March 8, 2013
Sherlock Holmes and the Unaired Pilot
Translating a myth like that of detective Sherlock Holmes into modern life is a very dangerous task.
If you're going to take the most beloved of crime fiction stories and translate it to a contemporary setting, you had better do a damn good job of it. Everyone knows that you should never mess with a classic, and Sherlock Holmes has come to be a great literary figure period, not just the greatest of formula detective fiction.
Casting Martin Freeman (as Doctor Watson) and Benedict Cumberbatch (as Holmes) was probably the first step to success. The second probably had to be the re-shooting of the entire pilot with better cinematography, a faster pace, and yet the length of a short movie.
The pilot you will encounter on Netflix is entitled A Study in Pink, a nod to the first Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet. It's 90 minutes of a good old fashioned Conan Doyle-esque mystery, except that Sherlock sends tactical texts and hacks e-mail accounts to draw out the serial murderer.
Another change, beyond the drastic diference in length, is that the premiere, broadcast in 2010, manages to actually establish a longer term plot line by having a vague hinting toward a certain Moriarty. Of all the shows I'm examining, Sherlock might be the last I expected to resist that episodicness I was complaining about earlier.
If he wasn't smarter than the audience, the show wouldn't be worth watching.
The dialogue does go a little fast so you might want to have a cuppa before watching and prepare yourself to keep up. Or maybe it's just the British accent (but it seems like they talk really fast).
Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, both writers for Doctor Who.
If you have watched Sherlock already, what did you think of all that texting? And the way the information was displayed for us? Was it all too heavy-handed, or is it the right direction for modern storytelling?
And if this review has not convinced you yet to sit down for 90 minutes of A Study in Pink, consider the banter.
Watson: Why didn't I think of that.
Sherlock: Because you're an idiot. No no no, don't be like that. Practically everyone is.
And that most everyone the show throws at us assumes the flatmates are a couple. Good time to be alive and watching television!