Boy, am I glad I spent my summer reading Sherlock Holmes. Masterpiece Mystery started a new series, simply titled Sherlock, and it is wonderful! It’s Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson for the 21st century. I wasn’t sure how they were going to pull it off (and the leads looked awfully young) but they did. In a very big way.
I think the show is enjoyable on its own, but knowing (most of) the legend makes that much better. (Sort of like knowing Eric Kripke wrote Boogeyman adds to one’s enjoyment of Supernatural‘s “Hollywood Babylon.”) They stayed true to the original story in many ways, but added new twists along the way.
It’s fascinating that the series is able to start the same way as the original. Of course, it helps that there’s a modern day war in Afghanistan. John Watson, a military doctor, is recovering from having been wounded in Afghanistan. He wants to stay in London, but can’t afford it, so an old med school buddy introduces him to a… well, they don’t really say, but he appears to be a forensics researcher, which is a good modern day substitute for chemist, I suppose. Much of their initial conversation is the same. Holmes immediately identifies Watson as an Army doctor wounded in either “Afghanistan or Iraq.” (I think the original choices were “Afghanistan or India?”, but don’t quote me.) And yet, for all the similarity, there is one highly entertaining twist.
As I said above, I was concerned that the leads looked too young, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s baritone voice and Martin Freeman’s lined face age them sufficiently. Besides, Sherlock’s youth adds to his brilliance.
There’s Lestrade and Mycroft and Moriarty. There’s Holmes’ boredom, addiction and slovenliness. And Watson’s eye for the ladies. And even the clue “Rache.” But all are tempered in some way. Lestrade is a sympathetic character who actually admires Holmes. The nicotine addiction is fed by the patch. And the word “rache” leads us in a different direction from the original.
This Sherlock has a bit more personality, and a lot more humor than the original. Instead of “Holmes” and “Watson,” it’s “Sherlock” and “John.” And instead of modern day audiences (well, me, at least) silently chuckling at the homosexual undertones, this friendship is overtly mistaken for a romance more than once.
As with all television shows featuring male actors with great chemistry (Supernatural’s Sam and Dean Winchester, Merlin‘s Merlin and Prince Arthur), I’m sure the slash fan fiction can’t be far behind.