Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 1 (Spoiler-Free)

Show: Sherlock, Season 1 (2010)

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

Although I have written movie and book reviews, this is my first show review. I am thrilled to be able to share with you my reaction to and rating of Sherlock Season 1.

As this is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Sherlock Season 1 aired in 2010 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, and Andrew Scott.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Intriguing titles
  • Engaging plot
  • Catchy theme song

Cons

  • I could not think of any specific cons for this season.

Review

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, was incredible. They both played their parts well. All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized.

The setting is more relevant to a modern-day audience than Victorian London and allows for a unique spin on a Sherlock Holmes story. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones creates a new playing field for a new Sherlock to test his intellect.

The main characters are highly developed.

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage. He diagnoses himself as a sociopath, which is shown by this comment:

I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock

Ironically, he is not actually a psychopath or a sociopath, which is argued very strongly in this article by psychologist Maria Konnikova. One line of reasoning used in the article is that he is not actually devoid of empathy, shown by his treatment of Watson and Mrs. Hudson on numerous occasions. Another point is that he does feel emotions and that his calculated coldness is learned rather than innate. Konnikova makes several other valid points, so I would recommend her article.

Watson also seems to be of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has his own dark side, however, and when Sherlock asks him if he wants to see more death, he says:

Oh, God, yes.”

John Watson in Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes is a familiar character, which means that the directors of this show have to find a way to embrace the old while creating a new take on Sherlock. They have done this masterfully.

The first time we see Sherlock, he is viciously beating a corpse with a whip. That seems contrary to his character: the cold, intelligent type. But it isn’t. It’s a new take on his character. By emphasizing his lack of empathy at the beginning, the directors make his character more ambiguous.

Is Sherlock good or bad? Well, he’s both, just like any other human being. He has his negative and positive qualities, and by showing his negative qualities first, the directors introduced the possibility of a bad or morally ambiguous character.

It is a way of generating curiosity and analysis. Viewers get to know the harder parts of Sherlock and then have to decide if that is somewhat made up for by his better qualities.

This makes Sherlock so much more than the intelligent “consulting detective.”

The script is often comical and further develops the characters. When Sherlock asks Molly about her lipstick and Anderson about how long his wife has been away, this reveals both his lack of tact and the ingenuity of the script that made that apparent.

The titles of the episodes are intriguing. For instance, a quick search of “A Study in Pink” finds that it is an echo of the first Sherlock Holmes book written by Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet. It is also a strange title because of the associations people have with the color pink: for example, happiness, peppiness, even superficiality. It stands out from the darker atmosphere of Sherlock. It is also interesting to note that this becomes the name of Watson’s blog article.

The plot is engaging and kept me watching carefully. It is always fun to try to deduce how Sherlock has come to his conclusions before he condescends to explain it. The first episode, “A Study in Pink,” is solving the case of serial suicides, which I thought was creative.

Conclusion

I would rate this show 10 out of 10 stars. It was so good that I failed to find any cons.

Have you watched it yourself? Or do you intend to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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