Monday, 26 July 2010

The game Mrs.Hudson, is on. NEW BBC Holmes is perfection

The lord thy God Steven Moffat and his pal Mark Gatiss, both avid Sherlockians, have created in this Sherlock set in modern London a perfectly honest and authentic Holmes and Watson. If Benedict Cumberbatch and  Martin Freeman were worried they may be badly compared to other actors who have played the roles recently, there was no need to have worried.  Where Guy Ritchie (his pile of wank reviewed here), who never read Holmes, fails utterly, Steven  Moffat succeeds beyond his wildest dreams. While Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke willl always be the  Holmes and Watson of Queen Victoria,  these two will be the Holmes and Watson of Queen Elizabeth.

A Study in Pink is the retelling of A Study in Scarlet and yet it is so much more. It is the setting of in our minds of the main characters, we will with luck, now follow for many years. I'm sorry to say that if Doctor Who show runner Moffat thinks he can just walk away from this now after three eps, he's got another thing coming. Like Doyle, this will now become a creature of his making, becoming bigger than the author. We must have more. I can tell that three stories will not be enough.  This new Sherlock is so well made it erases both the bad taste in my mouth left over from Robert Downey rubbish and creates a space next to the towering reputations of Basil Rathbone, and Jeremy Brett.

As amazed , nay gobsmacked as I am at the level of quality and detail in the Holmes and Lestrade characters, it's Watson who truly rises to the occasion here. Let's step back a bit .....According to my JackTracy, Watson would have been in his early 30's late 20's when he would have met Holmes. Clearly a young man with medical skills and the military bearing of a recently demobbed soldier. With no fixed address or love life to encumber him , the man would be free to seek the pleasure of less mundane thrills with Sherlock Holmes. Such a man as this is neither bumbling nor old. He is in fact young robust and still used to the structure of command and field danger. Watson is AS smart as Lestrade, Watson is also his own man, who will not be told by somebody else what he can or cannot do.  This Watson is a pleasure to behold. How much better would the Rathbone films had been if he'd been played this way.  To say more would be to give the story away , but suffice to say that you will not be the slightest bit surprised at what he does and when.

Back to Holmes now. Our Holmes , the Holmes we grew up reading, the Holmes so ably played by Brett and written by the Granada people, is a complex person. And yet this complete person shows up on screen from the first time we see him. His eyes , his gestures, his attitude to people around him is spot on. The truly genius bit is to make Sherlock 2010 a forensic specialist. What a great way to insure he is never far from any cases that could arise. I especially appreciate the care taken to insure that every aspect of his character is made clear early in as much as he is not particularly interested in romance and is not gay. It would have been so easy to play him so, but that's not Sherlock Holmes. "I'm married to my work" in case Watson was somehow interested in something more. There is more to come I'm sure , but the true essential Holmes is there from the intellect, to the intense curiosity as well as the need to find a cure from everyday boredom. He knows he's better than anybody else, he sees forests where others see only blades of grass and the odd pebble. Holmes is the towering living embodiment of the Alpha male if brains were the principle requirement.  Not a clubbable man, not one easily tamed by woman kind. 

Mycroft Holmes, his brother, who I spotted right away, bears an uncanny and unsettling resemblance to David Cameron. And this in more than a few ways. His need to watch over his brother, clearly leads him to extreme lengths to insure his brother is alright. Does that mean he's the mysterious Moriarty? I hope not. Mycroft was always his brother's best friend and sounding board when none other would do. They are in fact on fairly decent terms if anything. I am aware that some poetic license is permitted in as much as the need to build suspense in such a story only helps. But let us not forget that Mycroft Holmes IS the British Government and MI5/6 , he would never be part of any criminal enterprise out of boredom or need for profit. He is far too busy with his own work, he is one of the good guys. Besides all of the aforementioned, Mycroft dresses and acts like Mycroft, he's not a squirrely evil professor and he's not afraid to be seen, unlike Moriarty. About that getting out thing, it is nice to see him out and about, as Doyle's Mycroft was somewhat sedentary and unfit, this Mycroft seems to be a bit more mobile and Q like.  Still not sure what the lovely but somewhat dim looking Althea is doing in all this, but I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason for it all. (Insert your own producer's girlfriend jokes here)

Mrs. Hudson plays out well too. She is the perfect land lady and tolerates the sort of behavior Holmes and Watson will throw at her. In fact, I've seen this before. Military men of a certain grade and the University Don like my Uncle, tend to forget sometimes people are not there to serve them at all times. The fact she knows these are men who habitually give and take orders makes them the kind of tenants only a truly understanding woman like her can deal with. I look forward to her kippers and scotch eggs, though I wonder what the new Holmes and Watson are prone to eating now. Most likely gastro pub food and army cooking.

SGT Donovan will get wrong if she continues to insist Holmes is a killer just waiting to happen. He is his own brand of justice, he is a driven man , but he is not a man who would create mayhem to satisfy his own need for excitement. What would it prove to be hunted by himself or the clearly lesser beings at Scotland Yard. No he will always play by the rules, he will not kill to get a thrill. What he could do and has done in cannon, is release a dying man, look the other way when justice needs to be done some other way than the strictly legal sense.  She would do well to remember these things if she is to one day ( and I'm sure it will happen) be saved by this sociopath. 

So fellow Sherlockians, what little gems will you see in this film? Some of them are cracking good.  The Critereon and Stamford show up, The three pipe problem is there, he does some things only true scholars will recognize and marvel at, his addiction to texting is perfect as a replacement for the lost telegram and thrice daily mail round. Even his occasional dabble into mind altering chemicals is mentioned, though due to the fact that unlike the Victorian era, there are regulations on the truly addictive drugs now, Holmes does have a nicotine problem.  His deductive reasoning is as strong as any of the original stories and that my friends is the reason we bother watching this sort of thing. This Sherlock Holmes Is the Holmes of Doyle and Watson, a worthy use of money, talent and locations. My sincerest hope is that somebody at the BBC is already talking series 2.

Nearly forgot, I bet you're wondering what sort of story it is. It's a mystery in the style of  spooks and Midsommer mixed together. A gentle dose of humour and some wonderful use of special effects that aid exposition and demonstrate the methods of deduction as practiced by our hero. The nicest thing is that the story is carried by the actors, not the effects. Filmed in Cardiff, the sets are for all intents and purposes the London of people of a certain class and importance. The interiors are reflective of the people occupying them and you will be comfortable with the decor. There is even a Persian slipper if you look hard enough. Costumes are another thing you'll like. look at the clothes and you'll see the shadows of the older more Victorian order and dress, These are the same people we know and love, just in 2010

Job well done  Moffat and Gatiss .


Anonymous said...

This looks marvelous! I wish we could get your BBC productions here in the States -- These actors look capable and authentic British characters to make it intriguing. Good luck!

Mietek Padowicz said...

PBS will be showing the three ep run in October of this year. As for getting more programmes from the UK. As a supporter of PBS or subscriber to the various cable outlets showing the overseas stuff, you need to ask for it. Let them know they aren't taking a risk in showing it.