Best Of Sherlock Holmes Series

Ava Flores
• Wednesday, 25 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Nearly 100 years after 1922’s Sherlock Holmes, the watershed movie that proved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character a Hollywood leading man, the detective remains on the case! He’s been adapted to movies and TV countless times, and we’ve organized all of his works which got a Tomato meter score in chronological order.

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That includes films from Basil Rathbone’s defining decades-long run accessorized with the deerstalker hat, Robert Downey Jr.’s blockbuster take, and Sherlock‘s modern spin with Benedict Cumberbatch. Critics Consensus: Guy Ritchie's directorial style might not be quite the best fit for an update on the legendary detective, but Sherlock Holmes benefits from the elementary appeal of a strong performance by Robert Downey, Jr.

Critics Consensus: Sherlock Holmes : A Game of Shadows is a good yarn thanks to its well-matched leading men but overall stumbles duplicating the well-oiled thrills of the original. Critics Consensus: Mr. Holmes focuses on the man behind the mysteries, and while it may lack Baker Street thrills, it more than compensates with tenderly wrought, well-acted drama.

Critics Consensus: Nola Holmes brings a breath of fresh air to Baker Street -- and leaves plenty of room for Millie Bobby Brown to put her effervescent stamp on a franchise in waiting. Envisioned by Steven Moat and Mark Gates, the BBC original series, Sherlock, stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the charismatic mastermind detective Sherlock Holmes, who along with Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman), solves horrifying crimes on Baker Street.

To date, four seasons of Sherlock have been released, consisting of three episodes each, and every single one of them is absolutely thrilling to watch. While the show is adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's books', the basic plots, seemingly, differ, and there are some new interesting twists.

During this whole fiasco, one of Sherlock's old enemies makes a surprise appearance, which leaves John and Mycroft shell shocked. In the second episode of season 2, Sherlock is visited by Henry Knight, whose father was killed by a hound almost twenty years earlier in the town of Dartmoor.

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Criminal mastermind, Moriarty, plans something big for Sherlock as they lock horns for one final time. John looks after Sherlock's life as a couple of assassins move into Baker Street, with wrong motives.

Inspired by a story Doyle heard from his friend, the sportsman and journalist Bertram Fletcher Robinson, about the legends surrounding a seventeenth-century squire, The Hound of the Baskerville is one of the best -known Sherlock Holmes cases, featuring supposedly demonic hounds on atmospheric Dartmoor. Until this story, he was the star of two short novels, A Study in Scarlet (1887) and The Sign of the Four (1890), and known to a small group of readers.

After the short stories began to appear in The Strand, he became one of the most famous fictional characters in the history of literature. SherlockHolmes’s quick eye took in my occupation, and he shook his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning glances.

“Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labor, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else.” “I am not quite so bulky, but if he had remained I might have shown him that my grip was not much more feeble than his own.” As he spoke he picked up the steel poker and, with a sudden effort, straightened it out again.

The case will require Holmes not only to save his client’s life but to solve the mystery of how her sister died two years ago. Like many of the Sherlock Holmes stories, the British Empire lurks in the background (Dr Boycott had met the girls’ mother out in India, and has a menagerie of exotic animals from that country), and in this connection, the story also reveals a debt to one of the first detective novels, Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone.

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Perhaps best -known for Holmes’s famous line about ‘the curious incident of the dog in the night-time’ (used by Mark Had don as the title for his bestselling novel), ‘Silver Blaze’ is the first story in the second collection of classic Sherlock Holmes stories, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1893). The story concerns a missing racehorse and sees Holmes donning his famous deerstalker to investigate.

I put the question, with a hint that it was my companion’s modesty which made him acknowledge his brother as his superior. The mystery itself revolves around a Greek interpreter named Mr Meals, who is engaged in a rather cloak-and-dagger way to translate for someone who is being held captive by some sinister criminals.

Its code-themed story probably inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Gold-Bug’, ‘The Dancing Men’ is one of Holmes’s greatest code-breaking triumphs. Mr. Hilton Cubist of Riding Thorpe Manor in Norfolk, and husband to a nervous wife, tells Holmes a series of stick figures have started to appear chalked up on the window-sill of the house.

It’s also noteworthy for being the one Sherlock Holmes story penned by Doyle to feature the evil criminal mastermind, Dr James Moriarty, ‘the Napoleon of crime’. The reason why, to paraphrase the esteemed Sherlock, is mere “elementary.” Arthur Conan Doyle’s brainchild is the basis for all modern detection, from the analysis of fingerprints and ballistics (which eventually became forensic procedure) to the pipe and deerstalker cap that’s since become a symbol for stalking criminals.

Doyle reportedly based the character on real life mentor Joseph Bell, but from his first screen appearance in the 1900’s Sherlock Holmes Baffled, the Sherlock role has been open to interpretation. Of the 70 performers who’ve had the pleasure, many, including Christopher Lee, Roger Moore, and Charlton Heston have donned the deerstalker to less than stellar results.

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With that in mind, we’ve picked what we believe to be the finest adaptations to date, so that one can binge detect while waiting for BBC’s Sherlock to return this winter. Set in New York City, Miller plays Sherlock as an eccentric who was forced to relocate in the wake of rampant drug use and wanting a fresh start.

Partnered with protege Joan Watson (Lucy Liu), the duo traverse a slew of mysteries both classical and original-- especially with the added twist of Moriarty being a vivacious female (Natalie Dormer). Response to Elementary was initially mixed, especially in comparison to BBC’s Sherlock, but it's proven a sleeper success due to Miller’s psychologically tainted performance.

The British actor brought a bundle of new Sherlock details to the table; namely, the detective’s father issues, his mother’s history with opium, and his field experience with MI6 (between seasons 2 and 3). Played with haunting authority by English actor Rupert Everett, this Holmes is not a man easily amused by life’s finer things.

In fact, given the TV lineage before him, Everett decides to emphasize the character’s lesser qualities: patronizing arrogance, emotional indifference, and of course, fluctuating drug use. Silk Stocking pulls this card instantly in the opener, which shows Holmes lounging in an opium den to pass the time.

It also helps that the actor’s “hawk-like nose”, “sharp and piercing eyes”, and chin of “prominence and squareness” all check out with Conan Doyle’s literary description. Based on the book by Nicholas Meyer, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976) takes the drug angle a step further by forcing Holmes (Nicole Williamson) to undergo psychiatric treatment.

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Williamson gets to cut loose as the famous detective, bypassing the Stoic norm for a performance that’s riddled with jittery antics and rambling tirades. Their presence, along with Akin and Vanessa Redgrave, helped The Seven-Per-Cent Solution convey it's risky premise and net two Academy Award nominations (including Best Adapted Screenplay).

Unfortunately, Granada Studios was beginning work on their show around the same time, and the resulting legal disagreement was eventually settled out of court for the cost of the Mantra mysteries that did get made: The Hound of the Baskerville and The Sign of Four. These 1983 films had their minor gripes; from the occasional happiness to the vocal dubbing, but the lead presence of Ian Richardson proved a saving grace.

Long before he rose to fame for the original House of Cards (1990), Richardson brought a light, reaction nature to the role of Sherlock. Nevertheless, Wilmer’s performance was widely hailed for its sardonic bite and no-nonsense demeanor-- traits that his series replacement, Peter Cushing, would later absorb.

The idea of depicting the detective’s early years had “80s gimmick” written all over it, but the efforts of screenwriter Chris Columbus and director Barry Levinson ensured the film would be a fun family adventure. Young Sherlock Holmes follows the titular teen (Nicholas Rowe) as he enters the prestigious Brampton Academy and befriends John Watson (Alan Cox).

Levinson has fun scrambling Sherlock lore to fit his new origin story, while the surprise inclusion of Lestrade (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) and, in a twist that will go unspoiled, Moriarty, add lightweight excitement. Guy Henry previously played a juvenile Holmes for Granada’s Young Sherlock, but Rowe still remains the one and only sleuthing youth.

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Sherlock’s emotional journey dictates the 2015 dazzler, and the ghost of an unsolved case serves to drive this point home in the final act. With Watson, Mycroft, and everyone else he knew deceased, there’s an innate sadness to these Holmes, and the actor conveys so much through his lined face it can be heartbreaking to witness.

Arriving at the tail end of Billy Wilder’s career, the film takes a slightly satirical look at the detective, playing up the distinction between the “real” Holmes and the one that Watson documents in The Strand magazine. In his lone deerstalker outing, the actor presents a man with ambiguous sexuality and a general melancholy that’s surprising given some of the film’s more comedic moments.

Unable to save the woman before she was killed by Jack the Ripper, it’s a display that lets the audience connect with Holmes in lieu of simply observing him. He and close friend Vitaly Solomon were cast as the leads in the 1979 show The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and the overwhelming response led them to reprise their roles in subsequent TV movies.

Famous for his deep, resonant voice and Ernest friendship with Watson, Ivanov is the only Sherlock actor to become an Honorary Member of the British Empire. Instead, driven by the energy of director Guy Ritchie, this version much prefers a brawl and a few set pieces before donning a trench coat and fedora.

In fact, the trio are reuniting for next year’s still untitled Sherlock Holmes 3, proving that action, comedy, and a winning star are more than enough to excuse a few major liberties. Blessed with cavernous bone structure and an elderly grace, Cushing refused to stray from the source material by playing up two core components: arrogance and impulse.

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This rigid approach caught the attention of BBC in 1968, who then cast the actor in the third season of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Before Rathbone, guys like John Barrymore and Raymond Massey were playing a generic type-- the genius with a pipe and a brooding attitude.

In BBC’s Sherlock, the detective ditches the deerstalker for a long coat and scarf, while typically slicked hair takes a holiday for a mess of darkened curls. In episodes like “The Blind Banker” (2010) and “The Sign of Three” (2014), the duo creates a chemistry that's at once contemporary and cleverly in line with Conan Doyle’s original work.

He plays pompousness and profound sadness with such ease it's impossible to deny, even when proving a thorn in Watson’s ongoing love life. The show’s fourth season is set for a January release, and given the rabid anticipation, it's safe to say Cumberbatch will stay atop the Sherlock list for a great many more years.

Upon being cast in Granada’s 1984 series, the actor did extensive research and invented an imaginary life the detective could fill between televised cases. The wildly talented Brett was born to play Sherlock, and the parallels he experienced in his own life-- bipolar disorder and depression-- helped inform his sudden shifts from boredom to heightened interest.

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