Late to the Show – Sherlock

In the next instalment of the ‘Late to the Show’ series, Luke Addison looks at the BBC’s Sherlock….

The BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the clinical, uncaring Sherlock, with Martin Freeman as his initially crippled sidekick John Watson has been given critical acclaim by critics and viewers alike since it first aired two years ago. Set in modern London, the stories, characters and locations feel very reminiscent of the imagery and feelings I once had when reading the Sherlock Holmes books as a young lad. Whether it’s the Chinese circus, the dark and mysterious forest that is home to the Hound, or even Sherlock’s own residence – still 221b Baker Street – it’s always clear that you’re watching the same character as you have read and watched in the past.
Benedict Cumberbatch does a fantastic job of bringing the case-orientated Sherlock alive, and along with the editing and directing of the episodes, it creates a good insight into his mind and motivations. Of course this is only one half of the coin, with Martin Freeman’s John Watson being the anchor for the young Sherlock, becoming somewhat of a surrogate big brother and – not unlike the companions of Doctor Who – grounding Sherlock with a sense of humanity and morals.

Of course Sherlock brings something to this ‘bromance’ too – adventure. He gives Watson something to live for and a reason to keep going, rather than prematurely end his life as the start of episode one hints at.

As the series starts out, we’re shown a good deal of Sherlock’s deduction skills, with him ascertaining the origins of Watson’s limp, his sibling’s drinking problem and the reason for the meeting in the first place, without them barely speaking two words to one another. Later in the episode Sherlock explains how he came to these conclusions, and through this we’re shown the thought processes that he goes through to get the conclusions he finishes with. Some of it is fantastically put together, and I for one wouldn’t have the sense of puzzle building to write the clues and conclusions that the writer’s of the show clearly do.

As the show goes on, Sherlock begins to show more and more emotion, whilst never losing the clinical, deep thinking that we all love him for. He shows anger at his own stupidity, self sacrifice and love for those he considers his friends, and even a little appreciation to Watson in times when he’s been of help. This is something I think was lacking in the other versions, although the popular opinion that Sherlock was autistic in the books is addressed in the show, in the form of a quip from Watson to Inspector Lestrade.

In the six episodes to date (three per season), the writer’s have done well to incorporate some old stories into the newer ones they themselves have created, the most prolific being The Hound of the Baskervilles. Funnily enough I thought this episode was the weakest of the six, with the big twist being rather obvious, but it was still an enjoyable watch seeing Sherlock initially get stumped, and for the first time in the show doubt himself and his deductions.
Without spoiling the show too much, the character of Moriarty is more than a worthy nemesis in this incarnation, with his madness and maniacal personality being brought to life by the brilliant Andrew Scott. The last episode especially is a particularly good display of the two men trying to outwit one another, and it’s absolutely gripping to watch.
Whilst there are only six episodes so far – shooting of the third season began a few days ago – the writers have done a good job of cementing the relationships Sherlock has with the characters around him, especially with Watson and Mrs. Hudson. Mrs Hudson, the landlady of the duo, is particularly amusing when she regularly walks in on Sherlock’s many experiments, be they a human head in the fridge, shooting the wall in a bout of boredom or hanging a mannequin from the rafters.
In fact, the only detraction I can think of with the series as a whole is the fact that the opium addiction Sherlock sported in the books has been replaced with a rather tame nicotine addiction, although this may be to make Sherlock more likeable, as heavy drug use is frowned upon now, compared to the 1800s.

With strong writing from Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, fantastic performances by all of the principal and supporting cast, and plenty of stories to draw inspiration from, I can’t see Sherlock lessening in quality whatsoever. In fact, the only thing stopping it from continuing for some years is Freeman’s and Cumberbatch’s sky-rocketing careers.

Given the choice of Robert Downey Jr.’s two Sherlock Holmes films and the six episodes of BBC’s series, I’d recommend watching the latter. Whilst it is set in the modern day, this brings a new and unexplored aspect to the characters, allowing for more relatable themes and stories and it saves it retreading an already well established area for Sherlock. Whilst to the well read Holmes fans, the stories will be predictable to a certain extent, but the modern setting will keep everyone guessing for a short while and you never know what’s coming, or what scathing piece of dialogue Sherlock or Watson will come out with next. Those two reasons are more than enough to give it a watch, but there’s many others, so go on, treat yourself. Watch it.

Luke Addison is an aspiring film journalist with a passion for all things television and film. Follow him on Twitter @Novo_Slev.

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  • Enjoyed and thoroughly agreed with your article, except for one bit. The "lame" nicotine addiction. It is actually implied on more than one occassion that our Sherlocks addiction is not limited only to nicotine. Go back to "A Study in Pink" where Lestrade and Co. do a drug raid on 221B. And even to "Scandal in Belgravia" after Sherlock visits the morgue with

  • ves

    Love the show always look forward to it.<br />Thanks to everyone involved.