Adapting books for the screen is always a tricky business, with fans of the original often expressing disappointment with the results.

No one knows that better than Sherlock showrunner, Mark Gatiss. From the start, the Arthur Conan Doyle-inspired series, in which Gatiss plays Holmes brother, Mycroft, has played fast and loose with its source material.

Set in the present day, the writers swapped Holmes’ iconic magnifying glass for more powerful, modern tools: a cell phone and the internet. And the classic Victorian figure of a pipe-smoking Sherlock Holmes has been replaced by Benedict Cumberbatch in a rather fetching scarf.

Some developments, however, have not been to everyone’s liking. Take one critic in The Guardian, who on Tuesday (January 3) complained that several of the action scenes in season four’s opener were more reminiscent of a certain flashy Secret Service agent than Conan Doyle’s methodical detective.

Additions such as abseiling assassins and machine gun shootouts were, he argued, examples of the show taking “ill-advised liberties with Conan Doyle’s stories” and beginning “to feel implausible.”

It didn’t take long for Gatiss to respond, however. In doing so he took a cue from none other than Conan Doyle, who in 1912 responded to what he felt was unfair criticism with a poem.

Gatiss’s letter to the newspaper was similarly titled, “To an Undiscerning Critic,” with the self-deprecating addition of, “With Apologies to AC Doyle.”

In it, he began: “Here is a critic who says with low blow/ Sherlock’s no brain-box but become double-O./ Says the Baker St boy is no man of action -/ whilst ignoring the stories that could have put him in traction.”

He went on to point out all the evidence that Sherlock Holmes was in fact an action hero, including references in the original stories to his boxing prowess and his proficiency in the martial arts.

And then there’s the clincher. Gatiss refers to the confrontation between Holmes and his nemesis at the Reichenbach Falls, a scene memorably brought to life in season two of Sherlock: “In hurling Moriarty over the torrent,” he asks, “did Sherlock find violence strange and abhorrent?”

In a final verse he concludes: “There’s no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill,/ Her Majesty’s Secret Servant with licence to kill/ From Rathbone through Brett to Cumberbatch dandy/ With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy.”

Touché, Mr Gatiss, touché. We wish we could think up a poem on the spot whenever we disagreed with something.

Here’s the (frankly glorious) poem in full.

The whole thing does beg one important question, however: Who do you think would win in a fight, Bond or Sherlock?

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.