Doyle’s sleuth may be the most notorious mystery man in the world—not to mention certainly the most popular British spy ever written (sorry 007, but you’re a close second)—and for old and new fans alike, the story of the great puzzle master never gets old.
So what to do when the writings (or the latest BBC adaptation) runs dry? Check out the television adaptations that either borrow a lot (or even just a little) to get the same thrills from watching a highly scientific mind unfold obscure details to do what we mere mortals only dream of. So sit back with your magnifying glass and take a hard look at these show, my dear Watson!
When the producer of the BBC’s Sherlock is “worrying” Elementary is possibly an overlap of its own hit television series, you can take it as a good sign that the show is fiercely dedicated to being a close variation and equally as engaging as Sherlock.
The big twist with Elementary comes with Dr. Watson being played by Lucy Lui, and the setting being New York City, rather than Holmes’ traditional London. For fans of getting every detail exactly like the book, this one isn’t for you! But the rest of the major points—mischief, mayhem and a dead body or two—are definitely up for grabs, as is Sherlock’s ever-lingering addiction. For a look at the detective from the view across the pond, check out CBS’s hit—it’s definitely a fresh retelling.
For the fans of brooding tragic heroes, Broadchurch should be slated as your next obsession. With David Tennant in the titular role of Alec Hardy and his trusted better half Detective Sgt. Ellie Miller being played by Olivia Coleman, the murder of an 11-year-old boy turns a small town on the coast of the British Isles completely upside down in pursuit of the killer. Hardy comes with all the inner turmoil and haunted past that Sherlock carries around like baggage, with the bonus of Hardy being an obvious outsider as a new transplant to the town of Broadchurch.
While this may seem a stretch, the BBC’s latest series takes an entire season to solve a murder, get into the head of its characters and deliver a who-dun-it mystery with the kind of aplomb we’ve come accustomed to from a Doyle adaptation, so don’t count it out for lack of a pipe and hat. This one is ready to knock you off your feet.
- House, M.D.
Hugh Laurie’s doctor-sleuth may not seem like a total match for Sherlock either, but if you take out the scalpel and hospital, the addiction crazed, ultra-genius Dr. House is certainly a carbon copy of the private detective himself—even if he stole the limp from Watson this go round.
For fans who go just as bananas for Grey’s Anatomy or ER as they do for the Hounds of the Baskervilles, let Dr. House take you on his pill-popping adventure through his discontent with his team, outlandish diagnosis and little-known background knowledge that only someone like Sherlock could possess. Since it was the most show watched in the world in 2008, all 177 episodes and eight seasons are available in their entirety, so no one has to wait for the story to conclude!
- The Night Manager
Some say the latest screen adaptation of Le Carre’s work will make a future Bond out of Tom Hiddleston, but I’d like to think that the mind games of Jonathan Pine also take a fair amount of inspiration from Doyle’s leading man.
A night manager in Cairo during the break of the Arab Spring, former soldier Pine discovers a nefarious plot during one of his shifts and, instead of resisting attraction to the spy life, dives headfirst into sleuthing for Queen and country. This mini-series is sure to leave you wanting to know more about Pine’s backstory and his extreme intrigue for doing the right thing even when it will surely get him killed. Currently available on the BBC Player, this is a great one to flat out binge on!
Was there ever a botched job that included the great Sir Ian McKellan? Hardly not, which is why you should get thee to a Redbox immediately to check out his turn as the sleuth extraordinaire in Mr. Holmes.
A different take on the age-old story, McKellen’s Holmes is retired and living out his life in the countryside tending beehives before being wrestled back into the thick of things when his last unsolved mystery won’t stop nagging him. While lacking in a physical Watson (we’ll see him in flashbacks, but no “Elementary, my dear Watson,” I’m afraid), there are plenty of new characters to enthrall in this slower, more reflective adaptation of everyone’s favorite private eye, and an excellent new location to do it from: Tokyo. Don’t say I didn’t warn you; this might just be your new favorite storyline.
Whether you’re looking for the close version of pipe and Victorian Baker Street or just hoping to fall in love with yet another guileless character prone to insanity and extraordinary skills of deduction, these picks are perfect for the Doylians and Sherlockophiles alike. Good reading to you!