My husband likes watching TV dramas where people investigate crimes. Â I don’t. I find them overly violent and more or less all the same.
But I make a big exception for one series: the BBC Sherlock.
Have you seen this show? Â If so, then you know that it’s faaaaaabulous. Â I waxed poetic about Series One a while back, and now that the second series has just aired, I’m back singing its praises to anyone who will listen. Â For the uninitiated, it’s a modern-day retelling of the famous Arthur Conan Doyle stories. Â If you’re a purist who just can’t imagine Sherlock without gaslights and carriages, take it from me that a Sherlock with cellphones and subways works, and works brilliantly. Â Sherlock is now a consulting detective who helps the police when they are out of their depth (in other words, “always,” as he puts it), Watson is a war doctor who served in Afghanistan, and the two become roommates, professional partners, and unlikely friends.
It’s the Holmes/Watson relationship that really makes this series. Â Both actors (Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, Martin Freeman as Watson) are brilliant, and the chemistry between the two is a thing of beauty. Â In a lot of the earlier adaptations I’ve seen, Watson seems to exist mostly as a foil to show what a genius Holmes is. In this series, he has more depth, and he serves as Holmes’ social conscience, if you will. Â The “Sherlock” writers do a fabulous job of showing how Holmes has a frighteningly well-developed brain but a rather stunted ability to empathize. Â (“Sherlock Holmes is a great man,” Inspector Lestrade says in Series One, “and maybe someday he’ll be a good one.”) Â Watson calls Holmes out for his insensitivity throughout the episodes, and it’s fascinating that in Series Two, there are a few moments that suggest that Holmes is, perhaps, growing in this area. Â He still worships reason above all, but there are hints that he’s becoming a little more able to recognize others’ emotions (and his own). Â And Â yet in spite of his arrogance and hubris, Holmes is a fascinating and even likable character, which is due both to the brilliant dialogue and to Cumberbatch’s superb acting. Â (The wit of the series is another huge plus; I love a dramatic series that also makes me laugh out loud.)
The bad news: there are only three episodes per season, which is not nearly enough to satisfy. Â On the plus side, though, the producers and writers are clearly more interested in quality than quantity, and hey, I respect that. Â And shows just don’t get more quality than this one, in every area, Â from the set design to the editing to the soundtrack.
And the final episode of Season Two (where Sherlock faces off against his nemesis Moriarty) was absolutely riveting. Â The last twenty minutes had me on the edge of my seat, quite literally; a tree could have fallen into the living room and I wouldn’t have noticed (and if I had noticed, I wouldn’t have cared). Â Scott and I talked about the episode for about a half-hour after it ended (when is the last time a TV drama made us do that?). Â And there is a Season Three coming up, but we’ll have to wait a whole year to see it Â because they haven’t filmed it yet, and it is almost physically painful to write that because I am dying to see how Sherlock did what he did (I will not write more for fear of spoilers). Â If you’ve seen the series, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, try making up for lost time tonight. Â Seriously.
It’s TV drama at its best, and I can’t help but think that Conan Doyle himself would be pleased.