I must admit that I had never read the original Sherlock Holmes stories. I was familiar with them, of course, and have many friends who hold them in high regard. I was also a big fan of the tv show House, whose main character is based on Sherlock Holmes, but that was pretty much my knowledge of it. I watched Guy Richie's 2009 movie Sherlock Holmes, and walked away feeling nothing, despite liking the actors in the movie.
And then I watched BBC's contemporary adaption simply named Sherlock, and there it was, the magic that made me fall in love. I had not expected it at all, but there was no denying that Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss had created something extraordinary. That the stories work so well put into modern times, who would have thought? I think Gatiss made a good point when he in an interview said that one reason it worked so well was that since they did not have to spend a lot of time and energy creating a visually convincing Victorian London, it gave them much more room to focus on the characters. And I am a character-focused viewer, and Sherlock gives us a beautiful and modern take on who two young men like Sherlock and John, as they call each other, would be like today, running around London, hailing cabs, bickering and occasionally grinning at crime scenes.
It also got me into the original Conan Doyle stories, and there is no doubt that Moffat and Gatiss adore them as well. The show is literally littered with reference, names, places and lines and conversations from Conan Doyle's stories, remixed and put into other situations and with other people. The show can be seen by a Sherlock newbie, but I must say that it definitely gives you an even more pleasurable experience watching the show while snickering at all the familiar bits from the old material.
The cast is spot on, too. Benedict Cumberbatch is a perfectly intense, flamboyant and otherworldly Sherlock. Even his physical appearance match with the description of Sherlock Holmes in Conan Doyle's "A Study in Scarlet". As his room mate and newfound friend, Martin Freeman's down-to-earth jumper-wearing everyday man is the perfect anchor for a Sherlock that doesn't always know when he goes too far.
A real gem for both new and old Sherlock Holmes fans indeed.