Wednesday, December 22, 2010

TV Series Review: Sherlock Holmes (Granada, Season 1)

Up next is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I found someone doing fanart for the series on dA and, since so many people were saying they loved the series in the comments (seriously, this made the front page which is a few hundred favs in 24 hours), asked my mom if she had heard of it and she had and thought it was a great series. This is the Granada tv series by the way and this is actually the first series they did in 1984 (wasn't until I looked at the bottom of the Netflix page that I realized there were three more seasons over the following decade). So, onto the review!

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Summary: Based on various short stories, Sherlock Holmes solves crime and Dr. Watson assists in whatever way he can and pick up a few tricks from Holmes on the way. It's a pretty faithful adaption of the book stories.

The Good:Jeremy Brett is an amazing Sherlock Holmes here. He really managed to capture how Holmes is this brilliant man but a bit disconnected with the world. I can see why so many people love the series now, Brett is certainly one of the, if not, the most important driving force in the show and he nails it. David Burke also made an excellent Dr. Watson, very intelligent and quick to pick up on things in his own right (heck, just a few episodes in he's doing Holmes like deductions, just not getting everything) and understanding Holmes' various moods. I found myself liking a number of the one shot characters more in the show here than I did in the books, most of them came off as "Hey, something strange is going on, here are all the facts I know and I even did some searching on my own!" And this applies to both the female and male characters, I thought that most of them came off as strong and confident characters within their own stories. And I had a pleasant surprise that some of the stories were ones I hadn't gotten to yet in the books, always nice to see a mystery story when you don't know the mystery.

The Bad: Most of my problems with the series trace back to the original stories, like how they are completely disconnected (no callbacks even). I'm used to watching shows that are monster-of-the-week/slice-of-life but even those have a overarching plot/theme to it. SH has the bones of that, I really would have loved to have seen Moriarty referenced earlier in the story and I'm having a hard time remembering when he even appeared in the original books (bear in mind that he is Holmes' arch-nemesis, one would think the man should show up more than once especially if the characters act as if Holmes has brought him up many times before). Even though the season finale is a good wrapping up place and feels well done it manages to also feel too sudden, started out like all the other cases and then bam, over. Another nitpick with the show itself, the cases were all presented in almost the exact same fashion. Opening credits, few minutes that have to do with the crime, cut to Holmes and Watson, client comes, spends a good while explaining the situation, everyone goes to investigate, and then Holems reveals all in the last few minutes. I know the original stories were much the same but, since they did take advantage of the different medium to change the format some I wish they'd been able to switch around things more a few times.

The Music: The opening theme really grew on me and I wonder if, like anime openings, if there is a longer version of it somewhere. And the show made good use of when to use or not use background music or even background sounds. Usually I'd have another tab or two open when I watched the show, since there is a lot of talking so I didn't have to watch much, but I learned pretty fast that when it all goes quiet to switch back and see what's going on.

The Visuals: Being a tv series does make this less exposition heavy (even if there still is a ton) and I thought it actually made some of the stories clearer (like the Red Headed League, I understood it in the original book but seeing Holmes and Watson sketch out a map just made it work better). Visuals all over the series are good, English countrysides look English, there are a few cases where we see Holmes' powers of disguise and that works well, and all the extras in the background also added to the whole feeling.

I'd recommend this to anyone who likes Sherlock Holmes and episode or two to someone who is reading Sherlock Holmes and isn't quite getting it. The visual aspect makes it a bit easier to follow some of the stories and it's a very good adaptation. Currently I'm alternating between a season of this and a season of Buffy so expect quite a few more reviews for both of them.