The Fedora Chronicles

"Sherlock" - Season 1 (2010)

Reviewed by Doug Palumbo - August 2011  Bookmark and Share

The Shack“I’m not a psychopath, Anderson, I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your Research.” Sherlock

With the original three episodes, A Study in Pink, The Blind Banker and The Great Game, Masterpiece Mystery!: Sherlock opened the case for yet another take on the famous "consulting detective" and his company of friends, miscreants and one devious arch-enemy. This time, along with the writers of Dr. Who, co-creators and writers for the series Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat bring the entire cast of the Holmes mythos into the 21st century.

Being a fan of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, I was quite hesitant to watch this new take on the character. The only non- literary Holmes adaptation I have ever really enjoyed was the 1984-1994 series starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes as it adhered quite closely to the original model Doyle had created.

With this new series starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the domineering Holmes, Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson and Rupert Graves as Inspector Lestrade, the creators really do Doyle and his well-established characters justice. The acting is superb and the casting of all the main/recurring characters is spot on. The chemistry between Holmes and Watson is crucial; get it only slightly wrong and the whole project will fall apart. Holmes is not an inherently likeable character. Only through Watson do we gain the patience needed to really understand and appreciate Holmes and all his idiosyncrasies.

Martin Freeman gives us Watson as a modern soldier/doctor; a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He is not a bumbling companion, there to help bad writers make Holmes look smarter. Freeman’s Watson is a skilled doctor and apt assistant to Holmes in his cases. He is Holmes’ anchor to normalcy and, in turn, Holmes affords Watson the opportunity to be engaged in the action, back on the battlefield in a way, which is something he misses.

Sherlock is one of the most faithful renditions of the Holmes mythos I have ever seen, even with it being set in modern-day London. All of the bits you might love from the original stories, from Holmes and his violin to Mrs. Hudson and her indignant doting over the occupants of 221B Baker Street are all there. Nods to the Doyle model are peppered throughout the series yet the creators and actors truly do make the stories and characters their own.

If you are new to all things Sherlock Holmes or if you are an ardent fan, this show will appeal to you. It’s open and engaging to new viewers and, as I said before, it has that recognizable Doyle style. If you subscribe to Netflix, all three episodes from series one are available online.

I have to admit, I love this show! My wife and two sons also really enjoy it. Now my oldest boy wants to read the original stories. I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud his creation is still reaching out to readers, some 120 years later, even if it is through television.

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PBS/Masterpiece Theater - Sherlock