As a die-hard fan of the source material, I have tracked down and went through nearly every radio, television, film, and comic book interpretation of Sherlock Holmes - which run a mean gamut regarding quality, as you probably already know - and so I approached this incarnation skeptical but sanguine. Doubtful it would match the eminent Jeremy Brett series in quality, but hopeful it might preserve Conan's tone - something I think that series did well and the Downey Jr. movie did not.
To my surprise, and delight, this show just so happens to be the bomb-diggity. Let me explain.
Ever notice how lots of Agatha Christie fans complain when screenwriters change Poirot and Marple stories? I'm not one of them. I like new and different interpretations of those stories because otherwise, in the case of literary characters brought on screen, what's the point? What's the point if we film and re-film the same story, the same story which we've already read once, twice, maybe three times? Especially in many cases, what's the point when it's been done so perfectly before? In the case of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles has been filmed at least 24 times according to Wikipedia. So another iteration won't thrill me. However, one that takes liberties with the source material, i.e. bringing the characters into the 21st century, I'm all for it. Surprise me. That's what I say.
And there are two things I really love about this series. 1) For longtime fans there are many, many "Easter eggs" to discover in each episode. And, best of all, 2) My boyfriend loves this series. And I can't pay him to watch a Jeremy Brett episode. He did enjoy the Downey Jr. movie (as did I, I just prefer a less swashbuckling Holmes - one reason among many that I didn't love the film), but he's never excited to watch Sherlock anything. This series is different. He loves it. For any Sherlock fan that would like to get their significant others on the band wagon, this is a great gateway. (And my boyfriend's actually a very good barometer for high-quality mainstream television shows. Usually, if something's firing on all cylinders, he knows it. More risky fare - he's off-put.)
And, you may rightly ask, why should I give a crap what my boyfriend likes? Good question. I happen to be of the mind that TV and film can accomplish what my favorite art form - literature - cannot. The TV and film experience can be enjoyed by a group. Sure, book clubs discuss books, but with TV and film you and whomever you want to hang out with, experience story at the exact same time, in real time, and you can easily observe each other's initial, unguarded reactions. Plain and simple, it's fun to enjoy the mediums with others - to laugh together, to be scared, sad, thrilled, etc. It enhances the experience. I think literature's strength is the opposite. For me, the best thing about settling into a good book is that I'm alone. Just me and the test, together making up a story.
Well, if anybody has read this far, I apologize for the rant. But if you're on the fence about buying the DVD or renting it or whatever, take a chance. Take a tip from me. You'll be pleasantly surprised. The more things change, the more they stay the same.