Friday, 30 July 2010

No Shit Sherlock

Turn off your 'phones and your computers, ignore your loved ones, do whatever you have to do to ensure yourself an uninterrupted hour's viewing of BBC1's Sherlock Holmes on Sunday. It's the best tv drama I've seen in ages, aeons, and any other word you can think of that means a very long time indeed.

The brains behind the modernistation of Jekyll and Hyde last year have scored another winner with their modern day version of the classic Conan Doyle character, and unlike any other version I've seen, it actually makes me want to go back and read the original novels.

It's stuffed full of marvellous actors, the wonderfully named Benedict Cumberbatch (I know, sounds like a vicar from a Jane Austen novel, doesn't he?), Martin Freeman, and the woefully underused Una Stubbs does a comic turn as the duo's landlady. Not to mention Rupert Graves as the clueless Inspector Le Strade, and last week's villain, the lovely Phil Davis.

All the cast, but especially Freeman and Cumberbatch, play with an energy that shows they know this is the good shit. It's good to see Freeman play an everyman with a bit of an edge for a change, with his portrayal of the grumpy, post traumatic stress suffering Dr. Watson, and Cumberbatch is a revelation. I last saw him as a nerdy IT genius in some nonsense about government surveillance and a rampant man made virus, on BBC1 last year. But his sociopathic Sherlock, with flowing Byronesque coiffure, is knee weakeningly hot stuff. He could show Luther a thing or two about deduction...

The pace is fast and assured, with fantastic hurdy gurdy accompanying music that evokes Victorian London. There are new televisual touches too, with text messages and Holmes' deductive reasoning displayed on the screen for the viewer to share. There's even a website, which is worth a look.

My only concern (a minor one after just one episode) is that all the flash and swagger overtakes the plots, this Sherlock needs a challenge, and stories that unfurl over two or three episodes, not the detective story equivalent of a Guardian quick crossword.

But all in all, my brain fizzed with ideas and energy after watching this show, the way it does when inspired by television/cinematic fabulousness (so not too often then...). As I said at the start, don't miss it, you'll be amply rewarded. It's elementary, my dears.

1 comment:

Fiona said...

Yes, yes I love it too and like you want to go back and read the books. I agree with all your points about characterisation, energy, televisual touches and music but also want to add the camera work and shot choice in showcasing the best of London. I've always been struck by the beauty of London whether it's the new architectural squeaky clean bits or the dirty, grotty stuck in 70's parts and Sherlock for me paints a fabulous picture of the city I love.
I think I found the first episode better than the second because it demonstrated the power of observation better - especially when he was looking at the dead body of the woman in the pink suit.
However, all in all I'm hooked and he is devilishly handsome!