I’m trying to work out what I loved the most, or rather, do love the most about this fascinating series.
There’s so much to choose from – the brilliant performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the clever updating of the original ideas, the way in which the essence of Holmes is captured so well, and the bold, stylised presentation.
Take last night’s episode as a perfect example – the team have taken the original idea of a devilish hound stalking the moors and killing off male heirs from Baskerville Hall, and turned this into the modern scenario of a secret government testing site doing genetic experiments on animals and Holmes investigating claims of a mutant dog escaping and being responsible for murder on the moors.
In a delightful twist, the testing site is called Baskerville. All the classic Holmes elements remain intact, his complex and interdependent relationship with Watson, Watson’s unquestioning bravery when following his friend into danger, the brilliant deductions based on lightening-speed observations and connections, Holmes’ irascible behaviour when bored and without a case, Inspector Lestrade joining in the case but lagging behind the formidable amateur.
But we see such things developed further – Holmes exploring his own demons when faced with fear and having to appease Watson after offending him and pushing him away.
We get to see a little of Holmes’ heart, just as we did in A Scandal in Belgravia. And I really do enjoy the bold, brave presentation which elevates Sherlock beyond an average run-of-the-mill Sunday night drama. The choppy editing, the way that we see Holmes’ observations in words on the screen, the surreal touches, and particularly in last night’s episode, the way we saw Holmes visually manipulating the thoughts in his ‘brain palace’ by moving the words on screen with a flick of his hand. Genius.
When I was sixteen, I had a go at writing my own full-length Sherlock Holmes screen-play which I subsequently sent to Granada and received a lovely thanks-but-no-thanks letter in return.
Admittedly, I look back at it now and cringe but it wasn’t bad for a teenager. However, one thing which I really felt strongly about and tried very hard to do was add those surreal touches which Sherlock does brilliantly.
I used voice-over with characters talking to camera, including the vengeful ghost of Charles Augustus Milverton, and music-video style interludes to make points visually rather than in the conventional way. I felt that writers had a duty to utilise modern advances in technology, even when creating a period piece or serious drama.
Obviously, I didn’t do this terribly well, and it’s such a delight to watch Sherlock and see things done properly. Clearly there was some sense in my ideas after all.
All-in-all, last night’s episode was another televisual treat and I can’t wait for the next one.