4. Discuss how Hill’s three characteristics of Cult TV can be applied to a recent TV series Sherlock.

Hills (2004) defined cult TV as it “constructs immensely detailed, often fantastic, narrative worlds which we as viewers can never fully encounter, since much of this detail operates like a onscreen.” Sherlock (2010) created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat had successfully contributed a very detailed and fascinating contemporary criminal cult TV in this decade.

The extraordinary characters or details are not served in highlight rather they were portrayed in daily life. Sherlock applied his ‘magical’ mind-palace to exercise his brilliant detection and to store memories. In fact, fans were already introduced his intellective abilities in the first seasons in order to let them adopted and contextualized the 21st Century Sherlock Holmes by modern background and digital technologies. For example, Afghanistan War, the Science of Deduction blog, the Blog of Dr. John H. Watson, science lab, texting and weather check on mobile phones, CCTV, modern weapons, new institutions, x-ray, blood test, visual effect of floating text etc. Audiences experienced same cases/narrations such as, “A Study in Scarlet”, “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Final Problem”. Significantly, we followed the daily life of the consulting detective and his assistant because creators had depicted their fight with high intelligent criminals and celebration of friendship through their daily life in 221B Baker Street. We had reduced the distance between well-known genius and ordinary people as we witnessed the normal interactions between Sherlock and the ordinary. Sherlock had impressed and won the global TV phenomenon due to the production such as creative writing, casting, cinematography and various effects. These details had successfully completed the narration form that defined cult TV.

Media had significantly played a role for the promotion and advertisement in order to attract their readers, fan base and worldwide popularity. Despite the productivity of global fandom, cultural advertisements had advanced the promotions of this Emmy awards winner and BBC’s source of income.  For instant, fashion magazines and websites like GQ studied and commented on the stylish costume of 21st Century Holmes and other characters, from coach, hat, shoes and accessories like pin. One of the reasons was due to the cliffhanger in final scene of season two when Holmes was revealed was alive. This encouraged media engaged preoccupation in order to fulfill audiences’ imagination and deductions regarded of his survival and Watsons’ reaction in the upcoming season three. Hills (2004) also highlighted “Spoiler zone” as another feature of media service. It’s specifically a friendly warning for those fans who hadn’t catch up the latest episode, consider them to stop reading the rest of the article. Meanwhile, the competition between BBC Sherlock (2010) and American CBS Elementary (2012) had controversially gain mass attraction for a long time since both modern detective series were originally adopted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and both series premiered within two years. Articles from both countries had been studied their relationships based on contextual and cultural differences and similarities, global success and the reactions from audiences.  Consequently, the fan activities were hugely fed and impacted despite by the TV series but also various secondary tests from online and printing resources which were widely shared.

Stein and Busse (2012) “This version of Sherlock Holmes could not exist without the Holmes fandom.” Especially the relationship between Sherlock and Watson was particularly famous across the fan base around the world. It’s because both writers had purposely questioned the audience regard the existence of their “queer sexuality” through many conversations between different characters and even the protagonists themselves. “Everyone around the two men seems to assume that they are, including Sherlock’s brother, their landlady, and various strangers.”(Stein and Busse, 2012) Romanticized their relationship and other characters had become the contemporary trend. Hill (2017) analysis two types of fannish imagination approaches: the one who “favor the analysis of sociohistorical ‘moments’ of Holmes, where screen adaptations play out the preoccupations, themes, and social/political forces of their era. And there are those who focus on a transhistorical “mode” of reading Holmes, where the character is treated as a real person by “believers” who play the “Grand Game” over time, as a kind of mutated scholarship with cultural legitimacy.” Although arguably these accumulative ancillary (or even commercialized )fan fictions and fan art had ironically misrepresented the original plots but it’s no doubt that such digital communities and global interactions encouraged by the BBC producers have extended the popularity and become a well-known label of fan culture and Cult TV.

Sophie Tse 16912888


Stein L. E., and Busse K. (2012) Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom : Essays on the BBC Series. McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/aut/detail.action?docID=928937.

Hills, M. (2017). Sherlock “Content” Onscreen: Digital Holmes and the Fannish Imagination. Journal of Popular Film & Television45(2), 68–78.  Retrieved from https://doi-org.ezproxy.aut.ac.nz/10.1080/01956051.2017.1319200

Hills, M. (2004). Defining cult TV; Texts, inter-texts and fan audiences, in R. C. Allen & A. Hill (eds) The Television Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge.

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