Tuesday, 14 February 2012

TV Preview: Sherlock Series 2

Cumberbatch and Freeman as Holmes and Watson in Sherlock

There was a time during my days in high school when just the thought of reading (and by extension, studying) one of the classic Sherlock Holmes novels would be enough cause for my eyes to bleed profusely in boredom. Ashamed to admit it now, at the age of 13 and 14, Conan Doyle's Victorian detective simply failed to spark my interest the in same way that iPods and Nickelodeon did. To the uninitiated like myself, Conan Doyle's genius creation was buried deep under a dull, grey exterior of 19th Century London and men traipsing around the deer-stalkers and tweed. "Hardly cool" I must have thought. Oh, 14 year-old me, how wrong you were.

It's only been recently that I've converted to the exploits of the World's Greatest Detective (sorry Batman, I think Holmes just beats you to that title). In my mind, the image associated with Sherlock has undergone a remarkable rework in the last two to three years and has refashioned itself for a more youthful audience. Two largely successful and popular franchises have brought about this turnaround. Starting with the Guy Ritchie recent adaptation of Conan Doyle's detective for the cinema, I'm proud to say I'm something of a emerging Sherlockphile (patent pending).

Replacing my previous misconceptions of the super sleuth with one that is fast-pased, witty and most importantly, entertaining, the trio of Sherlock (played by Robert Downey Jr.), Watson (Jude Law) and director Ritchie, reinvented and reworked the Sherlock image for a younger generation. Working to a Hollywood budget, Ritchie packed the film full of the essential Sherlock character quirks and details that would please the fans of the Conan Doyle books, whilst adding a dash of fast-pased fun and adventure similar to that of the popular Indiana Jones or Bond films. It split purists down the middle but was successful enough to spawn a bigger and ballsier sequel that was released earlier this year, Ritchie's contemporary take on Victorian London did much to spark my own interest in Conan Doyle's original novels and make Sherlock, in my mind, "cool" again.

It is however not the only (or best) adaptation to have come about in recent years. The BBC's Sherlock, ingeniously planted the duo of Holmes and Watson into 21st Century London for three feature length mysteries in 2010. Adapting Sherlock for the modern day seems so obvious it's a wonder it hadn't been done before (although Hugh Laurie's take on the title character in House seems positively Holmes-like) and it has certainly seemed to win over audiences.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman worked brilliantly as the crime-solving duo whilst the modern backdrop offered a genuinely refreshing take on a concept familiar to so many. Sprouted from two of the minds behind Doctor Who (Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss), the BBC's Sherlock is undeniably "cool"; Holmes and Watson solve crimes and catch out villains whilst fiddling about with their Blackberries and updating their blogs. But where it trumps the films, is that there more than enough to please the Conan Doyle fan here.

Basing episodes upon the original novels, Sherlock is more loyal to the character, despite it's contemporary setting. Cumberbatch is hilariously kooky and clever as Holmes whilst Freeman's depiction of Watson is not too far from his portrayal of Tim in The Office; the reliable and dependable "straight-guy" to Cumberbatch's bi-polar and quick-witted Sherlock. A modern Sherlock for a modern generation, the series has found a brilliant balance between incorporating those essential Conan Doyle elements (Baker Street, Le Strade, Moriarty) and giving the show a cool, modern feel that appeals to a broader audience.

With the second season of Sherlock set to air in Australia tomorrow night, my new-found love for all things Sherlock is bound to hit the stratosphere in the very near future. No longer the bored 14 year-old GCSE English student I feel the need to revisit and pick up my own copies of the original Conan Doyle books and banish any past misconceptions I had about men in deer-stalkers. Whether it's at the cinema, the television or in the pages of a book, Sherlock Holmes has been moulded and shaped into an undeniably cool character, winning over myself and many others in the process. Fingers crossed this isn't set to change.

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