We have come to the eighth round of the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft. I have already picked Columbo and Perry Mason, and for this round I have another mystery show. I’ve noticed a few of the other participants have picked some great BBC shows, so I guess it is now my turn. For this round, I pick Sherlock.
The series ran from 2010 – 2017. Series 1 aired in 2010, Series 2 in 2012, a Christmas mini-episode ran in 2013, Series 3 ran in 2014, a special “period” show aired in 2016, and Series 4 aired in 2017. What I love about this show is the modern take on a classic character. Having Sherlock Holmes solving crimes in modern day was the draw for me and it did not disappoint.
The show features Sherlock Holmes, who is a “consulting detective”, along with his flatmate Dr. John Watson solving crimes in a modern-day London. He helps Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade, who at first is a bit suspicious of Sherlock. Over time, however, he realized Sherlock’s intelligence and ability to help solve various crimes and considers him an asset.
Dr. Watson documents their adventures on his personal blog and Sherlock becomes a sort of celebrity. This leads to a lot of press coverage and ordinary people and the British government seeking out Sherlock for help with cases.
The show features various crimes and villains, however, a recurring feature is the battle between Holmes and his archenemy, Jim Moriarty. Many of the stories in the series have been adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books.
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss were both writers for another BBC show – Dr. Who. They were both huge fans of Sherlock Holmes. They were both no stranger to taking Victorian stories and adapting it for television. The two men spent many hours during train rides discussing creating a new series featuring Sherlock Holmes. Moffat’s wife suggested that the two begin developing the show before someone else stole the idea.
Sherlock Holmes – Benedict Cumberbatch
According to Moffat and Gattis, Benedict Cumberbatch was immediately the guy they wanted to play Holmes. They had seen him perform in Atonement and thought he was perfect. A producer said that he was the only one they actually saw for the role. According to one article: “The part is modelled as a charismatic secondary psychopath or “High functioning sociopath” as Sherlock self-describes, unlike Doyle’s rendering as a primary psychopath, thereby allowing more opportunity or ambiguity for traits of empathy.” Cumberbatch told the Guardian, “There’s a great charge you get from playing him, because of the volume of words in your head and the speed of thought—you really have to make your connections incredibly fast. He is one step ahead of the audience and of anyone around him with normal intellect. They can’t quite fathom where his leaps are taking him.”
Dr. John Watson – Martin Freeman
Actor Matt Smith was originally the actor Moffat and Gattis had in mind to play Watson, but there was something about him, the chemistry with Cumberbatch, and the way he played the character that they didn’t like (They would eventually cast him in Dr. Who). Eventually, Martin Freeman won the role. Moffat says of Freeman, (he is) “the sort of opposite of Benedict in everything except the amount of talent… Martin finds a sort of poetry in the ordinary man. I love the fastidious realism of everything he does.” Freeman, when considering his character, says he is “a ‘moral compass’ for Sherlock, who does not always consider the morality and ethics of his actions.“
Detective Inspector Lestrade – Rupert Graves
According to Moffat and Gattis, many auditioned for the role, but they all seemed to have a comedic take on the role. The creators liked Graves’ approach to it and he was cast. There is some great interplay between Lestrade and Holmes throughout the series. He works for Scotland Yard.
Jim Moriarty – Andrew Scott
Scott is fantastic as Moriarty! Moffat said, “We knew what we wanted to do with Moriarty from the very beginning. Moriarty is usually a rather dull, rather posh villain so we thought someone who was genuinely properly frightening. Someone who’s an absolute psycho.” They certainly achieved this. There were times I was genuinely freaked out by his performance! The creators never intended to have a “confrontation” scene between Holmes and Moriarty, but then they saw Scott’s audition and they knew that they HAD to!
Other Cast Members
Amanda Abbington – Mary (Morstan) Watson
At the time of the series, Amanda Abbington was Martin Freeman’s real life partner. She was cast to play John Watson’s girlfriend/wife.
Mrs. Hudson – Una Stubbs
Mrs. Hudson is Holmes’ and Watson’s landlady. She brings a wonderful bit of comedic dialog to every interaction and scene. Interesting story – Una has known Benedict Cumberbatch since he was 4 years old and she has worked with his mother!
Molly Hooper – Louise Brealey
Molly Hooper works at a morgue at a London hospital. She also has an apparent crush on Sherlock. Because of her work position and crush on him, Sherlock frequently exploits her to let him examine or perform experiments on victims’ bodies. In the first episode of the series she allows him to hit a corpse with a riding crop to see how it might bruise in post mortum.
Mycroft Holmes – Mark Gattis
(SPOILER ALERT) When Mycroft first appears in the series, you really have no idea who he is. He is this mysterious man who tries to get Watson to spy on Sherlock for him. You only learn later on that he is Sherlock’s brother. Mycroft is even more skilled at deduction, correcting Sherlock on occasion and beating him in deduction exercises, as well as lacking enthusiasm for “legwork”. His intellect is borderline superhuman. The sibling rivalry between the two lead to some very good scenes.
Sally Donovan & Phillip Anderson – Vinette Robinson & Jonathan Aris
Srgt. Sally Donovan often works with Lestrade on cases. She resents Sherlock’s presence at crime scenes and treats him with extreme disrespect and rudeness, cruelly calling him a “freak” to his face, and warns Watson that Sherlock is a psychopath who will one day get bored of catching killers and become one himself.
Phillip Anderson is originally a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Forensic Services. From the series opening, it is clear that Anderson and Sherlock have history of mutual dislike with Sherlock repeatedly humiliating Anderson and Anderson refusing to assist him at crime scenes.
Why I Picked It
Growing up, I had read a few of the Sherlock Holmes books. I has seen Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in movies, and certainly heard many old time radio shows featuring Holmes and Watson. I was intrigued to see just how Sherlock would play out in modern times.
I began to watch the first episode and all it took was the first meeting of Sherlock and Watson, and I was hooked. The way Sherlock is able to tick off things about Watson after just a couple minutes was awesome. Here is that scene:
Pardon me while I sort of digress for a moment.
One of the shows I considered picking in the draft was House, M.D. starring Hugh Laurie. I had heard it said that House was based on Sherlock Holmes. House would often make brilliant deductions about his patients, and often was able to rattle off things about people because of his keen sense of observation – just like Sherlock Holmes. When I began to watch Sherlock, I immediately noticed just how much the two were alike.
The two characters are very similar. Check out the following links:
Now, back to why I picked it. I love a good mystery, obviously. I was fascinated by the way Sherlock worked and how he figured things out. Sherlock is a bit different that my earlier picks of Columbo and Perry Mason. I loved watching him sort through all the things that helped get him to the final conclusion.
I love good characters. This show is full of them. There are times I laugh out loud at some of the interactions. One of my favorite exchanges between Sherlock and Lestrade happens in the first episode. Sherlock, Watson and Lestrade are in a room and Sherlock yells, “Shut up!” Lestrade answers back, “I didn’t say anything.” Sherlock adds quickly, “You were thinking. It’s annoying!”
Holmes and Watson are the perfect team. They play well off each other. The same holds true for Cumberbatch and Freeman. Their chemistry is magical. I remember seeing the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law and thinking they had good chemistry, but Cumberbatch and Freeman’s chemistry is far superior.
In between Series 3 & 4, Sherlock aired a special on New Years Day of 2016. The Abominable Bride was set in Victorian London. Set in the time of the original books, it takes Sherlock out of the modern day and places him back where we all know him from. Moffat stated that “The special is its own thing. We wouldn’t have done the story we’re doing, and the way we’re doing it, if we didn’t have this special. It’s not part of the run of three episodes. So we had this to do it … It’s kind of in its own little bubble.”
The special won an Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie at the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards. If you only watch one episode – I’d suggest this one.
The final episode of Sherlock aired in 2017. Steven Moffat stated that He and Mark Gattis had fifth series plotted out, but weren’t ready to fully produce it. Whether or not a new series of shows will come to fruition is still up in the air.
When Benedict Cumberbatch was asked about whether or not Sherlock would make more episodes, he said, “I’m the worst person to ask because my slate’s pretty, pretty full at the moment, as is Martin’s and all the other key players involved. So, who knows? Maybe one day, if the script’s right. And I say ‘the script,’ maybe it could be a film rather than the series. Who knows?”
Sherlock is a multi award winning show full of mystery, adventure, comedy, and fun. If you have never seen it, I highly recommend it.
The game is on!!