|Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson|
I have been revisiting the entire series and decided to post my thoughts about some of the finer points I liked about this episode. For an overview of the plot, click here.
Very few adaptations have filmed the first meeting of Holmes and Watson. The few exceptions are the Russian adaptation (Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin) and the 1954 series (Ronald Howard and Howard Marion-Crawford).
This is one of the highlights in the entire Canon. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss earn brownie points for filming this pivotal moment.
The plot is based on A Study in Scarlet and has some modern updates and significant changes to the killer’s motivation.
|Martin Freeman as John Watson|
We meet John Watson as a depressed individual, still tortured by his war memories. John leads a very lonely existence and has taken course to blogging, as suggested by his therapist. He is just missing that one very important part to maintain a blog: interesting content.
Cue to Watson meeting the aforementioned interesting subject: Sherlock Holmes. I think this is a brilliant stroke from the writers, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. In tune with the modern tone, Sherlock maintains his own blog appropriately titled “The Science of Deduction”.
This episode is an excellent example of the all the strong points of this series:
- Excellent writing replete with a bunch of Canonical references
- Visual representation of Sherlock’s deductions
- Superb acting, music, and cinematography.
Sherlock’s statement about the killer: “Appreciation. Applause. At long last, the spotlight. That’s the frailty of genius, John. It needs an audience.” applies equally well to himself. This ingenious way of referring to this trademark Sherlockian trait is just a knockout piece of writing by Moffat.
The taxi chase is another nice touch and is a nod to Holmes’ exact knowledge of London.
|Mark Gatiss and Martin Freeman as Mycroft Holmes and John Watson|
Another of my favorite sections in this episode is the way Mycroft Holmes has been written and performed. Mycroft is one of my favorite characters in the Canon and Mark Gatiss’ version is my all-time favorite. Holmes likens Mycroft to being the British Government in The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans and this episode proves why this is the case.
Like the rest of the series, this episode had a lot of nods to Arthur Conan Doyle’s text. I have listed all the references to the other Canonical stories here.
There are some subtle nods to A Study in Scarlet as well:
- “If brother has green ladder, arrest brother” – A subtle reference to the way Stangerson is murdered and to one of the suspects, Arthur Charpentier.
- Watson here texts the murderer from his cell phone – In the original story, Holmes places an ad for the ring with Watson’s name and 221 B as the address.
|Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes|
As respectful as Gatiss and Moffat are to the Canon, they are not afraid of shaking things up:
- Anderson suggests the victim is German as RACHE (the word scribbled on the floor by the victim) is the German word for revenge. Sherlock is prompt to reject this theory. In the Canon, it is Lestrade who suggests looking for Rachel and Holmes suggests the aforementioned alternate theory.
- They also refer to one of the most famous inconsistencies in the Canon: the shifting nature of Watson’s war injury.
- In addition to being an expert in observation and deduction, Sherlock is a technical wizard as well. He is able to text everyone at the press briefing and Lestrade has no clue as to how Holmes is doing this.
This healthy mixture of reverence and the confidence to take a different approach has worked wonders. What we have here is a top-notch adaptation that stands head and shoulders above most of the adaptations out there.
Image Source: Cumberbatchweb
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|Canonical References in A Study in Pink|
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