It’s rare that I write about anything television here. After all, this is a movie blog. But the second season of the BBC’s modern-dress Sherlock Holmes series is so sublime, and so cinematic, that it warrants my endorsement here in this forum. There are only three 1 ½ hour episodes to each of the SHERLOCK seasons. And the 2nd series starts this Sunday on PBS’ MASTERPIECE MYSTERY. To miss it is criminal, thus here are the 10 reasons you must make it appointment TV or set your DVR:
THIS TV VERSION IS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE SERIES
|Original caricature of Martin Freeman & Benedict Cumberbatch in SHERLOCK|
The Robert Downey Jr. films have their charms, but their action hero version of Holmes can’t hold a Victorian candle to this truer and smarter take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character. The Holmes here, created by Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat, has ten times the brains of Downey’s version, both as character and series. That will be clear after a mere five minutes of watching to any novice or aficionado.
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH IS EXTRAORDINARY
This young actor is going to be a huge star soon, with his attention-getting turns in everything from last year’s TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY to the upcoming HOBBIT movie. And his best work so far is here, as he makes for one of the greatest Holmes ever. His Baker Street sleuth is brilliant, witty, arrogant, impatient, mercurial, and at times, borderline psychotic. In other words, a perfect Holmes.
MARTIN FREEMAN IS THE BEST WATSON EVER
The entertainment world is getting smarter about not portraying Holmes’ #2 as such a doofus, like the doctor Nigel Bruce played opposite Basil Rathbone for so many years. And Freeman is the best yet. His Watson is a moral medical and military man. And watching Holmes work takes his breath away. And his tongue. Freeman does more with a bewildered look than just about any actor working today.
THEIR MORIARITY IS TERRIFYING
He’s not some crotchety old bugger like he’s so often portrayed, but rather a young, hip sociopathic genius, not unlike Holmes, who has a grudge against an intellectually inferior world. And Andrew Scott’s portrayal of him is amusing, fastidious and utterly chilling.
IT'S MODERN DONE RIGHT
This series makes fun of many of the more clichéd conventions of the Holmes oeuvre, like Holmes insulting the stupidity of a deerstalker hat. (“It has two fronts!”) And it contemporizes Holmes in logical ways that make for a lot of fun - Holmes texts, Watson blogs his stories about their adventures, Irene Adler (a felinely sexual Lara Pulver) is a dominatrix, etc. The new tales are riffs on Adler, the Hound of the Baskervilles and the Reichenbach Falls. They’re both tribute and a new spin on the classics, which should delight Holmes fans as well as newbie’s.
EACH EPISODE IS WORTH WATCHING TWICE
DVR this series because you’ll want to catch all that you missed, including some of Holmes’ rapid-fire deductions as well as his delicious put-downs of those working with him. Poor Molly, the morgue attendant, gets it worst of all, and actress Loo Brealey does more with a wounded look than most actresses could do with a page of dialogue!
IT LOOKS LIKE A MOVIE
This series’ three episodes look as cinematic as any movie in theaters these days. And its content blows most screen fare away.
JEREMY BRETT WOULD BE PROUD
The TV series from the 80’s is still the best version of Holmes ever done, mostly due to lead Brett’s insistence on staying utterly loyal to the original stories. And his portrayal of Holmes, still the most masterful. However, this SHERLOCK is almost as close on both counts, even though everything is contemporized. They remain true to the essence of Conan Doyle’s detective and stories, and I’m sure Mr. Brett would be an avid fan if he were alive today.
YOU SHOULD SUPPORT PUBLIC TELEVISION
The current Congress is no fan of arts entitlements and PBS could use your help. They’re still fighting the good fight to bring better fare to our small screens so please support their efforts by watching SHERLOCK. And maybe pledge some moolah too.
ENSURE THAT THIS SERIES CONTINUES
Keith, a good friend of mine from England, shared the DVD of the series with me months ago, as it premiered in the UK way back in January. But sadly, most of you don’t know Keith so in order to get up to speed you need to watch SHERLOCK on TV starting this Sunday night. And good ratings will mean more SHERLOCK series making it across the pond.
Again, I don’t write about TV here, I write about movies. But these three episodes of SHERLOCK are essentially mini-movies anyway. No matter what you call it though, SHERLOCK is truly an outstanding piece of entertainment, no matter what screen it’s viewed on. (Now someone, please, run out and mix me up a 7% solution as I’ll soon be going through withdrawals waiting for my next fix of this amazing series. Another year is simply too long to wait for such a masterpiece.)