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Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century

Entry updated 9 January 2020. Tagged: TV.

British/American/French animated tv series (1999-2001). DiC Productions L.P. and Scottish Television Enterprises. Based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Concept by Sandy Ross, Developed by Phil Harnage. Directed by Robert Brousseau and Scott Heming. Writers include Robert Askin and Martha Moran. Voice cast includes Ian James Corlett, Jason Gray-Stanford, Akiko Morison, Richard Newman and John Payne. 26 21-minute episodes. Colour.

New London, 2103: a flying car chase ends with Inspector Beth Lestrade (Morison) of New Scotland Yard capturing rogue geneticist Martin Fenwick (Corlett), but his passenger escapes. Fenwick is given cryptnosis to remove his criminal tendencies (see Crime and Punishment; Memory Edit), but Lestrade is suspicious and follows him to the Sherlock Holmes Museum; upon seeing a picture of Moriarty (Newman), Lestrade recognizes Fenwick's passenger and the threat he poses. Aware of the Scientist Sir Evan Hargreaves' recent advances in Rejuvenation, Lestrade decides to bring back Moriarty's nemesis.

Hargreaves readily agrees to reanimate and rejuvenate the honey-preserved corpse of Sherlock Holmes, acquired by Lestrade with little regard for the proper channels; her Robot assistant Watson (Payne) thoughtfully adopts the appearance and persona of his namesake. Holmes (Gray-Stanford) takes rebirth in his stride, speedily familiarizes himself with the twenty-second century and, after noticing a hole drilled in the ice entombing Moriarty's corpse frozen at the Reichenbach Falls, deduces that his old enemy has been Cloned (somehow with memories intact) by Fenwick.

Episodes are loosely based on Doyle's stories, usually sharing the title: for example "Silver Blaze" concerns a spacecar racer, stolen despite the presence of a guard dog, though here the purpose is to rob another Spaceship; "The Hound of the Baskervilles" takes place on the Moon, where the hound is a diversion in Moriarty's plot to rule the Earth. Holmes's personality is suitably arrogant, but lacks much of the original's accompanying charm and is not helped by his having acquired "eyes and brains" as an underwhelming catchphrase; his deductions are fairly routine. Though Lestrade is a Clichéd regulation-flouting cop, the gender shift at least plays with the stereotype; the influence of Major Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell (1995) might also be detected.

The creators are clearly familiar with the canon and its history: in "The Adventure of the Mazarin Chip", about a microchip that creates solid Virtual Realities, Moriarty praises Star Trek, a nod to his character's appearance as a holodeck creation in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987-1994); whilst Holmes' rejuvenator, Sir Evan Hargreaves, resembles Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. However, the stories themselves are fairly weak: though by no means a bad series, it is not a particularly good one either.

The animated television series BraveStarr (1987-1988), an sf western about a marshal on the frontier planet New Texas, had a two-episode serial "Sherlock Holmes in the 23rd Century" that was clearly intended as a pilot, though never commissioned. Its future London is more Victorian in nature and the female detective Holmes teams up with is a blaster-toting Mycroft Holmes; her boss is Kitty Lestrade and Moriarty also appears. The similarity in titles perhaps reflects the shared inspiration of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. [SP]


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