Posted by: Paul | July 26, 2010

Elementary

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Sherlock'

I rather enjoyed the BBC’s modern-day reimagining of Sherlock Holmes last night. High production values, great casting and performances, and a tight, intricate script which kept you guessing a bit but tied everything up neatly at the end…or did it?

Initially I thought the pitching of Dr Watson as an army medic invalided out of Afghanistan after being shot in the shoulder was unimaginative at best and, well, a little bit crass at worst. We’ve had all the high-profile serious dramatic analysis of the conflict I can take for now after Occupation and the earlier Mark of Cain, and very harrowing and unpleasant they were too – I don’t need it in my fluffy Sunday night entertainment…or do I?

But as the show went on it began to make perfect sense. Who else would be quite so adrift in society as a returning soldier, who would need to get their teeth into something dangerous, dramatic, and irresponsible, to fill the void? Enter Sherlock Holmes and his entagled, embattled, mutually dependent relationship with the police, desperate for a foil who can hold a mirror up to his genius. I imagine with this new breed of Dr Watson though, not only will Holmes have met his yin, but Martin Freeman will provide far more than just the dependable sidekick. He’s already saved Holmes’ life once…or has he?

I liked the twists and turns of the script. The big reveal at the end after you’ve spent the whole episode thinking Mark Gatiss has finally stepped into the shoes of his dream character, Moriarti, only to be told that this ‘arch enemy’ is in fact Holmes’ brother and we have yet to meet the shadowy doctor…or have we?

Enough with the questions. Great central performances from both Freeman as Watson (one of my favourite comic actors since seeing him very slickly clowning around in charming short film ‘I Just Want To Kiss You’ way back in 1998), and Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes. He was pretty much born to play the role, and his intelligence shines through – as much fun as it must be though, I hope he doesn’t become typecast as he’s so versatile. Shortly after seeing him do Shakespeare at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park, I remember he played Stephen Hawking in his early years, as he became struck down with motor neurone disease, earning him a BAFTA nomination. This is his first pseudo action-oriented role, and he carries it off effortlessly.

In all, a very good start and am looking forward to the rest of the series. It’s just a shame there are only three episodes in this initial run…or are there?

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