He’s brilliant. He’s fast. He’s strong. He’s… blond?
A little hard to believe, but Sherlock Holmes is blond in the 22nd century. Blond and blue-eyed—very Anglo-Saxon, and finally living up to his name: fair-haired.
He hasn’t lost any of his sardonic wit, but, on the other hand, he’s also mellowed some. Not that this is a bad thing: this is simply Sherlock Holmes having lived a full life (some 70 years at least), died, and then returned to life. Though he has the body of a 25-year-old, he has more of the maturity of an older man.
His supervising officer is the direct descendant of his “favorite” Yarder—folks, meet Inspector Beth Lestrade. His comrade-in-investigation is New Scotland Yard compudroid Watson, a robot who has scanned the real Watson’s journals and taken on an imitation of the Good Doctor’s personality. His home is once again 221B Baker Street, restored to living quarters after museum attendance fizzled out. His eyes and ears in the Underworld are teenager Wiggins and tweens Deidre and paraplegic Tennyson.
And once again, his enemy is none other than James Moriarty.
However, unlike the cellular rejuvenation of Holmes, Moriarty is not the real McCoy returned to life, but a clone with all the original’s memories. To borrow Holmes’s own words, “isn’t technology wonderful.” This clone is younger, stronger, theatrical, and rather emotionally volatile, prone to anger. Nevertheless, Moriarty is once again working his way up to the top of the criminal world, and he’s not content with just that, either. Nope, this Moriarty is setting his sights on global domination, a goal he could well have achieved several times over by now did not Sherlock Holmes, compudroid!Watson, and Beth Lestrade stand in his way.
Moriarty’s one main assistant is Martin Fenwick, a rogue French geneticist. The world has Fenwick to thank for retrieving the original James Moriarty’s DNA and RNA from the ice cave below Reichenbach where Holmes buried the Professor. From there, Fenwick grew himself a criminal mastermind with the intention of using the clone as his servant. But, as Lestrade deduced, “slave turned on master,” and Moriarty took control.
Fenwick is perhaps of average height but grossly deformed, looking more alien than human with his grey skin, distorted face, and demented eyes. Lestrade makes regular cracks at the man, calling him “beautiful” and Moriarty’s “lab rat”—Fenwick could almost pass as a caricature of Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars.
Beth Lestrade herself is in her mid-twenties at the oldest, quite possibly New Scotland Yard’s youngest Inspector. She’s notorious for risk-taking and reckless driving, and she’s more than willing to stand up for herself, be it to her boss, Chief Inspector Greyson, Holmes, or Moriarty himself. Lestrade (lehstrahd) is either American or Canadian, judging by her accent, and she stands nearly as tall as Holmes. She’s brunette and pretty, but don’t let her looks fool you: the woman is one zedding good fighter. She can take on three criminals with lightsabers all at once and have them on the ground in handcuffs in under two minutes—impressive, yes? She gets easily irritated—more than ever, with Holmes and the Irregulars around—but she has a heart of gold underneath.
It was Lestrade, a Sherlockian, who recognized Moriarty and made the decision to have Sherlock Holmes’s honey-entombed body rejuvenated. And since she took the responsibility to resurrect the Great Detective, she got stuck with the responsibility to keep tabs on him. Fortunately, she seems to hold her own pretty well with the not-so-very-misogynistic Holmes.
Lestrade’s compudroid was meant to keep an eye on the volatile Yardie; he made sure she stuck to the rules, took her every word very literally, and reported to Greyson regarding Beth. Despite her frustration with these traits, she named the robot “Watson,” and, upon introducing him to Holmes, ordered the droid to scan the original Watson’s journals. After doing so, the compudroid took it upon himself to act as if he were the real Watson—he appears even to consider himself as such, though there are times when he very clearly identifies himself as a machine.
Holmes initially shunned the compudroid’s new persona but very nearly lost it when he thought Watson destroyed by the Thames. The detective then embraced the droid with the kind of fervor only Sherlock Holmes can have when he attaches himself to something, and went so far as to insist that Watson lived with him in 221B. Watson took on an elasto-mask that was meant to be a replica of John H. Watson’s head, bowler hat and monocle (???) included. Watson now accompanies Holmes on all his cases and has proven himself an invaluable assistant. Though quite tough in a fight, the droid is gentle and very good-natured, not really an exact replica of the canonical Watson but a fair imitation.
Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century may be a cartoon, but don’t let that put you off. Though the outdoor animation is a jarring 3D (think late ‘90s computer game graphics) compared to the indoor 2D and the dialogue is sometimes not quite… there… the show is quite faithful to the spirit of the Canon.
Holmes may have to fend enemies off physically more often, but the Great Detective has lost none of his stellar ability to observe and deduce. As he says so often in the show, “eyes and brains.” A robot may ironically be the heart of the group, but Holmes lets others see a fair bit of his own “great heart.” Holmes and a new Inspector Lestrade argue as much as ever but have a strong friendship beneath. Moriarty may be somewhat less stable, but he’s as evil and as cunning as ever. And one thing hasn’t changed: the world still needs Sherlock Holmes.
Most of the episodes take stories from the Canon and update them to the 22nd century, sometimes retaining only the bare bones of the original story in order to give the audience something fresh (e.g. “The Sussex Vampire Lot”). But not all episodes are Canon cop-offs: some are completely original stories, such as the premiere and its sequel.
And if you’re worried about any romantic interaction between Sherlock Holmes and Beth Lestrade, you needn’t be. Nope, they don’t kiss… though there are quite a few fans of the show that wish they would. The creators seem to have left the relationship open-ended: friendship or potential future romance. Some fans prefer the former, some the latter. If you’re willing to be convinced as to the potential, however, you need look no further than this page http://suburbanbanshee.net/holmes/bethsher.html
, which lays out a compelling case using Holmes’s own methods of observation and deduction.
All in all, a terrifically fun show for kids and adult Sherlockians alike! Holmes’s stellar characterization alone makes it worth seeing, and watching him react to 22nd century changes and interact with both friend and foe (Moriarty, especially) is fantastic.
I’ve only just recently started to watch the show, and I’ve yet to make it all the way through. But, of course, the muse has already been fired up—you can find two SH22 fics on my profile thus far! In fact, if you’re an AMM fan, I’ll go so far as to recommend my SH22 stories to you—they use AMM material, including material that you can’t find anywhere else except for in the book itself.
But whether or not you check out said fics, do check out the show itself! It might take some time to get used to it, but give it a chance—it just might grow on you.