Since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned his popular tales of amateur sleuth Sherlock Holmes in 1887, he’s captured the imagination of readers. And filmmakers/TV execs anxious to translate the astute detective’s annoying charm to the screen. With Sunday’s (May 6) debut of “Sherlock” Season 2 on PBS, the clamor for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Holmes is growing into a frenzy.
But all the buzz has Zap2it wondering — is Cumberbatch the best Holmes ever?
The truth is the character is so appealing, there’s plenty of room for concurrent Holmes projects. In addition to Cumberbatch, Holmes is also played on the big screen by Robert Downey Jr. in a pair of blockbuster Guy Ritchie movies. And though both are loved, they couldn’t be more different.
In fact, the most popular Sherlocks over the years — Cumberbatch, Downey and the nosy (What? He’s a detective) Basil Rathbone each took a markedly different approach to the character. Rathbone’s Holmes was cold, aloof and unerring. He also sported what became the shorthand for the legendary detective — a tweed deerstalker cap and matching coat.
Downey’s Holmes is physically commanding, playful and — while able to make brilliant deductions — does as much crime-fighting with his fists as he does with his brain.
Cumberbatch’s take on the detective is… clever. He’s the antithesis of his precursors: Scattered, antisocial, irascible, generally annoying and utterly compelling. He’s an ADD genius. He’s a man of his time — which is present day, making the BBC’s version a stand-alone in Sherlock retellings. Which, in a way, makes perfect sense. We have a feeling Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be fascinated with his character’s use of GPS and texting to thwart his enemies.
But, what do you think? Who makes the best Holmes? Vote in our poll below, then share your reasoning in the comments section.
(And while everyone from Michael Caine to John Cleese and Roger Moore have tried on Sherlock Holmes for size, we’re limiting our poll to the three best-known portrayals.)
[Update: Thanks to some canny readers, we’ve added Jeremy Brett — who played Holmes in several Grenada TV productions from 1984 – 1994 into the poll below.]