TV in Review: Sherlock, “A Study in Pink”
January 31, 2012 10 Comments
Okay, so I’m late to the game as usual with Sherlock…but in a way, aren’t we all late when matched up against Mr. Holmes?
Sherlock premiered in the UK in July of 2010 and is an update of the the classic mysteries penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over a century ago. The opening seconds are quite insistent about how un-Victorian they are — the slickly shot images of modern warfare announce to us that this is not going to be an old-fashioned BBC costume drama.
Sherlock reminds us of much that has been obvious about Sherlock Holmes and yet has been forgotten. It’s like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Purloined Letter,” where all the smart folk neglect to observe what’s out there in the open, which in this case includes Dr. Watson’s military past and how Holmes’ idiosyncrasies might actually be bloody annoying.
Holmes is played by a man with a veritably Victorian name (Benedict Cumberbatch), who has practically translucent skin, while Watson is manned by Martin Freeman. The two of them have a delightful sexual tension that (at least in the first episode) is not scripted to put either of them down, but adds depth and detail to the characters and to the situations.
It also add humor of a positive, playful sort. Just what are we supposed to think when Holmes says to Watson:
SHERLOCK: Perfectly sound analysis but I was hoping you’d go deeper.
Sherlock’s mental machinations are computer-like, with sound effects and swift camera movements which suggest that he’s some sort of superhuman savant. Of course the game is always rigged. In reality clues have multiple meanings, and there’s actually a moment in episode one where Sherlock misses the obvious — the audience gets it! — but it’s still so much more imaginative than the likes of Law & Order that we don’t mind.
In fact, we love it. When police sergeant Sally Donovan says derisively about Holmes’ attitude toward crime that “he gets off on it,” she might as well be talking about all of us who love crime shows. Guilty as charged.
The 90 minute episodes of Sherlock take the movies made with Robert Downey and Jude Law, and kick their ass. Downey and Law do what they can, but they’re there to serve the action…
…while on Sherlock the actors are allowed to act.
So yes, Sherlock offers up a beautiful illusion of a magical world in which a super-sleuth can find just the right clues to come up with just the right answers. And like the Harry Potter books, it’s a vote in the affirmative for government sponsorship of the arts. I’m off to watch episode two…
TV in Review: Sherlock, “The Blind Banker” (Season 1, Episode 2)
TV in Review: Sherlock, “The Great Game” (Season 1, Episode 3)
TV in Review: Sherlock, “A Scandal in Belgravia” (Season 2, Episode 1)
TV in Review: Sherlock, “The Hounds of Baskerville” (Season 2, Episode 2)
TV in Review: Sherlock, “The Reichenbach Fall” (Season 2, Episode 3)