This BBC TV series Sherlock is a modern interpretation on the Sherlock Holmes formula, with high tech wizardry and current-day context. It’s an experiment that could easily go wrong, but aside from being ever-so-slightly over-stylized at times, this show delivers.
Well written and expertly acted, the series entertains with its stop-and-go pace, plot twists and elegant photography.
At times it feels like the show’s a bit too preoccupied with trying to sex up the tale of otherwise sexless, near-androgynous Sherlock – and it gets a bit too obvious a ploy. Then again, who can blame them? The Sherlock character has always been written with a flat disinterest in all things romantic.
The Batman-Robin awkwardness of Sherlock and Watson doesn’t help their case, pardon the pun. It’s Ace and Gary all over again. By the by, if you don’t know who Ace and Gary are, get thee to an SNL skit called The Ambiguously Gay Duo, and thank me later. Granted, our boys chit chat on topics of sexuality and the show wants us to see things hetero, but Sherl and Wats here have always been so frustratingly, well, ambiguous. I guess it’s all maddening enough to make any producer want to throw a little strange into the mix.
As frosty and calculated as Sherlock is, delivered true to form by Cumberbatch, the viewer seems to keep hoping for some inner glimpse of more. Emotion, desire, something more real than just obsessive postulation and exacting deduction. Hence the probable reason for the occasional nude dame here and there.
It might help the show’s sexing-up agenda that the camera seems to love Cumberbatch’s vampire-pale skin and sculptural features, much like it did the Dietrichs and Garbos of yore. So much so, that one said nude lady in the second season even comments on his face’s sharp angles (see in the trailer below) in a uniquely-worded erotic proposition.
Add some slightly alien eyes and bathe him in the show’s signature dim blue lighting, and our Sherlock comes off eerily untouchable, a stark contrast to his warmly-lit and lovable Watson. Martin Freeman does a commendable job playing the id to Sherlock’s ego, with subtle grace and just the right timing. The chemistry is good, very good in fact, and Freeman gives us the grounding we need in order to handle Sherlock’s mad frenzies.
Did I forget anything? Oh yes, what of the mysteries to solve? “Brilliant” would perhaps be too much, but “very good” would not be enough. So call it somewhere between the two. When it comes to interesting crimes and even more interesting conclusions, Sherlock does not disappoint. But then again, that’s elementary, my dear Watson!