Sherlock Holmes Analysis – Lestrade

Lestrade is Sherlock’s comrade/antagonist in Scotland Yard. He often brings cases he can’t handle to Holmes’s attention and suffers Holmes’s insults as a reward. But at least the bad guys are brought to justice, so he doesn’t seem to mind.

Holmes Lite

Jamey Sheridan/Eric Bogosian/Jay O. Sanders (Law & Order: CI) — Basically interchangeable, all three actors are good performers, but their task is to suggest additional courses of action that Goren could have figured out anyway, or rein him in when he gets too weird. In other words, they’re like every TV lieutenant ever.

Lise Edelstein (House) — Despite the fact that I put her in the role of Irene Adler in a previous post, she’s really Lestrade. She brings cases to House to solve, and (sometimes ineffectively) keeps her best “investigator” in check. House is kind enough to temper his insulting comments about her medical talents with an unending parade of compliments about her butt. Isn’t that nice?

Ted Levine (Monk) — Leland Stottlemeyer, apart from having an awesome name, is a great character. He has nothing but respect for Monk’s investigative mind, but he’s often the one most stressed by Monk’s personality tics. Factor in the extraordinary friendship he has with Monk, and he’s probably the most emotionally effective Lestrade of all.

Timothy Omundson (Psych) — An argument could be made that the Captain of the Santa Barbara PD is really Lestrade, but I think it’s Carlton Lassiter, a bundle of uptight, conservative tics that Shawn can’t help but tweak every chance he gets. What’s interesting about their relationship is Lassiter’s deep loathing for Shawn is balanced by Shawn’s unwavering “respect”, which of course comes across as needling. But you get the impression that if Lassiter actually loosened up, they could be friends. For that reason (and his hilarious performance), he gets the nod as the best of the Holmes Lite Lestrades.

Holmes Proper

Eddie Marsan (Gus Van Sant series) — There’s very little of interest in this performance. Marsan is only allowed limited screen time, and he’s portrayed as truly inept, rather that just slightly less awesome than Holmes.

Rupert Graves (Sherlock) — This Lestrade is merely desperate to have cases solved. He’s at times annoyed by Holmes’s methods, but he will withstand any annoyance to solve a murder. Sherlock keeps him at a bit of a remove, so there’s very little of a relationship between the two.

Sean Pertwee (Elementary) — On a week to week basis, Aidan Quinn is the stand-in Lestrade, and he’s fine, but nothing special. With the introduction of the actual Lestrade of Scotland Yard, we get a new take on the character. He grew to rely entirely too much on Sherlock’s help, and became something of a celebrity in the London press. Now that he’s trying to solve these cases alone, he is in danger of imploding. In fact, in his only appearance to date, he was on the way to being jailed himself until Sherlock baled him out. This is a fascinating and unmined area for drama with the character, and I really appreciate that.

Winner: Sean Pertwee


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