Monday, October 18, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

The much hyped new BBC adaptation of Sherlock Holmes finally hit Channel 9 tonight. It's a modern spin on the classic story starring Benedict Cumberbatch (who played the pederast in Atonement) as Holmes and Martin Freeman (from The Office (and if the rumors are true the upcoming Hobbit)) playing Watson. Watson is an Afghan war veteran (like the original) who needs a place to crash in London and by dint of some strained plotting ends up in a flatshare with a chap called Sherlock Holmes who claims to be "the world's only consulting detective" - an amateur who helps the police (I guess he doesn't watch Monk). Anglophile cat owners of a certain age will love this show with its Byronic hero, its English accents, its occasional wit and its supposedly London locations. (Like Dr Who its all mostly filmed in Cardiff, and a Cardiff shout out can be the only explanation for one of Holmes's more tortured deductions early on). I enjoyed the genuine chemistry from the cast in episode 1 and the acting which was uniformly excellent. The script could have been tighter especially the third act which lifted a famous scene from The Princess Bride, as the key plot point. Inconceivable! as Wallace Shawn might have said.
There were a few interesting action scenes and like Guy Ritchie's movie of last year we got to see how Holmes's mind worked, although I found many of his deductions pretty dodgy (this too, however, reminded me of the original stories).
On the whole the new Sherlock Holmes isn't terrible which, paradoxically, is not a good thing. It will encourage the BBC to continue digging in the nostalgia mine and we can expect yet more verions of Robin Hood or Pride and Prejudice or another Dickens adaptation and lots more Dr Who. They will all star terribly nice young actors and be well made and done tastefully with just a smidgen of the gothic to thrill you as you watch in your favourite cardigan and slippers. Perfect fodder for everyone who wants to forget for an hour or two that death is coming and it'll be here soon and it will last forever and ever.