No mystery here: ‘Sherlock’ is a hit

By Rachel Lim

Cavalier Daily, U. Virginia via UWIRE

Several words come to mind when describing the BBC One hit Sherlock — thrilling, suspenseful and brilliant, but certainly not elementary, my dear Watson. The new Sherlock is the crime-fighting super brain we all know and love, but with a twist. By setting the program in the present-day London, show creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat cleverly incorporate technology and modern-day fears — terrorists, anyone? — into classic stories to attract viewers young and old.

Rising British star Benedict Cumberbatch blows every other portrayal of the famed detective completely out of the water. To put it simply, Cumberbatch is Sherlock. The tall, dashing Brit pairs dark hair and pale skin with piercing ice-blue eyes and his most distinguishing feature — sharp, high cheekbones. As Irene Adler quite fittingly puts it in one episode, “I could cut my hand slapping that face.”

Aesthetics aside, Cumberbatch delivers an electrifying performance, expertly spitting lines of brilliant script material with ease and even more pizazz.

Past Sherlock Holmes television and film adaptations have relied on the delightful chemistry between the franchise’s protagonists, Holmes and Watson, to carry the weight of the show and the new Sherlock is no exception. Martin Freeman as Watson is the perfect counterbalance to Cumberbatch’s dramatic Holmes. He manages to fill the gaps where Holmes’ shortcomings might have left him vulnerable, providing a relatable, human side to the seemingly superhuman Holmes. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, a self-diagnosed, high-functioning sociopath, walks the line between eccentric and madman, whose only medicine is the thrill of a new case. Freeman’s Watson, on the other hand, goes on dates, writes a blog and is in every sense of the word an average Joe.

I mean this, however, in the best possible way. Without the addition of a calmer, more patient character to dilute Holmes’ frequent outbursts of manic speech — think Robert Downey Jr.’s Holmes, but on steroids — Holmes’ extreme character would be intolerable. Still, when push comes to shove, he has the uncanny ability to retain the audience’s sympathy, despite his inhuman detachment.

Finally, every good story needs a great villain, and Sherlock certainly provides one. Moriarty (Andrew Scott), the antagonist of the program, is not the old, withered professor who we’ve seen in past versions of the Holmes tale. This new Moriarty is young, eerily handsome, wickedly smart and so creepy it’s impressive.  He is a villain at the prime of his life — a master of disguise, an actor, a genius and a perfect match for the younger, newer Holmes. Holmes and Moriarty are two sides of the same coin. They differ, however, in that Holmes may, at times, dip a toe into the wading-pool of madness, while Moriarty dives headfirst into the deep end. He is a man without morals, remorse or allegiances — a rogue agent of evil.

Together, Cumberbatch, Freeman and Scott anchor the perfect cast of delightful characters, who keep us holding our breath and on our toes.

Read more here: http://www.cavalierdaily.com/2012/02/02/no-mystery-here-%E2%80%98sherlock%E2%80%99-is-a-hit/
Copyright 2018 Cavalier Daily