Monday, January 02, 2012

Sherlock.

In time for the New Year comes a second series of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s wildly inventive Sherlock, which takes the classic stories from Arthur Conan Doyle and sets them in the hustle and bustle of London. Smartphones, blogs, laptops and fancy gadgetry all become part of the story-telling as Doyle’s clever creations are given a modern day spin, and heading all of this unlikely but massively successful creation are the odd couple of Benedict Cumberbatch as the genius but extremely irritating epoynomous character and Martin Freeman as his long-suffering army doctor friend and housemate, Doctor Watson.

The season starts where series one had left off, and thus in, quite literally, an explosive manner as Holmes and Watson are in a swimming pool room, face-to-face with Sherlock’s nemesis, the brilliantly dastardly Jim Moriarty. He is seconds, nay, nano-seconds from doing away with the pair of them when Moriarty receives a phonecall which pulls his attention away from the two and gives them a lifeline. We see that this phonecall came from none other than a vampily-clad woman, and not only that, but she seems fond of playing sex games with other women. The woman – as she will be called by Sherlock – will play a huge part in the episode, as it is really centred around her. It is of course, the only person who has ever proved a match for Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler.

Irene Adler is played by young riser Lara Pulver, and from the moment we lock eyes with her on screen, we know we are witnessing someone special. Looks-wise, God spared no expense with her- beautiful eyes, the skin of an angel and the body of a Greek goddess, as well as a voice that exudes femme fatale all over. It was an important call in casting one of the fiercest female literary creations and the show’s producers could have easily opted for the easy option and gone for a more mainstream actress, but they put faith in Lara Pulver and she has repaid them handsomely with a fabulous performance that exudes sex and more than holds her own against the show’s talented and experienced males.

The episode, “A Scandal in Belgravia”, is loosely based around the Conan Doyle short story “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Except now, Irene Adler is a high class call girl who specializes in whip-play rather than an opera singer, and she has a collection of photos on her camera-phone rather than one bulky photo. These photos are of Adler with a female member of the Royal Family (or thereabouts), and Mycroft Holmes has enlisted his little brother (who’s relationship with is the very definition of love/hate) and Dr Watson to go get those pictures back.

Along the way, there are twists and turns aplenty. I was blown away by the ingenuity of the first series with how it subverted the Sherlock blueprint and managed to use modern day technology as part of the story-telling and detective process, and wasn’t sure if it would feel quite as fresh this time. Reality? It felt better. Doctor Watson’s keeping a blog is an amusing sub-plot and there is one terrifically crafted scene in which Sherlock Holmes, due to becoming somewhat of a C-list celeb due to said blog, is photographed by the paparazzi, a stream of photos which find their way to broadsheet papers, including The Guardian. Wonderfully filmed and a witty nod at the media obsession that we as a nation are getting.

As far as awkward, rude detectives go, this is also the first time Sherlock has shown interest in another woman. Irene Adler is stunning to look at, no question about it, but what really draws Holmes to her is her intellect. She is always three steps ahead of the chess game – each of her phones, combinations etc have two PINS – one which will open the safe and one which will alert the police, and even when you think she’s reached the end of the road and run out of lives, she manages to surprise you. There is one scene in which she half-seduces Sherlock by leaning into him, which plays out as one of the most erotic things I have seen in TV – yet no kissing or sex was directly involved. Incredible.

The first episode of Sherlock had everything I could possibly have wanted from a TV show and more. A showdown in Buckingham palace? Check. Some kick-ass fighting? Check. Retribution for some of the goons who hustled poor Mrs Hudson? Check. Some knowledge into the games Britain and Germany played with each other in the war? Check? A password that had me baffled for the whole episode and then finally, when it was revealed “Ahhhhh!”? Checkmate. The acting was faultless, with the camaraderie and banter between Holmes and Dr Watson timed to perfection. Something that has always bothered me about Holmes – although I wouldn’t expect him to be any different – is that he never gives Dr Watson the credit he deserves for everything he does for him, and this is exhibited here, when poor Dr Watson loses yet another girlfriend due to his need to protect Sherlock. The script was a work of genius, and I cannot but tip my hat to Gatiss and Moffat. All in all, the show was an overarching triumph. Next Sunday now seems an age away.
Grade: A+

1 comment:

Joanne said...

That looks brilliant! I had to stop reading halfway through to avoid knowing too much. Thanks for great review, will look forward to seeing this movie.

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