Sunday, 5 September 2010

BBC's Sherlock

On screens Sunday nights in July and August was the BBC’s latest re imagination of the story of Sherlock Holmes originally by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The series has received a lot of positive feedback from viewers and been named by some as the hit of the Summer. I was a bit late catching on to it but nevertheless now agree that the programme is rather good.

Some of the best bits of the series include characterisation, although the characters were already written and remain true to their archetypes their dialogue is well written. The plot also has points of ingenuity. But most of all the entire series is very well shot and has a gorgeous atmosphere. I love its base in London, although it is Sherlock Holmes, so what else would you expect? Martin Freeman also makes a great Watson, I’m not 100% sure on Sherlock but what’s there not to love about Watson?

Others have meanwhile criticised it saying that a pilot episode which cost £800, 000 to make will never be seen on television. License fee payers are understandably upset that so much of their money has been wasted on such a programme no one will ever see.

However after watching the entire series I did begin to have my doubts about the show. At times it felt like I was watching an episode of Scooby Doo rather than a top BBC drama, especially in confrontations with the stereotypical villains. Parallels to my least favourite BBC programme Doctor Who are also unavoidable with the involvement of Steven Moffat. The further Sherlock keeps its distance from Doctor Who the better if you ask me.

Whilst Sherlock has been described as a grown up version of Who I enjoyed the way it was darker and at least the villains were human. Although the monstrous assassin in the last episode did push this a bit, believability is a big issue here. As long as Sherlock attempts to keep itself believable then I see no reason why it can’t become as praised as Who. But maybe I need to just suspend my disbelief a bit more?

Another interesting point about the show are its homosexual undertones. Hints are made at a frequency of at least once an episode to Holmes’ homosexuality. This provides another interesting talking point to the show. Homosexuality is mainly alluded to in jokes in this series. But is that really acceptable?

Holmes gay-dar is mostly certainly in tune in the last episode, is this possibly another hint? To make a prediction I don’t see Holmes coming out any time soon, but at the same time I doubt he will be announcing his raving heterosexuality in the near future either. The controversy and intrigue will be kept alive for a while longer, a little bit of controversy never hurt anyone. But only as long as it’s from intrigue and keeping the audience guessing rather than from Holmes actually coming out.

Maybe this means we’re just one step closer to a gay protagonist, although I’d personally think it’s more of a priority to have a female one. The series undoubtedly lacks strong female characters and it’s a shame that the entire series doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test. I don’t believe so but correct me if I’m wrong. In its defence the story is an old one and the characters of Watson and Holmes do kind of have to be men, but what about the supporting detectives or villains?

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