I love the BBC One Sherlock Holmes series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. Have you seen it? Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth now carries a smartphone, and his good friend Dr. Watson publishes accounts of Sherlock’s exploits on a blog.
The series’ opening-credits sequence is especially well done. The use of tilt-shift photography makes London appear in miniature, as if it’s Sherlock’s game board. Nice touch.
And thank goodness for subtitles! With the first two seasons available on DVD, I can finally understand what the super-fast-talking, English-accented main characters are saying and thus actually have a clue what’s going on.
Each season has three episodes, meaning there are six of these hip, smartly-written, and brilliantly acted Sherlock stories so far. Although thoroughly updated for the 21st century, all have titles and plots that are clever twists on actual Conan Doyle tales.
For example, the series’ first episode, “A Study in Pink,” not only cleverly spins out the title of the first Sherlock tale, “A Study in Scarlet,” but it also introduces Holmes and Watson in the same manner as Conan Doyle’s original. And it features the mysterious word “RACHE” written by the dying murder victim, except now it’s a password as well as a person’s name. We even have an incompetent member of the police force postulating that it’s the German word for “revenge.”
While we’re on the subject of the police force, I have to mention that I love how this series makes Lestrade a competent, likable guy, yet retains Conan Doyle’s apparent low regard for the police by introducing a few unsympathetic lower-level officers to despise and make idiots of.
There are many other fun references planted for Holmes fans to discover. Like, for instance, the five Greenwich pips that pay homage to “The Five Orange Pips” in the third episode of Season One, “The Great Game.” And although today’s Sherlock does not smoke a pipe, he is a “recovering” cigarette addict who savors secondhand smoke and wears a nicotine patch on his arm (or occasionally multiples, for mentally wrestling with cases that pose a “three-patch problem”).
Every time I re-watch one of these episodes, I find something new to enjoy. But I want MORE! I want new episodes.
And it looks like I’ll have to keep waiting for them . . . because Season Three (or “Series 3,” as they seem to call it in England) will probably not air until next January. The show’s stars have unfortunately become so successful (well, fortunately for them :)) that their availability for the three-episode Sherlock shoot has to be worked around their other commitments.
Meanwhile, because I finally figured out how to embed YouTube clips in my blog, I thought I’d share this funny clip of a Benedict Cumberbatch/Chris Pine interview from BBC One’s “The Graham Norton Show,” a program billed this way on the BBC One website: “Graham Norton presents a show focusing on the people, trends, stories and aspects of celebrity culture that interest him most, featuring trademark Norton comedy monologues and celebrity chat.”
Here watch Benedict Cumberbatch and then Chris Pine run up into the audience to embrace the Cumberb*tches and Pine Nuts who’ve traveled great distances to see them. Graham Norton is hilarious, and both actors seem awfully good sports.