Have you ever thought to yourself, “This Sherlock Holmes thing is great, but you know what would make it better? More future.” If you have, (and let’s be honest, who hasn’t felt that way at some point?) then Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century was created for you.
Created by DiC Entertainment and Scottish Television in 1999, Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century ran for 2 seasons, and a total of 26 episodes, even having been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award during this time. And yet unfortunately, it remains one of the most overlooked pieces of Sherlock Holmes media in recent memory.
The plot of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is exactly what it sounds like. The show takes place in the distant future, in a slightly depressing version of London, known in the show as “New London”. The sky is purple, flying cars are everywhere and the moon has become a popular business destination. Also, nearly all crime has been eliminated through the means of brainwashing people that break the law. And as unethical as that may sound, no one seems to have much of a problem with it. Especially not the 22nd century version of Scotland Yard, which, even though there’s no crime, can still justify having lots of money. One of London’s very last criminals is Martin Fenwick, a horribly deformed French geneticist, and essentially the show’s main villain. And usually chasing him around is one of the show’s main protagonists, the very strong willed Inspector Beth Lestrade of New Scotland Yard, carrying on the torch of her ancestor, the same Inspector Lestrade to have worked with Holmes in the Victorian era.
As the early plot of the show progresses, the audience is gradually introduced to Fenwick’s new partner in crime, a dapper Victorian gentleman that no one’s ever heard of.
Through some forensics magic, Inspector Lestrade finds (in a shocking plot twist) that this particular gentleman is none other than Professor James Moriarty, apparently raised from the dead. So without taking time to think about it, she makes the obvious decision to raise a 200-plus year old Sherlock Holmes from the grave to do battle with him. And conveniently, instead of actually being buried in a grave, the elderly Holmes’ body was preserved in a giant vat of honey and hidden in a warehouse under a big tarp. I’m sure there has to be a good reason for that, but the show didn’t bother to think it up.
So through the wonders of 22nd century medicine, Holmes is resurrected, and restored to the body of his 30 year old self. Now, normally, being brought back to life in a time over 2 centuries after the one in which you previously lived would be a disturbing thing to happen, but Holmes takes it extremely well. Actually he doesn’t even mention it. At all. He basically doesn’t care. So to assist him in his obviously difficult transition, Lestrade’s police robot assistant uses records to recreate himself as a half robot version of Watson. And surprisingly Holmes doesn’t take having a robotic knock-off of his passed away best friend around very well.
Now, even though it sounds cheesy and terrible (and every now and then it is a bit cheesy and terrible), Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century is actually one of the best, and most faithful, adaptions of the stories ever made for kids. Nearly every episode is based very faithfully on the original Conan Doyle stories and updated to fit the futuristic setting. For example, The Hound of the Baskervilles story happens on the moon, and it actually works surprising well. Also it should be mentioned that the intro music is awesome.
The art style of the show is amazing, mixing some Steam Punk elements with shameless amounts of Sci-Fi. The world that you’re taken into is written just as well, if not better, than any other Time-Travel franchise that exists. Back to the Future has its hover-boards and its DeLoreans, and Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century has a key-tar violin.
As far as characters go, it’s a 50/50 situation, which, since it’s a kid’s show, isn’t totally surprising. Future Holmes makes an interesting character, but he isn’t given much development. Even though he doesn’t seem as sharp as BBC’s Sherlock or any other Sherlock for that matter, when I watched it I was shocked by how well thought through some of his deductions are. Just like the BBC incarnation updated the deductions to current time, this show updates them to future time. Holmes will do things like deduct someone worked as a miner on the moon by their hand gestures, since they’re used to adjusting the oxygen controls on their space suits. Inspector Lestrade is developed a little, but her main job is to get annoyed by Holmes never listened to her, which gives some of the show’s most shining moments. Robo-Watson is actually a surprisingly classic Watson. He’s a bumbling and a little goofy and provides comic relief most of the time, but he’s also a superhumanly strong robot that smashes a lot of things protecting Holmes, which also makes him awesome. There are a lot of other really interesting characters to discover as the show progresses, like each completely unique and interesting member of the futuristic Baker Street Irregular crew. Like a muscular, street-wise Billy, and a mute computer genius in a hover chair.
So even though it wasn’t allowed to live up to its full potential, I think the writers did what they could with what they had. Instead of seeming childish, it has intensity where it needs to, it’s creepy when it wants to be, and even has its fair share of heart every now and then. And all that, toned down to fit children’s television.
If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan with a taste for the obscure and 20 minutes to spare, do yourself a favour and give Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century a quick look and see what you think.