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3 Detectives that Deserve the "Sherlock" Treatment

3 Detectives that Deserve the "Sherlock" Treatment

We’ve seen the success of Sherlock, a story that takes the great Victorian detective and places him in the modern day.  But the history of mysteries doesn’t end there. There are loads of old-timey detectives just aching for a modern reboot. Here are a couple we love:

Thomas Carnacki
Created by William Hope Hodgson in 1910, Carnacki is basically the haunted Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle was big on using the supernatural as a red-herring, but Hodgson’s Carnacki solved mysteries that ended with the Ghosts being real. He was what many people consider the first paranormal investigator in fiction, and has had a profound impact on any film, TV show, or book that centers on an Occult detective. John Constantine, Hellboy, Kolchak The Night Stalker; they all owe a tip of their hat and salute from their ectoplasma-powered machine guns to old Thomas Carnacki.

What Would the Modern Re-Telling Be Like?

Think CSI: Hogwarts. The young, spitfire private investigator Tom Carnacki uses a magical type of forensics to uncover occult con men or horrific murderers from the other side. Instead of figuring out that the murderer used a .45 automatic due to a gash in the victim’s arm, he’d figure out that the murderer used an ancient spell due to the victim’s head being a small walrus.

Dick Tracy
First introduced through comic strips, private investigator Dick Tracy has been solving crimes since 1931. Tracy was the greatest two-fisted, quick-witted, yellow-trenchcoated symbol of law enforcement that had ever lived. And the best part was, he was kid-friendly. The villains from Tracy’s world looked like a child had drawn them. The most popular villain in the series was named “Flattop,” and sported a literally flat noggin. Tracy also carried a variety of high-tech crime-fighting gadgets that essentially boiled down to really awesome toys, like Tracy’s famous two-way radio. Not so futuristic now, but at the time it was pretty high tech!

What Would the Modern Re-Telling Be Like?

There’s one demographic that no crime show can reach, and that’s anyone who's still young enough to sit on Santa's lap. That’s where Dick Tracy could live again. He’d have to be animated, of course, otherwise you’d lose the distorted forms of his rogues gallery. But think about it: every “crime-fighter” in kids’ TV is a superhero. This would be an opportunity to show kids that there are real people who fight crime out there, all the while dazzling them with (actual) high-tech detective equipment and heroic defeats of ugly baddies.

The Shadow
Originally, the creepy voice calling itself “The Shadow” was just the host of a 30s radio detective program. However, after he became popular, he started starring in his own adventures, and was famously voiced by the one and only Orson Welles. From there, the character became one of the most famous pulp fiction characters of all time, and would influence almost every masked superhero we know today. With his hypnotic powers over men’s minds and his blazing .45 automatic, The Shadow delivered justice unlike any seen since.

What Would the Modern Re-Telling Be Like?

The one thing that’s missing from the Batman movies is his status as the World’s Greatest Detective. In comics, it’s easy to create an ongoing mystery and have action sequences to keep the story moving. In movies, you can’t have both, and let’s face facts; it’s a lot easier to make a movie in which we see The Dark Knight kung-fu-ing evil-doers rather than The World’s Greatest Detective analyzing blood samples. With a modern reboot of The Shadow, however, we could get a dark avenger along with a master sleuth. Take a loose cannon cop, and give him a red scarf, black longcoat, and a slouch hat, not to mention powers of mesmerism beyond any stage magician’s dreams, and you’ve got modern-day criminals’ worst nightmare.

Photo courtesy: Neftali /

Any other detectives that deserve modernizing?

Tags: movies, tv, sherlock, dick tracy

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