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The Umbrella Organisation

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Sherlock Holmes exterminates Doctor Who: Why we're watching the detective
Me with Red Ribbon
rakspatel wrote in mycroft_brolly
Photo credit: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/lifestyle/article-24025758-sherlock-holmes-exterminates-doctor-who-why-were-watching-the-detective.do

There was a very interesting article by Nick Curtis in the Evening Standard on Friday, comparing Sherlock and Doctor Who. Whilst I do NOT agree with the premise of the article, it is an excellent article and well worth a read.

Nick Curtis's contention was that the Time Lord had been eclipsed by a very modern Holmes, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

My personal highlights (I have limited the highlights to the sections I agree with!), cut and pasted from the Evening Standard website:

The characters

On paper, neither Sherlock nor the Doctor looks like a promising candidate for pan-generational primetime adulation, what with one starting out as a rude, cocaine-injecting Victorian chainsmoker, and the other a crotchety Edwardian geriatric who hid in a blue box with his "granddaughter". Both characters are unthreateningly attractive partly because they are sexually unreachable. Knights errant, they are denied the common joys of humanity, such as romance, by their intellect and moral heroism. And, in the Doctor's case, by biology.

The actors

It's not quite the class struggle in microcosm but still … Smith, now 29, had an ordinary upbringing in Northampton, his father the boss of a plastics business, his school a comprehensive. He turned to acting after that other great aspirational dream - of being a professional footballer - was ruined by injury. Cumberbatch is doubly silver-spooned, born into the business as the child of successful TV actors Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton, and educated at Harrow. Whatever: both men are immensely charming and have proved their talent outside their action-packed, star-making roles.

The chemistry

It's all about unrealised sexual tension. Things started promisingly for Smith's Doctor when he was paired with the leggy, characterful and apparently up-for-it Amy Pond, but he has found himself sidelined since she committed to husband Rory. Doctor Who can't get too raunchy in any case as its earlier time slot means it's still, at heart, a kid's show. Hence the predictable media "fury" over Amy's kissogram miniskirt, and her offering the Doctor a one-night stand. Such behaviour pales rather beside Lara Pulver's Irene Adler ripping through Sherlock's life like a jaguar on heat: parading naked in front of him, sleeping in his bed, teasing him with intellectual frottage, while all the while claiming to be gay. Now that's a woman.

The affectionate, exasperated pairing of Cumberbatch's Holmes with Martin Freeman's Dr Watson also makes for the most credible relationship on British TV right now. Cumberbatch also has a fine, mad, charismatic foil in Andrew Scott's Moriarty.

The writing

Here's the weird thing: the pen in charge of both shows belongs to Steven Moffat.

We can perhaps attribute the current superiority of Sherlock to Mark Gatiss. His novels featuring the sexually ambivalent Edwardian detective Lucifer Box show an acute understanding of the tropes of mystery fiction, and his work with the League was always strong on atmosphere and dark wit. His performance as Sherlock's brother Mycroft is hilarious.

Follow the link to read the full article:

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Interesting article, but somewhat unfair, especially to both Stephen Moffat and Matt Smith!

Sherlock has the shock of the new and scarcity value with so few episodes, whereas Doctor Who, despite reinvention and modernisation, is a regular old 'franchise' for a family audience.

I would think it better to compare Sherlock with the adult Dr Who spin off, Torchwood. I wonder what ratings were for the first episodes of Torchwood back in 2006? If I recall correctly, they too exceeded expectations and had a massive fan response, leading to the second series being moved from digital BBC3 onto terrestrial BBC2.

Very unfair to Matt Smith. Which is why I was very careful in my selection of extracts.

The article is on firm footing to compare and contrast Sherlock/Holmes and Doctor Who as lead characters.

There is, as we are all aware in fandom, a huge overlap between the Sherlock and the Doctor Who fandoms. However, they are not competing fandoms; they actually nourish, sustain and support eachother.

Some of this is down to the fact that solitary loner bookish types (sad?!) like myself are drawn to Holmes and the Doctor, because they are both loners, and you can escape from reality and into their worlds. Neither has a girlfriend/partner/spouse/wife or any romantic attachments. And they are both geniuses - so if you are a sad, lonely, solitary person, without a partner, it feels better if you can claim the underlying reason is because you are really a genius or a Time Lord!

I have never watched Torchwood so I can't comment.

Edited at 2012-01-10 12:26 pm (UTC)

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