Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sherlock Episode 3 review

It seems odd that the only online review I can find for Sherlock episode three is the Guardian review... and that even then Sam Wollaston wasn't paying attention.  I fear that the revered Caitlin Moran may have written a stunning review of the series behind the chargeable wall of the Times this week.  I shan't be seeing that, then.  I loved the series... if a set of three counts as a series. It wasn't perfect, and as Sam and several of his commentees mention, the biggest mistake in the last episode was the inclusion of a scattering of stars in the alleyways of London - I should think the last time that sort of sky was seen over London was during the blackouts of the Blitz.

There were a lot of loose ends left untied, not least, supposedly, the fate of the protagonists, although that was assured after the popularity of the first episode, I should have thought. Maybe the papers exhausted their stock of superlatives after the universal acclaim for the first episode, which was widely reported, and declared a triumph.  There was a little bit of grumbling about the updating to present day, and the messing around with the plots of the stories, but even the Conan Doyle geeks on the Guardian review comments had to admit that the spirit of Sherlock is something recognisable to anyone who is familiar with the stories.

The least convincing part is still the relationship with the police. While the admirable LeStrade must necessarily struggle with his work in order to allow some room for Sherlock to appear and leave him standing, the CSI approach (with Holmes having better equipment, more time,  and newer technology than the police in the UK would be likely to have or be able to afford), especially in the fast moving world of forensic science, might have been a better way in?  Whether he has some sort of humdrum job he only ocasionally does, in the laboratories of Barts, or simply squats in an unused room at his own convenience and waits to be kicked out, was never explained unless I blinked and missed it.  However, these are minor quibbles.  The plots are meant to be tosh of the highest order and rely on a parallel universe where criminal gangs use grafitti instead of texting and send messages via hapless bomb-laden members of the public rather than the traditional letters cut from newspapers.

It was exciting, and though one might have to disable the critical toshometer in one's brain in much the same way that generations of children have done for Dr Who, rather like Dr Who it had me on the edge of my seat half tempted to flee behind the sofa while the hanging on cliffs was afoot.  I enjoyed it.  I liked the length of the episodes, I liked the pace, I liked the actors, I liked the way in which London was, starry skies excepted, mostly a recognisable place which felt like London (even if, as one viewer claimed, it was mostly Cardiff).

I profoundly hope that more episodes will be written and made, and hope that they manage to do this quickly without sacrificing the hunger that was evident in the first three.  I enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch enormously, and thought Martin Freeman was a perfect Watson to Cumberbatch's Holmes... though he isn't the first actor that would have sprung to mind had I been in charge of the casting, I think it was inspired. He manages to be extraordinary in an ordinary way, and to be the public in a way that has turned previous Watsons into shambling old fools, without succumbing to that at all.  Of course, his presence was a device that Conan Doyle wrote in to enable someone to ask the damn fool questions or feed Holmes a bit of commonsense when cleverness failed to make an obvious connection, and of course to give Holmes someone to show off to, when he had solved some part of the puzzle in hand.

I enjoyed the background characters , the chases, the settings and styling.  Well done, BBC.  More please, as soon as possible.

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