Clockwise from top left:
Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower
At the Book Launch
Graham Moore, author of The Sherlockian
with Vice President Joe Biden
The Game's On Foot!
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock
Martin Freeman as John
December 5, 2010 -- Friends in High Places
It is not surprising, considering its location, that The Red Circle of Washington has long been interested in the connections between politicians and Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first president known to have had such a connection was Herbert Hoover, who invited William Gillette to the White House when Gillette was performing his play Sherlock Holmes here. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman were members of The Baker Street Irregulars. Dwight David Eisenhower cited The White Company in one of his press conferences. And there are other such dignitaries, both major and minor, in the White House, in Congress and on the Supreme Court who will be discussed here in the future.
But for the moment the focus is on the current president, and we are still searching hopefully for a direct connection. Earlier this year the Associated Press reported that Patti Blagojevich had been reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on her cell phone during less-riveting stretches of her husband's corruption trial; her husband is former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who was on trial for scheming to sell Barak Obama's former Senate seat (and other offenses).
And now we're a bit closer: the picture at the right shows Vice President Joe Biden with Graham Moore, author of the new pastiche The Sherlockian, at a reception this month at the Bidens' residence on Observatory Circle. Moore's mother is Susan Sher, chief of staff for President Obama's wife Michelle. You can read all about it in a story at the website FishbowlDC. Published this month, The Sherlockian centers around two mysteries: one set in 1900, when Conan Doyle decides to do his own detecting, and the other in 2010, when Harold White, newly made a member of The Baker Street Irregulars, investigates the murder of a Sherlockian who has announced that he has discovered Conan Doyle's missing diary from the last three months of 1900. It's an interesting story, with some nice surprises, and you can read more about the book (and other things) at Graham Moore's website.
November 15, 2010 -- BBC's "Sherlock" a Hit; More Episodes to Follow
All three episodes of the BBC mini-series "Sherlock" have aired on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS, and if you missed them you can wait for a repeat, or purchase the DVD, which was released on Nov. 9. Actually, there are reasons to acquire the DVD even if you've seen the shows: the DVD has audio commentaries, a "making of" featurette, and the 60-minute pilot that was so good that the BBC decided to commission the 90-minute series. The pilot was re-done for the first of the broadcast episodes, and thus never broadcast, and it's interesting and impressive to see how much better the longer version is. The DVD also has closed captioning, which will be helpful to those who have difficulty understanding British when it's spoken quickly, and perhaps most important of all, the programs on the DVD are complete (there were some minor edits to fit the Masterpiece Mystery time slot).
If you've not seen the shows, there will be no spoilers here, except a warning that the basic premise of the series is that Holmes and Watson are Holmes and Watson today, in 21st-century London. Those who believe strongly that Holmes and Watson must exist only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries will continue to enjoy the Granada series that starred Jeremy Brett, David Burke, and Edward Hardwicke, and won't enjoy the new series.
The new stars are Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who are excellent actors and who benefit from fine supporting actors, intelligent scripts, and intriguing and amusing allusions to the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There are frequent "aha!" moments for those who know the original stories, and it will be interesting to see how many viewers who don't know the original stories will wind up reading them.
The series was quite successful in Britain, where more than 7 million viewers watched the broadcasts, and the BBC has commissioned three more programs for broadcast next autumn. Steve Moffat, who created the series with Mark Gatiss, was interviewed on National Public Radio on Oct. 15, and was asked for hints about the new shows; he replied, "The critical words, I'd say, would be--Adler, Hound, Reichenbach."
Stay tuned . . .