Thursday, August 19, 2010


"Brilliant! Yes! Four serial suicides and now a note. Ah! It's Christmas!" Now that's Sherlock Holmes. Yes, it's updated to the here and now with today's sensibilities, but Holmes would have been just that enthusiastic. I'm blathering about a scene from the first episode of the BBC's new series, Sherlock, which brings Holmes and Watson into today's world and does a great job of it. In the past people have usually tried to update Holmes by means of suspended animation of time travel or some such thing to get Holmes into the present. Now, Doctor Who writer and producer, Steven Moffat has simply recast Holmes in contemporary times.
The first episode, 'A Study in Pink' pretty much had me at the sentence quoted above, but a couple of scenes later, Moffat reimagines a scene from Doyle where Holmes explains various deductions about Watson based on a cell phone. In Doyle it was a pocket watch but all the deductions work just as well with the cell. A brilliant updating of a classic scene.
The actor portraying Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch, has what Robert Downey Jr. lacked. The maddening, almost inhuman aloofness and confidence of Sherlock Holmes. He can drop a withering insult in a way that would make Jeremy Brett proud. In fact he does remind me somewhat of Brett, particularly his voice. Downey tried, but he just couldn't pull it off.
There's some nifty camera tricks that show you Holmes' deductive process and his encyclopedic knowledge of the city of London. Martin Freeman, the actor who plays Watson seems very solid and just like Doyle's Watson, shows that he's a man of action when the need arises. All and all, a great debut episode.
There is a clever twist near the end of he episode but I'm proud to say that I wasn't fooled. I am not without certain powers of deduction myself. Anyway, I understand that the series is going to be shown on PBS's Mystery! here in the US. Give it a shot. If the other two episodes are as good as the first, I'll be very pleased.

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