Thursday, July 11, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia (2012) ****

TV-14, 90 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Steven Moffat (also creator), Mark Gatiss (creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Lara Pulver, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Louise Brealey

“A Scandal in Belgravia”, a title I’m not sure I understand beyond the fact that is sounds a lot like the Arthur Conan Doyle story “A Scandal in Bohemia”, introduces us to another character that is a necessity in the Sherlock Holmes canon, Irene Adler. The episode earns its TV-14 rating with Adler’s wardrobe alone, or lack there of. She is a professional dominatrix, whose career path has placed her in possession of some compromising photographs of a member of the Royal Family.

Sherlock’s own wardrobe (or lack there of), which he wears to Buckingham Palace, has its own memorable flair. Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, played by series co-creator Mark Gatiss, is just a wonderful presence for Sherlock to spar against in this series. Mycroft holds a high position in British Intelligence. This episode shows us how much the two brothers are alike and where they differ. It’s no mistake their paths cross so frequently. They belong in the same circles; it’s just that Sherlock’s aversion to authority doesn’t allow him to become the authority his brother has.

But, this one is really about Sherlock’s obsession with Adler, and in some ways her with him. With Adler, Moriarty could be an unbeatable nemesis for Sherlock, but Adler never quite declares a side, and by not declaring a side she does declare one. Lara Pulver is just about perfect as Adler. She’s not the charmer that Rachel McAdams presents in the Robert Downey Jr. movies. No, this Adler is equal to Sherlock, who is certainly no charmer. Her cunning matches and compliments his deductive prowess. He admires her, which is probably the only way Sherlock can love. That might secretly explain what draws him to Watson as well.

As the premiere of the second season of Sherlock adventures, “A Scandal in Belgravia” sets a more complicated precedent for the series. Sherlock is done with simple mysteries and has moved on to grander fare that involves British government, conspiracies, and a certain international element as evidenced in the final fate of Adler. This series just keeps getting thicker. I love it. 

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