Monthly Archives: August 2010

No Sh*t, Sherlock

Both episodes have pulled in around 7m viewers

In June, national treasure and know-it-all Stephen Fry came out with damning criticism of the BBC for its lack of adult, high brow programming. He described Doctor Who and Merlin as “wonderfully written children’s programmes”, for adults they were akin to “chicken nuggets…Every now and again we all like it”. He went on to say, “If you are an adult you want something surprising, savoury, sharp, unusual, cosmopolitan, alien, challenging, complex, ambiguous, possibly even slightly disturbing and wrong.”

Well, the Beeb have come out with their latest attempt to keep Mr Fry happy. It has received universal praise from critics, and pulled in well over 6.5 million viewers for both episodes so far. It is, of course, Sherlock (BBC1, 9pm). This is an updated version of the famous Arthur Conan Doyle characters, by a duo that have had a lot of input into the revamped Doctor Who. Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss have obviously done their homework to keep the details accurate. Doctor Watson arrives back from service in Afghanistan (as opposed to the Anglo-Afghan war in the books), Sherlock still has an addictive personality (nicotine patches, as the BBC probably didn’t fancy keeping him hooked on cocaine and morphine), and Moriarty is still lurking in the darkness somewhere, doing evil and stuff.

So, can we allow ourselves a gourmet meal tonight, or is it KFC straight from the bucket? Well, on the basis of the first two episodes (I can’t cheat like the other critics and watch the release tapes), I actually haven’t got a clue. I mean, I like the show, but then again I also like chicken nuggets. The show is difficult to place, in that it looks high brow (I mean, its Sherlock Holmes, for Christs sake), but it is still a programme for the family. Which means that we all get to solve the puzzles along with Holmes and Watson, via the point of view of Sherlock. This would be absolutely fine, except that there is the addition of a mental HUD to spell every little detail out for you. Therefore, you are bound to have a friend/family member in the room who considers themselves quite the lateral thinker, and will proceed to answer every question about two seconds before Holmes does. However, if you can shut them up, you get to watch the chemistry between the two main characters. I’ve kept my eye out for Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, that’s his REAL name, not some drunken deed poll change) ever since his excellent performance in Hawking, and should be a shoo in for a Best Actor BAFTA. Martin Freeman as Doctor Watson is comic foil as usual, but at least this role gives him a chance to play with a modicum of intelligence rather than a blank stare.

So, returning to our original question: is Sherlock a programme for adults or kids? Well, its a Chicken Goujon. Something that adults and kids like to eat, but not something that’ll make you feel childish if you mention to people thats what you had for dinner last night.


Leaving The House, So You Don’t Have To.

Mark Heap and Ruth Jones are superb in The Great Outdoors

Hello. Hello, hello hello. HELLO. This is a blog I have decided to start, because I think I am amazing. Surely that’s the point of all blogs, articles and columns? The person writing them must think that what they have to say is worth reading. So, I watch a lot of TV, and I think I know what is worth watching and what isn’t. For the love of God, VALIDATE ME.

Gavin and Stacey, The Thick of It, Lead Balloon. All started life on the proving grounds of the BBC’s digital channels, before critical success manoeuvred them into the big bucks terrestrial seats. So, may I please put forward another candidate? The Great Outdoors (9pm, Wednesday, BBC4), stars Mark Heap and Ruth Jones as polar opposites of a rambling group in The Chilterns. Sounds incredibly dull so far. But give it a chance and you will enjoy an excellent, cleverly written comedy with some superb performances.

Mark Heap is, in my opinion, one of the finest comedy actors of his generation. From Big Train to Green Wing via Spaced, he has been in some wonderful programmes and I am saddened at the lack of major roles that have come his way. In The Great Outdoors he plays Bob, a man clearly out of control in everyday life, whose weekly rambling meet gives him a chance to take charge and lead a group. That is, until Christine comes along. Played by Gavin and Stacey’s Ruth Jones, Christine arrives with a backpack full of gadgets and supplies, and an attitude completely out of sync with that of walk leader Bob.  The supporting cast aint bad either, with Katherine Parkinson (her off of The IT Crowd) getting an understated role as disenchanted wife of a freeloader, looking to let off steam in more ways than one.

The laughs come fairly thick and fast, and while there are a couple of misses, its bound to be one of the better comedies commissioned this year.

Listen, its only a 3-parter (2 already out of the way), and all the other reviews have been fairly bland. But give it a chance and see if you like it, while it’s still available. Because this deserves a bigger following, and it’d be a shame if this lost out to something as monumentally dire as Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show in the race to terrestrial TV.

Sadly, part one has already expired on the iPlayer. So I’ll cheat by putting up links to the Youtube clips:

And here’s the second episode in full on the iPlayer: