Welcome to the Weekly Binge, where we’ll be taking a closer look at the shows that are worth your time. This week, we’re on the case with the acclaimed UK series Sherlock in preparation for its season three premiere here in the US. So, let’s “fall” into the deductive and seductive world of Sherlock. The game is afoot!
What’s the premise? It’s a modern retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous mysteries, still set at 221B Baker Street, but with Sherlock utilizing all the technology at his 21st century fingertips. Sherlock Holmes is as mercurial and prickly as ever, and his faithful colleague, Dr. John Watson, is still at his side, this time in the form of an Army doctor recently returned from Afghanistan.
What’s it like? It’s slick, fast paced and highly visual. Show creators and writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss use rapid banter and sight cues to relate Sherlock’s gift for deduction. The on-screen demonstrations of Holmes’s thought process is intriguing, and while it takes a quick moment to get used to, it quickly becomes part of the fabric of the series. The rest of the mood is sort of London Noir, with lots of foggy nights, rain-slicked streets and delicious dark palates to paint these mysteries onto the screen.
Where can I see it? In the Unites States, the series runs on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery series. Episodes are also available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus. DVDs and Blu-Ray are available as well.
How long will it take? This series is elementary-level binging. There’s only two series of three episodes each for nine hours of total viewing. So you can be all caught up in one fairly intense weekend.
What do the critics think? They love it! Nancy DeWolf Smith of the Wall Street Journal calls it “one of the most dazzling confections on TV,” and TV Guide’s Matt Roush says it’s been “brilliantly updated into a modern-day franchise.” And the general consensus is that the series is getting better with each new installment. All three seasons (yes, the upcoming season already has enough reviews from across the pond for a Tomatometer score) are at 100 percent, and season two is Certified Fresh; when the US reviews come in, chances are high season three will be Certified Fresh as well.
Why should I watch this? Besides the undeniable brilliance of Benedict Cumberbatch? Actually, plenty. Yes, Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the title character deservedly made him a sensation and propelled him to the big screen, but Martin Freeman’s performance as Watson is also not to be missed. It is his loving portrayal of Holmes’ long-suffering friend that makes the “high-functioning sociopath” of a detective so accessible. The supporting cast is also first-rate and creates a fabulous, fleshed-out world on Baker Street and beyond.
What’s my next step? Naturally, the first place to start would be the original novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, many of which have been rejiggered and adapted into episodes of Sherlock. After that, there is a multitude of other adaptations, both on the big screen and on television, for you to choose from. On film, you’ve got 1922’s Sherlock Holmes starring John Barrymore, a whopping fourteen movies starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Holmes and Watson, 1979’s Murder by Decree with Christopher Plummer, and Guy Ritchie’s recent blockbusters starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, just to name a few. If you like a bit of serialized television, you might also want to check out the US’s own contemporary reimagining of the character on CBS’s Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and Lucy Liu as Watson.