MIPCOM Report: Co-production diary: Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century
The incomparable Sherlock Holmes comes back to life in the 26 x 30-minute-series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century: The Future Files. Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. Watson, battle the nefarious Professor Moriarty with futuristic crime-solving devices. The show is targeted at kids age six to11 years old.
DIC Entertainment, U.S.
Scottish Television, U.K.
How the partnership began:
The partnership between DIC Entertainment and Scottish Television actually began in 1990 when the two companies successfully partnered for the animated Captain Zed and the Zee Zone, and continued with a second series, Hurricanes, in 1994.
The companies had such good experiences from both creative and business points of view that they were looking for a new vehicle to work together.
Robby London, senior vice president, creative affairs for DIC Entertainment, and his Scottish Television counterpart, Sandy Ross, deputy chief executive, go skiing at Telluride, Colorado, after NATPE. While aboard a ski lift, Ross proposes the concept of an animated Sherlock Holmes series set in the future. Both believe that this is a great idea. Not only d’es it appeal to both the American and U.K. markets, but the combination of the Sherlock Holmes recognition factor and the mystery/sci-fi aspect of the series, says London, makes the program an entirely new genre for animation.
Ross travels to Los Angeles and meets with the DIC creative team. The two parties talk through the show idea and how it will develop. One of the problems resolved is the series title. Ross had originally intended the show to be called Sherlock Holmes in the 21st Century. Realizing that the series would most likely debut in 1998, meaning the 21st century would be just two years away, they change it to the more futuristic 22nd century.
The series bible, design materials and graphics are developed and completed in late August. As with the other two series they had co-produced, the companies’ working relationship proves a productive and happy experience.
‘Creatively, after having worked with Sandy for the few years that I have, we are so much in sync that it’s amazing,’ London says. ‘There haven’t been many creative loggerheads. Sandy speaks on behalf of Scottish and I speak on behalf of DIC, and we usually seem to be speaking with one voice.’
Minor problems such as language, where a word or concept might carry a different connotation in another culture, are resolved by finding alternative ways to structure scenes, action and dialogue.
Armed with their design materials, DIC and Scottish Television come to MIPCOM ready to present the series for sale for the first time. The program will likely debut in September 1998.
Evaluating the Partnership
‘You always start off in co-production with this dread in your stomach of what compromises you’re going to have to make and how much trouble that’s going to be,’ says London. ‘It hasn’t been that way at all.’
Ross agrees that sharing a common creative vision makes for a much more harmonious relationship. ‘It’s a bizarre thing to say, but I cannot think of any standoffs or arguments or disagreements,’ says Ross. ‘That’s because I think we were all facing in the same direction. We’re very agreed on what we were trying to do.’
London adds jokingly, ‘Then again, I can only understand about half of what you say, Sandy.’