No Sh*t, Sherlock
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.