SHERLOCK: SEASON ONE
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The BBC has developed a new, modern version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and it manages to be the most faithful yet most up-to-date version around. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the legendary, reclusive and egomaniacal detective while Martin Freeman plays the sometimes bumbling and sometimes badass Doctor Watson. Updating the setting to modern day London, we find Watson recovering from injuries in Afghanistan and becoming the flatmate to Holmes, who uses his keen observational skills and over-the-counter stimulants to solve cases.
WHAT I LIKED
My mother is a huge mystery fan and has loved the Sherlock Holmes stories for years. In fact, when Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” came out last year, she went on a rampage about how it wasn’t true to the stories or the original characters. Ironically, I think she’d find this new modernized version more identifiable to the classic stories than anything else.
While the setting and much of the technology surrounding the mysteries have been modernized, the essence of Sherlock Holmes remains the same. He’s brilliant, and he’s passionate about solving the mysteries. However, he’s also a functioning sociopath (as he hilariously points out in the first episode), so he cares less about the human condition and more about the case. And in a nice modern twist, Sherlock prefers to text people than have real human contact.
With this version, it becomes clear how much the medical drama “House” has been inspired by the character of Sherlock Holmes because it’s tempting to point out much this drama seems to borrow from that show. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock has more in common with Hugh Laurie’s Greg House (including arrogance, stature and substance abuse) than I ever considered.
This season comprises three 90-minute episodes. The first “A Study in Pink” is a great way to start the series. It serves as an introduction to the characters and how they fit into place but also manages to serve up a pretty clever mystery in the process. The middle episode “The Blind Banker” is a bit of a let-down, featuring a meandering plot and not much focus. This is the sophomore slump in the first run. Fortunately, “The Great Game” comes in to save the day with another clever mystery, gelled chemistry between Sherlock and Watson and a neat reveal of the mysterious Moriarty character.
I am eager for season two.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
My biggest beef with British shows in general are the alarmingly short runs. I know that American television can bog down with seasons that last more than 20 episodes, but a three-episode season just doesn’t sit well with me. Just when I was getting into the show, it ends… and with a cliffhanger, no less.
Is there anything wrong with hoping for a happy medium?
The Blu-ray features are a little thin, especially for the premiere season. Still, there are commentaries for all three episodes, plus a look at the original hour-long pilot of “A Study in Pink” (which from a production standpoint feels more like the cheap classic BBC than the cinematic and dynamic re-envisioning of it for the 90-minute premiere) and a making-of featurette.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who wants a well-made modern Sherlock Holmes that is faithful to its inspiration.