In the month of May in the year 2000, my high school required that all of its English students in the college preparatory and advanced placement classes participate in a living literature museum. The living literature museum was comprised of props and featured students costumed as their favorite characters from classic and modern literature. Myself and two other classmates decided to depict Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Professor Moriarty. Until Warner Bros. and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) launched their versions of Sherlock Holmes, I did not feel that the world’s greatest detective (with much respect to Batman) was given the proper cinema and television treatment. But is Warner Bros. or the BBC the true home of Sherlock Holmes? Getting straight to the point: The BBC’s Sherlock is the finest representation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective series to date. And here’s why.
When I first heard the notion of a 21st century Sherlock Holmes whom utilizes text messaging, the internet, and other modern technologies I was almost certain that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories would be wasted for the sake of television (telly for U.K. residents) ratings; in hope of gaining both an adult and adolescent audience. Of course I ended up being entirely wrong, for the BBC’s Sherlock is outstanding in its execution. Benedict Cumberbatch (the future villain of the next Star Trek) and Martin Freeman (the star of the upcoming Hobbit) have flawless chemistry. And of course Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law are equally fit in the lead roles of the Warner Bros. franchise. The BBC version shines because it is more substance than style. Too often Guy Ritchie’s directing style becomes distracting instead of aiding the screenplay of the Warner Bros. Sherlock Holmes. Of course the speed ramping shots that serve as an aid to the audience to see Sherlock Holmes’ physical breakdown of a foe are captivating. However does the audience need to see a shell casing being ejected from a gun at 500 frames per second each time an antagonist fires a weapon? The BBC series does have its share of visual showboating but it is because the script calls for strict attention to detail. Sherlock often features kinetic camerawork to display Sherlock Holmes deduction skills in a manner that will not allow viewers to miss what the great detective is thinking or uncovered.
Both versions of Sherlock Holmes feature the infamous Reichenbach Falls scenario where Sherlock Holmes and his arch nemesis Professor James Moriarty fall to their death. The BBC version changed the name of the final episode of the 2nd season to The Reichenbach Fall. By doing so the television series put both Sherlock Holmes and television viewers into a very precarious situation. Anyone who has read The Final Problem knows exactly what I am hinting at ; yet the television writers have simultaneously outdone Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while remaining true to the classic ending of The Final problem. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows also ends with a stylized and mostly entertaining conclusion in the tradition of The Final Problem. The problem I have with A Game Of Shadows is not the ending. It’s the lead-up to the climax that’s the issue. Professor Moriarty is well played by Jared Harris, yet he is simply reduced to a money-hungry mustache twirling baddie by Kieran Mulroney and Michele Mulroney’s script. Its not a bad script just a mediocre script. The Mulroney duo does give somewhat interesting dialogue between the arch-rivals, yet the subplots are distracting and convoluted. Yes, the ever-growing distance between Holmes and Watson needed to be portrayed on screen, but the antics that ruin Watson’s dates with his bride are on par with after school television melodramas. I would have preferred to see already Watson living apart from Holmes and then when “The Final Problem” initiates it mends their troubled relationship.
I don’t sense any upcoming problems with the BBC’s Sherlock that will make the remaining season(s) any less fascinating than the previous seasons. For Warner Bros to end their franchise with a bang, the new screenwriter (Drew Pearce) needs to deliver a meatier plot. A plot that contains fewer subplots and more raw detective work from Holmes and Watson. Perhaps the theme should be that advancements in technology and training at police academies make Sherlock Holmes’ detective skills begin to feel dated. And then the great detective can once again prove (with the solving or prevention of another catastrophe) why 221 Baker Street is the residence of a man whose prowess will never be outshined. I am certain that Guy Ritchie is signed on to do another film. I think that Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later) or Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road To Perdition, Skyfall) would have been better choices to helm the movie series.
The BBC and Warner Bros. representation are equally matched in casting.
The BBC series is far superior in story and directorial content.
Hans Zimmer made one hell of a score for the Warner Bros. depiction.
*The final notion just came to mind when completing this article.*