Having watched the third season of Sherlock, I wanted to re-watch the first two seasons to see how it all stacked up.
So, A Study in Pink.
I really liked the introduction episode to this reboot. It has lots of classic elements while also seeming very modern. It’s probably partly due to the directing style but also a lot of the acting choices. I like the general look of the episode. The positioning of the windows in their flat allows for some interesting and atmospheric lighting. Shadows and focus. I liked the floating text. I don’t remember if the recent movies did something similar but I appreciate it as a shortcut into his thought process if only because I don’t like a lot of exposition. I think the mystery wasn’t overly clever. I’m not sure if it was meant to be. I was surprised Sherlock didn’t realize it was the cabbie earlier when they were chasing the freaking cab. But it doesn’t matter. For me, at least, the show was more about the characters than the plot. The story is fun bonus :-).
I like Sherlock’s gleeful energy and willful obliviousness or indifference to his effect on people. He knows how he comes off and to some extent, relishes it because it’s sometimes useful to him. He does love to show off but I feel like a lot of his showboating is part of his defensive mechanism. His conversation with John Watson in the cab seemed like Sherlock’s attempt to overwhelm John with the “worst” of his personality…a “take me or leave me” attitude. He extended an invitation to John and now he’s nervous about his company. John’s response surprised him, which is meant to be unusual I think, because almost everyone in his world mistakenly takes Sherlock at face value. Sherlock is only mostly as he seems. Not a sociopath, possibly Vulcan…nah, he’s way too expressive :-P. (I actually got very annoyed that Donovan said he was a psychopath because…well, maybe I thought a detective should know better. Aside from the obvious, it definitely predisposed me against her. Also, her reaction when John asked her where he was. Dude has a cane and Donovan doesn’t know it’s psychosomatic…she rolled her eyes and “ugh”ed at him when he was admitting he can’t just walk home. Seriously?)
Benedict Cumberbatch has a very interesting face and a wonderful voice. I think Sherlock’s development as a character is relatively subtle. The more of his real personality we as the audience see, the more explicitly he insists on his cold deviance. So we are meant to observe Sherlock’s face and actions. His reactions to the people that actually matter to him (John, Molly, Mrs. Hudson, etc.) say so much about him. And I think Cumberbatch does a great job, as the series progresses, giving Sherlock that humanity.
I really like John Watson. As a character, he’s partly meant to be a mirror or sounding board for Sherlock but in many ways, he’s more fully-developed than Sherlock. I wish more people were like him…although there are moments in the rest of the series where I feel like they push his equanimity to the point where I just want him to be able to escape his friendship with Sherlock. But in the first episode, I like that he doesn’t judge Sherlock. They present it like John has an affinity for danger and the dangerous but I think that’s part of it but also too simplistic. John is a soldier and a doctor. His instinct to protect is obviously very strong. I think the fact that he was introduced to Sherlock by a friend and perhaps even more importantly, his firsthand impression of the relationship between Sherlock and Mrs. Hudson, greatly influenced his decision/inclination to trust Sherlock.
Martin Freeman is genius in this role. His face is so freaking awesome. And he exudes a sense of competency and broken-ness. His Watson is both stoic and heart-breakingly open. I feel like John Watson, as written, could have been one-note and rather annoyingly puppy-dog. There’s something about Freeman that makes it believable that someone like Sherlock wants to do well by him. I think Sherlock didn’t tell Lestrade or the police when he went to the cab because he knows their priorities are different from his. But I think he didn’t tell John because he kind of knew that he was going to leave with the cabbie and that unlike going to the crime scene, this trip was actually dangerous. Most decisions are propelled by multiple factors. Yes, I think a driving force behind Sherlock deciding to go with the cabbie was his own arrogance and curiosity. But I also think he had more care of John’s safety than his own. His realization that John took real action to protect him solidified what may have been an unconscious decision.
I think some of the recurring characters introduced are well-characterized right off the bat. Mrs. Hudson, Greg Lestrade, Mycroft, Molly, Anderson, Donovan. Their impressions of Sherlock and what that says about Sherlock himself. Our opinion of Anderson and Donovan obviously cloud our perception of Sherlock. Since they both seem to be arrogant and judgmental idiots, I’m less likely to agree with what they think/say about Sherlock. Lestrade, poor Lestrade. I think he and John are very similar. Lestrade has less angst possibly and is more willing to exploit what he knows of Sherlock (i.e. the “drug bust”). All in all, I like how they set up Sherlock’s immediate world so efficiently in the first episode.