‘Sherlock Holmes is introduced to ex-army doctor John Watson who he moves in with and then convinces to help him solve murder mysteries. Their first case together is one that looks, to police, like a case of linked suicides.‘
Sherlock Holmes has been reimagined so many times that it’s hard to imagine anyone could bring something new to the table. But Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ new series Sherlock brings the famous detective into modern times while keeping true to the spirit of the original stories. This series starts with a bang and I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes.
The first episode had a lot to cover with the introductions of all the major characters, but the mystery didn’t seem to suffer at all. Sherlock Holmes stories have always been more about the detective than the mystery at hand so the focus on character didn’t feel out-of-place here. Watson (Martin Freeman) plays his usual role as the audience surrogate in the story, marvelling at Holmes’ brilliance, but he is a very intelligent and capable character in his own right. There’s no evidence of the bumbling assistant that Watson is often made out to be, which is great because Conan Doyle certainly didn’t write him as an idiot.
Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) requires someone like Watson to ground him in reality, and by the end of the pilot we know that Holmes recognises this fact. He operates on a different level to everyone around him, and can often be completely oblivious (sometimes deliberately) to the effect that this has on those around him. Watson is required for Holmes to function at his best, because Watson is his connection to the real world. The pilot does a great job of setting this relationship up. Both characters are great and distinct, but they really shine as a pair.
The visual design does a great job of getting us inside Holmes’ head as well, making the audience feel like they’re in on the secret. We see the text messages that Holmes is obsessed with popping up on-screen, as well as a glimpse at Holmes’ inner GPS to guide him through the streets of London. Clues are explained with a visual cue rather than lots of exposition, although sometimes the exposition is there too as Holmes has to explain the ‘obvious’ to everyone around him. This is a great technique to put the audience on Holmes’ side, because he is in many ways an unlikable character. On occasion I felt that the visual cues were a little overused, but it was only a minor quibble.
Overall, this is the best adaptation of Holmes to hit the screen, and if you’re a fan of the character or just mystery stories in general it is a must see.
What I Liked – Brilliant performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Compelling storyline. Great use of visual cues to indicate Sherlock’s thought processes.
What I Didn’t Like – Some of the visual tricks were a little overused at times.
Rating – 5 out of 5 (Awesome)