Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Shakespeare in Sherlock

"The Lying Detective." By Steven Moffat. Perf. Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and Una Stubbs. Dir. Nick Hurran. Sherlock. Season 4, episode 2. DVD. BBC Home Entertainment, 2017.

One of Sherlock Holmes' catchphrases is "The game's afoot."

But the fact that he's quoting Shakespeare is not always recognized. It appears in Henry V—at III.i.32 to be precise. Henry uses it to urge his army to a renewed attack on the town of Harfleur.

One of my favorite instances is (as long-term readers of Bardfilm will know) when Data from Star Trek quotes it while pretending to be Sherlock Holmes (for which, q.v.).

More recently, Sherlock—the one with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman?—had its Sherlock Holmes deliver the phrase . . . but with a great deal of context—an edited-down version of "Once more unto the breech."

Without spoiling too much, Sherlock has gone a bit off his crumpet. His delivery of the speech is marked by mania (if not actual psychosis):

Thrilling, isn't it?

I mean the Shakespeare . . . but the Sherlock is pretty good, too.

In the episode immediately before that one ("The Six Thatchers"), there's a briefer reference to Shakespeare.  I provide it here as a bonus:

Bonus Video: A Brief Quotation from Macbeth in Season 4, episode 1.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

Click below to purchase the season from amazon.com
(and to support Bardfilm as you do so).

Bonus Image: The Game's Afoot


Hunting Violets (Resa Haile) said...

Do you know where I can find a list of all the times Holmes quotes or paraphrases Shakespeare in the Doyle stories?

kj said...

Thanks, Hunting Violets. I don't know of such a list, and a quick Google search didn't reveal a single source for such allusions or quotations (though many miscellaneous people are writing about a point here or there).

Take care!


Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest