Who is Sherlock for?

Do the more intense fans of Sherlock have too much influence?

I remember that, in the run up to the broadcast of series one (and during), what might be termed "old school" Sherlockians queued up to offer opinions on how they thought a re-imagining of the stories would (should?) go. I was among them and made comments about how I hoped Holmes's drug use would be covered.

What I hoped for

Following broadcast I remarked that I felt that the writers had ducked the issue. I was rewarded for this remark by many people telling me that I was stupid to expect such drug use to be portrayed and how I, and others of like mind, had to accept that the show could not pander to the wishes of a minority who favoured Canon fidelity. We were collectively reminded that the show had to appeal to a broad audience. These comments tended to come from people who were very much fans of the idea of a modernised Sherlock and who felt the Victorian version had been done almost to death.

What we all got

With hindsight I can see that these comments, whilst not always very politely delivered, were quite correct. A show can only survive, whether we like it or not, if it pulls in the money and the viewing figures. To do this, liberties sometimes have to be taken and the likes and dislikes of today's society, as a whole, need to be pandered to (at least up to a point).

It is therefore amusing that it is from these chastising ranks that many demands are being made about the direction that Sherlock should now take. This same basic observation has also been made by Mark Lawson of The Guardian here.

There are fairly regular messages (mostly on Twitter and Tumblr) that practically demand that certain characters or stories are featured; that there should be various configurations of relationships between the lead characters, the hate directed at Amanda Abbington for daring to become part of the show and thus get in the way of "Johnlock" and the, quite frankly, bizarre ideas about blending Sherlock and Doctor Who (a notion that would not likely have ever arisen had the same writers not been behind both shows). The vocal minority demanding these things on the internet has got increasingly insistent about it and some have even become abusive towards the writers which has led to requests from them, or those close to them, for the people concerned to desist. This state of affairs was not helped by the delay between the broadcast of series two and three which gave some people far too much time to work themselves into a frenzy over how the events of S2E3 would or should resolve themselves. Nature, they say, abhors a vacuum, and, in the absence of an official line, the internet went mad and, in some quarters, bad.

To these people I say that you should heed your own advice. Remember the words you aimed at the old school and do two things - firstly, be more understanding about where they were coming from with their hopes for the re-imagining - they have passion for Sherlock Holmes just like you and their desires are no less valid than yours. Secondly, remember that the show needs to appeal widely and not just to the more vocal members of social media. If the show starts aiming to please the hard core fans it will die and who really wants that? Let the writers do what they want (trust them) and if you really need "Johnlock" or other spins on the Sherlock universe you have a large, and ever increasing, body of fan fiction you can turn to.

The answer, I feel, to the opening question of this post is "no" but I fear that some out there would dearly like to have that level of influence and simply cannot see that if they did have it they would end up being the architects of the show's demise in much the same way that we old-school Sherlockians would have been if we'd had our way before series one had even aired.

Written by Alistair Duncan
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