July 30, 2010


Sherlock: The Baker Street sleuth's latest incarnation impresses Sophie Elmhirst. (Sophie Elmhirst, 7/30/10, New Statesman)

In many ways the updating of his story to a modern setting worked well. That Holmes would be a serial texter makes total sense, as does Watson being a military doctor injured in Afghanistan who suffers from phantom limb syndrome and various psychosomatic disorders. It's as if they've gone through the manual for 21st-century signifiers: inappropriate war in the Middle East, check; ineffective psychotherapy, check; references to the destructive social conservatism of the Daily Mail, check.

The best bit of this "Look how modern we've made it!" stuff was the gay undertones. On Marr, Cumberbatch and Freeman talked about how there had always been theories about the precise nature of the relationship between Holmes and Watson, and how they'd drawn on that in their portrayals. So there I was, eagerly awaiting a subtle, downplayed enactment of unspecified sexuality, but instead, about ten minutes in, got Watson insisting to a landlady that he and Holmes weren't going to share a room and then, about ten minutes after that, saying with a look of blind panic on his face, "I am not his date!" to a waiter who had implied otherwise. As if that wasn't enough, Watson then told Holmes that it was "all fine" whether he was gay or not. Oh, for ambiguity.

Aside from the in-your-face elements - yes, they live at 221b Baker Street - it was fine Sunday-night entertainment: a rollicking serial-killer plot plus laughs and excellent acting.

...was to use Sherlock's lack of empathy to give him a Larry Davidesque cutting edge in his interactions with other people.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 30, 2010 6:01 AM
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