Sunday, 9 January 2011

The new Sherlock Holmes

I just have to write about the new BBC series Sherlock.  I recently came across this series, and instantly fell in love with it.  Benedict Cumberbatch is perfect as a young Sherlock Holmes, and Martin Freeman is perfect as Dr Watson, updated as a war vet returned from Afghanistan.  This isn't a Victorian setting, it's been updated to the 21st century, complete with computers, internet, jerky camera movements (thankfully not too jerky), as well as clever dialogue, twisted plotting and fabulous supporting cast.  There is a much better review of the tv series over at Mystery Scene blog, a new to me mystery review site.  I can't rate this series highly enough.

It is penned by one of the writers of the New Dr Who, Stephen Moffat, so that should tell you  about the depth of characterization and darkness and emotional vulnerabilities all the characters reveal.  He is the writer of one of my all-time Dr Who episodes, "Blink" from Season 3.  But this is Sherlock Holmes, mystery icon and beloved around the world.  How does he do it?  Well, he revisions Sherlock as a younger man, much younger, just setting out, and still genius and incapable of being comfortable around most people. Arrogant, aware of his brilliance, and terribly attractive at the same time.  Sherlock was always a draw for me, along the same lines as Spock from Star Trek,  - intellectually brillliant and focused, but completely unaware or unwilling to give power to emotions and yet, surprisingly, capable of gentleness every once in a while, shockingly. 

I was thrilled to receive the dvd of the first season for Christmas.  There are only three episodes filmed for the first season, but they pack so much in each episode that they hold up extremely well to rewatching over and over.  Which is good, since the new series isn't close to being ready yet.  Now of course, I might have to go and reread some original Sherlock Holmes just to compare with the show. 
Here is a link to an interview with Benedict just before the tv show aired last summer in the UK.
This is the BBC site for Sherlock Holmes.
And, just because it's fun, here is a link the the Blog of Dr John Watson.  Sadly it too isn't very long, but it's funny.  I think the producers should have "Dr Watson" writing to it while they are producing the new series.  Nothing posted for when it will be out, so the BBC once again do a bang-up job of creating fabulous tv shows then making us wait a year for the next series (season). 

Have fun, and let me know if you've seen this and what you thought.  I've been saving the third episode, The Great Game, but I don't think I can hold out much longer. 

I do have to admit that during A Study in Pink, the series opener, I did guess who the villain was, but I didn't guess why.  In fact, I was shouting out at the tv, "the ------ did it!" over and over, to my husband's great amusement, as Sherlock and Watson couldn't see the danger before them. 

A side note to anyone in and around London: my husband and I had great fun picking out streets we recognized, or that my husband thought he had been near when he worked in London many years ago.  That they shot in and around London gave the show an immediate feel of reality, that Sherlock is placed in this time and place firmly, and it works - he's a sociopath for the modern day, a result of our society separating intelligence from emotion and the dangers inherent therein.


Memory said...

I watched this just last week, and I also loved it! The creative team did a fantastic job of updating it for the 21st century.

You should try to hold off on the last episode for as long as possible. It ends very, very meanly.

Susan said...

Memory: Thanks for writing in and letting me know! I see that it ends on a cliff-hanger. I think I'll watch the first two again, and then the third. Just because I have to know what it's about :-) It's so good, isn't it? I'm thrilled you loved it too.

Literary Feline said...

My husband and I watched the first season over New Year's weekend and fell instantly in love. It's an awesome show. And Memory's right . .. Huge cliff hanger that will leave you just about pulling your hair out.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to watching this. Have it in my Netflix queue right now. Good to hear that it is worthwhile.

Nan said...

I just saw one episode, but LOVED it. I've never been able to get into the books or the other movie and tv portrayals but this one really worked for me. I also liked the Robert Downey Jr. movie version.

Susan said...

Literary Feline: oh, this is so cool that so many of us have watched this already! And we all agree that it is awesome. Ok, I now dread the cliff-hanger! I'm already waiting for the new season without even knowing the cliff-hanger! :-D

Kay: Watch it soon and come tell us what you think! lol it really is worth it.

Nan: I read all the Sherlock stories when I was quite young. I've been thinking I should reread some. They were enjoyable, but sad to say, I don't remember much about them, the same problem I have with most of the Agatha Christie books which I also enjoyed. This portrayal of Sherlock by Benedict is so good though, that Sherlock is real - almost better than Downey's Sherlock Holmes, though I really enjoyed that at well when I saw it last year. I'm glad you enjoyed the one episode you did see. I do think it's very fun that some of us have seen this and enjoyed it so much.

Carl V. said...

Sherlock was fantastic, and I'm thrilled that they will be filming more episodes. I believe I read somewhere that they will do that over the summer when Martin is on a break from filming The Hobbit. The show was perfectly cast and the writers approached the material with great affection.

Kathleen said...

This sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

Carl: Isn't it though, so fantastic? Both the show and that more is coming! Yes, that is a good way of putting it, an affection by the writers towards Sherlock Holmes and Doyle's stories.

What role is Martin playing in The Hobbit? Another reason (as if I need one!!) to wait anxiously for it to finally get he playing Bilbo or one of the dwarves?

Kathleen: I hope you like it!!! Let me know when you get to see it.

Carl V. said...

He will be playing Bilbo. And I think it is a really good choice too.

Kailana said...

I really want to see this at some point. It looks like it will be really good! The library has the first season but it will be a while!

Anonymous said...

I know I am late with a comment but I also loved this series and looking forward to more. I have even started re-reading the original stories by Doyle, wanted to remind myself of those to make a comparision with this. I know kids who have picked up the original stories because of this series (and the Sherlock movie that came out a while back), including my daughter, she also has a thing for Spock. Moffat always seemed to write the best Dr Who episodes, loved Blink.

Susan said...

Carl: oh yes! he will be perfect, also good because he would age into the Bilbo we saw in LotR. Something about their features and air is the same.

Kailana: oh, you have no idea how good this is then! What a treat is in store for you. You'll have to let me know when you've seen it :-)

Book Pusher: Isn't that the highest compliment we can give a tv series, what you wrote about Sherlock and what it's done for young people to go hunt out the source mysteries for themselves?? that's so good to hear. So you're like me also, wanting to read the originals again.

I laughed about your daughter and Spock too. I always think there's not so many of us, and then I discover more!

I'm thrilled you loved Blink too. I have a little Angel statue from the Dr Who episode, that came out along with the toy figurines in England (and still are making). No one is allowed to touch the angel but me! lol I have to say the new episode in S5 also gave Blink a run for the money for best angel episode. What did you think?

Anonymous said...

Yep loved the S5 angel episodes but Blink is still my favourite, I think because the whole concept was so new but I must admit to always loving Stephan Moffat's writing, The Empty Child from S1`was another great eposide from Moffat.
Do you think that characters like Holmes, Spock and the Doctor are all very alike, the same archetype really? I suspect if you like one character you might like them all.

Susan said...

BookPusher: Yes, I do think all three are the same archetype. Brilliant men intellectually, emotionally unavailable/uninterested. Not unwilling ( all three show they are interested!) but it's the rare woman who does break through that reserve.

The Empty Child was my youngest son's favourite episode all last year. He's a bit older now, age 6, and The Waters of Mars and The Trip to (blank Falls) are his favourites now. We had to watch The Empty Child every week at one point. It still surprises me that I can watch it that often and it's still so good!

mariel said...

Oooh wasn't it great! I especially liked the last episode...should be a good start to the next series!

Jammy little me managed to get tickets to see Benedict Cumberbatch performing in Frankenstein at the National Theatre in April....ooh I'm excited!