as guest criminal geniuses. BBC, CBS, make it happen!

  2. I doubt I'll see the character in anything more bizarre than "Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century". That theme tune is catchy for all the wrong reasons!