So i’m just sitting here now sipping on a warm cup of tea, listening to the sound of the city’s tram groaning along the tracks down below and contemplating what I have just watched. Episode 3 of Series 2 of BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ which ended with a brilliant and clever episode. More on that later.
The ‘Sherlock’ series has been around for a while. I first noticed it on IMDB back in 2009 when I was checking out Steven Moffat’s profile. A pilot episode had been filmed setting Holmes in modern day London. A nice idea I thought. But the episode had not been broadcast. The BBC chose not to show the 1 hour pilot and instead asked for it to be re-filmed as a 90 minute episode. This episode and subsequent series was finally broadcast in 2010 introducing Holmes to a new generation. Executive producers Steven Moffet and Mark Gatiss decided to make Holmes relevant to the world we live in today and although it is set in present day instead of the 19th century it is perhaps a medium that is closer to the Holmes canon than that of even the recent Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes which claims to be a truer interpretation of the character.
Certainly Ritchie’s movie does place Sherlock Holmes in his proper setting of the late 19th Century but had turned the character’s personality and quirks up to 11. Moffat’s and Gatiss’s Holmes is still the same character that is in the books. From the first episode of the series “A Study in Pink” we are introduced to the character beating up a corpse with a whip to see how the body bruises after it has died. This might seem a fun invention by the writers to make Holmes a darker, funnier character but this is actually the exact same way we are introduced to the character in the books. Beating up a corpse. The similarities continue: John Watson’s injury from the Afghan War, same as the books. In another instance Sherlock describes John’s Mobile Phone telling him that he must have got it from his alcoholic brother as there are scratches around the phone’s charger socket on his phone that shows an alcoholic who has unsteady hands must have tried to insert the charger wire. In the books the object is a pocket Watch which was scratched due to Watson’s brother having a drinking problem and scratching the watch when he goes to wind it. So that’s one of the reasons I adore this show. It is still Conan Doyale. It’s still Sherlock Holmes and john Watson and it’s a lot of fun to see how creative the writers get modernizing the character.
In no small part was the series also successful due to the talent in front of the Camera. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Cumberbatch plays Holmes as a Superhero without powers, he knows he is good, he doesn’t have to hide it, he doesn’t need to be nice because he can crush you with intellect. Freeman who was know for his Role in ‘The Office’ brings the every day man quality with Watson, similar to how he was in the office in terms of being sane among the insane. For Holmes’s intelligence John is the viewing audience who requires an explanation for what Sherlock says and does. Of course the characters are modernized for the 21st Century now calling each other by their first names Sherlock and John instead of Holmes and Watson. Sherlock too is a man who no longer smokes but using nicotine patches and when he needs to think a 3 pipe problem becomes today a 3 patch problem. Fabulous. There are hints of a darker less legal drug running through Holmes’s body and mind. This is hinted at in the first episode of series 1 where 221 B baker street is being searched by police and Sherlock tries to shut John up about Sherlock never using drugs. In Series 2 Mycroft asks John and Mrs Hudson to check the apartment before Holmes returns to make sure it’s clean of any substances he could use to relieve his depression. He wasn’t talking about Cigarettes folks! I’m glad they didn’t shy away from this dark aspect of the character unlike the Guy Ritchie movie. Show some balls, Guy.
Jim Moriarty. An Irish man being the mastermind criminal of the world. Natural to make him Irish with an Irish family name. A nice twist with the introduction of the character although like others I found the character a little off the wall. A bit like John Sim’s “The Master” in ‘Doctor Who’.
Series 2 of Sherlock is probably the best bit of Television i’m going to see this year. I was completely blown away by the first episode of series 2 and the relationship portrayed between Irene Adler and Holmes. A perfect match for the character in terms of intellect and strategy. Even more than Moriarty. This is another thing Guy Ritchie dropped the ball with in his Holmes’s movie.
The final episode of Series 2… I was EXTREMELY interested to know how they would do it. Having seen different iterations of the Reichenbach falls (most recently in ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows‘) I wondered if BBC would send Sherlock to Switzerland also. Instead they took a slightly different, if no less interesting, route. I’m quite sure they borrowed some ideas from the stage play ‘The Secret of Sherlock Holmes’ in which Holmes admits to having created Moriarty himself (since in the books it’s only Holmes who sees him). To me that’s a fascinating psychological play on the character and although the idea is used they only go so far as dipping their toe in the water with it and then pulling it back. Which is good because that’s a road I think you can’t take the character back from once you go further down it. There is no actual Reichenbach falls because it’s a play on the words from the first episode of the series, meaning “revenge”. Nice touch, writers. As for Sherlock’s escape from death I would make a hypothetical guess and say that Sherlock did jump and fall softly into a truck on the street while Molly dumped a corpse dressed as Sherlock out of the window. As for Moriarty I think he’s a goner. I think this opens up the possibility of creating a new villain in series 3.
I have to say that Jeremy Brett is still “my” Holmes. Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely wonderful in the role but Brett’s performance is my favorite. Well, they are both different styled series with the ‘Sherlock’ series it’s a lot faster pace storytelling as the attention span of today’s TV audience is so low.
Oh and how fraking cool is it that Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be in the next Star Trek movie? I thought I had woken up in an alternate reality of awesomeness when I read that news and if I had been an elderly man I might have wet myself with excitement. Between his Role as Smaug the Dragon and The Necromancer in ‘The Hobbit’ and this Star Trek role and the 3rd series of Sherlock there’s a lot of great stuff coming up for the Cumberbitch fans. (no really, they call themselves Cumberbitches). Martin Freeman too will be Bilbo Baggins! Ah…it’s good to be a geek.
Favorite Quote: “All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage, Sherlock.” – Mycroft Holmes