In a nutshell: Elementary, my dear iPad
Popcorn rating: 3.5/5
Sherlock, in which Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss bring Conan Doyle’s characters from fog-shrouded Victorian London into the 21st century, has returned to our screens. I enjoyed the first series, but had minor gripes with it, mainly that there was no need to show an iPhone and cut to images of the London Eye and the Gherkin every two minutes just to remind us it wasn’t the 1890s.
Now I’ve accepted it as all part of the BBC’s Sherlock ‘look’, however, I quite enjoyed that aspect this time around. I do need to point out that if you’re going to give a show an ultra-techy feel, don’t have characters say ‘camera phone’; who the hell has routinely called their phone a ‘camera phone’ in the past decade? What next, searching the internet with Ask Jeeves? But other than that, I’ve come to believe that it all adds to the excitement.
The cast in last night’s ‘A Scandal In Belgravia’ was strong as ever. Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes is still cold, sharp and slightly alien; Martin Freeman’s Watson is dependable but never boring. Mark Gatiss was perfect as Mycroft, and Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson is… well, Una Stubbs. The plot was complicated, implausible and tremendous fun, much like Conan Doyle’s were. There’s no doubt that Sherlock is slick, stylish and immensely entertaining.
Last night’s episode reworked Conan Doyle’s ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’, in which Holmes finds the mysterious Irene Adler a particularly intriguing adversary. However, it appears that the writers wanted to crank it up a notch, so their Adler was a bisexual dominatrix and she and Holmes spent half the episode semi-clad and smouldering at each other. Sexy, right? Er… no. It was so heavy-handed and obvious that I expected the words ‘SEXUAL CHEMISTRY’ to flash across the screen accompanied by a klaxon. Nothing’s less sexy than having something flagged up as sexy. Fangirls fancy Cumberbatch. We know that. No need to hammer it home.
One other thing: Conan Doyle has Holmes captivated by retired opera-singer Adler and ultimately bettered by her. She ends the story with the upper hand. But last night, Adler, now a sex-worker, falls in love with Holmes and uses his name as a password. Under her Miss Whiplash exterior she’s a vulnerable, emotional ickle girl, you see; Sherlock even makes her cry. Oh, and in an ill-fitting twist, he also saves her from decapitation by terrorists.
Any power she has is sexually defined, she gets her comeuppance for being a bit too uppity and she ends up a damsel in distress who’s rescued by the hero. A fine piece of gripping, escapist, modern entertainment Sherlock may be, but iPhones, blogs and shiny London skyscrapers aside, sometimes I can’t help feel we’re moving backwards.