Daily Archives: Sunday, 25th Jul 2010

Sherlock – A Study in Pink

Well, I talked about this this morning, but now I’ve actually seen the first episode, I can make a more measured, informed report. And here it is:

:bouncy: :bouncy: :yes: :drool: :dizzy: :clap: :clap: :bow:

Or to put it another way, I liked it. For a start, there’s the acting. Benedict Cumberbatch, quite apart from having the Best Name Ever, makes a quite superb Holmes. He manages to get across the idea that he’s five million times smarter than anyone else in the room, and yes that is annoying. Martin Freeman is better than I hoped for as Watson. Clearly affected by his experience in Afghanistan, it soon becomes clear that he’s not only not even remotely stupid[1], but is the actual man of action portrayed in Conan Doyle’s stories. He’s good. Really good. And Rupert Graves is pretty bloody good as Inspector Lestrade – a quite believable contemporary policeman who’s prepared to work with the massively annoying Holmes over the objections of his colleagues because he knows the man can help.

Then there’s the look and feel of the thing – text messages appearing on screen, London looking suitably London-y, 221B Baker Street[2] looking oddly familiar, full of Holmes’s insane mess.

But most of all, there’s the writing. This opening episode was written by Mr Steven Moffat Sir, who clearly has access to some highly advanced time warping technology. I can’t really see any other explanation for how anyone could manage to run Doctor Who and still manage to write and oversee something quite as good as this. The story borrows just enough from A Study in Scarlet to make any serious Holmes fan moderately happy, while updating Holmes to the age of mobile phones and the internet. Unlike a lot of attempts to adapt Sherlock Holmes, Moffat has grasped the humour that was present in the original stories, and used it quite nicely. For instance:

Holmes: Shut up!

Lestrade: I didn’t say anything

Holmes: You were thinking – it’s annoying

Which isn’t quite how Conan Doyle would have written it, but it works.

And that goes for the whole thing, really. It’s a good take on the original characters, updated without actually making me wince.

But I do have one problem with this new version of Holmes. There are only two more episodes to go. And that is really not enough. Mr Moffat – I demand more! Look, I know you’ve got next year’s Doctor Who series to manage, and you probably need to eat, sleep, and see your family occasionally, but that’s no excuse. Just do some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff and be in several places at the same time. I’m sure you can manage that…

[1] Which is a sure sign of a writer who’s actually taken the trouble to read the source material
[2] An address which technically doesn’t exist, and didn’t exist when the original stories were written either

Sunderland International Airshow 2010

Had a fun day at the Sunderland airshow. This was the first time I’ve made serious use of the honking big Sigma 150-500mm lens, and while I’ll have a lot of picking and processing to do before I can show you much, here’s one that I like:

Wingwalk Crossover

Wingwalk Crossover

Yes, that’s two 1940s or thereabouts biplanes. With wingwalkers. Doing a close fast crossover. Crazy!

Weight and Stuff Report – 25 July 2010

A minor adjustment today.

As you’ll see from another post, today’s fun was the Sunderland International Airshow, which involved the traditional slow walk[1] from the Metro to the sea front, where I managed to arrive early enough to get a place at the front and set up my new[2] folding chair[3], a fair bit of waiting, a lot of holding my big lens, a slower walk back to the Metro, and a bit of a wait to be herded on to a train. All good fun.

Today’s picture is a bit of the ground level fun of the show – this guy was filming the show for a DVD which you could order on the day. Since he was looking in my general direction, presumably for some crowd shots, I thought I’d return the favour.

Watching you, watching me

Watching you, watching me

[1] Not that I was trying to walk slowly, it was the thousands of people in front of me. Managed to pass quite a lot of them.
[2] And remarkably cheap – £6.99 from Argos, and actually quite comfortable
[3] Decided that the knees and ankles might have moaned if I’d done the standing thing this year. And it made it easier to read for the couple of hours I had to wait for the actual show to begin

Sherlock

I’ve been hearing vague references about this for a while, but not enough to know what to think about it.

Starting tonight (9pm, BBC 1 and BBC HD) is a new Sherlock Holmes TV series. There will initially be three 90 minute episodes, each (as far as I can tell from the information so far available) a complete story.

But, but, but, I hear you but.[1] Surely there’s no point doing Sherlock Holmes again? Didn’t Jeremy Brett star in the definitive version? Weren’t those few starring whatshisname not terribly good? Well, right on both counts, but stay with me.

This is Sherlock Holmes updated to the present. Yes, yes, yes. I know. Terrible idea. A bit naff when they did it with Basil Rathbone, and surely it just wouldn’t work now?

Well, ordinarily that’s exactly what I’d be thinking. I’d probably watch out of curiosity and then grumble about it, but I wouldn’t be actually looking forward to seeing what latest outrage had been committed against one of my all-time fictional heroes. Well, two of them, really. Watson is often underestimated, and frequently badly cast and badly played[3]. Edward Hardwicke and David Burke were pretty damn perfect in the Jeremy Brett TV versions, and I liked Jude Law’s version in last year’s movie, but those are exceptions to a generally dire rule.

But, and here’s the big but. This moderately big production has a major advantage. It’s been thought up, put together and written by Steven Moffat, who I may have mentioned once or twice and Mark Gatiss, who has also had some Doctor Who involvement. And that’s enough to make me want to watch it. More than enough, in fact.

Holmes is being played by a man with one of the most wonderful names I’ve ever heard: Benedict Cumberbatch, and Watson by that eternal everyman Martin Freeman. Just as in the original stories, Watson is an army doctor just back from Afghanistan who’s introduced to a strange man who needs someone to share a flat…

The first story is called A Study in Pink, but somehow I don’t think it will be a pale imitation[4] of the first Conan Doyle Holmes story.

This being a suitably modern production, there’s some suitable support material on the net:

The Science of Deduction – Sherlock Holmes’s website

The blog of Dr John H Watson

BBC Sherlock site

Looks like it’s going to be worth watching. I’ll follow up with my opinions when I’ve seen it…

[1] But[2]
[2] This may be a Welsh reference :wales:
[3] Did I mention the Basil Rathbone movies?
[4] Sorry, had to be done. And if you don’t get it, get reading. Now.