I have been very impressed with the new version of Sherlock Holmes that has been showing on Channel Nine (BBC One “Sherlock”). I caught only the last one on the telly on Sunday night, and have watched the first episode on the catchup channel on the internet.

A review in The Sunday Age accurately called Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the title role as Holmes a mixture of Hornblower, Dr Who and House. He is a thoroughly interesting and engaging character. Martin Freeman does an excellent Dr Watson. The relationship between the two is filled with good humour and warmth – odd given how cold Holmes is supposed to be.

Clearly this series owes something to the recent Sherlock Holmes film – many of the usual cliches such as the deerstalker are abandoned, and the theme music is very similar – but they go one step further in placing Holmes in modern day London rather than in Victorian England. This has been done before, of course. The Basil Rathbone series was in a contemporary (1930’s) setting, if I remember correctly.

A striking feature of the modern Sherlock is his use of the modern mobile phone to instantly access data from the internet. He also texts. He doesn’t smoke – but clearly he once did as he is using nicotine patches to overcome his addiction and help him think. The drugs are there too (somewhere), and he has a go (unsuccessful) at boxing in the third episode. Mrs Hudson, 221B Baker Street, even the Irregulars are all there in an updated manner.

Really this is very good television.

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8 Responses to Sherlock

  1. Joshua says:

    I must admit I really liked it – but found the cliffhanger ending quite irritating.

  2. matthias says:

    Tell me did they get the dreaded Moriarty in the end on sunday night??

  3. Paul G says:

    I’m a bit of a crime story tragic, so I watch all these. I thought Sherlock worked well and the camp humour was pretty funny. However, they preserve the irritating habit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of not telling the reader everything in advance. Holmes often says things like “of course he was at the dinner, didn’t you notice the spot of tomato sauce on his tie?” Well no, Arthur, because you never told me!!!

    On the other hand, Christie and Chesterton always try to play fair and tell the reader all the clues. To see the rules, read Fr Ronnie Knox’s “ten commandments of detective fiction”

    But David, surely you have been watching “Luther” on ABC. The next episode is on this Friday night. There is a bit more “cops and robbers” action, but I think it is very well written, with lots of interesting characters. So far all of the police characters have been competent. This is unusual, because detective stories usually have incompetent policemen or the naive sidekick, like Dr Watson. It is interesting to see a story that dispenses with this convention.

    (PS Luther seems to be continuing, but the ad said the next Sherlock episode will be in 2011)

  4. Peter Golding says:

    It’s not a bad show,but it not as good as Taggart.

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