Back in 1984, Britian's Granada Television spawned The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. It starred Jeremy Brett as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Victorian detective and David Burke as Dr. Watson (soon to be replaced by Edward Hardwicke) as his steadfast friend. Co-produced by WGBH Boston, it ran in the UK and the US until 1993 as the health of its star waned and the stories dried up. In this series, the world of Holmes was captured perfectly through religious devotion to Doyle's Canon thanks to Producer Michael Cox. The incredibly frenetic and manic depressive portrayal of the Baker Street sleuth by Jeremy Brett also conjured many fans - including myself. Even his overly histrionic tendencies lent a nice touch. (Brett was a protege of Lawrence Olivier, and had the touch of the ham about him.)
Turn the clocks ahead to today. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the writers on Dr. Who, have re-captured the Sherlock tales by shedding the gas lit streets of London for a 21st Century version of this legendary literary icon. Sherlock is filled with iPhones, Wifi and all the technological wonders that you know would have amazed and enhanced the Victorian Holmes' powers of deduction. Viewing all the everyday technology we've grown to rely upon, structured around the remnants of a Victorian character, is quite thrilling.
Last Sunday's premiere episode on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery!, 'A Study in Pink', was an incredible dose of high intensity and electric chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who both take on the mantel of these two fictional characters with terrific ease. You can feel the Dr. Who pacing, the magical story beats as they move along through darkened London streets. Cumberbatch almost has that seething, quick witted intensity that made Brett's Holmes so enticing to me. Freeman, best known as Tim from the UK's The Office, is as calm, curious and as pleasing as Dr. Watson as Burke/Hardwicke were during the Granada days.
Sherlock airs on your local PBS station on Sundays at 9pm. (Check your local listings.) Seriously watch this. It might just make you a Conan Doyle fan. And getting an eyeful of this amazing new take on Holmes might actually make you read some mystery books on your Kindle - or a real book with paper pages...like...in a library. Your choice. Either way - that's a good thing.
Have a look: