Monday, October 25, 2010

What I'm Watching: Sherlock

I recently got a look at the first couple installments of the BBC's reboot of the Sherlock Holmes canon, simply titled Sherlock.
There have been many attempts to adapt the Victorian super-sleuth to the modern era (House, for example, being one of the better ones) but Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss hit on the brilliant idea of bringing Sherlock Holmes into the 21st Century by... setting Sherlock Holmes stories in the 21st Century.
Benedict Cumberbatch (continuing the tradition of Holmesian actors having awesome names) plays an arrogant, aspergersy, prickly Holmes who prefers to send text messages rather than talk to people in person, and consults with Scotland Yard for fun rather than money. He gets Holmes' mix of piercing intellect and social ineptitude down pretty well, and makes for a compelling figure.
Holmes' everyman sidekick John Watson was originally written as a British Army doctor recently returned from war in Afghanistan after having been wounded in action. The cyclical nature of history (particularly regarding war in Afghanistan) allows his character a nearly identical back story. Martin Freeman plays the role as somewhat grumpy loner, who gets involved with Holmes in part because he misses the excitement of being at war.
It seems like any halfway intelligent series featuring two male characters who become close friends is subject to rampant speculation that there are homoerotic undertones (because men can't be friends without wanting to sleep together), Moffat and Gattis make this a running gag as Watson keeps explaining that he is "just friends" with the androgynous Holmes.
The overall tone is of a clever pulp adventure, and has a similar feel to the updated Doctor Who (which is not surprising, first because Moffat and Gattis both worked on Doctor Who, and second because The Doctor has often taken on the role of the Holmesian detective), if you like that, you'll probably enjoy Sherlock. It also has some of the feel of the modern police procedural, which in turn drew a lot of influence from Conan-Doyle's original stories.
My verdict: worth the price of admission, if you're a mystery fan at all.

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