Review: BBC’s Sherlock
Sherlock (2010 Tv Series)
Created/Written By: Stephen Moffat [Doctor Who] & Mark Gatiss [League of Gentlemen] based on the novels by Arthur Conan Doyle
Origin: BBC – TV [British]
Running Time: [series 1] 3 episodes (90 mins each)
DT’s Rating: 10/10
Well, I’ve been raving about this long enough to warrant a review, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet (especially after last week’s lengthy rant on inglorious basterds, lol).
So: Sherlock Holmes. The story itself (or rather the characters) are a real British institution that has spread worldwide. For me, I always watched The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with Jeremy Brett (1984-94) repeated on TV, which I loved; Basil of Baker Street- the Great Mouse Detective (1986) that I watched as a little kid; and of course there was the great 2009 film Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law (who benefit form both being extremely good actors at making the roles their own..and are also being very yummy. Of course :D) And I’ve read a few of the great stories (but not nearly enough ><).
So, when I heard that the Doctor Who regulars Moffat and Gatiss were going to air a modern version on Sherlock Holmes, I was of course thrilled. This only increased when It was announced that Martin Freeman (the Office/Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking) would be playing the main roles, and (later when I watched it) I loved that Gatiss would be playing Mycroft too.
So, a great cast, great writers…but did it live up to the expectation?
In a word – yes. For one, the format of the mini series allowed for longer episodes at an hour and a half each, which acted like mini films and allowed a heck of a lot of character development and the cases to stretch out in more detail. In my opinion, all of the best crime dramas are at least an hour long or more, such as the Columbo series or Inspector Morse. Like Columbo, the longer format allows you to get a real feel for the chase and game of mental wits. This was the same in every episode of Sherlock, and it also allowed more time to be spent in constructing the relationship of the new flatmates as Watson and Sherlock lean more about one another. Furthermore it allows plenty of humour to flourish without detracting from the main thrust of the plot.
What I think is remarkable about this series, and sets it apart from other Sherlock adaptations that I’ve seen, is that it effortlessly moulds it into the modern setting as if it belongs there all the time, and also how it focuses so well on the relationships between the characters.With the modern setting: Watson is a soldier who’s wounded in Afghanistan and, having to survive on an army pension, ends up moving in with Sherlock – who he’s just met and is introduced to by an old schoolmate. His personality is the strongest that I’ve seen in any adaptation, and while he of course has to play second fiddle to Sherlock’s ego -as ever- he exists individually and can take care of himself and is a genuinely good character even when separate from the detective. Sherlock is modernised by updating his sexuality, adding nicotine patches to his arsenal of addictions and perfectly characterising him as a technological whiz. Similarly, Sherlock is a very strong character which seems both faithful to the book while constructing a version of his own – and it’s fascinating especially as we see his flaws (he calls himslef a ‘high functioning sociopath’) and how his mind works (for example, his complete lack of knowledge on the solar system being ‘deleted’ to make more relevant space in the ‘harddrive’ of his brain.) This, mixed with Watson’s sensible character makes for some hilarious and genuinely interesting scenes, such as what Sherlock gets up to while he’s bored – which is often. Furthermore, smaller characters are beautifully written into strong characters, such as Mycroft (and his rather hilarious sibling rivalry with Sherlock), Molly (the girl at pathologiy who has an unreciprocated crush on the detective), Lestrade and the police force and -duh duh duuuhn!- the brilliantly original portrayal of Moriarty.
[Come on, it’s hardly a spoiler. No budding Sherlock adaptation would be complete with him at least making an appearance in some form. You knew it was coming.]
The three episodes are quality through and through and, in short, I adore them.
And, to make things even better, they have tie-in websites that are written to be made by the characters themselves. So, as the series goes on, you can actually read John’s blog, and Holme’s website, and even Molly’s blog. Not only does the series allude to what’s on the website, but they even have comments from the more minor characters and it grounds it all in reality – genius! The show is scattered with little touches like this that aren’t strictly necessary, but are layered to make the whole viewing experience even better. For example, at one point Watson -like trained soldiers in hostage situations- blinks out ‘SOS’, and at another point we hear Paul Megan (the 8th Doctor) narrating. These, like these websites, are added extras that you can;t help but love, and the show gets bonus points for it. Check out the websites, but beware of spoilers, since they were updated sequentially for the uk viewers as the series went on:
So – 10/10! I encourage you to go and watch it.
The DVD is out in the UK Aug 30th. And I’ve been told that the series is released in the US in October. Enjoy!
(Just in case you won’t be able to see it for ages :p)
A Study in Pink (ep 1):
“Oh, look at you lot. You’re all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing.”
“I’m not a psychopath, I’m a highly functioning sociopath. Do your research.”
— Sherlock (to Anderson)
Donovan: “Are these human eyes?”
Sherlock: “Put those back!”
Donovan: “They were in the microwave!”
Sherlock: “It’s an experiment!”
John Watson: “Where did you get this? Detective Inspector Lestrade?”
Sherlock: “I pickpocket him when he’s annoying.”
“We can’t giggle, it’s a crime scene.”
— John Watson
“And since yesterday you’ve moved in with him and now you’re solving crimes together. Might we expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?”
— Mycroft Holmes
The Blind Banker (ep2)
“I’m the great Sherlock Holmes, I work alone ’cause no one can compete with my massive intellect!”
Sherlock Holmes: I need to get some air – we’re going out tonight.
Dr John Watson : Actually, I’ve got a date.
Sherlock Holmes : What?
Dr John Watson : It’s where two people who like each other go out and have fun?
Sherlock Holmes : That’s what I was suggesting.
Dr John Watson : …No, it wasn’t. At least I hope not.
The Great Game (ep3)
Sherlock: “Look at that, Mrs. Hudson. Quiet, calm, peaceful… isn’t it hateful?”
Mrs. Hudson: “Oh, I’m sure something will turn up, Sherlock. A nice murder, that’ll cheer you up.”
John: “A severed head!”
Sherlock: “Just tea for me, thanks.”