Based on the classic fictional detective created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it had come to my attention that the ‘Series One’ edition of SHERLOCK that aired on the BBC in late 2010 had found it’s way to Netflix Instant-Streaming. The three episodes ranging around 90 minutes a piece are broken up as ‘A Study in Pink’, ‘The Blind Banker’ and ‘The Great Game’.
I remember hearing about the show in early 2010, and how Martin Freeman was cast. I was late into the original The Office BBC series. To me, I will forever adhere him to the fun and outstanding take on the classic Douglas Adams book The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But since the original Office, I had realized that I enjoyed his performances, and would give any show or film a shot with him in it. And one based on the classic Conan Doyle stories? Sign me up.
What was even more intriguing from what I thought then to what I think now, is that Freeman, being I am familiar only with his work regarding actors in this series, is that he is playing against type. Perhaps it is just the brainwashing of Hollywood as an American, but Watson was always sort of shown as a pudgy fellow, husky, with a bushy mustache and bowler-top. It wasn’t until a year or too before the wonderful Warner Bros. film did I learn that Watson wasn’t that at all in the books, a bit more worn of an individual, a product of the war, and it was really fascinating to me. So when ‘A Study in Pink’ begins, I was quite surprised that they really stayed close to the ideals of Watson as the lead as the books were mostly told through Watson’s perspective in writing. The first episode was a nod to the original story ‘A Study in Scarlet’, but despite what might be considered outdated material was given a fresh spin. No longer was he using pocket-watches, he now uses cellular phones. Instead of journals, Watson uses a blog. Instead of the classic Second Anglo-Afghan War, we are taken to the current skirmish in the Afghanistan War in which Watson was a fighter/surgeon in.
Overall, it works. Their way of dealing with Holmes’ genius was almost to be a bit A Beautiful Mind with it, with facts, figures, thoughts in his head scrawling on the screen at a rapid fast rate, just as fast as Holmes thinks. It’s refreshing as it kept me as a viewer on my toes, and the actual mystery of whom killed or murdered those people quite thrilling.
While the Blind Banker was entertaining, some of the flash of the pilot was gone, and it was Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch ‘s performances to elevate the episode until it’s climax which became quite intense, really quick. The real gem in the episodes though was the final moments of ‘The Great Game’ where we are finally introduced to the infamous Moriarty.
The reason why this is the crown gem in all three episodes is that not only did they somewhat play against type for Watson, they did so even more Moriarty. Played to an insane level of insanity brought to the forefront by Andrew Scott. In a stunning moment within the final moments of the episode, Sherlock goes to confront Moriarty, only to be confronted by Watson, leaving us to along with Holmes to utter ‘John?!’ in severe confusion and bewilderment. Did the really go there?
No, not entirely,and I don’t want to go much further but the twist that Watson acted outside of what Moriarty planned, and that Holmes may act in the same vein, ends the series on a giant cliffhanger, but props are deserved for the cast and crew for going to such a great way to make sure Moriarty footprint is on each episode until his reveal. While Sherlock here is a sleuth at beckon call for Scotland Yard, Moriarty is an equal but instead of the police, he is a consultant for the dark and seedy underworld of crime. A nice addition to the way that Scott plays Moriarty which has been played and hinted at for years by Hollywood, it was a fresh take, much like a recent academy award winning performance of Heath Ledger and his take of the crime boss the Joker in Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
The downside of the series is that for once the show doesn’t play down on to spoon feeding you everything. You are a bit like Watson, trying desperately to keep up, especially in episodes two and three respectively, where sometimes Holmes is juggling two to three cases or different ideas of what’s going on and doesn’t fill Watson and thus, you. But still the show is fun and exciting and I am beyond excited for Series Two.
Currently Sherlock is available on DVD and Instant-Streaming on the Netflix Queue.