Hi everybody and welcome to another edition of Saturday (Errr Thursday) Morning Cartoons, the series where I go back and watch shows that I watched when I was a kid to see if they hold up favorably to that warm and fuzzy nostalgia feeling that I have for them. This week we're going to look at an often overlooked show from the 90's Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. I know that I skipped doing this article last week, but personal issues with work prevented me from having enough time to sit down and write this sucker out. So I apologize for the delay on this one, but here goes.
I need to preface my discussion for today with a disclaimer, since watching this show as a kid and apparently despite of it, I became a huge detective fiction fan, I've read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and even took a detective fiction course in college, so I may be a little harsh on this one, but it's because I love the source material :3
This show had such promise to it in it's premise alone. The show focuses on the idea that Sherlock Holmes is re-animated in the 22nd Century to deal with a spree of crimes that are being perpetrated by his arch nemesis Moriarty. They start out with nods to other characters from the classic stories, like his partner being LeStrade's ancestor along with a robot who thinks he's John Watson. The Scotland Yard is still inept and Sherlock is still brilliant. However, everything starts to crumble from there. Sherlock's Deductions in the opening few episodes don't follow the most important rule of detective fiction, they don't follow directly from the facts given to the viewer. Some of the time he'll make a deduction that isn't readily apparent to the audience until it's actually explained and then the evidence for it will be presented. Already it feels as if the show is no longer going to rely on what made the books great. It focuses pretty heavily on the action involved in these future cases with hover car chases and brawls between Sherlock and the Baddy of the week.
Moriarty is described as the greatest criminal mind ever known and early on he completely is reduced to a mustache twirling caricature of what evil should be. He uses a single minion regularly through out the series who is more like igor than someone Moriarty would work with. It's really quite weird. One of my biggest gripes with the show is that it starts with "The Final Problem" my personal favorite Sherlock Holmes story and the one where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off the famous detective by having him and his eternal adversary Moriarty fall together off of a waterfall. However the conflict leading up to this amazing climax is one of the most tense and well written mysteries I've read, which is why I'm supremely pissed that this show just ignored it completely, they used the waterfall as a plot device to bring Sherlock and Moriarty to the future. This also leads right into my absolute biggest problem with the series. It apes famous stories from the novels and reworks them to work in the 22nd Century. Which makes me wonder, if you're not going to come up with original mysteries for Holmes why not just animate the original stories and show that?! Surely the great detective would be able to deduce the patterns that these new cases are taking with relation to his previous cases.
It's a shame too that the show doesn't work on all of these levels because the voice acting is quite good and the actual setting of the 22nd century is nice and Lestrade is actually a welcome addition to the Sherlock/Watson team it allows for a strong constant female presence that isn't Irene Addler, so that's pretty cool. The animation actually holds up pretty well with the exception of the parts where they tried to implement CG into the show which is 90's CG so it looks like butt. Anyway I wish this show had at least attempted more original content because it did have promise, but instead it retold stories in a worse fashion than they had been told originally and with the much better retellings of Sherlock and the Robert Downey versions I can't in good conscience recommend this one to just about anyone:
Next week I'll be taking a look at another cartoon that I hope hope hope stands up because damn did I love this one. Batman Beyond!