SHERLOCK: Stellar BBC TV Series Plays Like Films


In the past three years, Sherlock Holmes has come to life in three enjoyable varieties. No matter how much I enjoy ELEMENTARY with Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, or how great I think Robert Downey Jr and Guy Ritchie work together on the big screen adaptations, neither of them is as purely enjoyable as the BBC series SHERLOCK. And at nearly 90 minutes per episode, I’d make the case that each one could be considered a film.

While I’d like to include the five episodes I’ve already seen in the Film Quest ’12 list, I’m not entirely sure that’s within the spirit of what I set out to do.  Were I to view each of them as a separate film, each of them would likely land a score above an 8, possibly an 8.5. Of the shows I’ve deeply delved into over the past two years, this certainly rivals Mad Men, Breaking Bad and Firefly in the upper eschelon of televised dramas. There would be nominations for the year-end awards for quite a few members of the cast:

Benedict Cumberbatch, who portrays Sherlock Holmes, would be near the top of the Best Actor nominees list. He is one additional stellar role away from being on my “seek out” list after having seen what he can do with one of history’s most famous detectives. He’s easily a better fit for the role than Robert Downey Jr and Johnny Lee Millar, and his chemistry with all the other characters in the show plays extremely well despite the socially awkwardness of the character he portrays.

Martin Freeman is great as the ever-amazed-yet-not-a-tagalong side-kick Dr. John Watson. Though he’d be near the top of the Best Supporting Actor nominees list at year-end time if SHERLOCK could be considered a film (from the individual episodes or the series as a whole), his character is such an integral part of every episode that you could almost make the case that he’s a lead character as well. Comparing his performance to that of Cumberbatch would be challenging, as the Sherlock character gets all the best lines and is scene-stealing with all of his quirks, but Freeman’s performance is made great by the subtleties he adds.

The characterization of Jim Moriarty, both through an excellent script and a brilliant portrayal by Andrew Scott makes him simply one of my top 5 favorite villains of the past 20 years, possibly of all time, and he would certainly rival Martin Freeman for the Best Supporting Actor award… which could potentially hinge on the sixth episode of the series which I’ve yet to watch.

Even the other supporting characters in SHERLOCK are great. Mark Gatiss shows that it is possible to be the sibling of Sherlock Holmes and not be completely over-shadowed by his brother’s intellectual prowess, as Mycroft is ingenious and powerful in his own ways. Una Stubbs makes me wish I had a landlady (or at least a neighbor) like Mrs Hudson. (I fully concur that Britain would surely fall were she to leave Baker Street). Loo Brealey does a great job of fawning madly over Sherlock while having a hopeful-yet-painful-understanding of the unrequited nature of her affections to her portrayal as Molly Hooper.

SHERLOCK and Irene Adler

Fans of SHERLOCK are likely to remember the praise given by Irene Adler at this moment.

Perhaps the best supporting character in the series is Irene Adler, who as of yet has only appeared in one episode, but the strikingly amazing characterization and portrayal by Lara Pulver makes me wish the devious dominatrix would be a recurring character as part of a much larger storyline arc.

To date, the only frustration I have with this series is that there are only 6 episodes, which makes it difficult and yet somewhat necessary to ration my viewings. Whilst I would enjoy getting a dozen episodes per season, I’m sure the quality might be somewhat diminished if production was sped up and with the additional content necessitated by that change to the fundamental structure of the series. Though it’s likely I would be less inclined to consider each episode as it’s own film if that were the case, it’s more likely we would see more from Moriarty, Irene Adler and Molly Hooper. I am pleased to note that production on 3 additional episodes begins in March 2013.

As time permits, I will be reviewing individual episodes of SHERLOCK as I re-watch each of the short films. Whether or not they count in Film Quest 12 is another matter, though if I finish 2012 with 94 (which still seems like a longshot), I’ll be rounding up.

8 responses to “SHERLOCK: Stellar BBC TV Series Plays Like Films

  1. It really is such an amazing show! You really broke it down so well here! I find it impossible to pick one person as the “stand-out” talent – they’re all so so good! The writing is brilliant, it’s shot amazingly well and the talent is above and beyond – sheer perfection.

    I cheer for Bryan Cranston every year for the Best Actor category…but it seems Benedict Cumberbatch may have stolen my heart. 🙂

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