‘Sherlock – The Great Game’.

The other day, I found myself analysing the person in front of me in a Sherlock Holmes style. Sherlock, that is, in 2010. “Hm.. Sporting a blue plaster? Works in the catering industry. Chavy clothing though. Works in a chain pub. He’s carrying.. Knives?! Well he’s illegal but he clearly cares about his profession. Taking knives home to sharpen them..?” As I passed this chap on the street, I realised he was foreign – which was clearly my one great mistake. He was probably a brilliant chef but no one here would give him a chance.

Huge, probably wildly inaccurate, assumptions.

But yes, the point is ‘Sherlock’ is addictive and makes you want to be a consulting detective. Really. He makes detecting cool. And it must be so much fun acting the analysing scenes – the greatest moments of his career centres around making everyone else look incredibly thick because Sherlock can work out the hugest facts on the tiniest details. I WANT TO DO THIS.

‘Great Games’ reminded me of the 1939 Sherlock Holmes (with Basil Rathbone), ‘The Adventures Of-‘, which is a fantastic watch really. The main idea was that there were many small puzzles for Holmes to solve, whilst one huge one that he didn’t think was that important was going on in the background. Rookie mistake Holmes. This episode was also the first proper introduction of Moriarty, and it didn’t disappoint.

It starts with Holmes being bored in Baker Street, without a case to solve. He is disappointed with the criminals of London. After a gas-explosion, Mycroft visits and tries to persuade his brother to investigate the death of a MI5 employee, Andrew West, who was in possession of some highly important information. Holmes says no.

But then Sherlock is called to Scotland Yard, where he is given a package containing a pink mobile phone, similar to the one in ‘A Study In Pink’. A message on the phone is a recording of the Greenwich Pips – presumably an updated version of ‘The Five Orange Pips’ – and soon Sherlock starts receiving calls from unsuspecting members of the public who have had explosives strapped to them. These people give Holmes a number of hours in which to solve a puzzle, and if he doesn’t solve them, the explosives on the victim are detonated.

Case One involves Carl Powers, a boy who was drowned in a swimming pool in 1989. Being interested in the case at the time, but underage, Holmes was unable to do anything about it, but now a picture of 221C Baker Street (the basement flat of his building) is sent to his new pink mobile, and the trainers of Carl Powers sit there. Through analysing the trainers, Holmes solves the first case by detecting that Powers was poisoned through his eczema medicine – Case One is solved, and Victim One is saved.

Case Two – another photo message is sent to the pink mobile, this time of a car. When the car is found, a quantity of blood is discovered in it, and the assumption is made that the owner of the car, Ian Monkford, has died. But that is what we are supposed to believe – after Holmes finds a card for a rental service in the glove compartment, and talking to his ‘widow’, and analysing the clues, Sherlock discovers that Mr Monkford used the rental service to help him disappear, and set up a new life in Columbia. Job done.

Case Three involves a TV personality and make-over host, Connie Prince, who has died from a tetanus. Although it suspected she cut herself on a nail, Holmes blows this theory out of the proverbial water by pointing out the wound was made after death, and that it was Connie Prince’s housekeeper Raoul (how cliché…) who had poisoned her Botox injections to murder her. Holmes solves the case in time, but as Victim Three starts describing the perpetrator during her call to Holmes, the building she is in is blown up, and twelve people die. That Moriarty bastard.

Case Four – Alex Woodbridge. This was a particularly good one, and a photo of the Thames is sent to Holmes, via the pink phone. Checking the high and low tides, Holmes finds a body that has been lying under the water, and after a quick glance at the victim, he can tell Lestrade and Watson where he works and why he has been killed – a supposedly lost painting, worth £3 million, has been discovered and is to be unveiled at the museum that the dead man works at. Clearly the dead man knew, and so he had to die. OUTSTANDING analysis from Holmes here, who has about ten seconds to solve the case – or a child dies. He realises that a star, discovered in 1858, is painting into the picture. If this picture is supposed to be genuine, it cannot have been painted in the 1640s. Child survives. 1-Up Holmes.

Case Five – we are back to the underlying story of Andrew West, the murdered MI5 employee. After breaking into his brother-in-law’s flat and confronting him, said brother-in-law confesses and tells them about owing money to drug dealers, and how the important information that Andrew West was possessing could help him out of his debts. The death of West was an accident, and the information is reclaimed.

The episode ends in a stand-off between Moriarty and Holmes, at the swimming pool that Carl Powers died in (how sick). As his victim this time, Moriarty has Watson. Ouch. A discussion between whose mind is better ensues, and the scene ends with lasers from snipers on both Holmes and Watson, and Holmes trying to decide what to aim at with his gun – Moriarty or Watson’s explosive vest?

WHEN WILL THE NEXT SERIES BE?! Hurry up yes? Good.

You said it Holmes.


‘Sherlock – The Blind Banker’.

Although not exactly how I would imagine Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal and appearance of him is almost spot on.

Is he about to kill me..?

The second episode in this now confirmed first series, called ‘The Blind Banker’ was still rather good, though the story line was a little far-flung for my liking. On research, it seems there was a different writer from the first to the second episode – so this is the most likely explanation.

First of all, ‘The Blind Banker’ is missing Lestrade. Fair enough, not all Holmes stories have Lestrade in it, but why take him out so soon? Having said that, it could be a pattern of things to come, but I was more impressed with modern-day Lestrade than with this episode’s replacement, who rejects Holmes’ input until he solves the mystery. He was a little irritating as his character was somewhat exaggerated, but not to worry – he wasn’t in it much.

There's a lot of teapots involved

Now to the murders. We start with a break-in at a fancy bank whose workers would be described as working “in the city”. Mr bank manager is a bit of a tosser – but a comical one – and he offers Sherlock a “five-figure sum” to find out who spray-painted what looks like meaningless squiggles on a painting in the building. After a little investigation, Holmes obviously works out who these symbols are intended for (despite the bank having hundreds – maybe even thousands – of employees), and they pay this chap a visit. Except he’s already dead. The same thing happens to a journalist the next day, the same symbols being found. On the surface of it, it looks completely ridiculous and obviously there aren’t enough clues for Watson or the audience to work anything out at present. After some more investigation, Holmes and Watson find themselves in China Town, and, after finding similar symbols on items in a shop, they start to piece together the puzzle. They have discovered a smuggling ring called the Black Lotus, who leave origami black flowers on their dead victims. The banker and the journalist were clearly part of this ring – but why were they killed? What had they done wrong? Stolen a valuable item? Yes!

So after some more research, more good lines, and more patronising tones from Holmes, the code from the symbols is cracked, and the climax of the episode ensues. While Holmes has been detecting, Watson has been getting a new job and a potential new bird, who he goes on a ‘date’ with – except it’s not really a date as Sherlock thinks it’s perfectly fine if he joins them too. They go to see a display of Chinese circus acts, but the reason for the artists to be in England is

much more sinister, as we soon discover. Inevitably, Sherlock disregards all social conventions and takes on one of the circus members, which ends in Watson and his lady friend joining in, and the latter two being tied up and held at arrow-point, by the head of the Black Lotus society. After a few heart-rendering moments, Holmes saves both Watson and girl, kills the two henchmen, but the head of Black Lotus escapes. In the finally scene, she is seen talking on the internet with someone who is dubbed “M” – presumably to make us think it’s either Moriarty or Mycroft – but then is shot in the head. A satisfying end!

You can tell it’s a different writer than the first – this plot line is a little fanciful and I found it slightly disappointing in that a “crime syndicate” and a band of smugglers is not only a bit of a cliché, it’s also a bit of a cop-out. Think of a real plot! That aside, it was still a very enjoyable watch, and the attention to detail in the episodes is quite excellent really. I like the way it caters for an intelligent audience whilst helping you through the detection process, and it is pleasantly updated. It’s a modernised Holmes, but still with his personality – Holmes for the 21st century. He has “three patch problems” instead of three injections of cocaine. And of course he would use the Internet, mobile phones and GPS.

Next time I’m going to watch this when it’s actually on.

‘Sherlock – A Study In Pink’.

Well. This was pretty good wasn’t it. Like really good.

Being what is described as a “Rathbone Purist”, I was initially averse to watching any other Holmes-based product that didn’t involve Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. Their quaint depiction of Conan Doyle’s characters in the 1940s will always be my favourite performance, but not only was the 2009 film (simply entitled ‘Sherlock Holmes’) with Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law very good, this new adaptation is better than that. Doesn’t beat Rathbone though, but it’s still a good achievement.

Anyway. To business. Set in the modern-day, we ‘return’ to the first meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Pleasantly, the focus is mainly from Doctor Watson’s (Martin Freeman) point of view – as the books were written from this angle, I feel it’s good to get in some relation to the original stories. Watson has just returned from Afghanistan: this is also where he originally returned from, in the books, but it is then stated (after meeting an old friend in the park) that he studied for his medical degree at Barts. Not true, as Watson originally attended the University of London. This may be a minor point, but still one to raise – why stick to some details but then change others? Anyway, Watson is then taken to Barts and meets Sherlock Holmes. Played by Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, that’s really his name), he makes detection freaking awesome. Cumberbatch gives an excellent performance as Holmes, also adding in a sick excitement about murders and serial killers, which I don’t believe any writer or actor has had the courage to do so.

The story of this episode centres around a series of suicides which turns out to be a series of murders – but what’s the link? Turns out there is minimal link, but of course Holmes finds one. He’s not quite my idea of a Sherlock, but he makes a very good one – cool, aloof, skinny, wild eyes… And so bloody clever! The bastard. In an early scene, Watson is taken to meet what most Holmes fans would assume is Moriarty. The character tries to Watson to spy on Holmes for him, for a good sum, but there is no persuading the good Doctor. Holmes is disappointed as he thought they could have split the fee. He is also convinced that the murderer must be someone who we would normally trust everyday but not particularly notice – so immediately your mind starts racing as to who this could be.With a whole half an hour to go, Holmes meets the murderer – a taxi driver – and absolutely HAS to follow him to find out why he has been committing said crimes.

A half an hour talk ensues, and this sad little character of the taxi driver has been ‘playing a game’ with some of his passengers: he gets them to somewhere using a gun, and then makes them chose one of two pills – one kills one and one doesn’t. He takes the other. An exceptionally odd game, considering the way he makes them take a pill is with a fake gun. So it looks like suicide as the victim has died swallowing a deathly pill. The taxi driver is paid to do this by, I believe, the character who tried to get Watson to spy on Holmes at the beginning. Watson has followed Holmes and the taxi driver to their place of battle, and Watson saves the day as he shoots the taxi driver through a window. Good shot.

The blackmailing character turns up at the crime scene, and Holmes asks why… Turns out it’s Mycroft, his brother. As far as I’m aware, his brother wasn’t an evil crimelord so much. So another odd twist, but it was a particularly good surprise. I wonder where that aspect of things will go next…

The script is also very good – “Sherlock, I was wondering if you’d like to have a coffee some time..?” – “Yes please, take it into the next room won’t you?” I think it’s hilarious. I’m also a fan of the music – very ‘inspiring’ I suppose, and fitting, and the ‘text effect’, where if someone is writing a text then it appears on the screen. This also happens if Sherlock is figuring facts out from a dead body or similar. This I found useful: extra facts mean more clues to work out what happened, and when you work out what happened before Holmes tells you, you feel a little bit special.

This was a very good depiction of Holmes, detection and how well the stories fit in today’s society ie. very well. I have until Sunday evening to watch all the rest, so reviews aplenty shall occur! In many ways, I want there to be more than three in the series, and as of the 10th of August, it seems there will be other series to come, but for now, it’s excellent that they haven’t overdone it so far.

The Fantasy Dinner Party.

Despite it having “dinner” in the title, this is only because evening meals are so rarely called “Supper parties”. But I eat supper, I do not do “dinner”, “tea” (it’s a drink! The quintessential English DRINK), and, worst of all – surely – is “din dins”. That word is on par with “quirky”, de-pluralising “pound” (you have £3? It is THREE POUNDS. Not “three pound”. Or “free paaaaaand”), and maybe even the somewhat irksome Somerset phrase “Where’s that to?” Which, I think you’ll all agree, makes absolutely no sense at all.

So. We’re having supper. But who is to be invited? I feel there should be two invite lists – the fictional and the non-fictional. They are famous people and, yes, can be dead. This is fantasy world. Seven places, and I’m the host.

And this list is currently provisional. It changes all the time anyway.

The Real :

Charlie Brooker

John Betjeman

Agatha Christie

Dara O Briain (interchangeable with Dylan Moran, if Dara isn’t available)

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (although I’d need a “no puns allowed” rule)

Bette Davis (GLAMOURAMA)

Carol Ann Duffy (just to bring the jovial tone down ten feet)

The Not-So-Real :

Sherlock Holmes

Hercule Poirot

Jonathan Creek (am beginning to notice a pattern developing..)

(to be finished when I’ve thought of more who aren’t male fictional detectives…)

On another thought, this could make an excellent episode of ‘Come Dine With Me’.