Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Smart is the new Sexy

By Allyson and Jon Hubner

I grew up reading the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot (Shout out to my birthday buddy, Agatha Christie!). While I haven’t written any theses on the subject, I do have certain expectations for any adaptations of my beloved British mysteries- No! No! Bad Guy Ritchie, no more books for you!

Fortunately there are some adaptations that are both entertaining and intelligent, particularly the BBC’s ongoing Sherlock series. Remember Sherlock Holmes, the detective based on a doctor written by a doctor who also did some detective investigations?
Well this Sherlock series is the creation of the writers of Dr. Who, and it’s a 21st century adaptation that’s fast paced, well written, and well acted, while remaining true to the spirit of Conan Doyle’s works.
Take for example our dear Detective Holmes, played excellently by Benedict Cumberbatch (his full name is Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, and yes it’s almost too British). Our new Holmes is just as lank, intelligent, manic and egotistical as his literary counterpart, but he’s also more humorous, fallible and at times even playful. This makes him a more multidimensional, believable and likeable character than his predecessor.

The show allows us to experience the inner logic of a genius by using artfully depicted visualizations of Sherlock’s thought processes. Mind you this is without the constant voiceover of Robert Downey Iron Man that made each Ritchie movies about 30 to 300 minutes longer than they should have been.

We also get to see what it is like to be a genius who can be an ass, forgetting the names of his best friend’s girlfriends, intruding on dates, and robotically analyzing people to the point of tears.

Processing and participating in all of this is Sherlock’s best friend Dr. John Watson, Afghanistan combat-vet turned blogger. This Watson, played by Martin Freeman from the British version of The Office,  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the upcoming Hobbit, is no longer the subservient sidekick but a doctor with bite. This makes him a worthy best friend to the peerlessly intelligent Sherlock. We even get to see Watson do surgery…with a gun.

Then there are the familiar characters of Inspector Lestrade, Mycroft Holmes, Mrs. Hudson, Moriarty, and Irene Adler, all of them refreshing in their modernizations. I personally love it when Mrs. Hudson is paranoid that the cops will find her “herbal soothers…they’re just for my hip!”. When not worrying about drug busts or finding human body parts in her refrigerator, Mrs. Hudson is being held hostage by CIA agents- I wonder what she charges for rent.

Currently there are two seasons, with the first season available on Netflix. Each season is three episodes apiece, but a quality 90 minutes apiece making each closer to a movie than a TV show. Each episode is based on the more famous Sherlock Holmes stories, and we can expect that the three more episodes currently in production for fall 2013 will be as well.

Allyson Hamacher lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband, Jon, her dog, and multiple projects in varying states of doneness. She is starting a Masters of Science program at Arizona State University, and looks unsettlingly smug in her student ID picture. She and Jon strongly disagree about whether the word "filthy" means "dirty" or "extra dirty." Jon Hubner is a student living in Phoenix, Arizona. He loves to hike and go on drives with his dog, Growlbert Einstein.

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