Sunday, July 3, 2011
Finding TV fame: Why some fictional detectives fare better than others...
Somerset begins his article with: "Poor Father Brown. How it must rankle. It’s a good thing he’s a man of the cloth or who knows what evil might worm its way into his heart were he to dwell on all those classic detectives who have fared better than him when it comes to film and television adaptations. Dare one even whisper the words Sherlock Holmes?"
It's a topic which has intrigued me for a while - how some detectives, and therefore their books and writers, become more famous due to numerous adaptations, how some terrific characters aren't adapted for film and TV, or aren't repeatedly adapted, etc? Of course, when it comes to the film business (and probably TV too, by extrapolation), William Goldman's famous quote: "Nobody knows anything" is very appropriate.
Somerset mentions the likes of the much-adapted Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, as well. Sherlock Holmes has of course been adapted many times over. Could it just be that those characters have been around for so long? Well, no - because as Somerset points out, Father Brown hasn't fared so well. Dame Ngaio Marsh's Inspector Roderick Alleyn has been adapted for both British and New Zealand television, but I'm not sure how Wimsey and other Golden Age characters have fared. They're certainly not being regularly remade for modern films or TV shows like the drug-taking, violin-playing resident of 221B.
You can read Somerset's article in full here.
Why do you think some crime fiction characters have been remade more than others? Is it just that the most popular characters or authors have been most remade? Or does that become self-fulfilling (ie remakes generate more popularity)? What about modern detectives? Which more recent characters would you most like to see adapted for the big or small screen? Which older characters would you like to see given a modern twist in an updated film or TV series, ala Sherlock?