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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman star in Sherlock
While Guy Ritchie & Robert Downey Jr. do their level best to turn the iconic sleuth Sherlock Holmes into a kind of foppish Victorian Bruce Willis, a far better adaptation has been flying a bit lower under the radar.

Created by Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss for BBC television, Sherlock is a thorough updating of the stories penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, complete with state-of-the-art forensics, ever-present smartphones, and neighbors who are all-too-knowing about the perceived relationship between the two main characters. (After all, what would anyone assume nowadays of two bachelors living together?)

While I've always been a fan of the original stories (as well as the earlier television adaptations starring Jeremy Brett), I am completely smitten with this new series.

The title character is still the cerebral superhero, able to deduce volumes of information from the tiniest clues, but he's also a fully-fleshed human being (prickly & impatient with everyone for not being able to keep up with him but also deeply vulnerable & flawed), played with manic energy by Benedict Cumberbatch. And Martin Freeman is wonderful as the loyal, resourceful Dr. Watson, a veteran of Afghanistan whose blog makes Sherlock, the "consulting detective," an internet sensation.

The Game Is Afoot!
(a scene from "A Study In Pink")
So far, there have been six episodes of this Sherlock, and it's been interesting for an old fan like me to see how Moffat & Gatiss have taken tried-and-true Holmesian tropes and reworked them for contemporary circumstances. But, even if you weren't already an aficionado of all things Sherlockian, you'll still enjoy these episodes as fully-contained mysteries. Each is a roughly 90-minute whodunit, although there is a larger arc involving Sherlock's nemesis Moriarty, a delectably creepy villain who matches our hero wit-for-wit.

I've heard rumblings of another batch of Sherlock episodes coming down the pike. I can only hope they're as good as what's already come.


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