31 December, 2010

Sherlock - "A Nice Murder, That'll Cheer You Up"

So we have a Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman) who blogs and a Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is rather fast at texting and uses the Internet as much as he uses his mind. I have to say that it takes guts to re-re-invent Sherlock Holmes. Guy Richie recently made Sherlock Holmes cool again with his blockbuster movie starring Robert Downey Jr., so it was interesting that the makers of the BBC series Sherlock decided to take another shot at the master detective.

It has pretty much all the elements that you find in the books of Sir Arthur C. Doyle. The famous residence, the typical Sherlock wit, the seemingly impossible to crack cases, Lestrade, mobile phones, computers, nicotine patches ... Oi! Wait a minute. Yes we have our first modern Sherlock.

The camera work and direction is wonderful. If only someone in India invested a bit into making series like this rather than the family dramas. The scale of the production is pretty huge too. Okay, not exactly Hollywood blockbuster huge, but pretty good for a TV series. The modernity of the series not only lies in the use of gadgets, but it oozes out in the direction and the look as well. For example, a text received by a character is not read out, but is simply shown on the screen in text format on the side. Similarly, when Sherlock thinks, his thoughts are displayed for the audience, rather than having him speak them out loud. In some cases when he does speak, they are there to highlight the main points.

What interested me most was that unlike the earlier adaptations the characters are no longer pure. We saw a similar trend with the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Here too, Sherlock is not someone you are likely to admire at first. He has his flaws and they are prominent enough to make him look more like an anti-hero for everyone around him including the audience. It’s almost like everyone in the series has skeletons in their closets just waiting to come out. Maybe a price they pay for being part of a modern and more complex world?

The first series was rather short. 3 episodes and that's it. Obviously like any good series the real test is once the initial novelty value has worn out. Will the makers be able to capture audience interest in the second and hopefully third series considering the fact that the whole modern feel will be a bit old by then? I surely hope that BBC continues with this series and that the 3 episodes were just a method of testing audience reaction, which from what I know has been largely positive. More importantly the producers should somehow continue to re-invent it further. Nevertheless, make sure you get your hands on Series One through BBC iPlayer or iTunes or by any other legal means possible.

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