These days, nearly every character in pop culture history is being prepped for a reboot, relaunch, revamp or re-imagining, all the better if they’re considered in the public domain.  It’s why American audiences get a Peter Pan movie every sixteen weeks, why minor Golden Age characters like The Black Terror can be found at multiple publishers, and of course, why we can have two concurrent Sherlock Holmes television programs airing hot on the heels of the Robert Downey, Jr. big-screen outings.  Holmes movies have been around nearly as long as the movies themselves, the current BBC series is the sixth or seventh ongoing program(me) featuring the consulting detective, and such lights as Patrick “John Steed” Macnee, Michael “Bloody” Caine, Peter “Grand Moff Tarkin” Cushing and even Christopher “Not Enough Room To List His Accomplishments” Lee have essayed the role, leading to today’s elementary query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) expects that we’re going to hear a lot about Bindlestaff Buttercrunch, but reminds Faithful Spoilerites that there are literally dozens of other possible options, including Lieutenant Commander Data, asking: Who is the greatest Sherlock Holmes of ’em all?

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

8 Comments

  1. I cant really talk about the greatest but MY Holmes is Jeremy Brett. He was playing the role when I remember watching it. I´ve seen him being Holmes more than all the other actors combined.

  2. While I like…. What the heck is his name, Cucumber? Cummerband? Karmachameleon? The guy from the recent BBC series set in present day, him. While I like his take on the character, I much prefer the written Holmes over any TV and Movie incarnation.

    But if I must pick a screen incarnation, I have to go with the version from “Batman: The Brave and The Bold” episode “Trials of the Demon!”. Batman makes everything better, even characters from literary classics.

  3. First, I’d just like to say that I love this question! I’ve been a huge Sherlock Holmes fan for years…read all of the original Conan Doyle stories, a TON of pastiches (some good, some bad, and some god-awful), and seen most of the movies as well.

    My personal favorite Holmes is Jeremy Brett. The phrase “born to play the role” gets thrown around a lot, but in this case, I wholeheartedly agree. Not only did he absolutely look the part, but he very much personified everything I’ve loved about the character: from his intensely excited way of attacking a case, to his casually (and sometimes inappropriately) dismissive nature. Also, the Granada series adapted Doyle’s stories very faithfully for the most part…often you could quite literally read along to the show…so he is one of the few actors who actually plays Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, not just a version of the character.

    Benedict Cumberbatch is a very close second now, though. I’ve seen several attempts to bring Holmes in to the modern day, and they rarely ever work…but Cumberbatch really knocks it out of the park. He captures all of the character’s intelligence and eccentricities, while also humanizing him in a way I’ve seen few actors accomplish. Also, I really love trying to find all of the Holmesian easter eggs while watching (The reference to the Giant Rat of Sumatra in the Empty Hearse, and the GEEK Interpreter…LOL!) That’s such a great series, and I can’t wait for it to return. Very curious about the Victorian-era special coming up…doubtful, but perhaps a long-awaited Holmes/Dr Who crossover?

  4. Jeremy Brett. Such a shame he was ill and unable to properly complete the canon (no “Study in Scarlet” for example) and he had great Watsons in Burke and Hardwicke. He loved playing Holmes and immersed himself in the role completely.
    That said, I do enjoy Rathbone, Cumberbatch and Miller; all bring the sociapathic attitude to the role superbly.

  5. Jeremy Brett by a country mile he came closer than any one to a definitive portrayal of the great detective. Honorable mentions to Basil Rathbon who cemented the charters reputation for the cinematic age and Benedict Cumberbatch for successfully bringing him into th 21st century

  6. I may get my castle burned down but I like Johnny Lee Miller. The last season finale aside I think Elementary captures the essence of Holmes as well as puts the character in a different light.

  7. This is for you, Matthew. My favorite Holmes is Batman. He’s a sociopathic detective with a psychotic nemesis who is possibly smarter than him, a loyal sidekick whose existence is often purely for exposition or decoy purposes, and a romantic interest who is a morally ambiguous master thief.
    But to answer the question the way it was intended, my most dear memory of Sherlock Holmes was Peter Cushing. My father had his 1984 TV movie, The Masks of Death, taped with commercials and all. It’s hard to peg a “best,” but that’s my fondest.

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