Just ask the roughly 450 die-hard fans that packed Consolidated Theatres Ward to watch the big screen premiere of “Sherlock” season 3. PBS Hawaii hosted the sneak preview, days before the show’s official debut this Sunday.
Now we all know Sherlock Holmes, the iconic detective who was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887 and was the hero of four novels and 56 short stories. But if you’re new to the “Sherlock” TV series, you may feel a bit intimidated by all the nerdery surrounding the show. So here’s a primer on why you should consider spending the weekend in your pajamas, binge-watching season 1 and 2 on Netflix, just in time for Sunday’s 9 pm premiere.
Reboot Done Right
Created by former writers of another iconic British TV series, “Dr. Who,” Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock’s unflappable brother, Mycroft) crafted a reboot that makes a well-trodden property feel brand new. Their reimagining of “Sherlock” is obsessively faithful to Doyle’s books. It’s all there: 221B Baker Street, the deerstalker hat, Inspector Lestrade, Moriarty and Irene Adler. But the show’s success hinges on dropping our timeless heroes in today’s London.
Yes, our story begins once again with Dr. Watson coming home from another war in Afghanistan, but this time Sherlock’s pipe is replaced with nicotine patches. Watson’s memoirs, replaced by a blog. Today, Holmes solves crimes through Google maps, text messaging and hashtags. The modern setting of a fetishized London, from the Tube to the Gherkin, subverts the stodgy Victorian tropes of the past. And it’s all shot in a kinetic, caffeinated and distinctly fresh style. You have to see it to believe it. But don’t take my word for it. The show won a BAFTA (British Emmy) for Best Drama Series in 2011.
Quality over Quantity
Unlike the 22 episode, procedural grind of “Elementary” (CBS’s own American reboot), “Sherlock” only has three episodes per season. Yes, those episodes are each an hour and a half-long, but the brevity of each season allows the writers to make each “episode” a self-contained mini-movie, all with their own complex mysteries and complete character arcs.
Think of Robert Downey Jr.’s blockbuster “Sherlock Holmes” as the Rolling Stones and Benedict Cumberbatch’s “Sherlock” as the Beatles. This is a “Mental Floss” film, what I call popular films and TV shows that actually make us feel smarter when we watch them. Think of capers like “Sneakers” or modern mysteries like “All the President’s Men.” Like all great detective stories, “Sherlock” gets us thinking, fools us into believing we’ve got the answers, then subverts our every expectation.
The Original Bromance
But the show’s success is all about the characters. Cumberbatch, best known to US audiences for “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” plays the sociopathic Holmes with a panache that’s mesmerizing to watch. And Martin Freeman, who won a best supporting actor BAFTA for his work as Watson, grounds the show just as he did in his everyman roles as Bilbo Baggins (“The Hobbit”) and Tim (The British “Office”). It’s this adversarial buddy comedy premise and unique friendship that makes Holmes and Watson connect with audiences more than a century since their creation.
As for the actual season 3 premiere, I don’t want to ruin the surprise – and there are quite a few. Suffice it to say, the season kicks off with the crowd-pleasing thrills, suspense and style you’ve been waiting for. And I know this was a homer crowd, but throughout the show, the sound was constantly being drowned out by the audience’s roars of laughter.
If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were alive today, he’d probably find it hard to believe that fans would be dressed up in scarves, faux houndstooth and cable knit sweaters in homage to characters he created half a world away. But last night proved – without a doubt – that on a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific, #sherlocklives.
“Sherlock” season 3 premieres on PBS Hawaii on Sunday, January 19th at 9 pm.
Sherlock Mini-Episode: Many Happy Returns
For those caught up with the show, watch this short “Sherlock” film created as a prequel to the season 3 première.