It was really only a matter of time before Sherlock Holmes returned to the small screen. Procedural detective TV shows such as CSI have been sweeping in huge audiences all over the world for years, and the Guy Ritchie directed film was a huge success, so it only made sense to bring back the man who started it all.
This time around, the title has been shortened to Sherlock. Whether this was to distinguish it from the recent film or because our generation is too lazy to write full words, we will never know.
The setting has been shifted to present day London. As a result of this, some of the characters pasts have been altered to suit. Dr Watson, for example, is now a former military doctor, injured while serving in Afghanistan. Technology is heavily used throughout, with mobile phones and laptops used frequently in order to gather clues and information. The way the text appears on the screen whenever a character sends or receives a message looks excellent and is far better than a simple close-up of the message on the phone.
The DVD version reviewed here features all three episodes of the show, A Study In Pink, The Blind Banker, and The Great Game. The three episodes clock in at 90 minutes each, so, despite the small number of episodes, it’s great value. All three episodes are excellent viewing. It’s the sort of thing that makes a person glad to pay their TV license.
Despite the length of the episodes, the pacing is excellent in all three and there is never a point where you feel bored or restless. Any of the episodes work really well independently of the others, but watching all three in order is more rewarding as (much like Doctor Who), there is a series arc. In this case, it’s that the name Moriarty keeps popping up, and more importantly, who or what is Moriarty?
The series was created by Doctor Who writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, writing one each (A Study In Pink, and The Great Game, respectively) with Stephen Thompson writing The Blind Banker. It’s actually incredible how well written the series is. Moffat and Gatiss have managed to make the characters feel like real people.
Their Sherlock comes across as mildly autistic, lacking any real social skills, but having an incredible eye for details, and still is as arrogant and egocentric as the original character. Gone is the pipe and in are nicotine patches. Gone is the hat and in is a pea coat and scarf. If you were to compare the Sherlock portrayed here to any other character from another recent police procedural, it would be Dexter Morgan.
He doesn’t have the same serial killer tendencies, but aside from that, he does feel like a very similar character. For one thing, Sherlock is absolutely obsessive about his work, and also like Dexter, he lacks any real social skills. Also, similarly to Dexter, it is clear that the majority of the police force find him creepy.
Benedict Cumberbatch does an absolutely spot on job of capturing Sherlock, playing him with absolute seriousness. Sherlock comes across as quite a peculiar character in this day and age, but Cumberbatch absolutely nails it.
Watson is played by Martin Freeman. Most people will know Freeman for his work in The Office, amongst other things. He seems to be adapting well to branching out from comedy and into more serious roles. The dynamic between the two actors works really well, with Cumberbatch all knowing and deadly serious and Freeman inquisitive and rarely right (except about medical facts, which he assists with at the scenes of the crimes).
The extras on the DVD are a little thin on the ground. There are commentaries for A Study In Pink and The Great Game, along with a short ‘behind the scenes’ feature, Unlocking Sherlock, and the original 60 minute pilot. To be honest, there’s little point in watching the pilot, as it’s a 60 minute version of A Study In Pink, but it’s nice to know that it’s there.
Sherlock is worth a slot in anyone’s DVD collection. It’s the kind of solid, original television programming that only comes along once every few years in this country. It’s excellent news that more episodes have been commissioned and, given the ending that we were left with in the final episode, I’d wager that there’s quite a number of people out there who will be looking forward to the next series.
Sherlock is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.