Sherlock: Season One - Blu-ray Review

'feels lacking when our recent TV diets have consisted of such wonders as HBO's all-conquering Game Of Thrones'

Whilst largely being more-than-functional TV fun, the first series of Sherlock feels lacking when our recent TV diets have consisted of such wonders as HBO's all-conquering Game Of Thrones, or the plethora of other high quality outputs spewed forth by Sky Atlantic. Next to them the BBC's modern-day retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle's detective just comes across as a little flat sometimes, not helped by the meagre offering of just three feature-length episodes per season.

The first two of those ninety-minute tales (A Study In Pink and The Blind Banker) are also beset by plotting problems, which hinder what should have been enjoyable murder mysteries. In the first, the general identity of the killer is telegraphed very precisely from near the opening moments, whilst the second relies on a key character loving teapots (yes, teapots) so much that she would put herself in harm's way to maintain them. Other minor points (Sherlock and Holmes, whilst in a seemingly random area of London, bump into a supporting character who happens to have a major piece of information) continue to add to the feeling of plot manipulation.

Things perk noticeably in Episode Three: The Great Game, which has a plot more in-keeping with something like Saw than a televisual procedural. Director Paul McGuigan does well to examine the intricacies of Sherlock's (Benedict Cumberbatch) psyche, whilst not getting sidetracked in Watson's (Martin Freeman) dalliances in romance with Sarah (Zoe Telford), who features too heavily in Episode Two. The final reveal is very well handled, yet a touch unsatisfying. An actor chosen to play a key role wavers all over the place in terms of accent, coming across as thin, weedy, caricature, rather than evil mastermind.

The design of the thing, perpetrated mainly by a move to modern day London, fits well with the stories and writers Mark Gatiss (who cameos brilliantly as Mycroft) and Steven Moffat work Doyle's stories in to up-to-date versions with a great deal of nous. The only let down is some of the wider production decisions; the music seems to have been directly lifted from Guy Ritchie's big screen take on the detective and Cumberbatch's Holmes follows in the footsteps or Downey Jr.'s perhaps a little too much.

That said, and rather contradictorily, there is a darker side to Holmes' character here too, which many may find difficult to ratify. Holmes, through Cumberbatch, is smarmy. Despite what Holmes himself says during Episode Three, he, and not Watson, Lestrade or a.n.other, is the hero. Heroes can get away with being all sorts of things; unlikeable, nasty, rude, and indeed, Holmes is all of those things. But smarmy? No one wants that in a hero, and Cumberbatch treads a thin line on occasion.

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