Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sherlock: The Blind Banker or Holmes meets Rathbone

Tonight's instalment of Sherlock did not disappoint. It was a combination of the old Basil Rathbone thrillers with a healthy dose of Cannon and Fu Manchu thrown in as well. Holmes and Watson are on the trail of killers who leave messages in an inscrutable ancient text. If like me, you are familiar with certain classic methods used in the original Holmes stories you would be on the lookout for the code in question before our stubborn young Scotland Yard man could say Valley of Fear. From the creepy museum at night to the stage show later on, Moffat and Gatiss turn on the B movie charm. I could have watched it in Black and White it was that good.

I'm trying hard not to give the story away, so suffice to say that the apparent suicides are anything but. A number of people die in the pursuit of a stolen object. Said dead people are clearly somehow connected. Will Holmes figure it out before too many bodies drop? You'll have to watch.

What was particularly enjoyable, was the sense of humour developed in the story and Holmes himself. The story has a number of moments where they play silly buggers with Watson. If we're lucky , he'll get the occasional ritual humiliation and mistaken identity that will get him in the kind of trouble he doesn't seem to mind. Watson, having found a live wire to live with , he now sets about moaning throughout the entire ep that he's tired and hungry, clearly not so tired or hungry he won't give up the chase. Good man John, just the kind of companion you want in a crime fighting sidekick. I suspect, dear readers, he won't be alone for long, Watson has discovered the lovely Sarah whom he immediately fancies something rotten. Will they or won't they? wait till you see their first date. I doubt most relationships would survive such an encounter, but it worked in Young Sherlock Holmes so why not here.  The perils of Pauline sequence is well put together and has some story telling element, unlike many which serve only to titillate. Watson and Sarah will have a healthy onscreen fling that will either end in her eventual demise or Watson marrying her.

I did mention Holmes and humour, In this outing, Sherlock engages in some gentle flattery. He presses the buttons of his lab partner who had tried to get his interest in episode one. And there are loads of apparently inadvertent japes aimed clearly at Watson. Holmes delights in getting Watson wound up over things trivial and dangerous. For example, he only opens the door of the girl's flat when it's too late for Watson to help, but two things have occurred, Watson's words are taken out of context and Holmes rather than admit he could have asked for help, pretends that nearly being strangled to death is nothing special.  Earlier in the ep, Holmes allows Watson to think nothing is amiss and  maintains the fiction he has in fact been sat there doing nothing all afternoon. In the closest thing to a nod to Clouseau and the man servant fight meets anonymous Bond villain moment, Holmes is cool as a cucumber when Watson comes home from having been in a row with a computerized till. Take my card he says, never letting on he was in a fight minutes before.

Sarah, who we meet properly for the first tonight runs the practice Watson has stepped into. Much like the Victorian Watson, this Watson is a stand in for people on hols and frankly would make a rubbish regular doctor. Sarah spots this from the first but hires him anyways. They seem made for each other and her reactions later on  belie a more complex person seeking an escape form the mundane. One hopes she makes the cut and appears in the new series.

Ah yes the new series. In case you haven't been reading the news, or missed the flurry of sqeeeing at the BBC. They have ordered a full series of 10. Word has it it will begin filming soon and be on screen as soon as a spot can be found for it in the rotation. I'm sure that won't be a problem at all.  Ratings for the first ep were through the roof and even the most hard bitten curmudgeonly critic was quickly on board. Sherlock is coming and you need to make room for all the DVDs.

So how was this episode as a story? Even if you strip away all the identifying markers that say Sherlock Holmes, you end up with a well acted story that drew you in and made you jump when it wanted you to jump, laugh when it wanted you to laugh. You knew some of the baddies were going to be a bit old school and some of the good guys were going to be just a tad twatish, but it worked. Mixed with humour, was fear and tension. You knew people might get hurt and you cared, you knew yet others would die , but you hoped somehow they might avoid a grisly fate.  For what could easily be a formulaic box ticking exercise, The Blind Banker turns into the sort of fun 90 minutes you don't often see anymore.

1 comment:

Peter Cobrin said...

Hurry up!!Where your Corrie review? Just watched play. Brilliant!! TV drama at its best, and of course only the BBC could do it.