Elementary My Dear Bobby

Recently I've been -in Paul Tillich term- thingificating or -in Georg Lukacs term- reifying or -in general terms- sexually objectificating Robert Goren. I know, I'm bad. I'll so go to hell. All well and good! Seriously, I'm not sexually fixated with his shoe size what-so-ever! And may I remind you, he's the one who put his foot on the table without so much as introducing himself. Yes, that's about the size of it. Anyway listen to what Andy Warhol says dear Bobby: Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches:)

Let's get back to business. We all agree Robert Goren is the purest forensic detective since Sherlock Holmes, moreover Vincent D'Onofrio himself has called Goren 'a modern day Sherlock Holmes'. Rene Balcer (Executive Producer of Law & Order) further cites Georges Simenon's French Commissaire Maigret influenced Goren's development and also says the character owes a lot to Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe for some attributes. According to Hal Hinson's article titled 'TV's Damaged Detectives'; if Gil Grissom is Sherlock Holmes in a labcoat, Robert Goren is Sherlock Holmes in a black leather jacket. Luckily as I'm wild about all sorts of fictional detectives in literature, let's find similarities between two different detectives.

Sherlock Holmes
The master detective Sherlock Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and first appeared in print in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887, is a fascinating enigma. (In fact, a real life character Dr Joseph Bell is the detective Sherlock Holmes himself, for more please check Murder Rooms). A Study in Scarlet, the first of the four Sherlock Holmes novels, begins with Dr. Watson's narration of his misfortunes in the Afghan war, and his return to London for convalescence. Holmes first words to Watson are 'How are you? You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive'. And that's how we meet him. In general, Holmes, as an ultimate detective figure, dwarfs the reader by his brilliance, his wisdom and his wide reaching knowledge. He's both insufferable and likeable. His cognitive pursuits seem to cover many areas: Medieval pottery, Stradivarius violins, Buddhism of Ceylon. Holmes also has a wonderful facility for disguise. He has boxed, knows Baritsu (the Japanese art of self defence), plays violin, uses cocaine and has ability to distinguish the typeface of any newspaper at a glance. With his bohemian habits and patriotic VR attitudes, he seems to want for nothing.

In A Study In Scarlet, we're introduced to Dr John Watson who is the reliable and sensible figure behind Holmes. Furthermore he's always ready to neglect his health, his wife, his medical practice and his personal safety at Holmes's behest. Watson's loyalty to Holmes is unquestionable and at times touching. However it must be remembered that all our knowledge of Holmes comes from Watson.

As Doyle recognized the need for Holmes to be a man immune from ordinary human weaknesses and feelings, his detective rejects passion or indeed any strong emotions towards women. Nevertheless Irene Adler, that features in the story A Scandal in Bohemia, is the woman that proves his equal in quickness of wit and decisiveness of action. Hence she earns Holmes's unbounded admiration. Despite appearing in only one story, she's one of the most noteable female characters in Holmes stories. The beginning of A Scandal in Bohemia describes the high regard in which Holmes held Adler:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer... And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory.

In The Greek Interpreter we're introduced to Holmes's older brother (by 7 years) Mycroft Holmes who is incapable of performing work similar to that of Holmes though he possesses deductive powers exceeding even those of his brother. Aside from The Greek Interpreter he has appeared or been mentioned in 3 stories; The Bruce Partington Plans, The Final Problem and The Empty House.

Doyle also realized that the end of Holmes had to be dramatic and had to be brought about by someone who was the detective's intellectual equal. So, in order to meet these requirements, he created a mastermind who was as brillant at carrying out crimes as Holmes was at solving them. Enter Professor James Moriarty, the Napoleon of Crime, whom Holmes described as 'the organiser of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He's a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker'. He was in essence Sherlock Holmes's dark alter ego. Professor Moriarty's first appearance and his ultimate end occurred in Doyle's story The Final Problem in which Holmes, on the verge of delivering a fatal blow to Moriarty's criminal ring, is forced to flee to the Continent to escape Moriarty's retribution. The location for their final titanic struggle was the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, as the two apparently fall to their deaths. (For more please check Holmes versus Moriarty)

Robert Goren
As we've all known the biography of Robert Goren by heart, it's needless to repeat it here once more. Compared to Sherlock Holmes, Robert Goren is far and away appealing, sensitive and vulnerable. On the other hand just like Holmes, Goren is a quirky yet extraordinarily intelligent investigator and criminal profiler, known for his instinct and insight. Often, Goren's intuition turns out to be the case-breaker, rather than solid evidence. Each episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Goren typically employs his knowledge of an unusually wide range of topics, from theoretical physics, chemistry, literature, history, psychology to (multiple) foreign languages. At times, Goren's investigative style resembles that of a high functioning autistic or someone who has OCD , for his ability to focus on details and make connections that others overlook. Holmes, on the other hand, seems to be a cerebral detective who solves many mysteries without leaving Baker Street yet to some extent he interrogates the suspects through in-depth conversations. Though both detectives display the same arrogant attitude, Goren has to make his living while Holmes only prefers to deal with the cases which are suprisingly challenging.

Alex Eames, a quiet, practical partner who always seems to mesh well with Goren, despite the noticeable personality differences between the two, is much like the screen portrayals of Holmes' partner Dr. Watson; a lesser equal, overshadowed by the charismatic presence of a prodigy partner. Unlike Holmes-Watson relationship; Goren and Eames are more businesslike and typically call each other by their last names, but when Eames observes that Goren is under particular stress, she calls him 'Bobby'.

Nicole Wallace is definitely the archnemesis of Robert Goren. A sociopathic con artist, thief and serial killer; Wallace first appeares in episode Anti-Thesis (S02E03). She's later murdered and her heart used as part of a elaborate puzzle and frame to implicate Goren by his mentor Declan Gage in the Season 7 finale Frame (S07E22). Along with Professor Moriarty, Irene Adler is the inspiration for Nicole Wallace by all means. In Frame; Declan told Goren that when Nicole realized her time had come, she said 'Tell Bobby he was the only man I ever loved'. However Declan expressed skepticism about this statement, remarking about Nicole, 'as if that monster were capable of love'. It is at least safe to assume that Nicole felt respect for Bobby for being the only man to get her to see the truth about herself and force her to feel; she simultaneously hated him for it. On the other hand, Goren respects Wallace 'in some sick way' because she can identify his 'buttons' and knows how to push them, but not romantically attracted to Wallace because she is a psychopathic serial killer after all.

Frank Goren, a homeless on Manhattan's streets, is the older half-brother of Robert Goren. He's addicted to both drugs and gambling as well as dependent on charity to survive. In the episode Brother's Keeper (S06E15) and Untethered (S07E09) Goren helps Frank and his son Donny who is in prison. Goren decides to sneak into the prison to help him, but Donny escapes from the prison. Once Goren is freed from the prison, he confronts his brother about Donny's whereabouts, and they fight over the issue. Immediately after that, while high on drugs Frank's murdered by Nicole Wallace at the behest of Declan Gage, who wishes to free Goren from his troubled past in the episode Frame. Compared to Sherlock Holmes's older, smarter but lazier brother Mycroft Holmes, Frank Goren is distinctively unqualified and incompetent.

Aside from Nicole Wallace's playing the role of Irene Adler and Professor Moriarty at the same time; we've never witnessed an evil villain, underworld mastermind, amoral sinister like Moriarty throughout Law & Order: Criminal Intent, though Wallace, possessing both criminal intent and extraordinary intelligence, is written to be his equal. But in this sense, none of the stories of Holmes have a dominant mother figure as Frances Goren. By and large, this is a very rough idea on the similarities/differences of two detectives. Well, let's end this post with one and only golden rule of the detective fictions: As Raymond Chandler says, 'A really good detective never gets married'. I hope someone gets my message:)