DEBORAH CROMBIE: Having confessed, if a bit belatedly, that I've never seen an episode of Mad Men, can you guess why I put a red circle around Sunday, May 6th, on my calendar?
Yes, it's the return of SHERLOCK, on PBS Mystery, the first episode of the second three-part adaption of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Only in this newest version, created by Dr. Who collaborators Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat, Sherlock and Watson, and the villains who challenge them, exist in modern times. (Gloriously modern London, to be exact.) John Watson, MD, has returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan as an army doctor, and Sherlock--well, if you haven't seen the first series, I'd highly recommend you get your hands on the DVDs and watch immediately before diving into Season 2.
Sherlock is played by an actor with the unlikely name of Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict Cumberbatch???? Really??? In the old movie days, surely his name would have been changed to something sexier and more audience friendly... But then, once you've seen him, you can't imagine him being called anything else. It would be like Humphrey Bogart not being Humphrey Bogart.
Not that I'm comparing the two. Bogart was brilliant. But Cumberbatch is...Cumberbatch. I can't think of a comparison. He's arresting, brilliant, geeky, and incredibly sexy in a weird way.
(I've just seen him play 1970s MI6 spy Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and he steals the movie, even from Gary Oldman.)
In the new SHERLOCK, Martin Freeman is wonderful as Watson. My only regret is that both actors were so busy (Cumberbatch making Tinker Tailor and War Horse, as well as voicing Smaug the Dragon in The Hobbit, and Freeman playing Bilbo Baggins in same) that there was a long gap between Season 1 and Season 2 of SHERLOCK.
So, REDS, do you Cumberbatch? And do you have a favorite Sherlock, from Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett to Robert Downey, Jr. in the new film versions?
RHYS BOWEN: I didn't think I was going to like this new interpretation of Sherlock when I saw it on TV last year, but I found it fascinating. Of course watching Cumberbatch and Freeman was a plus but also Holmes using modern technology--which of course he would have embraced had he lived today.
And if my name was Benedict Cumberbatch I would definitely have changed it--think of signing autographs. His hand would fall off!
I always hated Rathbone and wasn't too keen on Robert Downey Jr. Jeremy Brett got the character right in many ways, but he was way too old. So was Watson. They are essentially young men in the stories. We tend to forget that because of the way Holmes has been portrayed on screen.
DEBS: Rhys, I so agree. Holmes was always a man ahead of his time, so it's such fun to see Holmes AND Watson using modern technology. I love it when we see what Holmes is thinking as a text:-) And yes, they are the perfect age. I recently reread some of the first Holmes stories and they are young men. In the new series, Moriarty is young, too, which makes it all the more interesting.
HALLIE EPHRON: I love the new Sherlock, too - it's clever in the way that Holmes is meant to be clever. And cheeky. Can't wait to start watching the new episodes.
I did like Jeremy Brett as Sherlock, but he got a bit too twitchy and mannered and skeletal toward the end. The BBC so often nails it with mystery sleuths. Can't beat David Suchet as Hercule Poirot or Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.
LUCY BURDETTE: Sorry to say I'm utterly out of the loop on this one! My husband and I just last night finished the final episode of Season 2 of DOWNTON ABBEY so you can see I'm not on the cutting edge. Sigh. On your recommendations, will have to put this in the queue...
JAN BROGAN - I used to watch the PBS version long ago when Sherlock was uncomfortably nervous and shaky and there were repeated references to his use of... what was it cocaine? Or opium? Watson was really the one I rooted for. Was that Rathbone's Sherlock? Whoever it was, he sort of turned me off on Sherlock Holmes and I'm afraid I really haven't given him a chance since.
But I've seen War Horse and now I'm trying to figure who Cumberbatch played. Off to google....
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I am so delighted with the new Sherlock! It's completely fascinating and revealing about the quality of the stories that the current writers could make Watson a veteran of the CURRENT war in Afghanistan. I love that Holmes is a character we know so well that we can believe he'd text. I mean--they might have decided to do a new Sherlock who hated technology, and insisted on relying on the old ways, right? But they went the riskier way, and I say hurray.
And I will confess to adoring Basil Rathbone. And adoring Robert Downey, Jr. (I'm sorry, I know, it's--not hip of me.) Jeremy Brett--somehow that didn't work for me. I watched them anyway, of course. Shall we talk about Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple? Okay, later...
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Cut my teeth on the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce movies and they will forever be the gold standard (in my mind anyway.) There was one movie..Terror By Night?..that was set during WWII and I didn't like that so not sure I'd like the new series. Haven't seen. And remembering Jeremy Brett as Freddie Aynsford Hill in My Fair Lady ("it's the new small talk...you do it so awfully well!") I could never see him as Holmes without expecting him to belt out On the Street Where You Live.
DEBS: Hank, is it not cool to like the Robert Downey version? I didn't know that... Because I do, although I liked the first movie better than the second. And I love Jude Law as Watson.
I did like Jeremy Brett, although I agree he got a bit twitchy and weird towards the end of the series.
But no one, as far as I'm concerned, has topped Cumberbatch and Freeman for perfect casting and cleverness. And no one has come near Gatiss and Moffat on the writing.
For those of you who aren't yet Cumberbatch converts, you have a treat in store.
How about you, readers? Do you like--or love--the new Holmes?