The BBC's excellent `Sherlock' has just completed its second series of three episodes in early 2012 and has been met with high praise and acclaim from both critics and viewers alike. Created and written by Stephen Moffat (of Dr. Who and TinTin) and Mark Gatiss (of The League of Gentlemen), `Sherlock' is a contemporary update of Conan Doyle's classic stories, placing Holmes and Watson squarely in London in the 21st Century; a time of laptops, satellite navigation and text messages. In fact, modern technology and science is to play a very significant part in each episode.
Many elements of the original stories remain, such as Holmes' Baker Street address, his violin playing and his arch enemy, Moriarty. Other elements are transfigured cleverly to reflect modern day society and events, such as the recent return of the injured John Watson from the War in Afghanistan, as opposed to the Anglo-Afghan War of the late 19th Century. Instead of keeping a journal of his adventures, Dr. Watson writes an internet blog. There are some very neat touches that tie in the modern day sleuth to Conan Doyle's Victorian one, which fans of the original books should have great fun spotting. Holmes becomes inextricably linked to the deerstalker by the media after picking up the hat simply to hide himself from photographers, but hates and derides the association thereafter. His addiction in `Sherlock' is to cigarettes, and gone are the allusions to opium usage. Each episode is based on a story by Conan Doyle, but brought forward cleverly and thoughtfully to the 21st Century. For example `The Hounds of Baskerville' (Series 2, episode 2) centres on mysterious sightings of a large beast near `Baskerville', an M.O.D research facility on Dartmoor.
The casting is perfect, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are each superb as Sherlock and Dr. John Watson respectively. Sherlock is a brilliant man, eccentric, pompous and extremely arrogant and Cumberbatch manages perfectly to keep him just on the right side of likeability. By contrast, Freeman's Watson is dependable and level headed, while playing him with the same kind of bemusement that he portrayed so well as Tim in The Office. Andrew Scott is equally excellent as a menacing and manic Jim Moriarty.
The show's creators are to be applauded for the ceaselessly wonderful script. It is clever, witty and maintains a very high standard throughout the six episodes with hardly a wasted or misplaced line. Though each series seems disappointingly short at just three episodes long, each episode is feature length at 90 mins, and perhaps a shorter series is best to give the writers the time they need to maintain the quality of the script and ideas they have produced thus far.
`Sherlock' deserves it's high praise and popularity, and it certainly represents a major triumph for the BBC as one of the best and most original dramas they have produced in many years, possibly of all time.
Blu-ray disc quality, as you would expect and hope for such a stylish production, is superb. Extras include a 'making-of' documentary, and the original 60 minute pilot. This episode was fully filmed but the BBC declined to air it, instead requesting a re-write and re-shoot.