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Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Review: A Study In Pink

Updating Sherlock Holmes is never a bad idea.  Of the many characters in the public domain, few are as instantly timeless - a crime-solving eccentric genius in London, one of the world's great cities.  The BBC had a no-brainer on their hands.  Especially with the latest money-making film reboot starring Robert Downey Jr.  In this TV series, the keynote is the same: slightly irreverent humour, especially about the "gay thing" that perplexes and amuses many, vis. a vis. Holmes and Watson, his stalwart medical companion, sometimes more, sometimes less capable.    Different is the time - here we are "contemporary" - and get the same London as in Luther.  Overall, this is an excellent new version, with enough fun ("three patch problem") and style to make it good TV (as in "good police").  But it is hardly as clever as it wishes to think it is.  Screenwriters simply need to understand that aspects of their craft make them supremely easy to figure out in advance, for anyone in the know - which is all viewers over the age of three these days.  Firstly, the killer in this episode was a cab driver - and the idea of his "invisible status" - aside from being pinched from Chesterton (there it was a postman) - was telegraphed rather obviously several times (and is of course all too obvious from an actual crime case in London) - not least at the start.  Secondly, the Mycroft Holmes scene was also obvious - it couldn't have been Moriarty (though we were meant to think it was) - because such a villain would never be introduced in such a way, and would be less bland, less cartoon-mandarin (Moriarty would do better than have a sexy assistant and be able to control security cameras - this was more like a Coalition flunky); finally, his umbrella mirrored Watson's cane, implying mutual affiliation with Holmes.  Finally, Holmes' inability to tell whether Watson was gay (he has to ask him) makes no sense when he already knows about Watson's sister, and knows everything else about everyone else's sex life from their clothing.  I suppose the final problem for me is the suggestion that Holmes is a "high-functioning sociopath".  I realise this is a Dexter tie-in, and meant to imply he is oddly sinister to those who fail to get him - but Holmes is too empathic to be a sociopath.  Finally (again), Holmes would never torture a dying man.  Oh, and why would a megalomaniac (dying) cab driver / killer play a 50-50 game of poisoning if he got money for every victim?  Finally, talking someone in to selecting one of two capsules, with all the bluffs, is borrowed too liberally from The Princess Bride.  Much more intriguing was the possibility he had actually talked them into suicide.  As some drivers do, from time to time.
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