I think we know by now that I get overly enthusiastic about a great many things (Ryan Gosling, Star Wars, Masterpiece, Cheese Fries). However, there’s only one television program that I have been absolutely obsessed with this year and that is Sherlock.
In the UK, Sherlock is sort of the biggest television program in ages. It’s not just a show, but an event. In the United States…well, either you’ve already bootlegged the show off the internet (shhh…) or you have no idea that it’s even a thing because it’s on PBS.
I’m here to tell you that Sherlock is not only a very thing-like thing, but it should be the only thing you care about for the next two weeks. Here are a list of reasons why:
1) It’s a really, really, really, really, like really, really good show.
Sure, it’s yet another adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous Sherlock Holmes tales. However, the thing that Sherlock has over other adaptations is that it imagines Holmes, Watson and their friends and enemies as contemporary people in modern-day London.
Each installment is a 90 minute long super-episode (or if you will, “film”) that takes inspiration from one of the sleuth’s (God, I love writing the word “sleuth”) famous adventures and then reinterprets the stakes and re-envisions the characters for 2012.
For instance, last week’s episode, “A Scandal in Belgravia” introduced Sherlock’s main love interest Irene Adler. In the original story, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, Adler is an opera singer and adventuress from New Jersey (I confirmed this on wikipedia) who is in possession of a scandalous photograph showing herself and one of her royal lovers.
In “A Scandal in Belgravia”, Adler is a British…um…well, she’s a professionally naughty woman who has a photograph on her phone showing herself and a female royal in settings that would be scandalous. However, the contemporary Adler is also hiding other more important and more deadly secrets on her phone. So, even if you’re a Sherlock scholar, there are still twists and turns to keep you guessing.
Don’t you like guessing? I love guessing. Guessing is a good way to tell whether or not your brain is still working. Is your brain still working? Good. Let’s continue.
2) Benedict Cumberbatch
Oh dear God, do I need to explain for the umpteenth time why you need to be aware of Benedict Cumberbatch?
He’s pretty much poised to be the next big thing within the next year or so. This past year he was in War Horse and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. He’s currently wrapping his role as the villain in the next Star Trek film (and the dark hair is really working for him). He’s going to be in The Hobbit and he’s going to be in a fancy HBO period drama later this year.
Sherlock, however, is his breakout performance.
In case you were wondering, yes, he is the moody looking guy playing Sherlock Holmes. I won’t deny that the man’s looks are polarizing, but the confidence and talent that he exhibits as an actor is nothing short of sex incarnate. I’m sorry, but I just think confidence is insanely attractive and the swagger that Mr. Cumberbatch displays as Holmes is nothing short of the sexiest swagger that I’ve ever seen. Which means he’s one of the sexiest actors I’ve ever seen. I’m sorry, Channing Tatum.
3) Martin Freeman
Any Sherlock Holmes is only as good as his Dr. Watson and Martin Freeman is an astoundingly good Watson.
You might know dear Mr. Freeman as “Just Jim” from Love Actually or the original Jim, Tim Canterbury, from the British Office. Before Sherlock, most audiences knew Freeman as a comedic actor, but what he displays here is a remarkable ability to ground drama with just a glance or a shift in posture.
Like Cumberbatch, Freeman is set to explode later on this year. He’s actually playing the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, in The Hobbit. So, watch him now so that when the movie rolls around this Christmas, you can pat yourself on the back for already being a super fan.
4) The writing of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss
If you are at all a fan of Doctor Who you already know this. If you aren’t a fan of Doctor Who because you like contemporary set crime procedurals over time travel stories, then you should watch Sherlock and discover all the wit and brilliance you’ve been missing.
5) Molly Hooper is fantastic
Molly Hooper is this fun, sweet, nerdy lady who has a crush on Sherlock. You constantly feel sorry for her because she loves him so much, but in the end–and oh my gosh, don’t let me spoil it for you–she does something so awesome that–oh my gosh, I’m going to spoil it for you.
Long story short: Molly is fantastic as is Louise Brealey, the hyper-fun, super-creative, insanely-smart, multi-talented lady who plays her. Follow her on twitter and watch Sherlock so we can discuss what I’m talking about.
6) You can DVR AMC and HBO for two weeks
Sunday night is a big television night for me. I usually have to decide between Game of Thrones, Girls and Veep on HBO and Mad Men on AMC. Sherlock is airing at the same time as these amazing shows which is tragic and sad and makes me want to ask the PBS programmers, ”Why are you hitting yourself?”
Now, I don’t know if you guys know this, but there’s this thing called DVR. It means you can record your favorite television programs and watch them later. There’s also this thing called Time Warner On Demand and HBO GO. Which means, if you have HBO, you can pull up their programs at any time.
You might be asking “Why shouldn’t I DVR Sherlock then?” Because Sherlock doesn’t have the same viewership numbers that the other networks already have locked in. None of the shows or networks I mentioned is hurting in the ratings. If you show PBS that you care enough to tune into their programming, they are going to try harder to ensure that they spend their limited budget on like programming. Show television networks that you care! I’m not saying you have to show the people in your life that you care about them. It’s not in my nature to comment on people’s personal lives. I do think that you have a responsibility as an audience member to show up for and demand quality programming.
Also, it’s only on for two more weeks. There are only three episodes of Sherlock per season and you’ve already missed the first one. Get on it before it’s too late!
7) You’d be supporting public television
I don’t know if you know this, but television corporations only care about making money. Quality programming is fine, so long as it generates revenue from advertising. That’s why amazing shows like Parks and Recreation, Community, Firefly, Best Friends Forever, and Pushing Daisies are constantly either getting axed or under threat of being canceled. Because of money.
PBS is funded by the government and viewer contributions. They don’t do advertising revenue, which means all their money goes to producing and presenting the highest quality of television that they can. This also means they can’t spend as much on advertising their own programming, so it’s harder for those great shows, like Sherlock (or Downton Abbey or Bleak House or Doctor Who or Anne of Green Gables or Nova or Prime Suspect or Sesame Street) to get viewers beyond the ones generated by word of mouth.
Your support and viewership really matters to PBS. They exist because of fan campaigns and loyal viewership.
So, tune into PBS. Show them how much you appreciate falling for Matthew Crawley or girl-crushing Anne Shirley or hanging out with Big Bird and Elmo by giving Sherlock a shot and falling in love with a whole new cast of characters.
Now, if after all that, you’re still not willing to give Sherlock a try, then the American people are really a mystery to me and you deserve to not be let in on the secret of my new favorite show.
Photo credit via BBC and guardian.co.uk