Saturday, February 18, 2017

I May Be Late to the Party, But I'm on a Raging Cumberbinge Now

A Benedict Cumberbatch binge just to be clear.  As another character cooed to him in the episode of Sherlock I recently watched, "smart is the new sexy."  This guy proves it.

I've been on a dry spell for awhile. Blame the abysmal state of the political climate. Blame my work schedule. Hell, blame the weather, but I haven't had anything that's really put me in a bloggy sort of mood for some time.

Enter Sherlock Holmes.

Obviously I've been aware of this program; it stares out at me as a 'suggested' title every time I go on Netflix; the algorithm that decides what's good for me seemed pretty sure about it. But I've always resisted.

Hard to say why, exactly. I think it's just that murder (and mystery) is not really my thing. I'm rather squeamish when it comes to death and intrigue. Maybe that sounds outrageous given my past obsession with Spooks. I mean, if I could watch 10 seasons of that, how wimpy could I be? Still, whatever the reason, I've walked on by.

So... hmmm, maybe we can blame this on Trump now too, but lately I've felt an extreme need to escape. After rewatching every Jane Austen adaptation available to me, I guess it was just a matter of time -- and a state of desperation -- before I finally crumbled and clicked on the first episode.

And that was all it took. Thanks Benedict for that icy stare and that cool detached intellect that won me over; now I'm wondering where you've been all my life.

Another masterpiece from across the pond that shows that you guys just really get how to do great TV. Here are two first-rate film actors acting in the lead roles -- not just Cumberbatch, but Martin Freeman alongside him. Here is a deeply talented and appealing supporting cast, including Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Jonathan Aris, and Louise Brealey to name just a few). Here is great writing full of subtle puns and tiny moments, as well as the over-the-top outlandishly clever deductions that must have taken some great minds to pack up and spill out. A moody Londony light permeates this whole production, making you feel as if -- though set in modern times -- the production is somehow tied to the turn of a prior century from whence the original book series issues.  Its an etherial, quirky mix of things. The dialog as sharp as Benedict's cheekbones and beautiful cinematography make this show irresistible. I mean, once one has finally stopped resisting.

Mostly, it is the way that the elements come together that makes the series work. I know that this is what makes for great drama, whether its about death, romance, or martians. Doesn't matter.  Because this "works", the viewer has no trouble suspending credibility to believe in the plausibility of this crime-solving duo and all their escapades.

As much as I appreciate the creative team, as always I am the biggest sucker for acting and actors. Hands down the element that sells this series is the incredible relationship between Cumberbatch and Freeman as Holmes and Watson.  There aren't enough adjectives to throw at their chemistry and charm. This casting was simply inspired. And everyone around them -- including themselves -- knows it. Thus the success of the running joke of their being lovers, despite all their protestations to the contrary. Because, lovers or not, they form the central love story that keeps us wanting more, and more.  This sexy and platonic bromance is on full display in the episode I just watched from season 3 ("The Sign of Three") where Watson is getting married and Holmes is the best man.  This is some of the best television I've ever seen and I've rarely been more entertained.  Deeply hilarious, poignant, tense and well-wrapped, this is television at its infinite finest. I'm as drunk on this show as Sherlock and Holmes were at their 'stag party'.

Now I have only to regret that they haven't made more episodes, and to look forward to watching the few remaining (including season 4 which I haven't seen at all) and to re-watching the lot many times over and again.

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