It’s no secret that I have a pretty huge affinity for Masterpiece Theater series, particularly anything based on a classic English novel. If it has huge estates, horse-drawn carriages, plucky heroines in empire-waisted gowns and characters with names like Lady Smythington-Smithers, I’m instantly hooked. My husband … well, less so.
But last week ,we stumbled upon a Masterpiece Mystery series that satisfies his desire for action and mystery and my love of English literature. It’s Sherlock, the modern updating of the Sherlock Holmes stories.
We’ve seen two so far, and they’re fabulous. The screenwriters did a terrific job of translating the characters of Holmes and Watson to modern London. Sherlock is a consulting detective, whom the police both despise for his ego and need for his brilliance. Watson is an army doctor, wounded in Afghanistan, who is readjusting to civilian life and ends up sharing a flat (and wild crime-unraveling adventures) with Sherlock. The two leads are perfectly cast; Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) is far younger and less prickly than the iconic Jeremy Brett in the same role, but he still has the perfect balance of arrogance and likability. Watson (Martin Freeman) is far less bumbling than he is in previous presentations, and is a complex character in his own right. And the writing as a whole is tight and sharp and, at times, very funny. It’s also fascinating to see the way that modern technology plays a role in the stories, in ways that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle could never have anticipated.
Bottom line: I won’t watch CSI, and Scott won’t watch Cranford. But we will both hunker down on the sofa to see Sherlock and Watson do their stuff. And that’s a very nice thing.