Friday, July 25, 2008

Television: Great Sleuthing, Part 1

It is always a tricky undertaking when someone sets out to adapt a story to the screen. Part of the problem is that some of the storytelling devices for written fiction simply do not translate into visual mediums. Another problem is usually found when trying to fit all the material into a suitable length of time for viewing. However, the biggest problem for a lot of adaptors is self-imposed. They operate under the false impression that they must change the story or no one will be interested. They fail to realize that half the audience has not read the source material and therefore do not care if it is the same or not, and those that are watching an adaptation having read it probably liked the original and may not want things changed.

Detective Fiction in general has been well served of late by the small screen. Two examples in particular are Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Poirot has done a very good job of translating most of the original books and are continuing to produce with the goal of doing all the written stories. Suchet’s interpretation is probably the most faithful as he has made a careful study of the character and actually read all the books making note of all descriptive facts available.

The Holmes stories produced from the mid 80s to the mid 90s were also faithful to the written word. It sometimes appears like the 1980s trying to look like the 1880s, but the stories themselves do not deviate, and most of the dialogue is taken straight from the Doyle stories.

Fans of the stories should delight in the way they have been preserved in these series and for those who are new to Holmes or Poirot would get a good and faithful introduction to either character.

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