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DVD Review: Sherlock: Season One

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Sherlock is the latest incarnation of the world’s most famous super sleuth. The three-part series which aired on the BBC is a modern update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s dynamic duo starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. 

Re-imaginings aren’t always successful; for every Battlestar Galactica, there’s a Knight Rider or Bionic Woman. However, with Stephen Moffat (Jekyl, Doctor Who) as executive producer/co-creator of this version, I thought it would be in capable hands. I was correct; Benedict Cumberbatch was excellent as the great detective. Holmes can seem a bit arrogant as one detective said, but he uses everything around him to deduce what happened and find the answer. I wasn’t familiar with Cumberbatch before Holmes, but I will be on the lookout for his past and future endeavors.

I was familiar with Martin Freeman. The newly cast Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hobbit films has been seen in Love Actually, the original UK Office and Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy. Freeman plays Watson, Holmes’ partner very well. In this adaptation, Watson is still a military man; however, in a more modern take, he’s returning from Afghanistan.

Watson is having trouble adapting to a non-combat life when a mutual friend introduces the two men. Holmes offers him the action he’s missing, and in turn Watson smoothes out Holmes impersonal way of dealing with people while also providing commentary to the viewer. The series also shows how clues are seen through Sherlock’s eyes; the use of modern technology is incorporated (like texting) into solving the crimes.

The first Sherlock Holmes story was “A Study in Scarlet,” so it’s very fitting that the first story of the new adapation is a variation of that story entitled “A Study in Pink.” Over the course of the three stories we see great interaction between Holmes and Watson, and are shown that there is a method to Holmes behavior. We learn that he probably is as smart as he thinks he is, even if his interactions with other people can be seen as rude or standoffish. Towards the end of the series we finally meet Moriarty (Holmes’ nemesis), and the series ends on quite a cliffhanger: something rarely seen on UK TV.  

Sherlock comes with a number of extras, including two commentaries. The first episode has commentary with Moffat, Gatiss, and producer Sue Vertue. This commentary focuses on the production and all the challenges of making the series. The second commentary is for the third episode with Gatiss again, but this time he’s joined by Benedict Cumperpatch and Martin Freeman. This commentary sees things from the actor’s point of view with Gatiss adding his perspective. Both are informative and provide a good balance between the producers point-of-view as well as the actors.

 “Unlocking Sherlock” is a short documentary about the making of the series. There’s also the unaired pilot which clocks in at about 60 minutes (each episode runs about 90 minutes) and is what got the series greenlit for the initial three episodes. The pilot is a bit rough, it’s a shorter version of A Study in Pink” with sets and some of the updates to modern times still being worked out, but it’s cool to see the differences between this version and the version that aired.

Sherlock is a fun update of the world’s greatest detective. The BBC has greenlit a second series of three more episodes to air in 2011; hopefully the stories will be good as the first round and there’ll be many more series to enjoy.

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  • Scotty2

    Not to be impertinent, but actually Watson was wounded in Afghanistan in the original stories as well. Nice little bit of trivia there. Otherwise, nice review :)