Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sherlock: A Mini-Series Review

Holmes left, Watson right.
As you might know, I freaking love Masterpiece Theater. They make good movies/mini-series. One of the latest is an amazing mini-series for the TV that's available for instant viewing on Netflix.
This is a three part, modern adaptation of the classic Sherlock Holmes mystery novels by Arthur Conan Doyle. This thing if FANTASTIC. It covers three Sherlock Holmes novels, turning them into high-action mystery flicks. It's got murder, action, snappy diolouge and a good dose of old fashioned deduction. Everything is covered with amazing britishness.
"I love serial killers. They give you something to look forward to."
First, you've got Holmes himself. He's a consultant detective who lives at 221B Baker Street. The interesting thing? He might possibly be a sociopathic genius. This Holmes is, like the original, brilliant to the point of slight craziness. With plenty of the idiosyncrasies of the first Holmes, he's a master of deduction. Antisocial and cold, he tends to disrespect people of inferior intellect (How's it like in those tiny brains of yours? It must be so peaceful.), except his flatmate and friend John Watson, a Afghanistan vet with an unassuming charm that contrasts well to Holme's moody brilliance. When not solving cases, Holmes does medical experiments (human heads in the fridge, anyone?) and practices violin. I particularly like the way they transfered Holmes dated habits into modern situations, like his nearly constant pipe smoking in the books into a smoking addiction he's trying to stop by wearing three nicotine patches on his arm at all times (it's a three patch problem, according to him!).

Holmes and Watson on the chase.
The small supporting cast work well in this film, with most of the acting very good. The action and mysteries in this series are ridiculously well-written, transferring the old mystery novels into fresh adventures. The episodes do well to combine both quick action with slower pacing, keeping you at the edge of your seat while also allowing you to appreciate the artistic quality of each episode. The dialogue, as I said, is very witty and quick, with Holmes and Watson's lines bouncing well off one another. There's even a bit of humor, including a running joke in which people constantly assume they are gay, as well as some quick, intelligent quips by Holmes. As with all elements, it isn't in your face.
Of course, we come to visuals and production design. Like the rest of this, the costumes and sets tend to be sublime and undistracting. Lighting in this is very pale and stark, which lends itself well to the overall feel of the mini-series. There are plenty of great shots of London's moody sort of atmosphere. I liked 221 Baker St, which reflects well its inhabitants. Costuming is, again, nothing to shout about. It doesn't force itself on you, which is something you aren't used to if you watch mostly costume dramas (heh heh), but is still nice.
Check out this brilliant and intelligent mini-series for yourself on Netflix.

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