Created by former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock takes the famous detective out of Victorian London and into modern day. The first season is currently playing in America on PBS and is available on blu-ray and DVD.
The three episode first season begins with the meeting of Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman) in a loose adaptation of “A Study in Scarlet” titled “A Study in Pink.” Aside from introducing the characters to us, and each other, this first episode begins the Holmes and Watson partnership as the pair hunt down a killer on the streets of London.
The second episode is a puzzle mystery as Holmes and Watson struggle against a clock to decipher a mysterious code spray-painted messages and uncover a Chinese smuggling ring. The third episode gives us the theft of important government papers, a serial killer who taunts Holmes and the police with clues before blowing up his victims, and the first confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty (Andrew Scott).
Cumberbatch is a terrific choice for this Holmes, balancing the character’s keen intellect and rough edges without making Sherlock unlikable. It makes me wonder what he would have been like as The Doctor (the role eventually went to Matt Smith). I also enjoyed the disdain and jealousy most of Scotland Yard feels towards the detective who they believe is only slightly better than the maniacs he helps apprehend.
Freeman is a fine choice for Watson and the pair have great on-screen chemistry. Several other mainstays make appearances here including the woman Watson will eventually walk down the aisle (Zoe Telford), Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), and what Holmes wouldn’t be complete without an Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves).
Although I enjoyed the characters and their relationships immensely, Sherlock is not without a few flaws. The mysteries themselves aren’t great, and the third episode, in many ways, plays like a bad Hollywood action flick. Also troubling is how quickly Moriarty is not only mentioned, but revealed. Remember, this is a character that makes one appearance in all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories.
Even with these issues Sherlock is still definitely worth a look. Great characters, witty dialogue, and the right feel for the characters makes this a good beginning for the series. I just a little more of the talents going into the characters was present in the mystery of the week as well.