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Sherlock? More Like Morgan Spurlock! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 1st, 2011


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10:24 pm - Sherlock? More Like Morgan Spurlock!
Everyone went ga-ga over Sherlock last year, but I didn't make the time to watch it. And then Mark Watched it, which gave me an added incentive to make time for it, so I watched it all in a day on Netflix Instant. The first series is only three 90-minute episodes, after all. Not a huge time commitment! And totally worth it!

Sherlock is a modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes by Steven Moffat (who already did a modern-day take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Mark Gatiss. Actually modern-day, unlike the recent Sherlock Holmes movie. In this version of the story, Sherlock uses the Internet and sends text messages and tracks people on GPS and such. So modern!

Sherlock Holmes, as played by the improbably named Benedict Cumberbatch, is a self-professed "high-functioning sociopath," and the show does not sugarcoat his complete inability to interact with—or, in fact, really care about—human beings. Sherlock is a walking computer, a deductive machine, and he does not run on love and kindness and compassion. He needs constant stimulation, and life is meaningless to him unless he is solving a puzzle. It may seem like the Holmesian mentality taken to an extreme, but it totally works, especially in Cumberbatch's able hands. Cumberbatch—Cumberbatch, Cumberbatch, Cumberbatch! WHAT IS WITH THAT NAME—has a cold, alien (yet strangely sexy?) face, and he handles Sherlock's many Deductive Reasoning monologues with ease. I want him and Matt Smith to be in something together so they can have a Talk Really Fast contest.

One stylistic touch I really love is that you get a peek inside Sherlock's head via text on the screen. As he observes a body, for instance, text pops up to represent the key observation he's making, as if you're playing Sherlock: The Video Game. It gives you a chance to follow along with him before he tells you what he's actually gleaned from these observations. Similarly, text messages pop up on the screen; because texting is so common, it's a clever timesaver that keeps you from having to constantly cut to a shot of a phone or have the character read the text message out loud every time.

John Watson, as played by the regularly named Martin Freeman, is a soldier and a doctor looking for a flatmate...and for some action. While he does represent the Everyman, a foil for Sherlock, he does have a taste for excitement and adventure, even if he may attempt to deny it. The relationship between John and Sherlock—another modern-day touch being that they refer to each other by their first names—grows over the course of the pilot and the series as these strangers become colleagues, friends, bros! Sherlock is a hard man to deal with, but John truly does admire his skills, if not his methods and his manners, and Sherlock does begin to respect his skills as well. They're partners. Also, John has a blog, and Sherlock has a website. So modern!

The first series comprises three individual cases. "A Study in Pink"—oh yes, you better believe there's a plethora of in-jokes and references—is a great introduction to our characters and the world, which is modern-day London. The setting is very important, and I got a thrill out of recognizing various locations because I had totally been there. Sherlock investigates what look like serial suicides, and when he finally uncovers the culprit, we get a very interesting look into his character. "The Blind Banker" is undisputably the weakest episode of the three. More articulate people than I have pointed out its racism/Orientalism, which I kind of saw but didn't think was as bad as I had been led to believe, but it does have lots of cool moments and deals with ciphers. It also has a really boring monologue in the middle, whereas neither of the other episodes commit this grievous sin, an anathema to Sherlock. "The Great Game," thankfully, is an awesome finale, as Sherlock gets to have the most fun he could imagine, and that's all I will say about that.

Moffat and Gatiss have successfully reenvisioned these characters for the modern world, and I'm looking forward to series two. The game, as they say, is on*!




*Not afoot. So modern!
Current Mood: pissed offpissed off
Current Music: Stabbing Westward - So Far Away

(31 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:sophia_helix
Date:June 2nd, 2011 06:15 am (UTC)
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I was a bit lukewarm on the show the first time I watched it, mostly because I was a HUGE Holmes fan as a young teenager and had a hard time adjusting to the update, even though I really liked the actors. However, just last week I watched all three episodes in one night and the show completely clicked for me. There are some things they've changed that I don't like, but I like it for itself and it's kept the basic heart of the books intact. Plus bonus London footage which makes me homesick for a place I have only visited twice!

Also, we are now watching Benedict Cumberbatch in "To the Ends of the Earth," a somewhat depressing BBC miniseries about a very ill-fated Regency sea-voyage to Australia in which he plays an aristocratic young ass. Unsurprisingly he is very good. He is also naked and/or wet for much of it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 2nd, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
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Plus bonus London footage which makes me homesick for a place I have only visited twice!
When they were in front of the National Gallery, I was like ZOMG I KNOW WHERE THAT IS. I HAVE WALKED ON THOSE STEPS.
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From:sabra_n
Date:June 2nd, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
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Ah, "The Blind Banker". An object lesson in "Victorian nostalgia is not an excuse for Orientalism you asshats", and really freaking boring besides. Inexplicably, its writer was then hired by Moffat to write an episode for Doctor Who (the equally boring "Curse of the Black Spot") and is apparently writing for Sherlock again next series. WHY.

But hey, there's always the other two thirds of the series, and Benedict Cumberbatch's undeniable talent and awe-inspiring name. I saw him in Frankenstein via a filmed performance airing in a Pennsylvania movie theater, and it was pretty darn awesome. (Not the play, really, but the production design and his performance.) I'll happily tune into Sherlock again next series and hope they tweak the little annoying things - Sally being a sneering caricature, Steve Thompson in general - that kept it from being great. Because when the show is on, it is really, really fun.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 2nd, 2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
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Inexplicably, its writer was then hired by Moffat to write an episode for Doctor Who (the equally boring "Curse of the Black Spot") and is apparently writing for Sherlock again next series. WHY.
Not just any episode, THE FINALE. Gah. He does seem to be, uh, a bit boring. I didn't think "The Blind Banker" was boring overall, but Soo Lin's monologue in the middle really dragged, and it was the only time I did feel genuinely bored during the show (Watson's investigations in the finale were almost boring because they were less exciting than what Sherlock was dealing with, but they moved swiftly enough.
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From:loopychew
Date:June 2nd, 2011 08:39 am (UTC)
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I'm hoping they get into Sherlock's disguise ability a bit more in the next season, even if it's just acting out roles like the yuppie he plays in "The Blind Banker" when he's trying to get into the apartment. That's enough of a nod for me to smile. It was also my favorite part of "The Blind Banker."

This series also got me to peruse Project Gutenberg and start reading the stories again, with much more gusto than I did when I tried reading it at age seven.
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From:musesfool
Date:June 2nd, 2011 01:58 pm (UTC)
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I enjoyed the show but it didn't ping for me. What did interest me is the thought of how detective fiction played out in that universe, where there was no Holmes and Watson in the Victorian era. There was a really cool post somewhere on Dreamwidth tracing the other lines of detective fiction - through Poe, mostly, iirc, and maybe Wilkie Collins? But it makes me really interested in the pop culture of that universe, because without Holmes, how do you get to House or Bones or any of those socially-awkward geniuses who deduct things with SCIENCE that proliferate on tv today? I think, via Poe, you can still get Batman and the noir detectives, but possibly they don't have awestruck sidekicks... unless it becomes modeled on Poirot and Hastings instead? Anyway, I found that more intriguing than the show itself, but the show is enjoyable.
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From:sophia_helix
Date:June 2nd, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
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That is a neat thought, and I am with all of it except Poirot/Hastings because Hastings is so painfully an exact copy of Watson, down to the weakness for the ladies and sad attempts at deducting on his own. I don't think you can have Hastings without Watson... so no sidekicks? Sad.
(Deleted comment)
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From:amberlynne
Date:June 2nd, 2011 02:07 pm (UTC)
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Love it. I can't believe they are making us wait SO LONG for the next series. I love that the BBC produces so much TV that's a million years better than what we get here but I hate having smaller doses of it. Which is probably why it is better. But still!
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 2nd, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, but they produce a lot of crap too, I'm sure. It's just that we only hear about the good stuff.
From:dotificus
Date:June 2nd, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
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WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME? YOU, YOU, . .. ::splutters::

Except I will definitely take a look at this one. I had no idea it was a modern day reboot. Sounds fun.
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From:jeeperstseepers
Date:June 3rd, 2011 04:47 am (UTC)
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(yet strangely sexy?)

YES, QUITE.

Actually modern-day, unlike the recent Sherlock Holmes movie.
The movie was meant to be more modern-day?

It may seem like the Holmesian mentality taken to an extreme, but it totally works, especially in Cumberbatch's able hands.

You know, when I first saw the show, I loved it, but I did think that it must be taking much of the Holmes character to an extreme. Then I read a couple of the books (I know, I know, it's crazy that I hadn't until now). And the show? Doesn't actually take things to much more of an extreme than they are in the books. Right there at the beginning of the second book, Holmes is lying around all drugged out, and Watson talks about how basically he alternates between morphine and cocaine, depending on whether he's got a case or whether he's moping around with no stimulation. It's awesome.

One stylistic touch I really love is that you get a peek inside Sherlock's head via text on the screen...Similarly, text messages pop up on the screen; because texting is so common, it's a clever timesaver that keeps you from having to constantly cut to a shot of a phone or have the character read the text message out loud every time.

Yep, I love these things about the show. So modern!
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 3rd, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)
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The movie was meant to be more modern-day?
I think it had more modern sensibilities to it.
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From:chrryblssmninja
Date:June 3rd, 2011 08:55 am (UTC)
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Cucumberpatch!

One thing I really enjoyed about this show is the beautiful production and cinematography. All the colors! bokeh lights!
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From:homegoddess
Date:June 3rd, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
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I also enjoyed the Sherlock series. Love Benedict Cumberbatch. Looking forward to next season.
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From:lynevere
Date:June 3rd, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
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Yay Steven Moffat. I'm quickly becoming a Steven Moffat fangirl. I loved (the first three series of) Coupling, but I didn't really attribute that to Moffat until my husband and I started watching the new Doctor Who. My favorite episodes are consistently the ones he's written.
(Deleted comment)
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:June 4th, 2011 01:36 pm (UTC)
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It is now in my Netflix queue!
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From:incidentist
Date:June 4th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
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It's on Instant? I'm gonna watch it. Soon.
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From:sisterjune
Date:June 4th, 2011 07:38 pm (UTC)

sorry i ended up writing a book :(

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I just finished watching the whole series last night. I was putting it off for a while cause I generally prefer my dramas with more women doing things and also the stuff I heard about episode two turned me off a bit, also I hate Mark Gatiss and his subpar writing. That said between the rampant sherlock fangirling during fandom march madness and this review i decided it was finally time to give it a whirl, especially since its so easily available to me on netflix instant (along with luther which i am willing to subject myself to entirely for idris elba despite my dislike of crime thrillers in general). I must say I was not disappointed! The show is really fun, the first episode and third episodes are great but the second one is rather crap and racist but not nearly as crap and racist as fandom lead me to believe so it didnt ruin the show for me. I looved the fake out with mycroft in episode 1 cause I TOTALLY thought he was moriarty at first but then he wasnt! The actual moriarty though was SO cartoony and OTT that I wasnt sure if I should be scared or rolling my eyes. I ended up doing alot of the latter. He was such a mustache twirling caricature! Also it was just 3 eps so it hasnt bugged me much yet but now that they have established sherlock is kind of a cold blooded bastard genius they could do with humanizing him a bit, i think with characters like this you always run a risk of making them TOO detached and superhuman at which point they can no longer be sympathized with. little gripes aside I really enjoyed it. I am sad there is not more. I am excited for season 2 and hopefully the further development of sherlock and watson's relationship, which imo should be the heart of the show more than the mystery solving. also this is completely shallow but while benedict cucumberpatch is nothing to write him about in the looks dept, his voice is something else entirely. I could listen to that man read the phonebook.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 5th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)

Re: sorry i ended up writing a book :(

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That said between the rampant sherlock fangirling during fandom march madness
Also an impetus in my case!

along with luther which i am willing to subject myself to entirely for idris elba despite my dislike of crime thrillers in general
I have heard pretty good things, but not enough AMAZING reviews to check it out; it sounds like it's a fairly standard crime thriller that happens to star Idris Elba.

the second one is rather crap and racist but not nearly as crap and racist as fandom lead me to believe so it didnt ruin the show for me
Ha, exactly.

I looved the fake out with mycroft in episode 1 cause I TOTALLY thought he was moriarty at first but then he wasnt!
Yes! Me too!

The actual moriarty though was SO cartoony and OTT that I wasnt sure if I should be scared or rolling my eyes.
Yeah, that was certainly an interesting direction to take him, but I think I kind of like it, maybe.

benedict cucumberpatch is nothing to write him about in the looks dept, his voice is something else entirely. I could listen to that man read the phonebook.
Hee.

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