Postmortem: Sherlock 1×01

29 Jul

Warning!  This post is about a British TV show, that is going to air in the US sometime next fall.  If you don’t want to be spoiled, don’t click!

Sunday night saw the first episode of Sherlock in the UK and lo, it was awesome.  Written by Stephen Moffat (the new Doctor Who showrunner) and Mark Gatiss (a semi-frequent Doctor Who writer), it is in theory a modern-day update of Sherlock Holmes but in practice basically what would happen if the Doctor couldn’t time-travel, wasn’t as much into humanity being shiny and perfect, and had a male companion.  It was tremendously fun, not least because of its leads, the excellently-named Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes, and Martin Freeman (aka Tim from the original Office) as Watson.  I’ve been a big fan of Benedict Cumberbatch (it’s even fun to type!) since I saw him as Berenger in a production of Rhinoceros, but Martin Freeman really impressed me with some proper good actoring.  However, there was one problem, and that is Sherlock Holmes was kind of an idiot.  I guessed the baddie within the first minute, and it took him about an hour.  Now, I was able to see a montage of pre-killing conversations which Holmes was not privy to, but the baddie became increasingly obvious throughout the episode, and he never caught on.  Which is a fundamental problem, because Holmes is supposed to be the smartest man ever, basically (the new Doctor Who has the same problem, BTW.  Steven Moffat apparently isn’t into making things too complicated.)

Let’s go over the giveaways:

In the very first conversation we see after Watson’s introduction, a woman and a man are having a conversation over the phone.  It basically goes like this:

Woman: You should take a cab

Man: A cab? But I never take cabs.

Woman: But now you should definitely take a cab.

Man: Ok, taking a cab is totally what I’m about to do. Cab!

Man: (cries; takes a pill; dies)

Why else would they mention cabs approximately a trillion times if the cabbie didn’t do it?  Each further vignette follows similar, cab-centric territory.  But Sherlock couldn’t have possibly known that, so that’s ok.

However, not guessing “cabbie” after the whole monologue about who hunts within a crowd, and is never noticed, and blahblahit’sacabdriveridiotblah, is kind of ridiculous.  And then, seeing a guy in a cab, figuring it’s not him, and not thinking “hey, maybe it’s the other person in this car, that we just totally described perfectly five minutes ago” is super dumb.  AND THEN, when the phone is at the house, and also, coincidentally, some random person who fits the description of both who they were describing earlier and was also in the car they followed?  Come on, Sherlock, it’s obvious.  It should not take a text message that basically says “O HAI THAR I’M THE KILLER” to “solve” the case.  That’s not detective work, that’s just being told stuff.

Also, I was disappointed that, in a story based on “A Study in Scarlet”, there wasn’t anything about a crazy Mormon cult.  That was the only thing I remembered about that story, because it was the most awesome. Maybe in this version “Moriarty” is just a code name for a crazy Mormon cult.  One can only hope.

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