Journey 149: BBC’s Sherlock

sherlock season one poster

I’ve been helping out one of my daughters, and her family, while they are on vacation, by checking in on her dogs. They are great pups, and easy to care for. I feed them in the morning and let the small dogs out a couple of times during the day for bathroom breaks.  I know they are missing their humans, so I am spending the evenings with them, keeping them company.

They are happy, I get puppy kisses and snuggles….and….I get to watch Netflix. I promised my grandson I would NOT watch Doctor Who without him. So I selected the BBC series Sherlock to watch…all three seasons. I have seen a few of the episodes, but I’ve missed some and lost continuity. After letting the dogs romp in the backyard, and petting and loving on the outside dog, the little ones and I settle on the couch to enjoy this quirky, modern day adaptation of Sherlock.

Sherlock Beatrice

Beatrice

Sherlock, which premiered in 2010, stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss and Andrew Scott. The show was created by Mark Gatiss (who has a reoccurring role in the series) and Steven Moffat (who is also the creator of Doctor Who), based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The series is unrated and each episode has a run time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The tagline for this new series is “The world’s favorite detective has emerged from the fog…this is Sherlock for a new generation.” This modernized retelling brings the duo of eccentric Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch), consulting detective, and Dr. John Watson (Freeman), returning veteran of the Afghanistan war, to 21st century London. In this first season they meet and become flat mates, residing at 221B Baker Street. Their feisty landlady, Mrs. Hudson (Stubbs), keeps an eye on them and serves as occasional housekeeper and cook.

sherlock holmes and watson

The pair help solve crimes in the streets of London, assisting Inspector Lestrade (Graves) with the New Scotland Yard. The first episode. “A Study in Pink” centers around the growing friendship between Holmes and Watson as they establish how to work together. A cabbie turned serial killer gives them their first case to solve as a team. Solve it they do. This initial episode introduces an arch enemy for Holmes. He remains unseen, with only his name given: Moriarty.

Episode two, “The Blind Banker” has the pair working to uncover a Chinese smuggling ring, with ties again to Moriarty. Holmes’ brother, Mycroft (Gatiss) is introduced. And episode three, “The Great Game”, and the final episode for season one, involves Sherlock solving a series of puzzles. There is a time limit for each and should he fail to decipher the puzzle in time, an innocent person, burdened with explosives, will die. At the end of this episode, Holmes and Watson at last meet Moriarty (Scott). The season ends with a cliff hanger.

sherlock the great game

I thoroughly enjoyed this series. The freshening of the story means updated use of technology, such as computers, cell phones and apps, and current world situations. As Holmes is practicing deduction, his thought processes are shared on the screen, so we can watch his mind at work. The characters remain familiar. Holmes is trying to kick drug and smoking addictions, plays the violin when he’s moody, is brilliant yet gets bored easily, rarely eats, and most definitely dances to music only he can hear.

Watson is endearing. He comes home from the war with a psychosomatic injury that quickly disappears as he becomes involved in crime solving. His deduction skills are not nearly as developed as Holmes’ are, however, he’s attentive, kind toward people, and balances Holmes with his earthy, practical nature.

Sherlock Duke

Duke

I love these actors, and it is fun to see them paired in Sherlock. They last worked together in The Hobbit trilogy, with Freeman playing Bilbo, the Hobbit who goes on an incredible adventure, while Cumberbatch voices the fire-breathing dragon Smaug. Cumberbatch’s voice as Smaug is different enough that I don’t get too caught by hearing him as Sherlock. However, it took me well into the second episode before I could separate Bilbo from Dr. Watson. Freeman’s wonderfully expressive face and distinctive voice took me back to the Hobbit…over and over again. I appreciate how much of themselves actors bring to their roles. That smile, that pursing of the lips and tilting of the head are Martin Freeman characteristics, not just Bilbo gestures and expressions. I enjoyed him immensely, and by the end of episode two, Freeman was Dr. John Watson.

Speaking of Middle-Earth, I cracked up over a character in episode three named The Golem. There was even a scene with the silhouette of The Golem on a wall, in a crouched position that was intended, I’m sure, to bring an entirely different Gollum to mind. It was clever…and brilliant…and hugely amusing to me as a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit fan.

I am hooked now on Sherlock, and grateful for the opportunity to catch up on this excellent series. The pups seem to enjoy it too….as long as I don’t move around too much and disturb their slumbers. Tomorrow evening…season two, episodes one and two. The game is on!

Sherlock Agnes

Agnes

Journey 50: The Tenth Doctor Who

dr who 10th doctor

I have been faithfully watching Dr Who episodes with my grandson Dayan. On most Thursday afternoons, I pick him up from school, grab us a snack, and camp out in front of the TV with Dayan, learning about this long lived BBC series. We began with the 9th Doctor, and season one of the revived Dr Who. I have to admit, I have become a fan of this quirky, campy, sci-fi series, which originally aired in 1963. Watching with Dayan, and discussing the episodes, makes it more fun.

At the end of season one, of the revived Dr Who, I watched the phenomenon that happens to a Time Lord, when faced with death. He regenerates…and becomes new. New body, new face, new personality….and in reality, a new actor portraying the Doctor. It is a very clever way to keep a series alive over decades and keep the storyline lively and interesting. However, I began watching with actor Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor and I wasn’t sure I was going to like a new actor in the role. Dayan assured me I would adjust.

It was well done, the regeneration. At first I resisted the idea of a new actor playing the familiar role. I had grown fond of Eccleston’s performance as the Doctor. David Tennant helped make the transition smooth by mimicking gestures and facial expressions of the previous Doctor, gradually bringing his own personality into the role. This afternoon, Dayan and I watched New Earth and Tooth and Claw of season two. The episodes were very well done, bringing a couple of past characters, Lady Cassandra and the Face of Boe, back in New Earth, which was set in the year five billion twenty three. Taking place in the city of New New York (not a typo!), the story raised the question of what’s ethical in the treatment of diseases and even more important, in the treatment of life.

Tooth and Claw won my approval immediately, as the setting was Scotland in the time of Queen Victoria. I felt sure it aired around Halloween time, since it featured a were wolf, but it originally aired in April of 2006. I loved the Scottish accents and landscapes. There was a nice twist to the story at the end, involving the royal family of Great Britain. And by the end of this episode, I had quit comparing David Tennant to Christopher Eccleston, quit trying to “see” Eccleston in Tennant’s expressions and mannerisms. I decided I liked David Tennant! He brings a freshness to the role, which is, of course, the whole idea.

I googled Tennant and found that he actually is Scottish, and knew by the age of THREE that he wanted to be an actor. I found it amazing that his early decision was inspired by….watching Dr Who episodes! The young David never wavered from his chosen path, and fulfilled his dream. I find that inspiring. David Tennant is a great role model for anyone who desires to follow his or her heart, persevering no matter what others think and say.

Dayan smiled with a “see, I told you” look when I confessed I liked the new Doctor. And then he surprised me with a story he wrote as a school assignment. He asked me if I wanted to read it. Titled “Numbers on the Wall”, I was so impressed with his short story, so amazed at the writing ability he already shows at the age of 15. He got an A on the assignment and has submitted the story in a writing contest. Wow. What an encouragement to me as well, as I see Dayan pursuing his dreams. Seriously, Dayan reminds me of Tolkien when that author was a young man, crafting countries peopled with remarkable and diverse personalities, creating languages, back writing a history that supported an entire made up world. I see that same creative spark and ability in Dayan, that same keen intelligence and curiosity.

I am enjoying watching Dr Who with Dayan. I have many more episodes to go to catch up to the current season and the latest incarnation of the Doctor. Even more, I am enjoying the conversations and shared laughter with my grandson, enjoying watching him grow and learn and journey. I’m glad we have so many episodes of Dr Who ahead of us. I treasure this time.

dr who 10th doctor david tennant