BitterSweet: Sherlock

Image: Bruno Scramgnon (Pexels)

BITTER

The BBC’s reimagining of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock poised the beloved characters in a modern world, but what started as a refreshing take on an old story quickly turned into nothing but frustration.

As a fan at the time, the wait between each season was unbearable. TWO YEARS IS A LONG TIME TO WAIT MY FRIENDS. Yes the show is expensive and yes each episode is basically a film, but the creators almost made a game out of dragging on the wait between each season. When this occurred between every single season, it did nothing but negatively impact fans who grew tired of waiting for new content. It lost its momentum in that time, and the following seasons dipped in story quality.

Sherlock also mocks the fan base that made it so popular in the first place. After Sherlock’s faked suicide in the second season, fans took to the internet in droves trying to figure out how he did it. But when the show came back, their theories were used against them in a sequence that comes across as mocking of fan culture. Not to mention the hideous sin of queerbaiting that the show has a long history of.

In the world of Sherlock Holmes, women have no agency but to further the tension. This is true for both Mary and Eurus. What could have been interesting characters turn into plot devices that exist purely for Sherlock’s character development, rather than what would have actually made sense in the story. Even the mighty Irene Adler is trivialized by her ‘girly’ feelings. Co-creators Moffat and Gatiss consistently demonize women in order to humanize their male characters.

SWEET

Although the plot of later seasons plot descended into nonsensical fever dreams, Sherlock was undeniably huge. And for good reason too. By bringing Sherlock into modern times, Gatiss and Moffat really set their show aside from the other adaptations of Conan Doyle’s work. Something about the characters of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson never fail to be captivating in any reimagining’s, and this version is no exception. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman work amazingly well together, and their comedy and chemistry were strong enough to start a whole fandom of people who were obsessed with the show.

One of the qualities that really sets Sherlock aside is the way it manages to represent the patterns and procedure of thought on screen. Sherlock is an impossibly clever character, and without some way to follow the process of the deductions, the audience would be left behind. So they cleverly use a combination of visual aids and cinematography to involve the audience. The cinematography has always been incredible, and even more so after the show was renewed and given a larger budget. The crew manage to accomplish the kind of shots and transitions that you would automatically assume had been the result of CGI. However in the behind the scenes, you suddenly realize that painstaking effort has been put into crafting these intricate shots, such as the bullet time shot in “The Sign of Three” where a long line of cameras were set up side by side for a shot that only lasted 10 seconds, or the repositioning of entire sets to allow Sherlock to walk through memories.

VERDICT:

Sherlock has me divided on a verdict. Early seasons are nothing but Sweet, but most episodes past season 2 leave me with a bad taste in my mouth that I could only call Bitter.

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