Sherlock: Season 1
Manufacturer: BBC Home Entertainment Brand: BBC Home Entertainment
A contemporary take on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock is a thrilling, funny, fast-paced adventure series set in present-day London. Co-created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Coupling) and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock stars BAFTA-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking, Amazing Grace) as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman (The Office, Love Actually), as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson. Rupert Graves plays Inspector Lestrade. The iconic details from Conan Doyle's original books remain--they live at the same address, have the same names and, somewhere out there, Moriarty is waiting for them. And so across three thrilling, scary, action-packed and highly modern-day adventures, Sherlock and John navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers to get at the truth. In the wake of Guy Ritchie's reimagining, the BBC puts its own stamp on Arthur Conan Doyle's sleuth--and sets him in a London filled with cell phones and laptops. In the pilot, director Paul McGuigan (a keen visual stylist) introduces Sherlock Holmes (Atonement's Benedict Cumberbatch) as a "high-functioning sociopath" and Dr. John Watson (The Office's Martin Freeman) as an army veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder. Through a mutual friend, the two become flatmates at 221B Baker Street (Una Stubbs plays their landlady). Holmes, who consults with Scotland Yard inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) on his trickier cases, drafts Watson to assist him. In "Study in Pink," four people commit suicide by poison. When Holmes sets out to establish a link, he falls right into the culprit's clutches. Other cases concern a smuggling operation ("The Blind Banker") and a mad bomber ("The Great Game"). Though he doesn't make a formal entrance until episode three, an infamous figure from Sherlock's future has a hand in each mystery, while the detective's brother, Mycroft (co-creator Mark Gatiss), first appears when he tries to hire Watson for a case of his own, an offer that gives the good doctor pause. Through his job at a medical office, Watson also meets Sarah (Zoe Telford), who becomes his girlfriend. Part of the fun of Jeremy Brett's Holmes (and Agatha Christie's Poirot) came from the period details, so this update takes a little getting used to--as does the occasional mumbled line--but Cumberbatch and Freeman share an enjoyable Odd Couple rapport, marked by flashes of deadpan wit, which compensates for the absence of deerstalker caps (Holmes favors scarves) and journals (Watson maintains a website). Extras include commentary on the finale, the original pilot, and a featurette, in which cocreator Steven Moffat (Doctor Who) notes that Cumberbatch was his only choice for the title role. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Sherlock: Season 2
Manufacturer: BBC Home Entertainment Brand: Warner Manufacturing
Sherlock: Season Two (BBC/DVD)Nominated for 4 primetime Emmys, Sherlock is back with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson in three new stories. In A Scandal in Belgravia, Sherlock gets embroiled in the complex plans of the dangerous and desirable Irene Adler, and finds himself employing every one of his remarkable skills to survive as the unlikely duo square off in a battle of witsâ€¦and perhaps emotions? The Hounds of Baskerville whisks the increasingly popular detective and Watson to the wilds of Dartmoor, and face to face with the supernatural lurking in the eerie landscape. Meanwhile, Moriarty is still out there in the shadows, and is determined to bring Sherlock down-at whatever the cost-in The Reichenbach Fall. With beguiling performances, witty scripts and some of the most intriguing characters ever created, it's no wonder that Sherlock has proven to be a worldwide success.]]> There is nothing elementary (a Holmesian clichÃ© that this exceedingly smart and savvy series wisely shuns) about Sherlock. This sophomore season exceeds the pleasures and promise of the Emmy-nominated first season with three feature-length mysteries that fully test Holmes's mettle and cunning, and shake his very high self-regard. The first and third episodes do full justice to two figures who loom large in the Holmes canon. The first is Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a.k.a. "the Woman," in "A Scandal in Belgravia," a ripping and naughty yarn involving a high-class dominatrix and some scandalous royal photos. The second, of course, is Moriarty (an Emmy-worthy Andrew Scott) in "The Reichenbach Fall," who hatches a mad scheme to bring about Holmes's ruination. The middle mystery is perhaps Holmes's best-known, "The Hounds of Baskerville," a psychological thriller that lacks the other two's worthy central adversaries, although Holmes's rare moment of bafflement sets the stage for the seemingly game-changing finale that has Dark Knight echoes. Sherlock's high concept--transplanting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master consulting detective to 21st-century London--is brilliantly realized, but at the heart of this series' success is the casting and chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, who chronicles their adventures in--what else--a blog. While some may make innuendo about the nature of their relationship, it is their friendship that unfolds by degrees that holds the most fascination. "I don't have friends," Holmes confesses to Watson in one of his rare quiet and less prickly moments. "I have one." Sherlock benefits from repeat viewings, not so much to decipher clues, but to savor the brilliant wordplay. Series three cannot arrive fast enough. --Donald Liebenson
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