4 March 2014 | winner55
Highly polished, strong stories
Sherlock Holmes: There is no doubt the writers and director of this show are engaged in radically redefining the character of Conan Doyle's eccentric 'consulting detective.' But I have followed this series through 4 episodes so far, and I find the effort surprisingly effective. In the general sense, this revision of Holmes is successful because of it basic premise: Watson is an aspiring writer who is working his way to becoming the author of the stories published under the name Conan Doyle that we are all familiar with. Unfortunately, the real Sherlock Holmes that he becomes involved with is unappealingly nerdy and asocial. And the adventures the two share are difficult, violent, and engage the grime of London's underworld, and the corruption of England's most trusted institutions. We can see how Watson might want to simplify, clean up, and romanticize these adventures for marketable publication.
And they are real adventures, have no doubt. The storytelling in this series has been remarkably strong. It's difficult to pull away from any episode once it hooks you at the beginning, which it does very quickly (the series has a very lively pace). Despite the revisions, the series does honor to Doyle's originals.
The design, the direction, the camera work, the acting, are all highly impressive; this is a most polished series of historical genre films. (The one quibble I have is that Holmes makes too much about his glasses, he is too frequently busy with them. A trifle, but occasionally annoying.)
Over all, I find the series fascinating and look forward with great anticipation to the next episode.
Note: There are currently four series of films attempting to revise the canon of Conan Doyle's brilliant Victorian detective for the 21st Century. One from the UK (Sherlock, for TV), one from the US (Elementary, for TV), one from Russia (Sherlock Homes, for TV), and the internationally produced films of Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey. Notably, each involves a radical re-envisioning of the character and his place in the world. We may have reached a point in history when filmmakers simply cannot give us the Great Detective as he was imagined by Doyle and played (with variations) throughout the 20th Century. Rating the 4 series: Sherlock Holmes (Russia): 9 of 10, with strong stories and a believably proletarian nerd Holmes. Sherlock (UK): 6 of 10; excellent first season has been betrayed by Steven Moffat's flashy showmanship until the stories are incoherent now (Season 3), the characters no longer likable, the focus almost completely lost. Elementary (US): 4 of 10; the redefined Holmes, a nervous, unsympathetic recovering drug addict, is not without interest, and any show with Lucy Liu in it gets the benefit of her quiet but charismatic presence and talent. But basically, this is just a routine American police procedural with a gimmick. I doubt that Hollywood can do anything else. Sherlock Holmes (Ritchie/Downey): 1 of 10. This series lacks any coherence in its stories or continuity. It's just a series of set-pieces with running around, fist fights, explosions, and campy jokes.