If you have read this blog for awhile, then you know that I am a HUGE Sherlock Holmes fan. I've read all of the stories (most more than once) and include them in my "Top 10 Books" list. So when I heard that BBC (and Masterpiece Mystery) were going to be creating a new version of the classic detective stories, I became very excited. Then, I heard that they were going to "modernize" the series. Uh oh. This can't be good. To me, the Granada series is the epitome of Sherlock adaptations and there is no way a 21st century edition is going to work. Not to mention, we've got "Dr. Who" writers creating the script and the interesting (though slightly odd) Benedict Cumberbatch playing Holmes. I could just see Doyle and Jeremy Brett rolling in their graves. Needless to say, my initial enthusiasm was slightly dampened and I went into this with a somewhat less than open mind.
Oh my God. I was so wrong. I was completely sucked in by this series. Though it is set in modern London, the spirit of Doyle's original characters and stories are kept firmly intact. This first series is comprised of 3 episodes. In "A Study in Pink" (a nod to the original story "A Study in Scarlet"), Dr. John Watson has just come home after being wounded in Afghanistan (just like the original), and is introduced to the somewhat eccentric Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detective with whom he agrees to share a flat. Watson is then sucked into the brilliant, yet aloof mind of the famous detective.
There are enough nods and winks to the original stories to keep any Holmes enthusiast happy. Not only do we see references to "A Study in Scarlet", but also to "The Dancing Man", "The Greek Interpreter", and "The Final Problem". Plus, we also have many other original characters that show up, like Mrs. Hudson, Sarah (John's love interest), Mycroft Holmes, Lestrade, and Moriarty. Writers Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat also include names, places, and plot devices from the original.
None of this is to say that the stories are pulled word for word from the originals. They're not. Each one has a modern setting, a modern crime, and a modern way of solving things. Holmes communicates mostly be texting (versus the telegram), John keeps a blog of his adventures with Holmes (versus a diary/book), and there are lots of bombs and snipers. Not to mention the all too modern humor of two single men living together (lot's of jokes gotten out of that one). This keeps the stories fresh and unpredictable, and will likely draw in new fans who couldn't stomach too much Victorian England.
But though the cases themselves are fascinating, the true heart of this series (as with the books), is the friendship between Holmes and Watson. No two men could be more different, yet by the end they are are the best of friends. Holmes pulls Watson out of his depression and boredom, and Watson gives Holmes something to care about beyond facts and puzzles. Each episode peels back layers of the characters while leaving them an air of mystery.
If this is not enough to convince you that this series is worth watching, just wait. The humor in this thing is amazing. There are so many memorable lines and moments that will leave you rolling on the floor. Here are some of my favorites:
1) -Sherlock to Lestrade: "Shut up!"
-Lestrade: "I didn't say anything!"
-Sherlock: "You're thinking and it's annoying."
2) -Sherlock: "I'm in shock! Look-I've got a blanket!"
3) -Sherlock to Watson: "Because you're an idiot." pause "Oh, don't look at me like that, practically everyone is."
4) -Sherlock "I'm not a psychopath. I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research!"
Again, though I went into this with dampened spirits, I found it to be a wonderful and captivating series. Whether you are a devotee to Sherlock Holmes stories, or have never even picked up a Doyle novel, this is a must watch. It is, in my opinion, the best thing that Masterpiece has brought us this year. Can't wait for next season!
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