Goteborg: Finnish-American Snapper Films Unveils ‘Sherlock North’

Sherlock North

TV series is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters, authorised by the Conan Doyle Estate

GOTEBORG — Finland-U.S.-based Snapper Films has unveiled a new TV series “Sherlock North,” which adds an intriguing twist to one of the most valuable of European entertainment properties.

Not many people know it, but in 1903 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a short story, “The Adventure of the Empty House,” where after faking his his own death at the Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock Holmes travels to Scandinavia, on the run from nemesis Professor Moriarty.

Under a false identity – an explorer named Sigerson – Holmes settles in dark and cold Lapland, in northern Finland, sparking a culture clash between the upper-class, fast-talking and eccentric Brit and the down-to-earth Nordic characters.

Finnish writer-director-producer Juha Wuolijoki will run the upcoming 10-hour television series “Sherlock North,” which he introduced yesterday as a work-in-progress at the TV Drama Vision section of  the Nordic Film Market in Göteborg’s 40th Film Festival. He aims to shoot the series in the winter of 2018, at the latest 2019. Finnish broadcaster YLE is on board for series development.

A film graduate from Helsinki’s University of Art and Design, Wuolijoki was interested from an early time in his career in working with foreign partners, and also actors: “There are great artists in Finland, but when you are outside your comfort zone, you have to push yourself,” Wuolijoki said.

One of his first films was a half-hour short, “Paulie,” shot in New York with, among others, the later Emmy-winner Michael Badelucco; he then directed three features: “Christmas Story” (2007), a Finnish family fantasy which tells the story of how Santa Claus became Santa; a Finnish period bio pic, “Hella W” (2011); and “Zarra’s Law” (2014), an English-language crime drama set in New York.”

In 1998 Wuolijoki set up production company Snapper Films in Helsinki. In 2007, it produced “Christmas Story,” the top-grossing Finnish film of the year, which was sold to 120 countries, including the U.S. and China. He started producing for other directors, launched a Los Angeles division of the company and a local distribution arm, for theatrical, video, VOD, which now buys films for Scandinavia and Finland in particular.

“I have directed for TV before, but “Sherlock North” is by far the largest and most expensive series I have been involved with,” added Wuolijoki, whose “Gourmet Club” (2004) won best screenplay at the Monte Carlo Television Festival.

“I got to know representatives of the Conan Doyle Estate, and we were discussing the Sherlock brand; his stay in Scandinavia  is in the book, but nobody has done anything about it,” Wuolijoki said.

He added: “Originally I had thought of faking it, but it was not necessary. Here is a fish-out-of-water story: Holmes is hiding from Moriarty but doesn’t know how his new landscape works. But he cannot live if not involved in something. He is a cocaine user, and although he has promised his brother Mycroft that he won’t do this, he starts solving local small crime mysteries, which lead into some bigger issues, helped by a Finnish former woman doctor, Johanna Watson.”

The more Holmes works as a detective, the more he is at risk of Moriarty finding out his whereabouts. “Doyle did not write what he did there, we created that, and it has been totally approved by the Doyle Estate. It is a Nordic series, with a Nordic identity, with an international appeal,” Wuolijoki concluded.

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  1. Phi says:

    So wait, this take place after Sherlock fake his death at Reinchebach fall right. But then he meet a woman called Johanna Watson? Does this mean in that version Doctor John Watson doesn’t exist? And why the need to hide from Moriarty? Didn’t he died at the Fall? I don’t get it.

  2. gethin says:

    question: why did they photoshop a random stock photo to make this promo picture? why not hold off on the promo pics until Sherlock is actually cast? what kind of stupid marketing decision is this?

  3. Rosie says:

    What’s really heteronormative is making Watson a woman just to have some cheap romance with characters that aren’t invented, which is what always happens between Sherlock and Irene. All. the. time. People knowing this drill and complaining about it is only natural at a point where basically every adaptation of Sherlock has a romance because ‘the audience wants it!’. I really hope these two characters won’t hook up, like in Elementary, so at least we will have a friendship between a man and a woman without all the unnecessary drama of a relationship.

  4. How heteronormative of so many commenters to assume there will be romance between the main characters just because they are m/f. As if women and men cannot be in platonic relationships. You’d think you are living the last century or something. In any case, if you don’t like it don’t watch it there will be plenty of people who will. Like me Nordic Noir + Sherlock Holmes that’s like a dream come true. Wish they could throw in Lizabeth Salander or Saga Norén (wrong country I know, but I love them both as much as I love Sherlock Holmes).

    Looking forward to it.

  5. Kay Hendricks says:

    Is this for real? Is it cast yet?

  6. Nazia Ahmed says:

    What’s the bloody point in making Watson a lady? So you can hook them up in the end? Because a same sex romance is unfathomable, right? The main theme itself is unique enough: no need to add flashiness to attract the lowest common denominator. Also I wonder if anyone in the writing team ever considered making Sherlock a lady. But we can’t have that now can we: can’t make a woman lead!!!!!! 😑

  7. Nora says:

    God please no! I’m bored just by reading the plot. And if you feel the need to gendeswap one character why can’t it be Holmes? Or why couldn’t both of them be female then? I hope this show won’t survive for lond. I’m certainly not interested.

  8. Whtcrow says:

    Fucking straight culture. Either change BOTH of them or neither of them. I ALSO think it is rather pathetic that when they -do- change one of them, it is always Watson instead of Holmes.
    This is absolutely pathetic and I hope the whole damn homophobic trash can tanks.

  9. Blueberry Mamba says:

    Oh wow yet another TV show that turns an obvious homosexual love story into an “acceptable” hetero relationship by genderbending one character :-) What a beautiful world in which you would rather change a character’s sex in order to fulfill a romantic arc rather than let male Sherlock and male John finally kiss each other after 130 years of victorian homophoic censorship… How groundbreaking.

  10. Emerson Ray says:

    See, here this could be a really great idea. They’re right; Sherlock Holmes’ stay in Scandinavia, while canon per “The Empty House”, has never been done in an adaptation before. There’s plenty of material there, and a good way to make their own mark on these characters.

    BUT, then they screw it up with two things: the threat of Moriarty, and the inclusion of “Johanna Watson”. Moriarty is dead per “The Empty House”, so it should be Moran that Holmes is hiding from. Unless they are changing things so Moriarty faked his death too, but that kind of makes Holmes hiding seem like a moot point…why doesn’t he just go back to Baker Street? Is he just planning to stay indefinitely “dead” in this series?

    And as someone else has pointed out, isn’t John Watson back in London, grieving the loss of his “dead” friend/partner? Why is there a Johanna Watson? Does John exist in this universe? Who did Sherlock live with before all this? Is he going to remark on the strange similarities between John and Johanna? Is he just going to be using Johanna as a crutch to deal with his feelings/longing for John? Or has he never met a John and therefore this is all new to him, and it’s going to feel weird and forced and aggressively heterosexual? And is she going to be tasked with “fixing” him and his substance abuse/social skills?

    And why is female!Watson never British? Joan’s American, Johanna’s Finnish. I’m not really mad about that, it just strikes me as odd that Watson is allowed to change gender, race, and nationality but Holmes is always male, white, and British. Can someone explain this?

  11. Henry Knight says:

    So holmes is on the run from moriarty and hangs out with a nordic woman called johanna watson while his friend and partner john watson is in london mourning holmes’s death? What an amazing story idea. Better also write a hetero romance in there, that would fit really well with that frosty robert pattinson guy you cast as holmes. The only reason i’d watch this would be to torture myself.

  12. Sandra says:

    I wonder why, if they already have to gender-swap one of the characters, it’s never Sherlock who gets turned into a woman. Oh right, because then you’d have a protagonist with superior intellect who’s female, and that can’t be done.

  13. melissa says:

    No. And why are they making John a woman? So they can add a het romance? No. No more het. bs.

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