Review : Sherlock – The Best Bromance on Celluloid

This is the second time I watched Sherlock, and I enjoyed the ‘watching at one go’ experience far more than watching it as separates. My at one go is not binge watching. I watched the 4 seasons and 12 episodes in about three weeks – savouring the twists and turns in the plot, as well as the incredible moments within each episode. It is television entertainment at its highest form. It works because you know you are watching a great yarn – with larger than life characters, and larger than life action. You know these characters aren’t bothered with the mundane. They live a comic book life, with comic book cliff hangers.  The side of angels and demons is clearly defined – as is the man who walks between the two – Sherlock – a superhero in his own right. Watching the show is watching rip-roaring adventure as the writers Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat take you on a journey with the intrepid dynamic duo – Sherlock and Watson, and you stay with them through the journey.  It makes you feel good , as good entertainment is supposed to make you feel. Good casting, pacy narration, great characterisations, fantastic music – the show has it all – the only only major complaint is that, I wish there were more episodes.

Sherlock is held together by the best bromance chemistry on celluloid. It tops even the Jai Veeru chemistry in Sholay. It is that good. The relation between the two is the source of much confusion and amusement to many in the series, who think of them as a couple. Here is a fantastic scene between John Watson and Irene Adler (The Woman) in A Scandal in Belgravia, that does just that.

Holmes and Watson bicker, chill, share, deduct, and fight their way out of situations that are over the top fantastic. It works because for the 90 minutes you are watching the show, you suspend disbelief. You accept it happens because it is Sherlock. And the moment the film maker manages that – you as the audience are hooked.

The adaptation of Sherlock and Watson to the 21st century works so well you wonder why no one thought of it before. Sherlock is on nicotine patches instead of smoking a pipe. There are blogs instead of journals. SMS and google play a vital role in Sherlock solving cases. So much so, google maps plays a vital role in the first episode itself – while our heroes are chasing a cab through the streets of London. 

Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman) are the modern day avtaars of the iconic characters written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the reimagining of the series in the now, gives the franchise and the characters a much needed boost. The two, who share top billing, play characters you really care about. Both are vulnerable in their own way, lonely, looking for nonjudgmental acceptance and affection. And we follow the way their characters develop through the series.

Sherlock, in the words of Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (Rupert Graves), goes from being a great man to a good man. And transformation is from being an uncaring, rude, arse to being someone who deeply cares for people. In the Blind Banker, Watson says “Anytime you want to include me… “No, I’m Sherlock Holmes. I always work alone because no one else can compete with my massive intellect!”. But, by the last episode of the last series, he is someone who has begun to trust, respect, and feel for the people around him. Be it Mary Watson who he mourns deeply, or her husband John Watson – his concern for them overrides his concern for his safety and comfort.. His early mockery of Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) turns to sincere affection and warmth by the last episode. His strained relationship with his brother Mycroft (played superbly by co-writer MarkGatiss)  improves to a point where they connect as a family. And all of these are shown with subtlety, not belaboured as points. 

Watson is the moral core of this show, and we see most of the from his point of view. Martin Freeman plays a Watson whose affable character conceals a frame of steel. He is no man’s (or woman’s) doormat – and it is his influence and friendship that possibly gets Sherlock to change. Like his historical predecessor he is the one who writes about Sherlock Holmes, but instead of the Strand Magazine, he publishes a blog that does much better than Sherlock’s own digital presence, a website on the Science of Deduction. He goes from being the battle scarred veteran suffering from PTSD to being a soldier again – albeit a different type. 

While the storylines in the first two seasons are taut and investigate a crime of the week, the form changes in the last two seasons, where story lines are more interlinked The first two seasons see Moriarty, Irene Adler, more Moriarty. The episode finale of season 2 – where Moriarty begins using his wits to dismantle Sherlock’s name and reputation is superbly crafted. You feel for Sherlock and his sense of isolation from everything he loved. In all this Watson stands by his man like a wall of granite.

In the last two seasons, however,  the show goes from being the adventures of Sherlock and Watson, to being the family sagas of Sherlock and Watson. And, in doing this there is a more pugnacious  version of Sherlock introduced. A secret agent, an undercover operative who is sent deep into enemy territory to gain information. It is this of version of Sherlock – the James Bondification of Sherlock Holmes – that jars slightly. But, the pace of the show, and the incredibly cleaver story telling irons over the plot holes.  But, yes, the show could have done with a lot more adventure, and a lot less family drama, wrapped in pop psychology.

From a cinematic experience perspective – i think of this series as a dozen 90 minute movies – the show is excellent.  It doesn’t try and over explain, it doesn’t treat the audience like slightly slow but obedient children. I would probably watch it again – and smile through the show. A last word for the music – outstanding, and my current background music while i work.  Watch it if you haven’t. And, if you have – watch it again 🙂

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