Sherlock: Off the silver screen and into the black box

Robert Downey Jr may have assumed the role of Sherlock Holmes on the silver screen, but writers and creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have taken it upon themselves to bring the eponymous sleuth to the small screen.

Gone are the horse carriages and smoking pipes of yore, instead, in this imaginative retelling of one of literature’s most beloved characters, they have been replaced with modern-day comforts like mobile phones and nicotine patches.

From the first episode of Sherlock, A Study in Pink, where the detective must assist the police in investigating a string of apparent suicides right in the heart of London, the mini-series consisting of 3 90-minute episodes is chock full of shocking twists and turns, intrigue and mystery, but Gatiss and Moffat have also managed to preserve Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s vision, with the plot of the first episode closely resembling the first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet (See the resemblance yet?).

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As Sherlock, actor Benedict Cumberbatch manages to convey the right amount of disdain and intuitive brilliance, able to deduce a person’s life simply by glancing at their watches or at their mobile phones, which simultaneously annoys and awes his faithful companion, war veteran Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman, to be seen in the upcoming Hobbit movies). Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is contemptuous and impatient, but he is so colourful and fascinating it’s hard not to delight in his creative insults (“What it must be like in your funny little brains, it must be so boring!”), or in his ecstatic glee at the discovery of a new clue.

Freeman is droll and likeable as Watson, the ‘straight-man’ counterpart to his misanthropic friend’s eccentricities, playing a viewer substitute as he is dragged along for the ride.

If you were expecting a stuffy, dialogue heavy show, you may be very well mistaken. Sherlock is fun and action-packed, though the gun fights and chase scenes never seem gratuitous, and isn’t stingy with the intellectual side of the coin either. Through the cunning use of graphics to convey Sherlock’s thoughts or telephone messages to the audience, the shots never distract from the focus of the case.

Think less Jane Austen, and more House MD meets CSI.

You don’t have to be a prior Holmes aficionado to keep up with either the plot or the character, making it accessible to just about anyone with an interest in mystery and wit. Supplied with plenty of clues and strange happenings, Sherlock ensures you’ll be kept guessing until the very end.

Sherlock premieres in Singapore on Monday, Jun 6, on AXN Beyond (Starhub channel 525), 9:50 pm.

About Serene Low

The final-year Mass Communication student in Ngee Ann Polytechnic possesses a very active imagination and a sizeable DVD collection, which she spends an unhealthy amount of time with. Her greatest adventure so far was making the perilous journey to the supermarket, where she had to interact with intimidating strangers.