Okay let’s get this out of the way right now shall we? I love Jeremy Brett’s version of the famous detective and have steered clear of Benedict’s rendition for a few reasons which I shall name later.
When I saw the trailer for this one-off special, I was delighted to see it was to be set in the Victorian era (despite the Suffragette movement being founded in 1903), oh joy.
Imagine my surprise therefore when I found it wasn’t. But was it? No, it wasn’t. But maybe…Okay guys, I think you over did the flash-back/mind palace plot device here, I got it quite quickly as I’m sure most of us did. It’s a shame as I was getting into the story and the idea of linking it with the Suffragettes was an interesting one. The concept of using Mary to basically drag our intrepid duo onto the right track felt poorly thought out though.
It left me thinking that Sherlock was a blusterer prone to jumping at the wrong conclusion just to show how good he is. And now I come to the reason why I don’t watch most versions of Sherlock Holmes. Those who adapt Conan Doyle’s stories centre on Holme’s abruptness.
When you read the stories however, you come to understand that he is a more rounded character than his acidic side seems to suggest. He is quite capable of compassion, calming overwrought witnesses and winning over people to get the next piece of data.
To me, Holmes is prone to moments of theatre, incredibly vain (which certainly goes against his purely logical, non-emotional brain we are led to believe), sometimes vulnerable, observant like no other man before or since, harsh of himself and others and briefly joyous.
Jeremy Brett’s version shows Holmes’ patient side, his brotherly love with Watson as well as his confidence that goes beyond arrogance. This is more to do with the writers than the actors.
Getting back to the show, Benedict’s performance is exceedingly good and I can see why people watch him. He is ably assisted by Martin Freeman but I’m not going to watch a show entirely based on the actor’s performances. The writing on the other hand, while full of brilliant touches, left me feeling confused.
Overall then, I liked the Victorian setting and the suffragette movement plot twist. The ‘mind palace’ and the addition of Moriarty were unnecessary. Looking back at this review, it feels like it is vitriolic in nature. It’s not like I hated the special, I just think they could have done a better job.
Additional: Avid followers of the series, please can you answer this question for me; is Holmes solely based on his sharp manner or is there more to him than what appeared last night?