Sherlock

I've been a fan of Sherlock Holmes for as long as I can remember. Why? Well, I think there are several reasons. Partly - perhaps mostly - they are clever conundrums. We are presented with a puzzle, and a series of clues which our hero succeeds where ordinary mortals would fail.

There's also the historical context that makes this interesting too - the hansom cabs, baker street boys and long train journeys far afield. Whether reading the books or watching one of the many movies you get a real feeling for life in London in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There's an insight too into the working and upper class system, although I doubt we see much of the reality of the criminal class in Victorian London.

Holmes and Watson have a close friendship and this adds something to the tales too, but most of all I think the real appeal lies in Holmes' character. In fact on occassion he is a not very likeable person. He's cold and logical and unsociable. He is at times reclusive and uncommunicative. At the same time he has an immensely strong sense of justice. That's the appeal. We see this all the time in literature, film and television. We are drawn to the oddball, quirky, rude but brilliant characters like Gregory House and Carl Lightman.

So, if you want to make a new series based on the Conan Doyle characters, what do you do? In the past the answer has always been easy: create an historical drama. Re-create Victorian London and dramatize the original stories. But this time around we have seen an entirley different approach. This time the programme makers decided to set the drama in the now.

There are two new Holmes series running at the moment: Sherlock and Elementary. In both cases they have set the tales in the modern era, with Sherlock based in London with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Sherlock and Martin Freeman playing Watson.

What I like about Sherlock is that they have captured the characters perfectly, but also translated all that we like and love about the original into the modern day. So, Holmes is brilliant using the tools available to him, and in this case that means technology. He needs his Baker Street Boys, but this time he connects through the internet rather than by having them come to his door. Watson is a retired army Doctor of course - that will always be a possibility regardless of the era - and is largely unchanged from the original.

Cumberbatch plays the aloof Holmes perfectly. Astonishingly blunt at times because of his poor social skills, and his relentless focus, I think he has really caught the spririt of Holmes.

The stories are not simple re-writes of the originals, but the essence has been retained. Irene Adler and Moriarty both feature highly, and the modern day equivalent of the Reichenbach Falls is a London Skyscraper. Holmes' brother Mycroft is still a mysterious higher up in the British Government but has been painted a little darker in this new remake. In a diversion from the original Holmes is not a particularly welcome consultant to Scotland Yard (where Lestrade is of course in charge) but he nevertheless manages to become involved.

If you like Sherlock, House and Lie to Me then this series will definitely appeal to you.

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