Brittania Waives the Rules with Modern Sherlock
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Distributor: BBC Warner
· Benedict Cumberbatch
· Martin Freeman
· Mark Gatiss
· Louise Brealy
· Una Stubbs
· Lara Pulver
· Andrew Scott
DVD Review: Sherlock: Season Two
by R.J. Carter
Published: June 13, 2012
I've seen one or two attempts to "modernize" Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's mythic master of deduction. None of them have come close to a dream of succeeding. However, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have managed to bottle the lightning with this contemporary adventure series, Sherlock, giving the world not only a believable character, but also a believable world in which he operates.
The second season picks up from the previously cliffhanger: James Moriarty (Andrew Scott) has Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) dead to rights, just one pull of the trigger away from eternity. However, a mysterious phone call sets Moriarty on a different path, leaving Holmes to fight another day. His hidden benefactor is soon revealed to all, however, as "A Scandal in Belgravia" introduces viewers to Irene Adler, the only woman in the mythos to ever have made an impact on Holmes. Adler (Lara Pulver) is scandal personified: she's a dominatrix, with a dossier on several high profile -- and some royal -- clients, which she keeps for her own personal protection. When Mycroft (Gatiss) brings Sherlock and John Watson (Martin Freeman) to Buckingham Palace to set them on the trail of Adler, the fun truly begins. While Holmes may have an Asperger's Syndrome-like attention to minute details, he's not always the emotionless, stoic figure previous actors have made him to be. In fact, one of the more humanizing elements of this Holmes is that he knows there's something emotionally wrong with him, and relies on Watson to occasionally guide him through the mazes of socially acceptable behaviors.
Adler proves to be the perfect foil for Holmes. Brilliant to a fault, she uses Holmes' own foibles to her advantage, turning his talent for deduction to her own ends. Realizing Holmes' ability to tell everything about an opponent through a quick visual analysis of the things they wear, Adler greets him with a total blank slate -- completely naked -- throwing Holmes off his game for the first time. "The Woman" continues to insinuate herself into Holmes' life and thoughts, and the story is so very cleverly crafted that the viewer is kept on the edge of the seat throughout, ultimately delighted at how even most ancillary events of the story had an important bearing with Holmes pulling out a last minute victory from the jaws of certain defeat. Even the post-climactic scene of this adventure will leave newly-made fans exhilarated.
Continuing with the tradition of relying on previous works for titles (and the titles of the adventures Watson blogs about are particularly humorous -- with pieces like "The Speckled Blonde"), "The Hounds of Baskerville" takes advantage of modern science to create a belief that an area is stalked -- not by a phantom hound, but a genetic mutation released from a top secret military installation. One man, who swears he saw his father torn to pieces by a gigantic hound when he was a child, has the truth buried in his subconscious. But when Holmes himself has an encounter on the moors, his rational mind nearly breaks as he tries to marry together the physical world with the impossible one.
Finally, there's "The Reichenbach Fall." Anyone who knows Holmes' history at all knows that Reichenbach Falls is the place where Holmes met his first death, as he and arch-rival Moriarty (whom Scott plays with psychotic glee) fall to a watery grave. Here, however, Reichenbach is a celebrated victory of Holmes' earning him the nickname "The Reichenbach Hero." However, the case also catapults Holmes to a level of celebrity he never wanted and, as is so often the case with our celebrities, the press is too eager to find a way to tear him down. This is, of course, Moriarty's plan -- to destroy the detective first by discrediting anything he's ever accomplished and ultimately drive him to an ignominious death. In truth, how a season three can come about after this is going to require the writers to leap some serious hurdles!
This release includes a bonus feature, "Sherlock Uncovered," which includes interviews with writer Steven Moffat as well as Cumberbatch, Freeman, Pulver and Scott, about the making of the different installments for the second season of Sherlock. Additionally, the first two installments includes an optional commentary track with the actors and crew.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes will not be disappointed with this cleverly crafted modernization of a classic.