December 6, 2010
Sherlock Holmes? Transposed to modern day London, with computers, mobile phones and the Internet? Surely this will never work?
The idea that London’s most famous Victorian detective, as penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, could work in a modern setting must have seemed crazy to all but the most visionary of people – thankfully Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (two of the men behind the regeneration of Doctor Who) were two such visionaries. Sherlock Holmes, in modern day London, is both inspired and intriguing – and is an unquestionable success; one which apparently took a few people by surprise, including the BBC and star Martin Freeman (Doctor Watson).
Freeman may be better known as playing ‘Tim’ in the Office (or as the naked male porn star in Love Actually), but his role as Watson in Sherlock threatens to give the comedy actor a new shot at being typecast all over again. He is a youthful Watson, a man of action and a perfect foil for the brilliant, irrational and slightly unstable Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) – a man who could quite easily fill the role of The Doctor (Who, not Watson) himself without too much of a stretch.
Just like previous incarnations of Holmes before him, Cumberbatch plays Holmes with a degree of insanity – plagued by the fact that nobody is able to even keep up with him, let alone challenge him. Holmes is so bored in fact that he resorts to taking pot shots at his own living room wall with a gun, and keeping severed body parts in the fridge for ‘study’ – yes, this Holmes is only a slight nudge away from being one of the madmen he often catches. It’s this unpredictability – the sort of instability that followed David Tenant in his final few episodes of Doctor Who – that make this series so watchable.
Sherlock was only intended for a short run by the BBC, filming just three feature length episodes, but its runaway success ensured it was granted another series almost instantly – one which Freeman must fit in around his work on The Hobbit, where he plays Bilbo Baggins. Sherlock is edgy, it’s unpredictable and it’s brilliant. It displays writing at its very best and brings the legend that is Sherlock Holmes screaming into the 21st century for the Doctor Who generation.
I’ve mentioned Who a number of times in this review, but the parallels are there to be seen by all. The complex and in-depth style of writing, the cinematic shooting and the casting show very strong influences – as does the huge success of the show.
If you’ve ever thought of Sherlock Holmes as being a little stuffy, maybe even boring, think again. Sherlock, while staying true to the original’s intricacy and detail, is an action packed powerhouse of a series, and one that I’ll personally be following with glee.