Monday, July 26, 2010

My Review of Sherlock's 1x01: "A Study In Pink"

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Paul McGuigan

Sherlock (to Watson): “The name’s Sherlock Holmes and the address is 221b Baker Street.”

And as introductions go, that is somewhat snappy. On a list of flatmates that John Watson could’ve ended up, it’s safe for him to assume that life with Sherlock Holmes will never be boring again. In fact, it will certainly be anything but.

Modernising something like Sherlock Holmes for a 2010 audience is definitely a dodgy thing to do. The Victorian era has always been the staple of whatever televised incarnation of the legendary detective and even Guy Ritchie wasn’t daring enough to make the character and his complicated world as recent as the 21st Century.

However in spite of the reservation, it actually worked perfectly. Not only will it be the most obvious thing to set it apart from all the others but it also manages not to feel like a generic cop show while almost taking a devilish glee in sending up some of the more slick and over polished shows that we’ve had in the last decade from both sides of the Atlantic.

A murder mystery can only be done in so many ways and even when it looked like the first three victims all killed themselves, as an audience member, there’s the nagging feeling that something isn’t right. Sherlock wasn’t the only person who had certain jubilation in realising that fourth victim; Jennifer Wilson was murdered instead of voluntarily taking her own life. Even I was ecstatic to have my own suspicion confirmed that it was murder all along with the bodies piling up in this episode.

And there was the villain of the piece himself – bored, dying cabbie driver Jeff. Phil Davis has this uncanny knack to imbue his villain of the piece with a duality of sinister malevolence and total a pathetic need to have his genius glorified. Like Sherlock, he had a need to exercise his genius but by taking lives, he showed little regard for the consequence of his genius.

Sure, he was dying and there was something sponsoring his killing spree (Moriarty of course) but you could also detect the pure desperation in him when Sherlock refused to play his game. Sherlock also exhibited a lesser desperation in wanting to know whether or not he had guessed correctly with the vial containing the pill that could kill or save him.

Jeff’s method of killing his victims was certain less gruesome (bar Jennifer of course) than expected but it also served as a testament to Moffat’s genius as well. Where else would we get a moment where poor Jennifer was able to trick Jeff in being found, only for Jeff to use the opportunity to snatch Sherlock literally under the police noses?

In terms of depictions, Benedict Cumberbatch played the role of Sherlock as if he were auditioning for Doctor Who. I’m not saying that in a harsh manner because when you think about it, both the Doctor and Sherlock Holmes are actually similar characters in their own way and you could definitely say that Watson fills the companion role in more ways than one.

Writing him as an army vet who misses being in trenches was a clever move and it certainly played with Martin Freeman’s strengths as well. Mycroft needled him perfectly about the war aspect but also openly revelled in the fact that his brother now had a partner to fight crime with. As a team goes, this is definitely a different but interesting take on Sherlock/Watson and I certainly approve, even if the gay jokes seemed a little tacked on. What am I kidding, they were funny.

As for the other police members, well they were largely written as clueless in order to highlight Sherlock’s genius. Lestrade himself had to organise a drug bust in order to try and get Sherlock to play ball and Sally herself also came across as too embittered as well. Hopefully they’ll develop better in later episodes along with housekeeper, Mrs Hudson.

- This was originally meant to be four 90 minutes episodes but the BBC scrapped one of them and now we’re left with three.
- I was really hoping for a second that Mark Gatiss would turn out to be Moriarty, though I like his take on Mycroft.
- Sherlock’s use of texting in this first episode was pretty amazing actually, even if it did come across as a little on the gimmick side.
- John Watson has a blog and Sherlock’s site The Science Of Deduction has some interesting comments from a certain someone. Plus I loved his intrigue when he learned about Moriarty.

For a 90 episode, “A Study In Pink” certainly flew by and with a good team in Cumberbatch and Freeman, this is certainly a promising take on things. Here’s hoping that the next two episodes are equally as strong.

Rating: 8 out of 10.


Guada GN said...

Loved it. From the beginning to the end. Too bad there are only three eps. The BBC always do that with the shows I love. Just a glimpse, and then aeons of waiting for the next fix.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Glad you enjoyed it. I have reviews for episodes 2 and 3 up now and it seems that we will most likely get a second run because the ratings have been good.