Sherlock: A Show As Clever As Its Namesake
Claire Spaulding, ‘15, Staff Reporter
May 30, 2012
Filed under Top Stories
BBC’s show Sherlock is a fascinating adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories, with a few key differences from the original: for one thing, Sherlock texts. Sherlock transposes the fictional stories of the world’s first consulting detective to the present day with surprisingly entertaining results. Popular U.K. actor Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes, a genius in the art of deduction and a “high-functioning sociopath,” as he describes himself in the first episode. His friend, Dr. John Watson, is played by Martin Freeman.
The characters and crimes solved in each episode are loosely based on those of Doyle’s original stories. Watson has just returned from military service in Afghanistan, as Doyle wrote; however, this is the current Afghanistan war rather than the war fought in the 1800s. Instead of writing about Holmes’s cases in a book, Watson blogs. Although jarring at first to viewers familiar with the original Holmes stories, these changes actually work, adding to the story rather than taking away from it. The modern-day setting makes the stories more relatable to a modern audience, and the spirit of the characters and stories remains intact.
Snappy dialogue, brisk pacing, artistic cinematography and clever editing all help Sherlock stand out among the many film and television adaptations of Sherlock Holmes. However, it is the powerful and nuanced acting of Cumberbatch and Freeman that really make the show shine. Watson and Sherlock are complex characters that show real development throughout the series, and Freeman and Cumberbatch bring them to life with charisma and charm.
Film directors have noticed. Both actors recently landed roles in the much-anticipated film The Hobbit, and Cumberbatch will also play the villain in the upcoming Star Trek movie.
Sherlock, already well known in the United Kingdom, is gaining increasing popularity in the United States as well. The first season, consisting of three 88-minute episodes, was released in 2010; the second season was just released in the United States. The first episode of the second season, which aired in the United States on May 6, 2012, had 3.2 million viewers.