27 January 2011 | devil_knight
Not quite so elementary! Brilliant indeed!
When someone pointed me to Sherlock- a new series on BBC I was, to say the least, a bit skeptical. On top of that, I was told that this Sherlock lived in London in 2010 and was fond of texting on his Blackberry and hosted a website? Color me confused! But I gave it a looksie –after all how bad could it be- Holmes is Holmes. On screen appears a lanky young fellow in a trench coat, getting high on nicotine patches who I am supposed to believe is Sherlock Holmes? This was, as far from my favorite pipe smoking, deer hunting cap wearing image of Holmes, as it could be. I rolled my eyes-this is going to be cheesy. But then in one swift sequence " the lanky young Holmes" in his first meeting with John Watson describes him, his profession , his relationship with his brother and his brother's marital status-all by one look at his cell phone (that's right his cell phone). BANG! I was hooked. This is Sherlock Holmes through and through.
And that in essence is why Sherlock is so, so good. Holmes is not about the Victorian costumes and the environment in which the mysteries unfold. It's about the characters and the events that make the stories the defining mystery novels of so many generations. And Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss' take on Conan Doyle's master detective captures the essence of Sherlock Holmes magnificently. The stories are essentially the same (the first episode-A Study in Pink is a take on A Study in Scarlet-the first Holmes novel) but given a contemporary twist. This contemporary take (which I thought was going to be cheesy initially) is what shows the duo's exemplary creativity. The modern outlook does not take away anything from the essence of Sherlock Holmes- it adds to it. The three 90 minute episodes breeze past you at a breath taking speed- challenging your intelligence and making you yearn for more. The episodes have distinctly dark and brutal settings but are also filled with moments of wry humor that make the experience completely satisfying. The concept of using images and visual pointers in the scenes were Holmes makes his superb deductions is excellent and helps the viewer see and think with the ace detective.
As for the cast, Benedict Cumberbatch is not the kind of guy who would strike you as Sherlock Holmes when you meet him in a street, but man, does he own the show! Oozing charisma, Cumberbatch plays the Holmes character to a tee-arrogant, self centered, brilliant genius. There is an air of superiority about Holmes that makes him pity the vacant minds that don't see and understand the things which seem so obvious to him and Cumberbatch brings that out beautifully. Martin Freeman as John Watson on the other hand plays a perfect foil to Cumberbatch's eccentric genius-the everyday man. Looking for meaning and purpose after returning from the War in Iraq, Watson gets swept into Holmes' mad cap world of brilliance and chaos. Freeman's earnest and subtle performance complements Cumberbatch's Holmes beautifully.
Sherlock though, is not about acting performances. It's about bringing the experience of the world of Sherlock Holmes to the world we live in. Moffat and Gattis recreate the world of the Victorian detective in a completely new setting and do it superbly. Nothing about it is elementary-it is pure genius!