My mom owns every Sherlock Holmes novel and story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote, and over the years, her loved trickled down to me. I read almost every book and story by the time I reached college. Then of course, the film adaptations feed my interest. Basil Rathbone in the '30s and '40s, Jeremy Brett in the '80s, Robert Downey, Jr. in Guy Ritchie's extravaganza, and of course, Wishbone, always provide the perfect on-screen literature to cozy up to this time of the year.
Despite this exposure, I approached the newest reboot, the BBC three-part series Sherlock, with confidence many may not relate to. Sherlock's setting, 21st century London, hardly hearkens the literature's original Victorian era. Yet, it does not need to because the characters always seemed "modern." Furthermore, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, two of writers behind the current Doctor Who (which I heard is excellent), seamlessly adjust the setting, and keep the original's essentials. Sherlock Holmes, excellently played by Benedict Cumberbatch, stills comes off as the quirky, arrogant, and yet ridiculously intelligent consulting detective who remains miles ahead of everyone him. The series' first episode, "A Study in Pink" (based on Conan Doyle's first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet) shows him scanning murder victims and concocting assumptions from details like grimy wedding rings and chipped nail polish. He then cooly chastises those around him for lacking his abilities. His best lines include:
"Anderson, don't talk aloud. You're lowering the IQ of the entire street."
"What is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring."
"When the police are out of their depth, which is always, they consult me."
"I'm not a psychopath. I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research."
Though I got a little sociopath from him, I believe Holmes mostly kids by employing an annoyingly high opinion of himself. Yet, at the same time, he seems neurotic, and constantly pleads for quiet as he tries to maintain his intellectual stance. He remains work and mind driven. That is, until John Watson appears.
Watson, (Martin Freeman) opens "A Study in Pink." Wounded, and recently returned from Afghanistan, he struggles with war memories through counseling and blogging. By chance, an old acquaintance introduces him to Holmes, and suggests they become Baker Street flatmates. Holmes takes this opportunity to drag Watson on their first case together, whether he wants to or not. Though Watson appears stunned by Holmes' ability to analyze his entire past by his cell phone (Yes, Holmes shows an affinity for texting here), Freeman does not play him as the bumbling, starry-eyed fan others versions convey. While Holmes fascinates him, Watson still challenges his arrogance, and inquires who the hell he really is. By the first episode's finale, he still does not quite know, but he is closer.
This relationship, like the original literature shows, remains important to the series' success. Holmes and Watson bicker over relationships and "borrowed" lap tops, yet they also uncover murder clues, and race through London streets after suspects together. They develop a comradery that resembles most healthy relationships. While they do not understand everything about each other, they maintain a mutual fascination and loyalty.
I recommend Sherlock to anyone. Anyone. All three episodes are exciting, funny, visually stunning, and worth seeking out. I watched them first on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery, and then through Netflix. Although I had to wait awhile after I added them to my queue before they became available. I think that is due to their popularity, though.
Check out the series trailer here.