Media Review: Sherlock

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Image belongs to the BBC

My first non-book review! This is the piece of shiny-ness that has been distracting me for the past few days, and I just had to share.

Title: Sherlock
Media Type: TV series
Genre: Crime Drama
Season/Episode: First season just started end of July, only 3 episodes out so far (90 minutes each)

Summary: According to the BBC website “Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson’s adventures in 21st Century London. A thrilling, funny, fast-paced contemporary remake of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic.”

Review: I’m not much one for crime drama. I have several friends who are into the genre (one is a CJ major – hard for her not to be really) so I’ve gotten used to it, but if I have the choice of what to watch, I’m unlikely to pick CSI or something like that (with a few notable exceptions like Castle). I wouldn’t have looked twice at Sherlock, despite the famous main character, with just that summary. Then I found out it was done by Steven Moffat. Now I’m not obsessed enough that I immediately went running to find a copy, simply because it was written by the same guy who writes Doctor Who. But a few days later I was bored with nothing to do, and decided to go and watch it. Am I ever glad I did!

The premise is a simple “what if?” Take the Sherlock Holmes that everyone has heard of and place him in our time. Let him wander free and see what he does. It’s a novel idea, funnily enough. Sherlock Holmes has been made into a film countless times, but never quite like this. I can see some die-hard fans saying this is blasphemy, but I think it works. It shouldn’t. But somehow it does.

I will admit, the first scenes are quite off-putting. Watson seems a bit dull on his own, and Sherlock seems a bit like a maniac with a riding crop (I mean, honestly, who beats dead bodies with a riding crop for research?). If it weren’t for Molly’s obvious crush on him, he would seem a wholly alien, pretentious, arrogant, unfeeling… well you know. And yet somehow, when he gets going, putting together all those little facts that we all would have noticed, to make a picture we should have seen all along, you can’t help but love him. Put him together with Watson, who really is a bit smarter than the rest of the average Joes, though Sherlock doesn’t see it, and you have some really interesting stuff. Sherlock needs John, in the same way that the Doctor needs companions (sometimes I think more – the Doctor tries harder to be human simply because he isn’t). He needs someone to remind him to be human. And to eat every once in a while.

I think a lot of the amazing-ness comes from the dialogue. It is well written and Benedict Cumberbatch (apparently the only man to ever play Sherlock with an even more ridiculous name) rattles them off in such a quick and snappy manner that you can’t help but believe it’s really him coming up with the stuff instead of reading off lines. He really truly becomes Sherlock. You believe in him so much that his glee in solving a murder isn’t disgusting or unnatural, because you’re getting excited too.

And when it comes to becoming Sherlock, of course, the costuming helps – those costume designers must be geniuses for how well they were able to make us see the Victorian and yet not have it clash with the Modern. In fact, it worked so well that I was surprised when we saw Sherlock in his dressing gown for the first time. If you saw Sherlock on his own in any shot, aside from minor changes in the cut of his suit, you would not be able to tell he was from modern times. And yet, surrounded by people dressed in “normal” modern attire, he never seems out of place.

Of course, as a music student and film music enthusiast, I couldn’t do a review of a film without at least mentioning the music. In this case, though, the music deserves more than a mention. It’s what ties the film back to the original Victorian setting the strongest. The composer uses both the beat of the modern pop/rock song, and the banjo/guitar riffs that are almost always associated with a film set in Victorian times and they make a perfect mesh, overlaying the background and smoothing over the gaps. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do without drawing the (average) listener’s attention away from the action. But at the same time, the music is gorgeous on its own. As I type this, I’ve got the 30 second intro playing on constant loop. You’d think I’d get bored of the same 30 seconds over and over again, but I haven’t yet and it’s been playing for the past 2 hours or so. It’s that good.

Now, after all that glowing praise, I feel I have to put a warning on this review. The final episode leaves you hanging off a cliff. Almost literally. It went to the credits and after staring at it for a few seconds to make sure it wasn’t a fake out, I started screaming at the screen. You will want more. Yes, even if you don’t love it as much as I do. The only way I’ll tolerate an ending like that without screaming is if I know the next episode is coming within the next week (OK, so I’ll whine a little bit, but really cliff-hangers just aren’t fair!) You will hate Steven Moffat for leaving you this cliffhanger without even a date for resolution. Even so I highly recommend the show. My words cannot do it justice. Go watch it!

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