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TV Review: Sherlock

by Anita Mae Draper

During these past few weeks, my days have been filled with friends and family as we celebrated Christmas and the holidays. First the pre-Christmas rush, followed by the blessings of a steady progression of family stopping to visit for a day or more, sometimes overlapping our next visitor before we settled down for another get-together. And we're not done yet. My sister, Bonnie and hubby left yesterday, and our eldest daughter, Crystal, arrives tonight from Vancouver.

Sisters Bonnie and Anita, Jan 1st, 2013
Draper's Acres, Montmartre, SK, Canada.
Photos help remember these times.

Here, daughter Jessie was taking photos of my sister, Bonnie and I, in our yard. For the last photo in this location, I told Jessie to count to three, then click. As she said the number, I shook the arch which rubbed against the snow-laden spruce trees and dropped a load of the white stuff on top of us.

Precious times to remember through the years.

But what does this mean to a reader? Well, to this reader, it means I haven't the foggiest what I was reading last because the counters and desks in our small guest room-less two-bedroom house were cleared to make room for Christmas decorations, new gifts, and visitor's personal effects.

Did I suffer withdrawal from reading? Not really. Cringe. Because even though I love the adventures of books, they can't replace the comfort and excitement of a face-to-face conversation with someone you love who lives far away.

There was another reason why I didn't miss reading, though... I watched TV.

Jessie came home enthused about a new version of Sherlock Holmes called, Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes, and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. We set aside some evenings to watch the series and I was blown away by the creative and exciting adventures - tales reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories and yet so different in our modern world. And that is the difference between this Sherlock and all the other versions that have gone on before.

According to the Sherlock BBC - Behind the Scenes YouTube video, the creators wanted the series to showcase the genius of the famous detective without dwelling on all the usual historical information. By stripping away all the unnecessary historical details and placing Sherlock in today's world, they've pitted Sherlock against all those other forensic shows topping the viewers' choices these days, and then placed him in a separate category, for it's not the forensic results which draw us to this famous detective, but his amazing powers of deduction.

Sherlock's genius is ridiculous. When he thinks aloud, the words tumble from his lips and I find myself straining to keep up. I queried my fellow Inkies for their thoughts and Debra E Marvin answered, "I love this Sherlock and Watson. It's amazing to see what they pack in there. Sherlock's genius is unbelievable and yet we believe it!"

Well, of course we do. You can't dispute the facts when the TV camera shows us what Sherlock is seeing. You shake your head and wonder why he's the only one putting the pieces together.

It could be because Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who portrays Sherlock, is perfect for the role of the distractingly rude detective who - at least once an episode - made Jessie and I gasp and say "Awh," when his brutal truth emotionally hurt another character. He becomes Sherlock Holmes in such a way that all other versions seem quiet in comparison. In this way, he reminds me of  Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory - another brilliant scientist who is inept at social interactions and believes forward honesty trumps everything, regardless of whose feelings are hurt in the process. Can you imagine anyone else playing the role of Sheldon Cooper?




Watson isn't just window dressing, though. He's teaching Holmes the niceties of social behaviour. In fact, I'm enjoying the relationship between this Sherlock and Dr. Watson. It reminds me of the Jack Lemmon and  Walter Matthau version of The Odd Couple. Two men of opposite dispositions and habits sharing an apartment. In this case, Sherlock is the messy, frenetic one with his fingers always tapping as if to release his excess energy, yet he slows down to play a haunting melody on his violin. Watson advances at a slower pace unless his heart is involved and then he seems to be on the verge of a heart attack.

Here's a clip that shows the Holmes and Watson first meeting:




One aspect of the show I find endearing is that Watson keeps a blog of every case. Sherlock doesn't believe anyone reads John's blog, yet as they progress case-by-case, it's very funny to find out how many people who interact with the famous duo remark that they've read their blog.

We watched Sherlock on Netflix which amounted to 90 commercial-free minutes per episode. A perfect length to get thoroughly immersed in the gritty details, yet because of their movie length, only three episodes are aired each season (or series as they are called on the BBC). So far, 2 series have been shown, with the third yet to be made. Jessie has heard they'll start production on Series/Season 3 this March, with a BBC  viewing schedule of late Fall 2013.

So long to wait, but I will because this Sherlock beats any of the new shows I've watched in the past two years, and that's say a lot. If you'd like to see some more, here's the Season One Promo:




Have you heard of Sherlock? Did this modern version interest you, or do you think only the historical version will suffice? Or perhaps his rudeness should be addressed before we reward his genius?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. She writes stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. Anita Mae is represented by Mary Keeley of Books and Such Literary Agency. You can find Anita at http://www.anitamaedraper.com/


Comments

  1. oh my yes. This team of actors, writers and directors and their producer has pretty much ruined most tv and any other Sherlock for me.

    Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's careers have taken off and it's one reason the show is delayed. Director and Producer are busy too.

    I tend to watch each episode more than once just to see if I can catch all the details.
    And they sure left us with a cliffhanger ending...

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  2. We've been watching BBC's Robin Hood, which is also pretty cool, although I'm not convinced terribly historically accurate. We'll have to check out this one too.

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  3. Hey there, Debra. Thanks for allowing me to quote you.

    Now that our satellite download speed has improved, I think we'll give Netflix another try (we used Jessie's account this time) and then I too will watch these again.

    Cumberbatch's portrayal is a great character study to say the least.

    Thanks again.

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  4. Thanks, Dina. I think I've enjoyed every version of Robin Hood so far, so there's a very good chance I'll like this one, too. Especially if you do. :)

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  5. I love this take on the Sherlock Holmes character. Like Deb, we've watched them multiple times. When we went to see The Hobbit right before Christmas, we mentioned this series to a friend who was with us. Got an email from him about 5 days later. He'd already watched all 6 episodes.

    Dina, I was disappointed with that Robin Hood. I think if you wanted the credits at the beginning, you'll see that different episodes have different writers -- and I don't think those writers were communicating well with each other. The series felt like they weren't clear on whether they were writing a drama or a spoof. Sometimes it was funny and sometimes series, but the pieces didn't fit together well to me. On the other hand--Richard Armitage in black leather. Who needs another reason to watch it?

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  6. I haven't seen this show (still immersed in toddler programming at present) but I think I'll need to check this out since I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan. I tend to really enjoy BBC programming when I stumble across it, so this sounds right up my alley.

    Glad to know you've been enjoying family this Christmas/New Years season Anita!

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  7. I have a question. Would this show be appropriate for a 10 year old. That's been one of the great things about Robin Hood. It's pretty clean.

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  8. Dina, I would rate them maybe PG-13. I don't think I'd have let my 10-year-old watch it, even though when my oldest was that age he loved the cartoon series with the futuristic Holmes. My suggestion would be to have an parents-only night watching the first one, and then see what you think. Some of the topics and innuendoes are definitely adult material.

    DeAnna wrote about the older BBC series with Jeremy Brett. That one is definitely more family friendly fare if you'd like to introduce younger people to Sherlock Holmes.

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  9. CJ, Jessie has mentioned how much she enjoyed Martin Freeman as The Hobbit. Thanks for bringing this up.

    Good point about how the continuity of a show is affected by different writers. I'll try to keep an eye on that.

    Thanks, CJ.



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  10. Hey DebH, it's always a surprise to read how many people enjoy BBC programming. Some of their comedic shows are learning experiences, to be sure, but I really enjoy their dramas.

    I was very glad to hear that you'd safely returned from your family trip to the west. That was good news. :)

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  11. Niki, yeah, that was fun. I'm glad I had that funky hat to stop the snow from falling down by nape, but man, I sure look dorky. LOL

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  12. I started watching this (in the middle of the night, which is the only time I can stream) on Amazon prime, which also has them for free download, after we had another Sherlock discussion--was it a couple months ago?

    I like this version very much. My hubby caught a bit and can't stand it. He hates Sherlock, says he's too rude. I think there could be a few more pet-the-dog moments, but really Sherlock is only accessible emotionally through Watson, and that was how the books were constructed.

    I think it's interested that the disinterested, socially-stunted genius has been the inspiration for so many fictional characters since. Bones. Monk. House. None of them are likeable, but we love them anyway because we see them--and their potential--through the eyes of other characters. I'm not sure that always come through on Sherlock.

    The mystery that's got me stumped, Anita, is how you manage to stream a couple hours of video on satellite internet without running into download limits?

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  13. Dina, I believe the series is actually rated 14A, which to us up here means age 14 with adult supervision.

    This 2nd season was a bit off the track for me and I balked when I first heard about it, but upon Jessie's reassurance, I watched and did enjoy it. Mainly because it shows the emotionless Sherlock as a man who with a heart after all.

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  14. OOps - I guess I missed the original discussion on this a couple months ago. Sorry if this is all rehashed. :/

    Barb, I asked JJ - our household technical guru - and he said the download depends on your internet provider. We use Xplornet and last year were unable to watch a 3 min video without waiting for it to download. However, Xplornet went through an upgrade a year ago which totally sped up the download speed. Unfortunately, it was a bit of robbing Peter to pay Paul because it now takes 6-8 hours to upload a 3 min video to YouTube whereas it used to take 3-4 hrs. sigh

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  15. Oh yes, we are big fans of Sherlock! Amazing acting and screenwriting.

    As for the Sherlock episodes' appropriateness, my opinion is some of them were probably ok for my 11 yr old and some definitely weren't.

    Did anybody notice in the credits of The Hobbit that Benedict C. plays the Necromancer? You just don't really see more than his outline in this movie, but I am assuming he'll have a greater role in the later movies. How cool that "Sherlock" and "Watson" are together even in the Hobbit!

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  16. I think that's neat that you recognized him by his outline. I suppose he had the same hair outline?

    I was watching a YouTube interview about how they cast Benedict C. in the role of Sherlock. They said he was their first and only choice and epitomized the image they envisioned. I can't remember which production they first saw him in, though. Now I'm interested in knowing how they came to that conclusion.

    Thanks for sharing, Susie. :)

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  17. First show of second season is iffy for a young teen (A Scandal in Belgravia) IMO.

    Robin Hood? Marion is the template for one of my heroines, but mostly I subscribe to the "I only watch it for RA" line of thinking...

    I'd like to see Benedict Cumberbatch play a fun, lighthearted romantic lead sometime. Without the pale lipstick, he's not bad to look at.

    I might just watch an episode tonight. I spent over an hour looking at what Amazon Prime has to offer and the very few I was interested in weren't free.

    Has anyone watched Copper?



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  18. Anita, don't know what part your youtube clip was referring to, but I really enjoyed BC in his role as Pitt the Younger in Amazing Grace.

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  19. I haven't seen this yet. I'll definitely watch one of these days. Thanks for your review, Anita. Anyone who is a genius like Sheldon deserves a look. Sheldon forever!

    I didn't know tgere was a BBS version of Robin Hood. I'll have to check that out, too.

    I have a BBC series my dad gave me to watch called Wish Me Luck. Has anyone seen it?

    Deb, I turned on the first episode of Copper when it first aired. I only lasted three minutes before I turned it off. You definitely don't want that one on with kids (of any age) in the house!

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  20. Debra, what's RA mean?

    Also, I'm not sure what you mean about Benedict's "pale lipstick". Do you mean he uses it on Sherlock?

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  21. I can't remember off hand, CJ, but I'll check later. Thanks for the info. :)

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  22. Thanks, Suzie.

    No, I haven't seen Wish Me Luck, however, I agree with you about Copper.

    I was so excited to see Copper at the beginning of this season, but we watched maybe a quarter of the show before changing the channel and we never went back to it. Way too dark for our tastes.

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  23. I was excited about it, too, Anita. Then ... incredibly disappointed.

    Well ... I think I know the answer to your RA question. After asking so many times, Deb, CJ, and Barb should be proud of me for saying, "Richard Armitage!"

    Am I right, am I right? :-)

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  24. I just reread Debra's comment and I guess you are right, Suzie. Well, we know who to hire for wait staff when Debra gets published anyway. LOL

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  25. Hello Anita Mae,
    We have watched 5 out of the 6 shows in the series. We are fans of the earlier Sherlock Holmes as well as Agatha Christie.
    Interesting that Sherlock keeps trying to break his nicotine addition.
    His relationship with his brother reminds us of the Monk series and his relationship with his brother.
    It seems as if the writers are saying both in action and words that in order to be a genius you have to choose between using all of your brain power and be almost computer like and not using your full capacity so that you can form relationships.
    This portrayal does make us think about how knowledge beyond the pale can alienate and marginalize, as if it is a freak of nature. However, computers are designed and built but never by one person rather a team.
    Interesting discussion.

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  26. Hi Annette, sorry about the delay in answering.

    Yes, I agree about the nicotine patch. I haven't figured out yet if it's something to keep the show in the present, or if it will play a larger part later on.

    Interesting that you haven't watched the 6th episode yet.

    I'm not familiar with Monk, so I can't comment, however I do have a few thoughts on his nature...

    It's been said that we all have a left and right side to our brains whereas one is artistic and one is logic-based or analytical. God seems to have made us stronger on one side than the other. So which side takes care of our social abilities? Can you pinpoint the side that decides if you're an introvert or extravert?

    We all know manners are learned, but what if no one teaches you?

    In Arthur Conan Doyle's books on Sherlock Holmes, did he give a clue as to Sherlock's background regarding his social upbringing?

    Thanks for stopping by, Annette. You really have me thinking about this, and like Debra said, I think I'll watch them again. :)

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