Ever since my school days, I have always been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary figure Sherlock Holmes. Through the years, I have seen many depictions of Doyle's various short stories and novels of Sherlock Holmes but none seem to have given justice to the characters or the world they inhibit. The two recent films by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock, are fun but not really great films. It was not until the BBC's version of the classic crime inspector premiered in 2010 that I finally found it. The best and most faithful adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. But, with a major twist.
Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock takes place in modern-day London and follows Sherlock Holmes and his roommate Doctor John Watson. The series is produced by the BBC and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson. Two seasons of the series have aired with each featuring three ninety-minute episodes.
Playing the chief role of the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes is the outstanding Benedict Cumberbatch. This is the first I am exposed to Cumberbatch in television or film and, my goodness, has he left an impression. He is simply flawless as the formidable sleuth. I know this because he is instantly believable as Sherlock, from the very first scene of the pilot episode. Cumberbatch exudes all the essential qualities needed to portray Sherlock, authority, command, and intelligence. Put simply, Benedict Cumberbatch is breathtaking as the master detective and it will take a lot for any other actor to better him. A captivating performance.
As Sherlock Holmes's roommate and close friend Doctor John Watson, Martin Freeman is equally superb. I have always found the character of Watson as entertaining as that of Sherlock. Here, Freeman completely absorbs the role and leaves no doubt that he is indeed John Watson.
What I admire about Martin Freeman's take on the role is that he makes Watson a charming, sweet and kind person, somewhat of a polar opposite to Cumberbatch's Sherlock, who is witty and direct. Perhaps that is why both actors work so well together. They instantly click and make their partnership very believable and realistic. Just like Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman is quite incredible in Sherlock.
However, it is not just the acting in Sherlock that is world-class but the writing also. Led by creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock's writing team has done an excellent job in keeping the dialogue fresh, gripping, and modern.
The writers have managed to take all the great Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories and turn them into stories befitting the 21st-century. They did so whilst being as faithful as possible to the original characters and storylines. This is a massive achievement since that is always the most challenging aspect of adapting any literary work as a television series or film.
For the dialogue in Sherlock to be a source of entertainment speaks volumes about how talented this writing team led by Moffat and Gatiss truly is. They deserve all the praise and acclaim coming their way.
With only six episodes across two seasons so far, Sherlock has already established itself as one of the greatest adaptations of the famed detective, if not the greatest. Having two extremely talented actors in Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as the leads and a writing team that truly understands the world of Sherlock Holmes has produced a highly-polished television series. I cannot wait for the third season, which is scheduled to premiere in 2014, as I am sure it will be quite magnificent as well.
MATM Season 1 Rating: **** out of ****
MATM Season 2 Rating: **** out of ****
Steven Moffat and Martin Gatiss
- Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock Holmes)
- Martin Freeman (as Dr. John Watson)
Crime / Drama / Mystery