May 31, 2020booksfictionculturedebates with my daughters

Now Holmes has become Sherlock

“Moriarty? Him? The guy looks like an investment banker. He can’t be Moriarty!”

Deccan Herald This is from my Debates with My Daughters column that appeared in the Deccan Herald in 2019-20

The Pai household into those who watch stuff on the big flat screen and those who do not. The eight legs that constitute the Viewers Bloc consist of the three children and their mother. The six legs constituting the group that have better things to do with their time has me and Percival Wolfric Brian, our golden retriever. He is the moderate face of our faction, often spending time in the living room while the viewers binge watch shows on Netflix. The extremist faction of our Bloc firmly believes that the best place to put the television is outside the window, especially from a high-rise apartment. The dinner table acts as the Security Council where the debates of this geopolitics are usually conducted.

That’s Moriarty” she said pointing to a slick, clean shaven young man in a suit. I was shocked.

Moriarty? Him? The guy looks like an investment banker. He can’t be Moriarty!”

They started laughing. They told me it’s been three years since Sherlock” had ended and that, indeed, was Moriarty. When Victor showed me a YouTube video of the said investment banker getting out of a helicopter with Apple earphones listening to Queen’s I want to break free”, I thought the Brits had crossed a line. In fact they’d lost the plot. No wonder they got themselves into such a mess over Brexit. If you could turn the Napoleon of crime” into a slick City suit, you will certainly make smaller mistakes.

I was the metaphorical man who’d been living in a cave and woke up to see his family watch their favourite episodes of one of their favourite shows. I could get the reinvention of Holmes and Watson, now called Sherlock” and John”. I understood that there had to be female characters and romantic interest. I reluctantly adjusted to Mycroft being a far more regular character. I enjoyed bits of the episodes that I saw in passing. But how could they do that to Moriarty?

Professor Moriarty

I told the children that the real Professor Moriarty is a sinister, shadowy figure who appears in a couple of stories and is referred to in a few more. Sidney Paget’s depicts him in the December 1893 edition of The Strand Magazine as a thin, bald, brooding man, well into his fifties, emerging out of the darkness. Holmes describes him as The greatest schemer of all time, the organizer of every devilry, the controlling brain of the underworld, a brain which might have made or marred the destiny of nations—that’s the man!“ All in all he is a villain whose malign influence is heightened because it is perceived indirectly.

The children countered that while that may be so, the new Moriarty was quite cool as well. I agreed. He was cool. The character he plays is brilliant. I quite like the I want to break free” scene. But that cannot be Moriarty. That should not be Moriarty. You can’t change completely change the character of the character. Airy pointed out that for a person who liked cover versions and remixes in music, it was inconsistent of me to oppose remixes of television characters.

There are many more Debates with my Daughters here

I had to admit she was right. But having immersed myself in the pages of the facsimile edition of the Complete Unabridged Sherlock Holmes for many of my childhood years, the brilliant novelty of Sherlock was too much for me. I think this is an indication of what it means to be growing older — the familiar is suddenly changed, leaving you with a sense of loss, perhaps even of violation. If you try to fight it, you become a curmudgeonly old uncle or aunty. If you go along with it, you might even enjoy it.

Maybe the investment banker is not the evil professor, but his grandson?

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