Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Sherlock Hemlock

WMW Sherlock Hemlock

Written by Ryan Dosier.


Performed by…Sherlock Hemlock
Jerry Nelson

First appearance…
Sesame Street Season 2: Episode 0131 (1970)

Most recent appearance…
Sesame Street Season 40: Episode 4206 (2010)

Best known role…
Self-appointed World’s Greatest Detective


Sherlock Hemlock is a hapless detective on Sesame Street and a clear (bumbling) parody of Sherlock Holmes. He speaks in a British accent and enters scenes with “detective music.” He often carries a magnifying glass and wears a traditional Holmes-like outfit including a deerstalker cap and an Inverness cape (whatever those are). He often shouts “Egad!” whenever he finds a clue.

First appearing in Sesame Street Season 2, Sherlock Hemlock was already solving mysteries in his debut. In the premiere episode of Season 2, Sherlock Hemlock attempted to find the missing half of Ernie’s chicken salad sandwich… only to find out that Sherlock Hemlock himself ate the sandwich half. This dynamic between Ernie and Sherlock Hemlock would become a popular pairing in the early seasons of Sesame Street.

In later seasons, along with solving mysteries with Ernie, Sherlock Hemlock appeared in the recurring cavemen sketches as the “Royal Smart Person.” In the cavemen days, Sherlock Hemlock helped out Caveman Ernie by inventing the EXIT sign, paper, toothbrush, and juice.

Sherlock Hemlock also appeared in two notable sketches about the letter X during his run on Sesame Street. He appeared on Guy Smiley’s game show “Mystery Guest” alongside Cookie Monster and Don Music, where the Letter X was the mystery guest. (Sherlock Hemlock guessed the Letter I was the mystery guest.) He also performed one of his only musical numbers on the show, “X Marks the Spot!” which acted as a warning/informative song about what the letter X may represent.

Starting in Season 21, Sherlock Hemlock starred in every Mysterious Theater segment, a parody of the PBS serial Mystery! Hosted and introduced by Vincent Twice (a parody of Vincent Price), Sherlock Hemlock would solve various mysteries presented in a TV-like format. In these segments, Sherlock Hemlock was given a sidekick in the form of his faithful (and often smarter) dog Watson.

The most recent major appearance by Sherlock Hemlock occurred in Season 27, where he once again worked with the Letter X as the notorious letter wanted to quit the alphabet. Sherlock Hemlock did, however, appear in Season 40 in one of the “Hidden Gems” with a small speaking role demanding service at Hooper’s Store.

While Sherlock Hemlock has not appeared in a major capacity on Sesame Street in sometime, I think that it is high time he returned. Not only is he quite hilarious in his bumbling mystery “solving,” but in today’s modern adaptations of Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes film series and PBS’s Sherlock), the topic is once again ripe for parody.

The Sesame Street writers are fond of having Elmo and Abby Cadabby and other characters solve mysteries in the street stories, so why not have Sherlock Hemlock join in the fun? And with his performance as Uncle Deadly in The Muppets, Matt Vogel has proven that he can mimic Jerry Nelson’s British accent with aplomb. Bring back Sherlock Hemlock!


The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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