I was lucky enough Sunday night to watch my favorite Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke in a repeat of the old series just before watching the new BBC series “Sherlock” a 21st Century version of the world’s most well known detective. I hope one day to write about Jeremy Brett and Sherlock Holmes, but today I want to write about the new series and the first episode.
Usually I’m not a big fan of changing the time period of my favorite books or plays. I prefer the original. Even Shakespeare which seems to constantly be modernized only works for me occasionally (“West Side Story”, Kurasawa’s “Throne of Blood” and “Ran”, “Shakespeare Re-told” are a few).
I didn’t buy the modern Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as Conan Doyle’s creation, but I did buy them as an enjoyable addition to Masterpiece Mystery on PBS (U.S. Public Television) and British TV detectives.
As the new Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch is rather sexy . I must confess I’ve seen him in many UK TV productions and though he’s a very good actor, this is the first time I’ve found him sexy. (Isn’t Benedict Cumberbatch a wonderful British name! Good thing he’s a British actor, if he was here in the US they would have told him to change his name to Ben Batch). He does a marvelous job of capturing the literary Holmes' hyper activity and arrogance, but makes the character his own by not taking on any of the mannerism of film and TV Sherlock’s we know so well. I felt this Sherlock comes across as the tortured artist in some way more than the calculating detective. But I liked the fact I couldn’t really compare him with Jeremy Brett’s performance or any other Holmes. This character is very 21st Century, right down to the nicotine patch!
I was most curious about seeing Martin Freeman in the role of Dr. Watson since he’s just been cast as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. I had seen him in “The Old Curiosity Shop” and in brief scenes of The Office, but nothing more before. Movie Star in the making Freeman is a very modern Watson. Though Cumberbatch’s character retains most of the Sherlockian canon, this John Watson is a new creation, both by the scriptwriters and Mr. Freeman. No buffoon here like some of the earlier movie Watson’s, and no cozy and fatherly Watson like Edward Hardwicke’s portrayal. This is a Watson who is a man to be reckoned with, a doctor, a soldier, a man’s man in some ways. Makes a great contrast to the free spirited and uncontrollable Sherlock.
Greatly enjoyed seeing the always reliable Rupert Graves as DI Lestrade looking very handsomely boyish with gray hair. (If only I looked prettily girlish in mine! I worship the gods of hair color.) I also love the scenes with Holmes brother Mycroft who apparently is a member of MI5 or 6! (Calling Harry Pearce!).
Why is it that men can do wonders with those scarves, wrapping them around for such dashing effect?