Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sherlock - Season 1

It's apt that this modern day take on Sherlock Holmes was co-created by Steven Moffat, the man currently in charge of Doctor Who. In both, the titular character is a brilliant, fast-talking eccentric who solves mysteries and hangs out with British people. The difference is the Doctor is a time traveling, immortal alien while Holmes is, in his own words, a high-functioning sociopath and the world's only consulting detective. Sherlock is played by Benedict Cumberbatch, a man who is as talented as his name is crazy, and he creates a pretty fascinating, updated take on the classic character. One of Holmes' more interesting characteristics is how he can be a complete master in certain fields of knowledge but absolutely clueless in others, and Cumberbatch takes it to the next level, portraying a real enigma of a man who doesn't really know how to do anything but analyze situations and explain deductions extremely quickly. The always-likable Martin Freeman plays Dr. John Watson, a field medic experiencing adverse effects after what he experienced in Afghanistan. He's set up as Holmes' roommate, and after that the two form an uneasy but persistent friendship as Watson begins accompanying him on cases.

So there's only three episodes to this season, as it really feels more like a trilogy of films more than a TV show. Each episode is about an hour and a half, and tells a full story as the pair solves a case, or to be more accurate, Sherlock solves a case while Watson mostly compliments his brilliance. There's not really much of a chance for a formula to form beyond what I've already said, and it's probably to the show's benefit that the number of cases is so low since it allows each one to be fully fleshed out and intriguing as possible. There's a lot of interesting touches that could have become distracting but instead help serve the modern vibe they're going for, such as a lot of quick cuts and closeups to simulate Holmes' thinking process and popping up text that characters are reading on screens to keep the conveying of information elegant. Unlike some other cop shows, the fun is watching the characters figure things out instead of trying to do it yourself, and none of the plots are as simple as they appear at first. The third and final one re-introduces Sherlock's greatest nemesis in fairly grand fashion and ends on a cliffhanger, an effective way to leave the audience wanting more and assuring them that there will be. I don't know if Freeman's commitment to The Hobbit (which I am in great favor of) will affect the show down the road, but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what they do.

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