After giving a damning review of “Mr. Holmes” this reviewer was determined to salvage her enthusiasm for all things Sherlock Holmes. So, she went over to Netflix and found that the TV series “Sherlock”, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson, is available for streaming. This is an updated version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales of Holmes and Watson. The series takes place in current times, and all characters and mysteries are made to fit into modern London society. The series started in 2010 and is expected to continue into 2016.
After watching the first episode from 2010, this reviewer found herself to be a Holmes and Watson fan once again. The pilot is entitled A Study in Pink. For those unfamiliar, the first Holmes and Watson adventure ever written by Doyle was “A Study in Scarlet,” so it’s a nice allusion to the original story. Granted, there have been great changes—after all, the time period has changed greatly—but characters are still recognizable and there are plenty of thrills and adventure just like in the original stories.
Because this is a mystery, the reviewer doesn’t want to spoil even this much older episode for those who haven’t seen it. There are plenty of twists and turns, so some elements of the plot and characters cannot be revealed. But without revealing too much, certain changes were good to see.
For one, Sherlock’s mysterious “archenemy” was a great addition. This character didn’t appear in “A Study in Scarlet” but could be quickly recognizable in A Study in Pink to fans of the stories. His identity is not revealed until the end of the episode, but the reviewer could make a good guess as to who this alleged enemy might be. It makes for a good twist, because it’s a new take on an old character. In fact, he’s a character that would have made for great fun in the stories had he appeared more often and been better explored.
Inspector Lestrade has also changed from the stories, where he was incompetent and dismissive of Sherlock. He’s a much more likeable character in the show. He is encouraging and respectful of Sherlock, even when the other police officers aren’t. He’s closer to a real leader and appears to know what he’s doing. Lestrade as a team player who makes real attempts at engaging Sherlock in the spirit of teamwork was nice to see, because he was never so mature in the stories.
The decision to dive right into Sherlock’s drug habit in the first episode added another important element early on to this series. In “A Study in Scarlet”, Watson suspected a drug habit but it was not confirmed until “The Sign of Four.” Then it was very clear that Sherlock was into morphine and cocaine. This episode puts more emphasis than the first book did on how drug addiction influences his decision making. The addiction issue that his character faces doesn’t always come up in movies or on TV, but it’s important to make it part of the storyline in order to explain some of his quirks. It’s actually irresponsible to choose not to explore it at all.
For those who were disappointed by “Mr. Holmes,” A Study in Pink should make up for it. It’s fast paced and there are some good changes made. The rest of the series is likely just as good. It’s a little bit of fun for Sherlock fans who don’t want something as drawn out and slow as “Mr. Holmes.”