I’d probably call myself a purist when it comes to tampering with classic tales and legends. Nothing captures my imagination more than a good story and it really bothers me when someone decides that tale that’s been around for years and years and most certainly ain’t broke, needs fixing. Its happened time and time again in our current era of ‘oh I can’t be arsed to invent something new, why not just set the Mabinogon in the future? Or let’s set Star Trek in medieval times. I’d be curious to sit at these board meetings and see what happens when the question ‘why?’ is asked, and if there is much response other than some floundering and someone saying they need to go before racing out of the door. Despite not being set in a different time periods to the original stories, I was hugely annoyed by BBC’s Merlin and Robin Hood, just because they spoke in current colloquial language. Sir Lancelot would never have called someone ‘mate’, for fucks sake! Sure we might not understand it if it was all olde English, but at least make an effort to get well spoken actors and well written text so we can pretend everything was spoken with as much grandeur and gravitas as we imagine? Slowly it appears that media, particularly television, has decided we can’t possibly put our beliefs and enjoyment into a show unless it has an obvious connection with our current time period. How will children ever understand the stories of Sherlock Holmes unless it involves text messaging?
Now here’s where I surprised myself. I watched Sherlock last night, and I liked it. I didn’t think I would. I hated the concept. Why oh why would you change the setting when it perfectly fitted already incredible stories? Why, if you want to write about a slightly autistic mentalist detective in the 21st century, don’t you just write about a new one. Worried that no one would watch it if they didn’t recognise the name? But, and here’s the big but, Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss fully served my words on a plate, handed me some nice cutlery and made me tuck in. Interesting, clever and funny all at once, it was a wonderfully dark and exciting hour of television. Cumberbatch was great as Holmes, but I was mostly impressed with Martin Freeman as Watson, who was superb. Great story, lovely work by Gatiss as Mycroft and Moffat delivered his usual brilliant way of adding a subplot about Moriaty that will now no doubt run throughout the series.
But enough niceties, I have some issues. Of course I do, otherwise this blog would be a dull suckfest of arse kissing of the Moffat man, and after what he did with Doctor Who, it would be easy for me to do that. First thing I hated: WHY DID ALL THE TEXT MESSAGES POP UP INTO THE SKY AS LITTLE WORDS? Dear god that was stupid. They could have just heard the beep and we see the phones, there is no need to make it into half a cartoon. If you’re going to do that why no go the full Disney hog and have dancing penguins and other crap wandering around, and replace Holmes with a wide eyed hare, then other suitable animals for everyone else. Like – deer, Watson. Sorry that gag was so heavily crowbarred in there, I could get done for vandalism. But my point still stands. It was nicely adult in almost all respects except for the stupid floaty texts that I almost wondered would culminate with a ad for the Carphone Warehouse or something. Then the other major bit was that everyone delivered everything in a nicely tongue in cheek manner, but there was no need for the buddy movie shots of Sherlock and Watson walking next to each other giving wry smiles as the camera freezes and the credits roll. If in the next show they are wearing suit jackets with the sleeves rolled up and jumping over the bonnets of cars (yes Sherlock did that already) I will be slightly sick.
So yeah, well done all them, and I will be watching next week. Although whatever they do, it’ll never replace Jeremy Brett’s Holmes who was the ultimate Sherlock. But even though I did like it, I hope this doesn’t cause a string of similar ‘old stories made new’. If people really can’t come up with any fresh ideas then let’s at least take some current ideas and send them back in time for some exciting history stuff. Who wants to see the Spooks taking part in the downfall of Oliver Cromwell for example? I do. I really really do.