Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Sherlock: A Study in Pink (2010) ****

TV-14, 88 min.
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writers: Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss (series creator), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (works)
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, Vinette Robinson, Philip Davis, Mark Gatiss

The truly great thing about the British television series “Sherlock” is that each episode is basically a movie length modern adventure based on one of the Arthur Conan Doyle mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. As such, I feel compelled to review each episode individually as I watch them. Don’t worry too much about that, since there are only three episodes per season of celebrated show.

“A Study in Pink” is the first released episode of the series. There was a pilot episode that has not been aired, and probably won’t since this episode covers much of the same material that the pilot supposedly does. That would be the introduction of the characters of Dr. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes. Watson, as played by Martin Freeman of the British version of “The Office”, is a former Army medic who suffers from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from being wounded in the war in Afghanistan. Holmes is very much the social pariah that he’s often portrayed as. Some law enforcement colleagues describe him as “a psychopath”, which Benedict Cumberbatch is quite capable of making us believe.

Like the recent American take on Holmes, “Elementary”, the show places as much emphasis on the relationship between Holmes and Watson as it does on the case. Watson is better developed here, which makes him slightly more interesting that Lucy Liu’s Watson. Although, her’s is plenty interesting too.

The episode takes its title and many of the details from Doyle’s very first Holmes novel “A Study in Scarlet”. The basic backgrounds of Watson and Holmes, their meeting, and the basic details of the case they find themselves on are the same as in the novel. Of course, the story has been modernized and utilizes modern technology in a particularly interesting way that redefines the way our fictitious detectives can examine a crime. Texting plays a major role in the telling of the story. The way director Paul McGuigan chooses to express these texts to the audience is innovative and helps move the story along more efficiently.

McGuigan chooses a similar photographic devise as the texting to express the way Sherlock examines a crime scene. We see words superimposed over the clues as Sherlock observes them. This puts the audience in a different mindset of examining what we’re seeing on the screen as well. It’s rather invigorating as a viewer.

I like that this series is interested in reimagining the actual works of Doyle as well as revisiting these two wonderful characters. That often asked question of Holmes’ and Watson’s sexuality is also addressed in this first episodes. Holmes seems to be asexual while Watson has a gay sister, but denies the implication that he is gay himself. Not that it matters. I am just thrilled that our culture has finally become fascinated with these iconic men again. I can’t wait for more adventures in this series and all the incarnations in which Watson and Holmes are finding themselves.

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