You Should Watch: BBC’s Sherlock

I’d heard rumblings about this show a few months ago, but then I forgot all about it. It wasn’t until Jennifer Crusie recommended it on her blog that I thought, “Hey, this show sounds awesome!” and “I should check it out!”

To give you a sense of the awesomeness of this show, I read her blog, went to the site and last night watched all three episodes back to back.

The premise of the show is fairly basic: Sherlock Holmes set in the modern world.

The creators of the show, Stephen Moffatt (of Dr. Who fame) and Mark Gatiss are pretty big Sherlock Holmes fanboys and one thing they had noticed was that Sherlock Holmes had sort of become stodgy and boring in his long history of adaptations. In becoming a “literary figure” some of the fun had gone out of the old stories. Setting the stories in the modern world was an attempt to mitigate that to some extent.

Ok, so why is this show so good?

Well, the lead Benedict Cumberhatch (which is an awesome name, by the way) is excellent. He looks like a pretty-version of Sherlock Holmes and he does a fantastic job channeling that manic energy and brilliance so quintessential to the character. He also plays the part with a fabulous kind of dry wit that gave the series some of its best moments for me.

Watson: Why didn’t I think of that?
Sherlock: Because you’re an idiot. (seeing the offended look on Watson’s face) No, no. Don’t be like that. Practically everyone is.

I also appreciated the awareness he has at times that he’s not exactly normal. He, for instance, self identifies at one point as a “functioning sociopath” and in this age of the internet and self-diagnosis it seemed all kinds of perfect to have Sherlock name his own personality disorder.

Another thing this version really nails is the chemistry between Watson and Holmes. This Watson is less of an equal than Jude Law’s Watson in the recent film Sherlock Holmes (which I also loved incidentally). But the BBC’s Watson is not the fumbling nincompoop of bygone adaptations either. He is capable in other ways and actually saves Sherlock’s life on occasion. One article I read pointed out only an idiot would surround himself with idiots so it’s nice to have another adaptation that lets Watson spread his wings, so to speak and contribute to the crime-solving efforts. In an interview the creators of the show described their relationship as that of “two officers”. There’s a senior officer and a junior officer, so the chain of command is still in place but there’s still a definite level of respect one for the other that I appreciate.

Another fun aspect of the show is the way they bring the Sherlock Holmes staples into the modern day. Instead of Holmes unleashing his deductive skills on a pocket watch he uses them to decipher the hidden clues of a cellphone. Holmes is still into new gadgets and methods of crime-solving but instead of Victorian innovations he’s right on the cutting edge of modern forensic science but still with that lovely Sherlock Holmesian twist to make this show stand apart from other police procedurals.

So, to sum up this show has an excellent cast, really solid writing, witty dialogue and is just a heck of a lot of fun to watch. All three episodes are free to watch on pbs.org until Dec. 7 so if you have any free time I highly recommend you get your virtual butt over there and watch this excellent TV series.

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