I have - in a mildly embarrassing manner - admitted here that I have a big huge crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. I have decided that I need to make sure that everyone knows why. One word: Sherlock. I have done a lot of television marathons in my life, and this is one that is very high on the list of my favorites. It might have even surpassed, gasp, dare I say it…Friday Night Lights and made its way into my top 3 favorite shows ever (behind 24 and Battlestar Galactica, of course). It is funny, charming, suspenseful and an overall brilliant show.
Before beginning I must state that I am not a Sherlock Holmes aficionado in any way shape or form. In fact, this is the first time I have actually become invested in a film, television show or book that revolves around the character. For this reason, I am not sure what is exclusive to the show or Arthur Conan Doyle's character, but from what I understand the writers execute a perfect blend of a show that is true to the history but still original. The series was created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss who were writers on Dr. Who. They were discussing the character and decided they would like to create an iteration of the story in which Sherlock would use modern day technologies and his brilliant intellect to solve crimes. Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a consulting detective for the Metropolitan Police Service. He is assisted by his friend and flatmate, John Watson (Martin Freeman). Holmes is brought in on difficult cases and ones that no one else seemingly would be able to solve. Why? He is just that good. Sherlock is able to see connections where nobody else can and some might say, he is the smartest man of them all. They make the series contemporary as he uses cell phones, GPS and many other devices to aid him in his crime solving tactics, and one of my favorite moments is how they subtlety insert the use of a magnifying glass. There are not many episodes, but the ones they have are very long, coming in at 90 minutes. They feel like movies rather than television shows, so it isn't wholly depressing that there are only three per season, although I think many would be more than happy with more.
Sherlock follows some of the most famous stories from Doyle's books and the Sherlock Holmes cannon. The first episode of the series is loosely based on the "A Study in Scarlet" novel and by series two; some of the most famous Holmes stories are re-imagined. "A Scandal in Bohemia", "The Hound of the Baskervilles", and "The Adventure of the Final Problem" are all covered. However, don't think that because you might know these stories that it takes anything away from the experience of watching Sherlock. The way the stories are told is completely fresh and it is the execution that is utterly flawless and brilliant. The internet has been afire (literally afire) trying to figure out how the last scene of the final episode of season 2 was accomplished and according to the writers, nobody has figured it out yet. This makes hunting for the clues and watching each episode more than once, not only a joy, but also a requirement.
It is also the relationships and the way that they are crafted that makes Sherlock such an effective and wonderful show. In particular, the pair of friends and "partners in crime solving", Holmes and Watson have great chemistry. They are both outcasts in their own right, yet somehow understand each other just enough to become best friends. This is especially difficult for Sherlock, since it is stated within the show that he is on the spectrum of having a form of Asperger’s. It is the reason that he has so many problems relating to the general public and is stuck "in his own thoughts" for the majority of the time. However, Watson is one of the only people able to break down this barrier. It is a beautiful thing to watch and a very touching relationship…however, none of that is over the top or in your face. I also must make a nod to the show for portraying this high functioning character with Asperger's, but showing that it is nothing to be afraid of or looked down upon. I appreciate that very much.
Then…then….there is Moriarty. Ahhh, Moriarity! He is quite possibly my favorite "villain" in any television series. Part of that is attributed to the character and another part to the actor, who made such a bold (and incredible) choice as to how to play the character that purely stated is just awesome. I don't want to ruin it or reveal too much, but look out for the pool scene. It is perfection.
Now, while it was some very fortuitous casting that brought these two actors together for this extraordinary show, it is also one of its biggest downfalls. It has made the availability of the actors and production of the show extremely difficult. There was a two-year break between the first and second season. Production on season 3 was set to start in January, but had to be pushed back to make room for Bennie's role in Star Trek. It is reported they will start shooting in March, but who knows if J.J. Abrams will come calling for Bennie to play Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and blow that out of the water. (That is not real. I just made that up. No, seriously, stop spreading rumors). I certainly hope that they start soon, because Sherlock withdrawals are becoming a weekly part of my life and I need it to stop.
However, the good news is, that if you have yet to have the pleasure of watching Sherlock, you have time. I implore you to stop what you are doing right now and go watch. I don't think you will be sorry and you will have an incredible experience with one of the best crime procedurals and adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes story to date (sorry RDJ).
The show originally airs on BBC, but is aired in the United Stars on PBS as part of the Masterpiece Classics. The first two seasons of Sherlock are streaming on Netflix, and hopefully season 3 will make its way to PBS sometime this year.
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