Monday, February 03, 2014

Sherlock Season 3

The other day I saw all the three episodes of the third season of the BBC series Sherlock in one sitting, that is five hours of a love story between Holmes and Dr Watson, with Mary Morstan thrown in between for a bit of fun and drama. By now, the fans of the series know that this show is not about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved characters immersed in Victorian London, not is this about the quaint mysteries the detective and his surgeon friend solved. Yet, this new-age Sherlock too is utterly fascinating and beguiling.

The BBC series look like a Sherlock story from an alternate universe. We have the same characters as Conan Doyle wrote them, and as most readers imagined them (more or less), yet, their lives or how they choose to live is completely different. For example, Conan Doyle doesn’t speculate much about Holmes’ sex life. Even Dr Watson’s marriage to Mary isn’t given much weight. At the same time, the male bonding between the detective and his assistant is taken at face value. However, Sherlock the series is very self-conscious about the issues of love and sex and the creators of the series make them the focal points of the narrative.

Observe how many times John emphatically points out throughout the show that he isn’t gay. Observes how Sherlock reacts to the news of John’s marriage and John’s incredulous expression when he learns that Sherlock is in a relationship with Janine. And, observe how John reacts to Sherlock’s return — “not dead.” For all intent and purposes, the series is an extended love story between Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Observe how the show is titled with the informal first name. As the creators explained elsewhere, the show is about a detective, but it is not a detective show. The mysteries that the duo solves are incidental to the plot, what is more important is the relationship drama; how a sociopath finds a friends and struggles to keep him, or shall we say the feeling is mutual.

I love the original Sherlock of the Conan Doyle stories and since I did not like the Guy Richie’s big screen bombasts with Robert Downey Jr that much, I was really worried about watching the television series, despite the hype it had created. I saw the first two seasons together last year and couldn’t wait to see the new episodes. You have to admit the series is smart, funny, excitingly edited and does something wonderful with Conan Doyle minor characters.

Predictably, Irene ‘The Woman’ Adler becomes a well-etched femme fatale, and object with Holmes’ affection, Moriaty becomes a young, mad genius seduced by the dark side. In all, Mycroft gets a meaty role, gets to bully Sherlock and basically becomes a deus ex machina to save Sherlock from troubles or give him some. Best of all, I liked what they did to Marry, Dr Watson’s unsuspecting wife. She is an assassin — who would have imagined. And it’s a good thing too.

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