Canon Thursday: Holmes-ish Television


We (still) have no airdate for Sherlock series three. Now that we’re all most likely tired of watching Series 1&2 (Who am I kidding? We could watch those forever), having Granada marathons where we marvel at Jeremy Brett, crying over Nigel Bruce, catching up on Elementary, and trying to imagine that Robert Downey Jr is tall, it’s time for something a little bit different to help us get through the hiatus (hey, at least we’re not calling it the he-ate-us like those Hannibal fans*…). This post will be about para-Holmesian shows, those shows that, more or less, owe character aspects and plot points to the Sherlock Holmes canon.

Jonathan Creek:

With twenty-eight episodes that span fifteen years, the show headlined by British funnyman Alan Davies isn’t exactly an international household name, but it’s a charming, perplexing, and somewhat under-appreciated mystery series. The title character, Jonathan, is a magician’s assistant–a reclusive, antisocial genius who creates world-famous illusions. Against his will, at first, he also becomes the crimefighting partner of various female journalists and turns out to have a unique knack for explaining seemingly inexplicable cases.

Holmes Tie-In: Jonathan’s antisocial, unemotional devotion to logic makes him Sherlock Holmes’s clear descendant.


Famed winner of numerous awards, including several primetime Emmys, the show that starred Tony Shalhoub as intensely obsessive-compulsive police consultant Adrian Monk was a consistent and often brilliant watch for its eight seasons. Almost always procedural, it also managed to give the viewer enough of a window into the characters to create strong attachments.

Holmes Tie-In: Monk has Holmes’s ability to observe tiny details and build them into ironclad cases. The show’s devotion to the procedural format also echoes Conan Doyle’s love of the short story format.


House M.D:

A modern American classic, the show that starred British comedian-turned-genius Hugh Laurie as an antisocial, drug-addicted doctor was sometimes uneven in quality, but had many masterpiece episodes during its eight seasons. The show made no bones about its Sherlockian connection, using Holmes’s character, methods, and personality, as well as Watson’s, to influence its procedure and ultimate character arcs.

Holmes Tie-in: Everything, but never too much.

Person of Interest:

Currently airing weekly on CBS, the slightly futuristic drama (but really not much, given recent NSA news) stars Michael Emerson as a brainy computer mastermind and Jim Caviezel as his brawny assistant. Together, the two use information from The Machine, a tech creation of Emerson’s character, to find and protect people in danger.

Holmes Tie-In: Emerson’s character Finch has elements of both Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, and Caviezel’s character Reese combines John Watson’s physical bravery with some of Sherlock’s brains.

*I might be one of those fans.


The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.


4 thoughts on “Canon Thursday: Holmes-ish Television

  1. Nice summary….great sense of how the strands of the Holmes and Watson characterizations work themselves out in other stories

  2. I love you for including “Monk!” In addition to being a well-written, brilliantly-acted, sweetly funny, and always-poignant show, it’s also chock-full of Holmesian references:

    – a medically-trained partner and best friend (Monk’s first assistant, Sharona, was a nurse),
    – trusted colleagues on the official police force (Stottlemeyer & Disher),
    – an older brother who is much smarter than the “Great Detective” but who rarely gets involved in solving crimes (instead of laziness, however, Ambrose doesn’t get out much because he suffers from agoraphobia),
    – an arch-nemesis who runs a criminal empire (Dale the Whale),
    – and, perhaps best of all: Monk gets his very own Reichenbach Fall in Season Six, appearing to be shot and killed out on a pier before falling into the sea.

    Once you start looking for ’em, the Holmes references are plentiful. It adds an extra dimension of delight for the Sherlockian watching the show! 🙂

  3. Law & Order: Criminal Intent with Goren and Eames is the best non-Sherlock Sherlock Holmes show made, bar none.

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