My Son, Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes in "The Adventure of the ...
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“Excellent!” I cried.

“Elementary,” said he.

Watson and Holmes in “The Adventure of the Crooked Man”


When it comes to our 13-year-old son, I sometimes joke that I didn’t have much to do with bringing him in this world.

No, I’m not implying my wife had a fling with the mailman.  It’s just that he takes after her family so completely, it’s as if she just split him off like an amoeba.

Lately, though, he’s been showing signs that he might actually carry some of my DNA.

A month or two ago, he asked me if it was weird that he wanted to watch the British sci-fi series “Doctor Who.”  Not the totally cheesy “Doctor Who” of my youth, of course, but the good Doctor’s latest, “gussied up but true to its cheesy roots,” reincarnation.

“It’d be weird if you didn’t!” I replied.

I’m not quite sure how my son came by his curiosity in “Doctor Who.”  I had all but forgotten about the Doctor in my efforts to interest him in the geeky stuff I grew up with.  I’ve pushed hobbits, wookies and tribbles on him but eventually gave up in the face of his mother’s overwhelming influence.

I love my wife but she (a) thinks “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was horribly boring (b) says she suffered (if you can believe it!) through “Star Wars” when she was a kid and (c) doesn’t know a phaser from a light saber (however, she humors me once a year when I break out my collection of “Star Trek” inspired Christmas tree ornaments.)

These days, though, the force appears to be swinging to my side.  And, it doesn’t stop at “Doctor Who.”  It now extends to the world’s greatest consulting detective and I actually had a small, if unwitting, hand in inspiring him.

It happened after a friend of mine called and suggested we take our boys to see the latest, big screen version of Sherlock Holmes. I almost passed, mainly because I had trouble buying Robert Downey, Jr’s English accent in his first go round as Holmes.  Or, maybe it was because I used to stay up late at night to watch a taller Basil Rathbone play Holmes in the old black and white movies and later Jeremy Brett on PBS.  Downey’s shorter stature just didn’t ring true.

Apparently, though, my son carried no such baggage.  I was oblivious to it when the lights came back up, but the movie sparked something that previously lay dormant in his genetic makeup.

I discovered his newfound interest a few nights ago when I stopped by my son’s room to take his mouse away from him (if I don’t, he’s up all night surfing the internet).  To my surprise, he wasn’t playing some video game I know nothing about.  He was streaming the latest TV show based on the Conan Doyle characters.

This BBC production is a smart and witty update, bringing Holmes and Watson into 21st century London.  My wife and I watched the first three episodes on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery last year and are looking forward to three more this spring.

As you would expect, Holmes is depicted as hyper-observant.  But in a nod to modern technology and attitudes, he prefers to text and paper himself with nicotine patches to help him think problems through because “it’s impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days.”

Clearly, it makes references to what serious devotees call “the canon.”.  So, I suggested to my son that he start reading the original Holmes stories.

And, now he is.  Just this week, he brought “the canon” home from his school library.

My son’s discovery of Sherlock Holmes may not have been by design and I may have had even less to do with his interest in Doctor Who, but I can’t complain.  He’s becoming a fanboy, just like me.

Now, if I can only get him to embrace “Star Trek” my work will be done.


3 thoughts on “My Son, Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes

  1. I enjoyed reading your article in the Journal today. Your ST ornaments especially appealed to my inner geek — I break out my Santa Yoda bobblehead each Christmas, and now that I see I’m not alone in honoring Sci-Fi Christmas traditions, I can admit it! 🙂

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