Sherlock Holmes is indeed one of the most recognisable characters of the 21st Century. The work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is still being enjoyed today for its characters, its cases and its entertainment. When the BBC announced they were doing an updated version of the great detective set in modern day London, many were skeptical. Yet in the hands of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss the show has proved to be one of the best written and frequently watched things on the box.
But just why does Sherlock work in its modern day setting?
Another thing that makes the show so enjoyable is that it has such a stellar cast. The casting of Benedict Cumberbatch was perfect. His chiselled cheekbones, cool blue eyes and well spoken accent allow for a strict and stern looking Holmes. Able to switch from charm to indifferent in the blink of an eye. He delivers his, often speed of thought, lines with ease and intelligence. Holme’s, as a character, can often be accused of being cold and spiteful but in Cumberbatch’s portrayal he manages to keep his charisma regardless of how inappropriate he may be.
Cumberbatch’s performance is enhanced by the casting of Martin Freeman as Watson. Freeman is able to provide the level headedness to Holmes eccentricity. John also provides so much of the shows emotional range. It's his compassion that breaks down Holmes' wall and lets the audience in to the heart of such a fascinatingly closed off character. The pairs chemstry on screen is electric. Whether the two are getting drunk for John’s bachelor party, solving a case or fighting in the street the relatonship feels so realistic.
In Conan’s classic stories Holmes was a character that was scientifically at the head of his time. The techniques and methods he used, although outdated now, were the latest in scientific developments. The Holmes of BBC’s Sherlock utilises every modern scientific method he can from communications, the internet to medical testing. His character has the same principle just in another time. He still catalogues samples for his studies except now it's on his website, The Science of Deduction. Holmes' use of technology never feels forced in Sherlock as it is what the great detective would have done if Doyle had written him today.
Add to this already brilliant mix that the show was created and written by geeks. Moffat, Gatiss and Thompson clearly love Doyle’s work and their affection comes through in the show. Not only have they written cases based on his stories that are just as intriguing but they fill the show with small references to the source material that make it so rich in context.