Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sherlock Double Feature: A Study in Scarlet (and Pink)

I've been really anticipating today's post! It's a Sherlock double feature - taking a look at Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, as well as the PBS Masterpiece Mystery episode of Sherlock, "A Study in Pink." (Warning: There will be spoilers!) To quote Sherlock Holmes, "the plot thickens"...

A Study in Scarlet

I confess to having watched "A Study in Pink" long before reading A Study in Scarlet. I'm not sure which would be more fun: reading the book first and seeing the little tidbits from the book in the episode, or watching the episode first and seeing how the creators of Sherlock used the book to inspire the show. Of course, I did the latter. I think no matter which way you go about it, it's just plain fun!

The first part of the book shares a lot of similarities with the show (although the show is modern and therefore has parallels with the book's plot rather than exact connections). Here are some examples I caught that I absolutely loved:
  • In the book Watson reads an article written by Sherlock Holmes about "The Science of Deduction." In the show, Watson reads Sherlock's website, aptly named "The Science of Deduction."
  • In the book Sherlock takes out an article in the newspaper regarding the mysterious wedding ring found at the scene of the crime - under Watson's name. In the show Sherlock uses Watson's cell phone and asks Watson to text the murderer. (Love it!)
  • In the book there are two pills - one poisonous and one harmless - just like in the show.
  • In the book the murderer works as a cab driver, just like in the show, although cabs in the time of the book were horse-drawn and not motorized vehicles.
  • In the book there is an interesting comment made by detective Gregson, who states, "He [Inspector Lestrade] is after the secretary Stangerson, who had no more to do with the crime than the babe unborn." Perhaps that's like the part in the show where the police think Rachel (the victim's stillborn daugher) has nothing to do with solving the crime?
There are many more similarities I am sure, but these were just a few that stood out to me. I do have to note one difference (a grand twist), as well:
  • In the book Sherlock tells Lestrade: "'Rache,' is the German for 'revenge;' so don't lose your time looking for Miss Rachel." I just had to laugh at that, because in the show it's the exact opposite! ;)
To continue on with my thoughts about the book, I have to say that I was quite surprised by the second part of the book where I was all of a sudden thrust into the back-story of the criminal. I had to skip ahead to make sure I was still reading the same book! ;) But once I realized that it was indeed pertinent to the mystery, I really appreciated the background. I was appalled and saddened by the crimes leading up to the one Sherlock solves. Mormons, the Wild West, and a tragic romance - definitely different than "A Study in Pink!" As I said, I didn't see it coming, but I appreciated the fact that the background was shared in an intriguing, engaging way.

A Study in Pink

If you have been following my blog since Fall 2010 (or earlier), you're probably aware that I fell in love with the PBS Masterpiece Sherlock series. I think the show is wonderfully done! To quote Sherlock himself, "Brilliant!" I cannot wait for Season Two!!

But back to the first episode of Season One... "A Study in Pink" is actually quite a different mystery than the one presented in the book A Study in Scarlet. There are plenty of connections with the book, and yet the show offers a unique, fascinating story. I think the show is more suspenseful, more action-packed, and more fun than the book (although I did enjoy the book!). But I'm probably partially biased since I saw the show first... ;)

Anyway, "A Study in Pink" is just so witty and quotable! And even though Sherlock is just as conceited and frustrating in the show as he is in the book, there's something charming and human about him in the show... The show puts more emphasis on his relationship with Watson, providing great dialogues and the beginnings of a "beautiful friendship." (I know, I know... It just fits!)

I like that we are able to see his mind at work throughout the episode, whereas in the book I feel like there are a lot less clues to go off on in order for the reader to come up with his/her own conclusions. It's as if we're traveling with Sherlock in the episode, but trailing after him in the book, if that makes sense. (But it could just be me... I'm not the best at solving mysteries, I confess!)

I just love the overall presentation of "A Study in Pink!" (Can you tell I LOVE this show??) I love the depth given to all of the characters, especially Watson (with his military background, his psychosomatic limp, etc.). And it's so thought-provoking and clever! My dad noted how intelligent the show is, and I completely agree!

More Sherlock, Please!

If you're interested in learning more about the PBS Masterpiece Sherlock series...

Want to discuss Sherlock? Here's a question for you:
  • In "A Study in Pink," Inspector Lestrade tells Watson, "Sherlock Holmes is a great man. And I think one day he might even be a good one." Do you agree with Lestrade's assessment? Why or why not?


Diane said...

I can not wait for Season 2. When oh when!!! I totally agree with the quote and think the acting is making it more so! :O)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the link, Amber! It has been YEARS AND YEARS since I read the novel, A Study in Scarlet, so I really enjoyed reading your comparisons!

Amber Holcomb said...


Oh, same here!!! I can't believe we have to wait until next spring!! Patience, I know... ;)

And I like your response to the discussion question! :)


Amber Holcomb said...


No problem! You always right such thorough and well-written reviews. :)

I'm so glad you enjoyed the comparisons--I had a lot of fun reading the book and re-watching the movie (who knows how many times I've seen it, LOL!). ;)


Renee said...

I love the updated version of Sherlock! The folks at Masterpiece really pulled out all the stops to make the character so quirky, fascinating, and yet human--as you mentioned. The humor is great, the relationship between the characters is interesting, and I love the landlady. ("I'm not your housekeeper, dear.") It's all good!

Thanks for highlighting these mysteries here, Amber! I hope someone will check them out after reading this :)

Amber Holcomb said...

Renee Ann,

I am in complete agreement! :D Isn't the landlady great? "I know what you mean, dear. I've got a hip..." ;)

It's my pleasure to feature and discuss these great books/shows, and it would be awesome if someone did decide to give them a try! :)


Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

I was mad at this show for a while since I read online that it was cutting into the Doctor Who filming and writing schedule but I have since learned that I was misinformed and Sherlock has been forgiven. :-P I may give him a chance now.

XOXO~ Renee

Amber Holcomb said...

Oh, Renee!!!

I'm glad you've forgiven Sherlock. ;) If you get the opportunity, I say GIVE HIM A CHANCE! LOL! ;) I really do love this series, and I think you would, too!!


Sonia said...

I just read A Study in Scarlet, and then Googled it, came across this. I thought your comparisons were exactly the ones I made! I really loved the reversal of the Rache/Rachel in the show too! It was very cleverly done. Also the story was modernized to make it more plausible in present day.

Amber Holcomb said...


Oh, that's awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post - glad that you found the same comparisons! :) I agree that the show is very clever and the modernization is quite well-done. Excited to see Season 2!!