Television Review: BBC’s Sherlock

Sherlock

Those who know me personally deal with the fact that I’m reluctant to try new things. But, after a bit of pushing, I gave the BBC adaptation of Sherlock a try. Sure, I could have focused on single episodes, but I wanted to write more about the series as a whole. So… what did I think? Find out after the jump!

For those who haven’t kept up with the show, this version of Sherlock takes the classic characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work and puts them in a 21st century setting. This show is headed by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. For those who have been following their other projects, they’re likely most well known for their run of another famous BBC series, Doctor Who. Like Doctor Who, Moffat, Gatiss and many others continue the legacy of a legendary series. Famous names such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Una Stubbs, and Martin Freeman have graced the show, with their own approach to characters.

One of the things that makes this show is the superb talent that brings it all to life. Cumberbatch helps to bring a dour and cold side to the famous detective, showcasing him as the detective who’d rather work in his study than talk with others. Freeman’s Watson is the knowledgeable and empathetic companion whose past plights are truly updated for the modern viewer. And of course, Stubbs’ Mrs. Hudson is a caring yet incredible badass senior landlady, whose nurturing tendencies are balanced by her quick wit and strong perseverance. Other characters, both central and minor, have typically been top notch as well; creating believable troubled characters living in current day England without taking me out of the show.

Akin to the classic stories, the show has dabbled into a variety of moods and styles. To me, the ones that stood out the most really honed in on specific themes or emotions in the series. For example, The Hound explored the Gothic horror of the original story while injecting a modern conspiracy thriller twist! At some points, it straight up felt like a classic episode of The X-Files! “A Scandal in Belgravia” introduced an excellent character who Sherlock simply calls “the woman”. The whole episode was driven by a brilliant sexual tension. The Reichenbach Fall created a soul tearing drama that seemed to have no positive escape for our main protagonist. While we all knew that Sherlock wasn’t done, that didn’t stop the final scenes from being gut wrenching. And to top the list, The Sign of Three had plenty of thrills but seemed like a much more lighthearted and possibly tongue-in-cheek episode. Diving into a variety of embarrassing incidents like “Drunk Sherlock’ was a delight to see, to say the least!

Art direction has never been dull! The dank and dark tunnels in “The Blind Banker”, where Sherlock faces a troupe of circus performers who are part of a larger conspiracy as well as the Gunpowder and Treason Plot of “The Empty Hearse” show this dark underground. That doesn’t stop the overworld from looking sinister and (at times) grimy in its own light! Just look at the decaying industry from the beginning of “His Last Vow”! Around every corner is another potential suspect and clue to solving the mystery and the ominous ambiance certainly adds to it! The art direction seen in “Hounds of Baskerville” was one of the things that got me into the show in the first place. Its eerie gothic woods and eerily clean laboratories make for a nightmarish episode by looks alone!

This isn’t to say I’ve enjoyed everything about the show from start to finish. Admittedly, this Sherlock’s personality got some taking used to. Someone whose as socially apathetic and overconfident as he is would indeed take a little bit of adjusting in order to appreciate his character. Also, while all of the episodes have been enjoyable and all around wonderful, there are some moments in the series that I still question. For one, “The Blind Baker” as a whole was pulpy, thrilling, and full of intrigue. However, it didn’t match the rest of the show’s quality in my opinion. Not a bad thing, but for the “low point” of the series, it’s a damn good one! Also, in “His Last Vow”, one thing kept playing in my head… “Guns don’t really work that way.” I’m no firearms expert, but one of the scenes really made me scratch my head a bit. But, with sheer intensity akin to the ending scenes of The Reichenbach Fall, I’m willing to slightly overlook this one. Plus, some of the end reveals and endings in general could have been a lot better in some episodes. But, for an adaptation where those are my major complaints, I’m more than satisfied.

Now, this isn’t the first time that media has tried to modernize Sherlock Holmes. But, it could be debated that each of these versions vary in levels of success. In fact, it could be said that the success of this version of Sherlock helped to create the considerably more American version of the show, “Elementary.” While it is a charming and engaging production filled with a lot of the same wit and mystery, it doesn’t quite feel the same as the BBC production… or perhaps it’s just more of the same. But I digress… I could continue to go on the many spin-offs and remakes of the show, but I’m here to primarily talk about BBC’s version.

Now, does this mean I’m a part of the fandom? Nah. I’m not really attached to fandom of any kind (even the “Whovians”, despite that I love Doctor Who), so Sherlock is no different. However, I look forward to the next season… whenever that is. While this series wasn’t a priority, it was constantly a pleasure to watch every time. Now, you’re probably mentioning that there’s so much more to talk about! And of course, yes there is. However, that’s for another day. And admittedly, I haven’t read too many of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself! But, despite not knowing too much about the original stories, it has been an excellent ride through and through! That said, this TV show could be a useful start for fans who are curious of the source material. So, if you’ve heard of it or are a fan of the original stories, please give this show a try!

And for those who were awaiting my return to reviews after a hiatus or two…. DID YA MISS ME?

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