Elementary, My Dear

I watch a lot of TV. I tweeted the other day about how I think I've reached the end of cable, because I cannot think of any shows I have not yet watched, at least in part. I also rarely discriminate between "bad" and "good" TV. I watch Storage Wars and Jeopardy and Roseanne and Mad Men.

Recently, however, thanks to Tumblr and a friend who is particularly obsessed with England (hi Lilly!), I have watched the BBC show Sherlock. About 2 minutes into the first episode, I was 100% committed to the series. It's so good, dear readers, that I have to blog about it. This show cannot be left unwatched by anyone.

Sherlock is, as I'm sure you've guessed, based on the now almost mythological Sherlock Holmes character brought to life by the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I also should preface this complete love letter to the show with the fact that I am not a fan of Sherlock novels; in fact, I haven't even read any. I haven't seen the Robert Downey Jr. movies. My knowledge of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson before this show was based almost entirely on Wishbone reenactments. So I am not a gushing fangirl, to say the very least.

There are two seasons, or "series" as the Brits call them, of Sherlock. Each episode is 1.5 hours and based on the plot of one Sherlock Holmes novel. But what makes the episodes incredible is that they have been updated to include modern settings, attitudes, and technology. Dr. John Watson is soldier returned home from Afghanistan trying to reintegrate back into society, and struggling to write a blog at the behest of his therapist. Sherlock is a self-diagnosed "high functioning sociopath" with the inability to feel empathy and who makes excellent use of his smart phone as a companion to his mind-blowing observational skills.

Excluding the interesting plot lines and great writing and witty dialogue, what makes Sherlock so great is the photography and cinematography. It's the most visually interesting show I have ever seen. It breaks the standard blocking and framing of TV and just makes it much more appealing to watch. It uses text on screen to hint at what Sherlock is thinking, walking the viewer through the astute thought processes of a genius. Scenes fade into others through cleverly placed scene splits, and often the camera is not facing where you'd expect it - say, on the person who is speaking, but rather frames them through a mirror or the reaction of the person listening.

John: "Are you wearing any pants?"
Sherlock: "... No."
I would be remiss if I didn't address the incredible acting of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock and Watson, respectively. They really are just that: incredible. I often feel as though I am eavesdropping on someone's real life as opposed to watching a TV show, because Sherlock and John feel so real. I am particularly a fan of Martin Freeman. He plays Watson as an incredibly nuanced character, the tone of each "no" meaning something different, the shape of his mouth and eyes conveying as much meaning as what he's saying. The timing of Sherlock and Watson's dialogue is fast-paced and witty, and they are the perfect match.

In sum:
I really cannot rave about it enough. It's funny. It's clever. Every time I watch it (which has been ~4 times as of today), I find something new and different. The show feels classic and old, while also being updated and accessible. It is funny, smart, and suspenseful: how could it not be amazing?


PS - If you have any shows to recommend, please do!


Unknown said…
Your comment on your knowledge of Sherlock being based on reenactments from Wishbone made me laugh out loud. Maybe I will watch this show now, you've turned me!

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