"Shut UP!" "I didn't say-" "You were thinking. It's annoying."
-Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lestrade
Yes. Let's get it out of the way. The Beeb's new show 'Sherlock' is, indeed, a modern interpretation of our favorite consulting detective. I've only seen the first episode, titled A Study in Pink, but I am now (to my surprise) quite looking forward to the next one, and the one after that.
In this episode, Dr. John Watson, Army medico, is invalided home from Afghanistan and ends up in The City. Walking with a cane, living by himself, in therapy and keeping a pistol in his desk drawer, he goes on a hunt for cheap lodgings, meets an old school chum who has a friend looking to take up digs, and...yep.
Oh, and people are dying, mysteriously, around London. The Metro Police announce that they are suicides, but as they do so, everyone at the press conference's phone dings with an SMS which just reads "WRONG!"
And, Mrs. Hudson, the Game is on. No, they were too respectful to actually use the phrase 'the game is afoot.'
You can tell. Those involved in making this are obvious Holmesians. They are almost fearful of directly using anything from Holmes, but they're fetishistic about getting as close as possible. The sitting room at 221b Baker St. is furnished in dreary 1970s fashions - but it's laid out almost exactly identically to the one from the Jeremy Brett Holmes. Same windows, fireplace, desk, chair.
Holmes doesn't have 'three pipe problems,' because (as he tells us) there's just no point in having a smoking habit in London these days. But nicotine is necessary for brainwork, and so, we have 'three patch problems' - yes, he abuses nicotine patches. But there are hints that his darker habits are also lurking in the background.
Anyway, there's just a whole lot to love here. For me, at least. Everyone is doing a good job. Rupert Graves plays Lestrade; Holmes is played with hyperkinetic flair by Benedict Cumberbatch, and Watson by Martin Freeman. Most importantly in my decision to watch it, the series was created by, among others, Steven Moffat, who wrote my favorite Doctor Who episode ever and is currently helming that show's production. Sherlock was co-produced by BBC Wales and WGBH Boston in the US; there are four episodes complete and scheduled to air in July and August 2010 (although one is apparently an 'unaired pilot' so we're only going to get three, I suppose). Here's hoping it gets picked up for a longer run.
Give it a try. I recommend it. There is much snark, much love of Doyle and his famous creations, and even - dare I say it - originality.
Oh, and if you're like me, you may at one point turn to whoever you're watching it with and say 'Where was I? AUSTRALIA! Yes!'
And if you do, you'll obviously know why.
"Ignore everything I just said. I'm in shock. Look, I have a blanket."
Update August 9, 2010: All three episodes have now aired. The ratings were quite good - between 6.5 and 7.5 million viewers for each episode - and the BBC seems quite happy. They have stated that they will be meeting with Gatiss and Moffat (the producers) about another series, which will probably also be three 90-minute episodes. Here's hoping.
Update January 4, 2012: It took too long, but the first episode of season 2 (another three-episode miniseries) has aired on the Beeb. 'A Scandal in Belgravia' picks up literally *right* where the third episode left off - and a good thing, too. And...it's exquisite, even though it (like most modern reinterpretations of Holmes seem to think necessary) has introduced us to Irene Adler.