Finally, I’d like to mention quickly that, thanks to a recommendation from Rebecca, we’ve managed to get our hands on a copy of Steven Moffat’s other television project: an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes called just Sherlock). An adaptation, I hear you say: aren’t these a dime a dozen? Isn’t Robert Downey Jr. now the current definitive Holmes (bzzt! Nope. That record stays with Jeremy Brett, thankyouverymuch). But this one’s different.
Imagine a Sherlock Holmes story that stays as close as humanly possible to the plotline of one of the iconic books (in this case, A Study in Scarlett), but which moves the setting from Victorian London to the present day. Dr. Watson is a retired army doctor who was shot in Afghanistan. Detective Inspector Lestrade calls in Holmes whenever a case gets beyond the abilities of the police to solve. And in modern London, Holmes has to drop the pipe for the nicotine patch, thus forced to contemplate “three patch problems”.
It all lives and dies, of course, on the performance of the stars, and here Moffat has cast well. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a very young Holmes (he and Watson could practically be college buddies) to perfection, putting in all the manic mannerisms and making him mesmerizing. Martin Freeman plays a pretty young Dr. Watson. Hardly a bumbler, he’s an interesting character in his own right, and is the audience’s anchor, sharing our bewilderment as Holmes’ mind leaves his and everyone else’s in the dust. But I was particularly impressed by Rupert Graves’ Lestrade who, if the first episode is anything to go by, may turn out to be an even better friend to Holmes than Watson. Watson spends most of his ninety minutes being bewildered and amazed by Holmes’ intellect. Lestrade has known Holmes for five years, and the novelty has worn off. In its place, there is a yearning there for Holmes to get a hold of himself. Lestrade clearly admires who Holmes is, but fears for the man, which possibly makes him the most human character of the production.
Erin and I just loved the first episode, and finished the ninety minute production well buzzed. Where the heck does Moffat find the time to do this sort of thing? Writing and producing Doctor Who and Sherlock at the same time?
Who fans will find much to like here. Not only is it written and produced by Moffat, Mark Gatiss is a co-creator and stars as someone very familiar to the canon (I won’t spoil it here, as it’s left deliciously ambiguous until the end). There are some moments when I felt a connection between Holmes and Who, and there are moments where Benedict Cumberbatch shares some of the mannerisms of Matt Smith’s Doctor.
This series has just debuted in the United Kingdom (episode three appears tomorrow) and will soon be making it into the United States under Masterpiece’s Mystery, so I highly recommend that you check it out when it comes round. Whether you’re a longtime Holmes aficionado or someone new to the genre, you’ll find much to love, here.