Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’

I’ll admit it: The only thing that Jane Austen and Sherlock have in common, aside from their Britishness, is PBS and the BBC, who co-produce the many excellent film series and costume dramas that Jane Austen fans enjoy. That is my main excuse for reviewing a mystery set in the modern age. After watching Season One of Sherlock,  I eagerly looked forward to Season 2. I was not disappointed with the first episode, A Scandal in Belgravia. A number of viewers in the U.K., however, were outraged.

Lara Pulver as Irene Adler, dominatrix

Parents who watched the Belgravia episode with their young children wrote to the BBC complaining about the plot – which revolved around a dominatrix – and the nudity. While no female parts were anatomically shown, a great deal of bare flesh was displayed for about 2-3 minutes. I seriously doubt that young children are able to understand the double entendres spoken by Sherlock and Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), the woman whose craftiness and intelligence equals his. Much like a championship tennis game or chess match, it is great fun to watch these two characters connive, spar, tease and flirt in a game of mental and verbal one upmanship. And so, I surmise, that the irate parents were concerned about nudity, not subtext. Frankly, I’d be more angry about the explicit violence their children are exposed to in film and on television and try to put a halt to that, but what do I know?

Irene talks nonchalantly as the two men try not to react.

The plot in the first Season 2 episode is really is not so much about solving the mystery as about Sherlock finding himself  in thrall of Ms. Adler’s devious mind. A dominatrix who possesses incriminating photos of her sexual involvement with a British royal, she is able to do mental battle with Sherlock and hold her own. Upon first meeting her, Sherlock cannot make a “read” on her, for she reveals no clues about herself. How could she? She’s naked.  And so he finds her irresistibly intriguing.

Sherlock and Dr. Watson in Buckingham Palace. Unwilling to come, he refused to dress, a fact that barely surprised his roommie.

Some critics yawned at the plot, but I think they missed the point. This episode is all about Irene Adler tempting Sherlock out of his celibacy and distracting him with sexual thoughts. The episode was purportedly written to deflect any thoughts about Sherlock and Dr. Watson engaging in a homosexual relationship. I never had such a thought, but apparently many did.

Tit for tat. Cumberbatch gets to do a partial nude scene.

Once again Benedict Cumberbatch has done an outstanding job in portraying a man who, aside from his brilliant mind, is completely off his rocker. To me he is the definitive Sherlock. No other actor, past or present (even Robert Downey Jr) can match him in my eyes. By now, Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman), has grown accustomed to his strange roommie, and can anticipate how Sherlock will react at any given moment. The two odd friends have solidified into a smooth-working team.

Sherlock refuses to visit the crime scene, but is willing to study the site via WiFi. In this scene he is lecturing the inspector for suspecting the suspect.

Guest star, Lara Pulver, is one brave actress. Not only did she perform an important scene entirely in the nude, she was convincing as the woman who could outsmart Sherlock. I was highly captivated by their interplay.

Sherlock and Irene Adler discuss the crime in her sitting room. The camera zooms in on the actual scene as the two are solving the mystery. It’s these original touches that make this series so visually exciting.

If , after reading my take on the first episode, you still think the topic of A Scandal in Belgravia is too mature for your children, I suggest that you rent a movie for your offspring, trundle them off to a different room, then sit back and enjoy one of the more weirdly satisfying and witty mystery series on TV.

Sherlock will air tonight and on May 13th and May 20th for 1 1/2 hours at 9 PM EST (or check your local listing.) PBS has also arranged a twitter party during these events. Hash tag #SherlockPBS.

The episodes will stream online at PBSs website one day after the initial air date. Click here. 

Read my reviews of Sherlock Season One here.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Beautiful Soo Lin Yao (Gemma Chan) is doomed.

Copyright (c) Jane Austen’s World. While not quite as satisfying as the first episode, The Blind Banker, the second installment of Masterpiece Mystery’s Sherlock! had many fine moments. Sherlock is called by a former schoolmate to investigate the break in at his bank and the vandalism of the portrait of a banker. A bright yellow graffiti line has been sprayed over the banker’s eyes and a cryptic Chinese symbol has been painted on a wall opposite the portrait. What does all this mean? Intrigued, Sherlock follows the clues to solve this seemingly impossible puzzle.

The camera angles are quite original. Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) talks his way into an apartment building.

In this episode Watson is worried over the lack of income to support his and Sherlock’s lifestyle. He needs a job and cash to live on. But Sherlock has not a care in the world. As he waits for an interesting case, he uses the exasperated Watson’s laptop. Insult above injury!

Watson (Martin Freeman) can no longer hide his exasperation with Sherlock

Then Sherlock is called by his old schoolboy friend to investigate a break-in at a bank, and all of a sudden Sherlock springs into action. When a bank employee is found inside an apartment with the doors and windows locked from the inside, Sherlock realizes that the murderer must have scaled the high rise’s walls to accomplish the dastardly deed. In order to solve the encrypted Chinese messages that are left near the victims’ bodies, he must find a “book that everybody owns.”

The victim had just returned from Hong Kong. His doors and windows were locked. So how was he murdered?

In the meantime, Watson has had enough of Sherlock’s lack of practicality. Anxious about food and rent, he accepts a part time job at a medical clinic and finds himself attracted to his boss, Sarah.

Sarah (Zoe Telford) has the strangest date ever with Dr. Watson

Their first date not only points out Sherlock’s total concentration on a case (the single-minded detective wonders why Watson would prefer a date over solving a mystery) but Watson, still trustful, accepts Sherlock’s offer of tickets to the circus. And then the “fun begins.”

The tickets Holmes gives Watson are to a Chinese circus

While I loved seeing the personal background story about Watson, I was not as riveted watching this episode as the first one. The script is still witty and intelligent, and the action is fast and furious, but this episode seemed all too familiar.  As Sherlock and Watson race against time to prevent another murder, I felt I had seen this plot before.

Which book will help to solve the cryptic Chinese symbols?

All one can ask of a good detective mystery is a good story, and I did find myself sitting on the edge of my seat a number of times. If you missed this episode, you can watch it online for the next few weeks.

Read Full Post »

Watch the series. Sherlock! online starting Monday, October 25

Sherlock! Jane Austen's World

Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman) needs a place to stay

I was never a rabid Sherlock Holmes fan. The films seemed stilted and the detective as conceived by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was too old-fashioned to suit me. The only person I cared for was Dr. Watson. Sometimes I would feel a vague interest in a tale or two, but I never related to this strange but knowledgeable sleuth … until Benedict Cumberbatch arrived on the scene.

Sherlock! Jane Austen's World

There's room for him in an apartment on Baker Street

Benedict as Sherlock Holmes is close to perfect as the edgy, modern, sociopathic detective. Sherlock’s odd ticks and quirks, his quick mind and uncanny ability to read a person’s life story based on a few clues are used to great effect in introducing his character, that of Dr. Watson, and the London police force, with whom he shares a “don’t care if you hate me” attitude.

Sherlock! Jane Austen's World

The catch? His roommate will be Sherlock Holmes, a fanatic when it comes to sleuthing

To Sherlock, a crime spree is like Christmas — only made better by the possibility that these crimes may be the work of a devious serial killer. The game is on, and before it is over, Sherlock will put his life on the line — all to keep from being bored to death.

Sherlock! Jane Austen's World

Suicide or murder? The fourth victim gives Holmes a crucial clue.

A Study in Pink, a take on A Study in Scarlett, Doyle’s first Holmes mystery, is the first of three offerings in the last series this year for PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! The script is witty, the action fast paced, and the final solution a mix of classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Princess Bride, in which Wallace Shawn as Vizzini challenges Cary Elwes (Westley) into a deadly contest in which Westley must decide on which cup holds the poison.

Sherlock! Jane Austen's World

Rupert Graves as Lestrade consults Holmes out of desperation

Will Sherlock outwit the serial killer? Will Watson cure himself of his psychosomatic limp and save his new apartment mate?

 

Sherlock! Jane Austen's World

The lighting and camera angles are divine

Will the viewer remain absolutely entertained by this intelligent, witty, and fast-paced script? Kudos go to the cinematography, which is visually exciting. I am only sorry that we will be treated to three measly scripts this season. PBS, for next year please order up a half dozen or more.

Sherlock! Jane Austen's World

We enter Holmes's mind via captions

The characters:

Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch
Dr. John Watson, Martin Freeman
DI Lestrade, Rupert Graves
Mrs. Hudson, Una Stubbs
Molly Hooper, Louise Brealey
Sgt. Sally Donovan,Vinette Robinson
Ella, Tanya Moodie
Helen, Siobhán Hewlett
Sir Jeffrey Patterson, William Scott-Masson
Margaret Patterson, Victoria Wicks
Gary, Sean Young
Jimmy, James Duncan

Holmes (Cumberbatch) and Watson (Freeman) are a perfect match

Read more about the series:

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: