By Jaime Weinman - Sunday, November 11, 2012 - 0 Comments
Sherlock Holmes used to be a dour Victorian, and now he’s the detective who’s bringing sexy back. Or at least that’s the impression you’d get from the latest television trend: modern-day versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. Robert Downey Jr. was a younger-than-usual Holmes in the 2009 film version, but in recent TV adaptations Holmes is much cooler. People are watching Sherlock, the hit BBC drama starring 36-year-old Benedict Cumberbatch as a contemporary, computer-using Holmes, or they’re tuning in to Global to see Elementary, in which Holmes lives in New York and Watson is a female doctor. “I think the character of Sherlock Holmes is innately attractive,” says Naomi Roper, who runs a fan site for Cumberbatch. He’s even more attractive now that he’s been converted into a contemporary TV hero.
The traditional portrayal of Holmes is as a haughty intellectual with a bumbling sidekick. Aidan Quinn, who plays a key role on Elementary as a policeman who turns to Sherlock for help, says he “just knew Holmes from the Basil Rathbone movies,” in which the character was middle-aged and distant. The new Holmes shows have gone in another direction. Cumberbatch has become an international heartthrob, with fans dubbing themselves “Cumberbitches.” And in Elementary, Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes is an anti-authoritarian rebel, particularly when it comes to wisecracks: Quinn says most of the humour is between Holmes and Watson, with Holmes exposing other characters as square and humourless. Continue…
By Patricia Treble - Monday, May 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM - 0 Comments
Only detective the great Mr. Holmes could figure it out. Trouble is, he’s supposed to be dead.
In a series known for witty writing, breakneck plots and intricate crimes, the final episode of Sherlock’s second season stands out for a cliffhanger so baffling it has spawned a worldwide obsession. It wasn’t the ending itself—anyone familiar with the Arthur Conan Doyle story knew The Reichenbach Fall would conclude with the great detective’s “death”—but rather how the show pulled it off.
The finale, which aired last Sunday on PBS’s Masterpiece, has criminal mastermind Jim Moriarty convincing the tabloids, and thus the world, that Holmes wasn’t a brilliant detective but a fraud. Then, with Holmes’s reputation in tatters, Moriarty delivers the coup de grâce on a London rooftop: if snipers don’t get conﬁrmation that Holmes has jumped to his death, they will kill his three closest friends, including Dr. John Watson. Viewers, and a horrified Watson watching from the street below, see him seemingly plunge to his death. Yet the very last frame of The Reichenbach Fall features Holmes, very much alive and in hiding.
Unlike Doyle’s 1893 original, in which no one finds the body after Holmes plummets to his death off Switzerland’s Reichenbach Falls, these modern aficionados of the detective were going to make sure everyone saw Holmes’s plunge and lifeless form. “It was plotted and planned from the beginning,” Steven Moffat explained, so as to be “something that invites people to speculate on how it happens.” He and co-creator Mark Gatiss succeeded. From the moment their work aired on the BBC in January, the Internet exploded in manic speculation. Why did Holmes want Watson to stand in that particular location? Did he throw a dummy over the edge? Was the body on the sidewalk a cadaver, made up to resemble the detective? Moffat egged them on. “There is a clue everybody’s missed. So many people theorizing about Sherlock’s death online—and they missed it,” he boasted in the Guardian.
By Patricia Treble - Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM - 2 Comments
A show once dubbed ‘grandparents’ TV’ is rocking the ratings wars
In an era of moribund network ratings, PBS’s Sunday stalwart Masterpiece has done the impossible, becoming TV’s standout program, with a 44 per cent increase in ratings. And the show accomplished it not by dumbing down or skimping on content but by doing the opposite: churning out more and more intelligent, sophisticated series. Everyone in the industry gives credit to one person: its executive producer Rebecca Eaton, 63, who’s had the job for 25 years. But the show wasn’t always flying high. Three years ago, it was floundering, a “dusty jewel,” Eaton recalls. The home of classics such as Traffik and The Jewel in the Crown looked and felt dated. Though it was showing acclaimed dramas such as Bleak House, viewers labelled it their “grandparents’ TV.” Making matters worse was a scheduling schizophrenia: a Brontë period drama would be followed by a contemporary thriller like Prime Suspect and then a Hercule Poirot cozy mystery.
Eaton gambled on a down-to-the-studs renovation. She wiped the fuddy-duddy name “Theatre” from the title. To cure the “head snap” scheduling problem, she divided the show into three seasons: contemporary dramas in the fall, classic fare in the winter, and mysteries in the summer. Each section got a distinct new look and a talented actor as a host. Acerbic Alan Cumming (The Good Wife) eagerly snapped up the Mystery! gig. “I think the whole notion of being a host announcing a drama that is about to unfold is a very rare thing these days, and it just really appealed to me,” he explained.
Ratings increased steadily before soaring this past year—its 40th on air—as Masterpiece pumped out hit after hit, including the acclaimed Sherlock, a new Upstairs Downstairs and the blockbuster Downton Abbey. The latter attracted 12.6 million viewers, with another one million watching it online. The drama about an aristocratic family and its servants was a hit in the prime early 20s age group, a market the show doesn’t target.