What? I have to wait until when?
Continuing on my Sherlock Holmes ramblings … Please be aware that there will be spoilers for CBS’ Elementary and the BBC’s Sherlock below ….
As stated in the previous post, Holmes, Watson and I go way back. Watching Elementary on CBS rekindled that friendship.
Disclaimer: The opinions herein are completely subjective. I decided to take a look at the recent round of modern Holmeses (not sure what the plural should be – Holmesi?) on t.v.(Elementary and Sherlock) and just for my own fun, critique what works or doesn’t work for me. Truth be told, I started with a strong bias as I am thoroughly smitten with Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes.
So, being familiar with Elementary, I set about watching the BBC Sherlock series. I did so reluctantly. I had formed an adverse opinion without watching the program mainly because of the lead actor. I had been aware of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock for quite some time but just the look of Mr. Cumberbatch had put me off watching the series. He does not fit my image of Holmes.* As I’ve stated many times, I’m shallow. I finally sat myself down to watch episode 1, season 1 of Sherlock on Netflix.*
The opening with Watson was a great way to ease into the show. I was taken in by Martin Freeman’s Watson. He has the look of Everyman and the sincerity of his Watson won me over. My first impression of BC’s Holmes was not as favorable. He looked too pale, too thin, too young and a bit effeminate in my estimation. But I watched the whole episode mainly because of Watson and Mycroft. I wanted to see more of them. The Mycroft character was a surprise. I wanted to see how the Watson and Mycroft characters interacted with the over the top character of Holmes. I enjoyed the detail of Dr. Watson’s military service in the current war in Afghanistan — the literary Watson having served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. This John Watson comes in fully formed – we immediately understand who he is, the military medical background and his problems adjusting to civilian life, something not uncommon in this age on both sides of the Atlantic. He is quiet, patient, responsible, just the man you’d want as a companion on an adventure and a wonderful counterpoint to the manic Holmes.
BC’s Holmes comes across at first as a gifted petulant adolescent – boorish to the point of having no charm. I still wasn’t convinced nor did I strongly connect with Holmes but I soldiered on through the three episodes of season 1. They got better as they went along but what sold me on watching season two? Moriarty! What a great performance by Andrew Scott! Funny and creepy at the same time, completely believable as the arch-nemisis. Had me busting out laughing one moment and cringing the next. Season two was better than one in my opinion. Cumberbatch seems to have mellowed Holmes’ manias. His Holmes’ character is a study of a man who suffers from bipolar disorder to a certain extent but you begin to see that there is a feeling human being in there among the Asperger-liker quirks. And so I came to the end of season two shouting – what! I have to wait until when to see the next episode!!
What I don’t care for in the BBC series is the use of graphics and words to try to interpret what Holmes is seeing or thinking. We don’t need that. It’s distracting and the actors are good enough to suggest all that through their craft. I also thought some of the story plots contorted themselves in order to put a new spin on the literary plots. In the Hound of Baskerville story I fully expected to see Scully and Mulder emerging from the mist wielding their flashlights. The whole H.O.U.N.D. thing was a bit silly. What really worked in the episode was the Watson Holmes interaction.
Interestingly enough, what caught my imagination as a child – the solving of cases through sheer observation and intelligence is not what intrigues me as an adult. I still love the puzzle solving but I am much more interested in the characters themselves and their interactions and motivations.
I’ve rambled something fierce, I’ll try to be more coherent in the next post on Elementary.
*Before you bring it up, yes, Robert Downey, Jr.’s Holmes does not really fit into my Holmesian stereotype either but I made allowances for him because he is attractive, funny and charming and Guy Ritchies’ Holmes movies are at their heart comedies which gives them more latitude.
*By the way, I have also been slowly won over by the convenient charms of Netflix, but more on that some other time.