I am in awe of Stephen Moffatt, not only has the man taken Dr Who to new levels of awesome he has also co written one of the best adaptations of Sherlock Holmes I have ever seen*.
However even I was skeptical that he could pull of a modern take on Sherlock Holmes without it being (for want of a better word) crap. Thankfully I was wrong, very wrong.
What he has done is taken the concept of Holmes and shown all the modern pretenders (House, Wire in the Blood, Cracker etc**) just why they are all pale imitations, and proved that the classic detective tale works just as well in the modern age.
In our new incarnation Holmes is a Consultant Detective, still living at 221b Baker street with ex army Doctor John Watson (updated to have been injured in Afghanistan in this tale). Holmes is still a genius but only with things that are useful to his cases. He can use a phone and computer expertly but does not (for example) know that the Earth revolves around the sun (I kid you not). We still have all the aspects of the original stories that make the stories great, Lestrad is there as are the Baker Street Irregulars, although he has a land lady rather than a housekeeper but that fits in the modern take. We also have Mycroft and Moriarty (who the less said about the better as it will spoil the program if you haven’t seen it). All in all the transfer from Victorian England to modern day is seamless.
Now I must take a few moments to talk about the Actors. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock as an aloof genius with no social skills and even less of an attention span (unless he is on a case). I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there are similarities between the Current Doctor Who and Sherlock as I believe they are very similar characters. But whereas The Doctor has compassion Holmes has none, he cares for nothing except the case and needs Watson to humanize him – in fact I would go so far as to say without Watson this Holmes would be lost. The slightly Alien look of the Actor is perfect for the role and the arrogance/intelligence he displays work perfectly. All this without a Deerstalker and pipe in sight.
Martin Freeman plays Watson, a former Solder and Doctor who served in Afghanistan until an injury forced him to retire. He still writes up Holmes’ exploits (on a blog in this case) and acts as Holmes conscience on more than one occasion. There is a tendency when casting Watson to forget he used to be a solider and Freeman is believable in the role of someone who has seen combat but is primarily a medical man. His Watson may not be as dynamic as Holmes but he complements his friend perfectly and the two actors have a great Chemistry.
Rupert Graves plays Lestrade (a DI in this version) with just the right amount of competence for you to believe he rose to this rank but at the same time you can believe that he would rely on Holmes when things go wrong. There is a nice little scene in the first episode that shows the relationship between Holmes and Lestrad is not as one sided as you might think and that he has ways of controlling Holmes if he needs to.
Una Stubbs*** plays Mrs Hudson the pairs landlady (rather than housekeeper) but basically the same role. She is great in the role but hardly ever front and center so we don’t see much of her.
Finally we have Mark Gatiss as Mycroft, Sherlock’s smarter, older brother. A man who basically runs the government. Gatiss is brilliant in the role and believable as one of the only people who can control (or outsmart) Holmes. Used sparingly the character never gets annoying and fits in nicely.
Of course we have Moriarty but the less said about him the better as his reveal is very well done and I don’t want to spoil it for you.
So in summary in Moffat we trust, there is nothing this man can not do. Which of course means that the upcoming Tintin film will also be great – as he wrote it.
Forget Joss Wheedon this man should be your geek god.
*Mind you this should not be a suprise to anyone who has seen his early
work, Coupling for example is the “Freinds” concept done right.
** This of course does not include the Great Diagnosis Murder, (see an earlier blog for details.)
*** Aunt Sally for those of you that remember Worzal Gummage.
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