Taking Modern Sherlock back to the Victorian era; can Cumberbatch pull it off?


Let’s talk Sherlock, BBC’s new series Sherlock to be exact. I love it. I think their take on Conan Doyle’s master sleuth is exactly on the button. The combination of Sherlockian sleuthing with the technology of our day and age.

Picking Benedict Cumberbatch to portray Sherlock was a stroke of genius. How very British, how very upper class, how very utterly insane and at the same time superbly brilliant.

Ahh yes, being a Brit I like my madness with a bit of scrumptious (that’s scrumptious and not strumpet by the way).

Cumberbatch portrays Sherlock as I imagine him to be in our era and also as a younger man. Sir Conan Doyle tended to describe him the way he is usually portrayed, as a man in his 40s. Well at least that is how I see him when I read Sherlock and some of the actors who have previously played him with great success tend to fit into that category. (from left to right: Christopher Lee, Jeremy Brett, Basil Rathbone, Peter Cushing and Ronald Howard)

So we see Cumberbatch, henceforth known as Sherlock, using all the technical gadgets of our era in combination with his splendid deductive skills. He blogs his endeavours, as does Watson, and he forages through his client email requests for future dilemmas to solve.

He texts and uses his smartphone to contact and  move around his many resources. Using TV technology to visualize his thought processes, also known as his mind palaces. The inner space he retreats into, the depths of his vast vault of knowledge.

Now, I wasn’t too sure about Martin Freeman being Dr.Watson, but he has proved to be a comical surprise and a ruddy good actor. The two fit perfectly like a hand to a glove. They complete each other in a certain way and I actually think the friendship factor is played out in a way that gives more insight into both characters.

Sherlock is the socially awkward genius, who tends to insult rather than appease and he is a loner. Watson is the more affable of the two, the one voted most likely to be a loyal friend. He is diplomatic, calm and pragmatic.

The friendship between the two of them plays a major role in this series. The actual discovery and acceptance of their relationship on Sherlock’s part, and Watson comprehending that this strange, difficult fellow is in fact his best friend. A friend who will deceive, lie, pretend-die and still expect Watson to pick up where they left off. I mean come on, what is a fake death between close friends?

I do have to throw a little shade in the general direction of the powers that be who come up with the plots though. What on earth possessed the lot of you in season 3? It’s Sherlock Holmes for feckin hells sake not an episode of Eastenders or the Young and the Restless.

Did we really have to travel down the whole wedding, pregnancy and teary eyed wimped out feeling sorry for himself Sherlock, because he knows that he will never have what Watson has? Was it an attempt to make Sherlock appear more humane, perhaps more lovable or to create a sympathetic link to the viewer?

Newsflash Bros! We don’t love Sherlock for his cuddly teddy bear wholesomeness or any possible  little boy hidden deep in his subconscious waiting to be freed. We, sorry I, like him for his ruthlessness, his capacity to overlook the base human emotional entanglements and needs. I admire his ability to cut to the chase with his samurai sword like clarity, albeit after a quick session in one of his mind palaces.

There is a fine line between genius and madness.

Talking about madness, I know Mary Watson has always been portrayed as the suitable prim and proper somewhat boring little wifey to Watson, and for television she needed a little spark and panache.

Not sure why that particular brand of  panache resulted in her being depicted as a mercenary and killer for hire. I can just imagine the scriptwriters having a coffee to debate what type of secret would keep the viewers watching.

What could Mary’s secret be?

A. Stripper? (been done before)

B. Has a bunch of brother husbands?

C. Has done hard time for bank robbery? (nope still boring)

D. Has a tattoo of a third nipple?

E. She has a glass eye, a remnant from her hardcore Uni/College drinking days? (no wait, that’s me)

F. She is a ruthless killer for hire, a highly trained mercenary known by all in the dark world of spydom?

All I can say is, it must have been a great bottle of scotch or a highly potent pipe of pot they devoured when they came up with that particular idea. They could have just made her Moriarty’s sister, twin sister even. Can you imagine how that info would mess with Sherlock and his obsession with Moriarty. That would make the Watson baby part mad Morry, and Sherlock would automatically give it Omen-Damian status. (By the way if any of this ever comes to pass, remember you read it here first.)

I am not sure why Season 3 was so off-key, especially when they went to all that trouble to create the perfect puzzle in the Roof Death Scene, which captivated Sherlock fans and audiences.

The creators need to stick closer to the essence of Sherlock and not wade so far out into the murky waters of bizarre rating manipulators.

Rating manipulators tend to be a little like a mouthful of Pop Rocks. It pop, crackles, zings and tastes inexplicably great for a few seconds and then when they have fizzled you are left with a layer of gritty gunk on your tongue.

Mary’s secret identity is gritty gunk on my tongue and I just ain’t swallowing it.

Of course none of that will deter me from watching any consequent seasons of the show, because this particular Sherlock is spot on. He is the younger version, who would become the somewhat older Sherlock portrayed by the talented men above.

shelockmAfter that strange kerfuffle Sherlock is returning to our screens with a special Victorian era special on the 1st Jan 2016 on BBC. A 90 minute extravaganza to tide us over till season 4, which is supposedly coming in 2017.

I have to admit to being a wee bit excited about The Abominable Bride. It takes our modern day Sherlock and Watson into the era Sir Arthur Conan Doyle originally envisaged them in.

Doyle bookworms will probably realise that although The Abominable Bride is referred to in the journals written by Dr Watson, Doyle never actually wrote said story.

I am looking forward to seeing how the ‘modern’ Sherlock holds up without the use of technology. Will Cumberbatch be able to make his mark when there is a direct comparison to the likes of old favourites, such as Lee, Cushing, Brett, Howard or Rathbone? Will his strange charm and social awkwardness still be as convincing when his text messages are handwritten notes and his deductions are made without the use of laptops, labs and smartphones?

Maddeningly superior in his attitude, oblivious to his surroundings, extraordinarily intelligent and 50 shades of awkwardly sexy in a very strange sort of way. All that and more makes BBC’s Sherlock a must watch for me.

Download and read The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet, The Last Bow or The Sign of Four for free at Feedbooks. The Poems of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Blanched Soldier or The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes at the Internet Archive. Alternatively you can download and listen to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia, A Case of Identity or The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes at Librivox.

Read and download When the World ScreamedThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Which modern day Sherlock?, Sherlock Holmes Marathon, Arthur and George or The Lost World right here on the blog.

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