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Not your Basil Rathbone Holmes (Thank Goodness!)

21 07 2011

Copyright 2010 BBC/Masterpiece

In their down time from Doctor Who, current series head Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss set out to create a modern update on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes.  Season One of the joint BBC and Masterpiece production aired in the summer of 2010 with three episodes, each totaling 88 minutes in length.

The first episode, A Study in Pink (an obvious take-off on Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlett”), lays out the groundwork and exposition for the characters of both Holmes and his associate Dr. John Watson.  This episode also introduces the two to each other for the first time, and has them decide to be roommates at the famous 221-B Baker Street address.  Staying very true to the books, all the idiosyncracies of the characters and their backgrounds are in tact, just with modern updates.  For instance, Watson served in the recent Afghanistan conflict in this version, where he received the bullet that injured his leg.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Holmes and Martin Freeman plays Watson; they are both excellent in their roles.  I especially enjoyed Freeman’s performance as Watson; however, I am a bit bias, as my favorite character in the Holmes’ stories is generally that of Watson oddly enough.  I mean how cool would it be to be the companion of a mind like Holmes’s, a crack shot with a revolver and an expert medical doctor all-in-one?  Plus, you get the ladies and generally stand as a voice of reason to the sometimes aloof Holmes.

Not only does the series get placed in modern London, but they take expert advantage over the situation by incorporating many technological advances into the scripts.  Laptops, cell phones and other digital media devices are made use of in all three episodes extensively, sometimes even as key elements to the plot.  In addition, the producers came up with a clever way to visually present the use of such devices.  Rather than boring shots of a cell phone screen, they have animated text appear over the image to signify various text messages, etc.

The second series will be broadcast this fall in the same manner as the first, with three hour and a half long episodes.  I enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s theatrical version of Sherlock Holmes (2009) and am looking forward to the sequel later this year, but, though fun, it wasn’t a great movie.  This modernized adaptation of the classic stories is a different story; I don’t mind at all admitting that it is a brilliant, fresh take on series.  I absolutely love it.

For all you Netflix users out there, all three episodes of season one are available on Instant Watch.

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2 responses

1 08 2011
Claire Packer

I completely missed ‘Sherlock’ when it was broadcast last year. It started showing again a couple of weeks ago and epsiode 3 is on Wednesday.

I’m really enjoying the series and while I can’t wait for ‘The Hobbit’ films to be released, I’m glad Freeman said he could only shoot them if they didn’t interrupt his commitments with ‘Sherlock’!

Being set in modern London makes it accessible to a younger generation. I agree, I like how they’ve incorporated technological advances. In episode 2 they track the phone don’t they? Very clever!

2 08 2011
notesonafilm

That’s awesome that he said he wouldn’t shoot if they interrupted! I didn’t know that. I think he makes a perfect Watson in that show. I can’t wait for the second series this fall – not to mention Dexter and Doctor Who will be back too! I am going to have no life outside of work haha. Been maneuvering through Torchwood lately as well; I like it a lot, but it’s no Doctor Who. We are just beginning the second season, but I hear the third is the best. Have you seen all seasons of Torchwood? Also, have you gotten deep into Dexter yet? If so, how are you liking it?

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