TV Review: Sherlock

TV Review: Sherlock

Sherlock Rating: M Distributor: Nine Network Release Date: Wednesdays, 8:30 PMThis is one of those blessed moments in television that you need to just press ‘pause’ and enjoy. One of the best television mini-series of 2010 has returned. The storylines are fresh and imaginative. The characters are exactly the ones you grew to love, except […]

By Mark HadleyFriday 24 Feb 2012TV and StreamingReading Time: 2 minutes

Sherlock
Rating: M
Distributor: Nine Network
Release Date: Wednesdays, 8:30 PM

This is one of those blessed moments in television that you need to just press ‘pause’ and enjoy. One of the best television mini-series of 2010 has returned. The storylines are fresh and imaginative. The characters are exactly the ones you grew to love, except maybe deeper. And the Nine Network hasn’t got around to moving it to an inaccessible timeslot.

Sherlock is a BBC re-imagining of what the world’s greatest literary detective would be like if he was living in modern London, rather than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Victorian era. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the brilliant Holmes, a virtual shut-in who only really comes alive when he’s teased with a phenomenon he can’t readily explain. Martin Freeman is his modern-day Watson, a former army doctor who’s returned from traumatic service in Afghanistan. Together they form the investigative ‘odd couple’ that would perplex police as much as assist them in an age of highly professionalized law enforcement.

The second series has hit off with a rewrite of Doyle’s classic A Scandal In Bohemia, though this time the furor involves English royalty and the mysterious Irene Adler, who is an upper class ‘companion’ rather than an opera singer, holds the embarrassing photographs. Once again writer Steve Moffatt has managed to weave in all of the essential elements into a thoroughly contemporary story – the incriminating evidence was captured on an encrypted camera phone – without sacrificing any of the mystery. He also manages to show another aspect of Holmes’ character in a 21st century light.

Doyle always favoured the detached side of his detective’s personality, no doubt a reflection of the rational age in which he lived. Science was Sherlock’s key weapon and such observation required a dispassionate eye. However Moffatt reminds viewers that Holmes’ emotionless achievements make him successful but something less than human. Standing in a morgue, looking at a grieving family, he remarks to his brother:

Sherlock: “Look at them. They all care so much. Do you ever wonder if there’s anything wrong with us?”
Mycroft: “All lives end. All hearts are broken. Caring is not an advantage.”

But as it turns out, an understanding of suffering and worldly attachment can answer the greatest problems. Sherlock uses his knowledge of Adler’s emotional needs to solve the episode’s final mystery. Like Jesus, because he is able to see the world through her eyes, he can offer the solution everyone is looking for. Unlike Jesus, he appears unable to care for her concerns. That’s why we’ll always remain a little distant from Sherlock, while finding Jesus a thoroughly attractive saviour.

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