TV Shows, Weirdness

The Sherlock Problem

So I’ve been watching Sherlock. Have you been watching Sherlock? You should. Season 2 Episode 2 just aired yesterday, and I saw it about 5 hours after the telecast time. Making this the first TV series EVER, since BR Chopra’s Mahabharat aired on Indian National Television way back in 1987-89, that I’ve watched the same day it first came on TV. The Hounds of Baskerville was fun, though not as much as episode 1. There, I said it – even a great TV series like this one has its off moments, and this episode was it. The structure and the plot was too glaringly obvious for my taste, and besides, the whole set-up felt a little too X-Filesey for my taste. Though there are a bunch of snappy moments between Holmes and Watson that iron the disappointment away.

On a side-note, I feel glad about having read the Sherlock Holmes stories early on in life. An attempted rereading of A Scandal In Bohemia last week ended up being a little disappointing. I have a bad feeling that if I start rereading the Conan Doyle stories, I may not enjoy them as much.

Now here’s something that sort of stuck in my head, with all these reboots and remakes being churned out nowadays, especially the ones where the lead characters and the main story-line are re-imagined as contemporary characters. There’s an obvious problem with these reboots, one that I had not thought about until watching Sherlock. Or specifically, one scene in episode 1 of the first season, where John Watson searches online to find out more about his prospective flatmate. The results show us that within the world of Sherlock, Arthur Conan Doyle never existed. Or even if he did, he never met Dr Joseph Bell. Well, maybe the two did meet, but Conan Doyle definitely did not write the Holmes stories. Which also means that there were no adaptations of those non-existent Sherlock Holmes stories. No Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett. No Jamyang Norbu or Laurie King or Detective Comics #572. None of these are particularly earth-shaking changes. But one specific thing worries me quite a bit – Google does not exist in this world. How on earth the absence of Conan Doyle’s Holmes is related to the non-invention of the world’s biggest search engine is something that needs careful, logical train of thought, something that astute people around me will know I am not capable of.

Quest Search, the fictional search engine inside the Sherlock TV series

But if you extrapolate this further, every fictional world has the same problem – which real-world people and items can exist inside a given work of fiction without upsetting the central conceit of that world?

Homework: Can anyone think of a movie with a sequel that contains the former as a movie inside itself, watched by a character in the latter? (I can)

Also, can you think of a reboot/remake that explicitly refers to the events of the original movie? (I can’t)

Also related: Rockstar as Speculative Fiction. Because I think of shit like this all the time.