Jump to content
dderadoo

Fanfiction / Adaptations that change characters dramatically

Recommended Posts

What is your opinion on Sherlock fanfiction / different adaptations that change characters dramatically? How much do you think people should stay true to the original canon? I'm thinking of modern adaptations like Elementary with John as a woman, as well as previous rumors that BBC Sherlock's John and Sherlock would be romantically involved. Is there a line that people can cross that will ruin the story, and if so what is it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there, dderadoo, welcome to the forum! Interesting question...

 

If you mean is there something that you could put in an adaptation that would ruin the original stories, then I'd have to say no ... I don't think adaptations have any impact on the original. Or shouldn't have, at least. The original and the adaptations should stand apart as separate entities.

 

But if you mean is there something they could put in an adaptation that would make it unacceptable to ME ... I'd have to say yes. If there was porn in it, for example, I would find that unacceptable. Or if there was too much gratuitous violence. Or if I didn't like the actor's portrayal of his/her character. But that's strictly a matter of taste, someone else might like it for the same reasons that I don't like it.

 

Probably the only line that I would insist no one should ever cross is if someone pretended an adaptation was their own, original idea.

 

Just my two cents worth....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi dderadoo (is there a method to the username madness? :p).

 

I probably not qualified to give input, as my Sherlock knowledge outside BBC is very limited. But if I must answer.. :)

I adore Sherlock for the unusual character trait, I find it fascinating. It is odd to say for more than one hundred years old character; he is fresh.

 

So my deal breaker is if they make Sherlock romantically involved with anyone, and live a normal life (sorry Sherl!) when the show turns mushy, cliche, babies, predictable then eeekk.. ghastly, there are many shows like that around and I don't need any/more of that.

I hate when writers succumb to trap of normalcy.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great question!

 

It's interesting to me that Sherlock Holmes is no longer just a series of books and stories, it's a template for a certain kind of story. I find it really fun to see how people can play with that template and still have something that is recognizably Sherlock Holmes.

 

For me, a Sherlock Holmes story has to have the following elements (that I can think of right now):

  • Holmes needs to be intelligent and have abilities to perceive/analyze that others do not.
  • Watson needs to be one of the few people who understands Holmes and actively likes him.
  • Watson needs to act as a buffer between Holmes and the "real" world.
  • The Holmes-Watson relationship needs to be at the center of the story. Actually, even ACD didn't do a great job of this all the time, but I think the best stories make it clear that it is Holmes and Watson together that make the magic.
  • Holmes needs to have a tragic flaw.  This is usually drug use, but it could be something else.
  • Lestrade needs to function as a control on Holmes, acting as the gateway to getting the really interesting cases.

Nice, but not necessarily required for my enjoyment:

  • I'd like to not be able to solve the case myself in the first 10 minutes of the show or 3 paragraphs of the story. (I'm looking at you again, ACD.)
  • I like Holmes to be awkward at romantic relationships.  I don't care if he has one, but it can't come easy.  He's not James Bond.
  • I'd prefer Watson to have a brain and a career and a past of his own.
  • I prefer Watson to have a romantic relationship outside of his friendship with Holmes, at least part of the time. I don't need him to be a womanizer (or a - what is the analogous term? - man-izer?), but I like a Watson with a romantic life. 

Deal breakers.  If these things happen, it isn't a Sherlock Holmes story for me.

  • Holmes and Watson are a romantic couple.  I don't care about their genders.  If you go for a romantic relationship, then you have Remington Steele or Moonlighting (showing my age here), not Sherlock Holmes and "the two best friends ever."
  • Holmes can't fit easily into society. One of the things he needs Watson for is to grease the social wheel.  
  • Holmes can't have a conventional romantic relationship on screen or on page.  Anything that goes on is transient or something he would hide from society.  

What a fun question!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, great question!

 

Of course I don't think there are lines that shouldn't be crossed - people can write whatever they want. But for me to give it a chance, I think my criteria are similar to Boton's. And unlike Doyle, I consider marrying or killing off Holmes deal breakers. Watson can't die either.

 

I have become a bit more lenient about the exact nature of the relationship between the main characters. Originally, I was violently opposed to the idea of having them be or fall in love, now I actually think it would be an interesting experiment if an adaptation went there.

 

Another one I would maybe attempt to conduct myself if I had the time and the talent is to change both characters' genders. Has there ever been a female Holmes?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, great question!

 

Of course I don't think there are lines that shouldn't be crossed - people can write whatever they want. But for me to give it a chance, I think my criteria are similar to Boton's. And unlike Doyle, I consider marrying or killing off Holmes deal breakers. Watson can't die either.

 

I have become a bit more lenient about the exact nature of the relationship between the main characters. Originally, I was violently opposed to the idea of having them be or fall in love, now I actually think it would be an interesting experiment if an adaptation went there.

 

Another one I would maybe attempt to conduct myself if I had the time and the talent is to change both characters' genders. Has there ever been a female Holmes?

 

One female Holmes that comes to mind is a pairing in Dr. Who, Madame Vastra and Jenny.  They supposedly are modeled on Holmes and Watson, except for the tiny details that they are a Victorian era F/F romantic couple, and Madame Vastra is also a lizard-like alien.   :wtf: They seem to work fairly well in the model, but I didn't include them in my mental data set because I didn't see enough of them to decide if they really "read" as Holmes and Watson to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't given this topic a whole lot of thought yet, but there is one definite deal-breaker for me.

 

I've seen/read a couple of adaptations where the Watson (or Watson surrogate) becomes a full-fledged partner of Holmes, fully as capable as he is, and with pretty much the same methods. Nuh-uh, that's not what Watsons are for.

 

I don't at all mind Watson supplying some crucial clues, especially of a medical nature. (In fact, it bugs me when a Watson fails to notice something of that sort.) But Holmes is Holmes because he's Holmes. He didn't learn it at Holmes School. It's innate, ergo it cannot be taught (not even by Holmes).

 

This is not to say that Watson cannot learn some of Holmes' methods (and vice versa), but s/he can never become another full-fledged Holmes.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't given this topic a whole lot of thought yet, but there is one definite deal-breaker for me.

 

I've seen/read a couple of adaptations where the Watson (or Watson surrogate) becomes a full-fledged partner of Holmes, fully as capable as he is, and with pretty much the same methods. Nuh-uh, that's not what Watsons are for.

 

I don't at all mind Watson supplying some crucial clues, especially of a medical nature. (In fact, it bugs me when a Watson fails to notice something of that sort.) But Holmes is Holmes because he's Holmes. He didn't learn it at Holmes School. It's innate, ergo it cannot be taught (not even by Holmes).

 

This is not to say that Watson cannot learn some of Holmes' methods (and vice versa), but s/he can never become another full-fledged Holmes.

Agreed!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd quite like to see a female version of Holmes and Watson if they kept the characters very much the same and just the genders changed. So keep Watson an army doctor (why isn't she in Elementary?!) keep Holmes awkward and somewhat abrasive without falling into a trap of making her stereotypically bitchy. Also keep her innocent charisma without making her childlike or naive. Really I'd like to see exactly the same character traits of BC and MF's version of the characters only female. I would love to see a BAMF female Watson. 

 

I wouldn't mind seeing a Holmes/Watson adaptation as long as it wasn't the overall focus of the story. The focus should always be on the mysteries and cases, but I'm happy to have a bit of romance thrown in too. Saying that I don't want to see Holmes with anyone other than Watson - that would definitely be a deal breaker for me. 

 

Something I hate that pops up in fanfic a fair bit is the feminising and weakening of Holmes. When he seems to lose all his strengths, cries at the drop of a hat, needs one of the other characters to constantly step in and protect him. I don't mind a bit of angst, or a bit of vulnerability, but when he's stripped down from being a capable grown man into something pathetic it grates on me. 

 

I also need Holmes to be incredibly intelligent. Part of the reason I went off Elementary is because most of his 'insights,' when they bother to show them, aren't all that clever. It makes him just another maverick detective and takes away what makes him so interesting in the first place. It's also why the idea that Sherlock is the Holmes family idiot annoys me so much in season 4.

 

Finally, (for now ;)), I can't stand a naggy Watson. Or an idiot Watson. I played a SH game once and every couple of scenes Watson was bitchily demanding Holmes explain something relatively basic, and I couldn't understand how Holmes could bear to live with someone who really was that much of an idiot. Watson must be fairly smart to have become a doctor, this version seemed barely able to tie his shoelaces.   

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would it help if I pointed out that the only one who thinks he's the family idiot is Sherlock himself? Who's known to be a little harsh with himself at times.... :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not really, since Mycroft was analysed as being exceptional, Eurus was Incandescent (they were both something like that anyway) and Sherlock... not mentioned. Was he assessed and they went 'meh, he's nothing special?'

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will head to the Sherlock thread and lay out my counter-argument. :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Something I hate that pops up in fanfic a fair bit is the feminising and weakening of Holmes. When he seems to lose all his strengths, cries at the drop of a hat, needs one of the other characters to constantly step in and protect him. I don't mind a bit of angst, or a bit of vulnerability, but when he's stripped down from being a capable grown man into something pathetic it grates on me.

 

:-D I think I know what you mean. The resulting character can be quite lovable and amusing but seems all wrong as a Sherlock Holmes incarnation.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Something I hate that pops up in fanfic a fair bit is the feminising and weakening of Holmes. When he seems to lose all his strengths, cries at the drop of a hat, needs one of the other characters to constantly step in and protect him. I don't mind a bit of angst, or a bit of vulnerability, but when he's stripped down from being a capable grown man into something pathetic it grates on me.

:-D I think I know what you mean. The resulting character can be quite lovable and amusing but seems all wrong as a Sherlock Holmes incarnation.

 

 

I agree with Pseud and Toby.  I don't like the weak, self-doubting, and even self-loathing fics that are out there. I won't read cutting/self-harm fics, for example, even though I think they are probably serving a very important purpose for their author. 

 

I think something like a self-harm fic could be done well, and maybe I've missed one. The cutting could be the tragic flaw I was talking about, instead of drug use. But everything else about Holmes would have to stay constant, and that's rarely the case.

 

I don't like the opposite extreme either though -- where Sherlock is so antisocial that he is almost violently so, refusing to engage with anyone even to the detriment of getting something out of the interaction, and with John running around being not so much a buffer with society as someone who is Sherlock's full time apology squad.  There's a fine line, because you can get away with a lot of prickly-ness with Sherlock, but he does generally know how to use people for his own ends.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, it can definitely go too far the other way too. 

 

I don't read self-harm fics in the typical sense, no cutting, but I have read a few addiction ones that were really powerful, there's one called White Tulip that really sticks in mind, it's out of character with how far Sherlock has fallen but it is a place I could see him going to. I only read it because I thought it would have a happy end, but it really stuck with me. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We could say though that both the original character and the BBC version do practice self-harm. Drugs, sleep deprivation, smoking / excessive use of nicotine substitutes, periods of starvation / irregular food intake, etc etc etc. Original Mr Holmes is several times mentioned as being quite ill and refusing rest or other proper treatment, and (as far as Watson knows) he is not always faking it.

 

Nontheless, I can't see him cutting himself either. As for self-loathing, yeah, he has that, at least the BBC version does, sometimes. Other times, he seems to think he's just the greatest being ever.

 

What I often miss in fan fic is the for me essential aspect that underneath all his eccentricities and weaknesses, Sherlock Holmes is a hero and actually quite a wise man. If he can't make me feel that now he's here, everything will be all right in the end, he's not Sherlock Holmes.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't read self-harm fics in the typical sense, no cutting, but I have read a few addiction ones that were really powerful, there's one called White Tulip that really sticks in mind, it's out of character with how far Sherlock has fallen but it is a place I could see him going to. I only read it because I thought it would have a happy end....

 

I take it that you guessed wrong?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea :( it's not a complete downer, you get the sense things will get better for him eventually, that he's taken the first step, but it's not the ending I was hoping for. The author said she was thinking of writing a sequel which would be happier but I don't know if she ever will. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, happy ending, that's another must! I don't read works with unhappy endings in general - although my definition of "happy" may be a little generous (for example, I liked the movie with Mr Cumberbatch where he plays a terminally ill man, that had an ending which counted as happy for me).

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't like things that leave me depressed :( I can't remember a lot about that film, I watched it because it was filmed in my neck of the woods. Is that the one where 

he goes off into the sea at the end?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup.

 

I'm with Toby, it was sad but uplifting. I avoid stories that are, um, downlifting. Downtrodding? Downers. I don't like walking out of a theater feeling I've been sullied or beat up, even if it's "only" an emotional beating. I have enough trouble subjecting myself to those feelings without letting entertainment do it to me too. :rolleyes:

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed!  I guess what I want from a movie is a satisfactory outcome.  It doesn't have to be "happy" in any literal sense, but it does need to make sense within the story's universe, and leave me with a feeling that things worked out for the best (but not in a defeatist sense).

 

For example, I would classify The Good Night as having a good (even delightful) ending, even though a literal description of the outcome might sound rather awful (and some people seem to have reacted to it in that way).

 

And as I've said before, if you don't like nasty endings, stay well away from Reuben, Reuben (even though it's just wonderful until the last ten minutes).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And yet on the page you directed us to for Reuben, the user review says it has the best ending of any movie, ever! Now I don't know whether to rent it or not. (Pretty sure not. :smile: )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a related question ... those of you who were Holmes fans before Sherlock came along, and are also fans of this version of Sherlock ... why do you like it? Is it because it captures the flavor of the original stories so well? Or because it turns the original stories on their heads? Or is the allure something unrelated to the original stories?

 

Just curious.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a related question ... those of you who were Holmes fans before Sherlock came along, and are also fans of this version of Sherlock ... why do you like it? Is it because it captures the flavor of the original stories so well? Or because it turns the original stories on their heads? Or is the allure something unrelated to the original stories?

 

Just curious.....

I think at first, I fell in love with this adaptation independently or even in spite of my being a fan of the original character. The two main actors' performances were what drew me in. Only later did I realize how cleverly the source material was handled and I appreciate that very much too but it wasn't a factor in getting me hooked.
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of UseWe have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.Privacy PolicyGuidelines.