Magazine article Variety

Surefire `Sherlock'

Magazine article Variety

Surefire `Sherlock'

Article excerpt

SUREFIRE 'SHERLOCK'

TELEVISION: SHERLOCK (PBS)

Directors: Paul McGuigan,Toby Haynes; Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Una Stubbs

Even better than the first time, Masterpiece Mystery's second flight of "Sherlock" - consisting of three 90-minute movies that migrate the 19th-century sleuth into a modern setting - is great fun, and vastly superior to Warner Bros.' recent features. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character, the latest series provides knowing takes on three familiar Holmes adventures, giving each a decidedly modern twist. Moreover, Andrew Scott returns as arch-nemesis Moriarty, who comes closer to the Joker than almost any past rendition of the criminal mastermind. All told, it's a first-rate addition to a franchise that appeared too picked over to offer anything this invigorating.

Bringing Holmes into the cellphone era offers certain advantages, along with the likelihood people will assume he and nearconstant companion/biographer/ war veteran Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) are a gay couple. They insist they're not, not that there's anything wrong with that.

The first chapter pits Holmes against Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), presented as an alluring dominatrix, with an especially jarring spin in terms of espionage and terrorism. The second, perhaps least successful, reiniagines "The Hound of the Baskervilles," while the third pits Holmes in an tense showdown against the sadistic Jim Moriarty, in a battle of wits with fatal consequences. (In a sly bit of casting, Russell Tovey, the werewolf from BBC America's "Being Human," plays the Baskerville heir with the "hound" problem.)

Cumberbatch's Holmes is everything we've come to expect from the character - dazzlingly smart, with astounding powers of perception, and apparently celibate -but also a near-lunatic, so lacking in interpersonal skills that others are frequently left to clean up his mess. …

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