Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tom Goes to the Chair: A Celebration of 'Sherlock'

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 1:31 PM

I just got horrible news. I've learned that I will have to wait until the end of 2013 to find out how Sherlock Holmes (SPOILERS!) survived the leap from that tall building at the end of the last season. And, to be sure, I'm talking about the magnificent BBC series, Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch in the starring role, not the CBS cutesy knockoff, Elementary, which, by comparison, is paler than Newt Gingrich's latest wife.

The BBC series is just stunningly good, meticulously written and brilliantly acted. Best of all, at 90 minutes each, the episodes play more like movies, with time for subplots, dead-end clues, and lots of character development. Cumberbatch's Sherlock is dead-on haughty, clever, and in a constant state of annoyance—all at the same time. He seems permanently befuddled by the fact that not everyone in the room (or in the world) is willing to bow down and/or kiss his ass. In a real acting coup, Cumberbatch manages to be simultaneously endearing and off-putting.

The series is the work of Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis, two writers for the ridiculously popular Doctor Who series, who came up with the concept of bringing Holmes and Watson into the 21st Century during their long train rides to the Doctor Who set in Cardiff, Wales. They have created a monster, one equal in excellence and popularity, that has people all over the world screaming for more. They, however, will not be rushed—nor could they be, even if they wanted to.

The current delay was caused, in large part, due to the absence of Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. John Watson. Freeman was away starring in the title role of The Hobbit, a movie you couldn't get me to see with a promise of a trunkload of money and a new head of hair. Freeman, whom some might recognize from his role as the porn-star stand-in (or lie-in) who, through clever, detached chit-chat, falls in love with his naked co-worker in "Love Actually," is up to the task as Watson. A war veteran who doesn't like to talk about his past, Watson suffers Holmes semi-gladly, but bristles at Holmes' unwillingness (or inability) to express any sort of human emotion, or even acknowledge his bond with Watson.

Special credit goes to Andrew Scott, who plays Holmes' arch-nemesis, Jim Moriarty. Totally obsessed with Holmes, Moriarty is sniveling and whiny, yet always at least one step ahead of the sleuth. If anything, Scott's acting job surpasses even that of Cumberbatch.

There are women in Holmes' life, although he does his best not to notice. Una Stubbs plays Mrs. Hudson, the landlady to Holmes and Watson, and Louise Brealey portrays Molly Hooper, a pathologist who has the warm, trembling thighs for Holmes. Co-creator Mark Gatiss plays Holmes' brother, Mycroft, who alternately clashes with and helps his brother. Mycroft claims to hold a "minor position" in the government, but Sherlock is having none of it.

For instance, in one scene:

MYCROFT: For goodness sake! I occupy a minor position in the British government!
SHERLOCK: He is the British Government—when he's not too busy being the Secret Service or the CIA on a freelance basis. Good evening, Mycroft. Try not to start a war before I get home. You know what it does for the traffic.

Do yourself a BIG favor. Watch just one of the six episodes (yeah, only six) that comprise Seasons One and Two of the series. They're available on DVD at Amazon or you could probably catch them on Netflix or one of the eight million other websites—legal and otherwise—that stream TV series. If you don't think it's absolutely amazing, you can go back to watching Honey Boo-Boo and I'll never bother you again.

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