Sherlock Sunday: A Study in Scarlet/Pink

Posted 29 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Is everyone else as excited about the upcoming series three premier of BBC’s Sherlock as I am?

If you haven’t watched the first two series already, go ahead and gorge yourself now. Each season consists of three 90 minute episodes of brilliant filmography, excellent storytelling, and great acting. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary Sherlock Holmes is vaulted into the 21st century and is masterfully portrayed by (delicious looking) Benedict Cumberbatch.

Series three is scheduled to hit TV’s in the UK on 1 January (lucky bastards), but those of us in the Colonies must wait until 12 January. Anyway I thought that this would be the perfect time to do a TV/book mashup post. I promise if I feel the need to share spoilers I will link them to a separate page, they won’t be here.

A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes #1) by: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Synopsis (Goodreads)
In A Study in ScarletDoyle presents two equally perplexing mysteries for Holmes to solve: one a murder that takes place in the shadowy outskirts of London, in a locked room where the haunting word Rache is written upon the wall, the other a kidnapping set in the American West. Picking up the “scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life,” Holmes demonstrates his uncanny knack for finding the truth, tapping into powers of deduction that still captivate readers today.

I was going to head straight to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as it is included on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list, but it’s actually the third Sherlock Holmes novel by Doyle and my compulsion to read series in the proper order would not allow me to concentrate on it, so A Study in Scarlet it was. 

This book wasn’t fantastic but it wasn’t bad either. It begins with poor, dear Dr. Watson searching for a flatmate after returning from the war in Afghanistan (o’ history is so cyclical) a mutual acquaintance introduces him to Sherlock Holmes who is eccentric to say the least. The reader is treated to the delightful prickly-ness, quick wit, and amaaaazing powers of deduction that are Sherlock Holmes. 

Something that I found odd about this novel was the abrupt complete change of direction in the middle of it. Basically the mystery is solved (but not explained) and then without warning (or even acknowledgement that it is part of the previous story) Doyle shifts gears and starts telling of a man and girl who are about to die of thirst in the great western desert of the United States and the Mormons that save them. Honestly, for quite awhile I thought that maybe A Study in Scarlet was actually a collection of short stories that had no connection. Do not despair, dear reader, this is not the case. 

I loved this novel (and suspect I will love the other novels) because the theory is so couched in logic.  True, it is fanciful to think that an ordinary human would have the skills of observation that Sherlock possesses, but it’s not necessarily impossible. It’s like reading about a superhero that you might actually find in real life, and of course Dr. Watson is always there to keep us grounded and add the observations of a mere mortal. Take it out for a spin, see if you like it. (Three stars) 

Sherlock: ‘A Study in Pink’ (Series 1, Episode 1) 

Ah. Mr. Cumberbatch and his legendary cheekbones. Check that, let’s start with the story.

Although the books take place in the 19th century and BBC’s Sherlock takes place in the 21st this episode is able to stick to the orignal story pretty closely! There are a few minor details that are changed to give the story an update but the core of the story remains the same. I will say this, there is a noted difference in the motive of the murderer from the books, it’s a tad more lazy, but I suppose the story had to be compressed into a 90 minute episode so you can’t have it all.

I love the way that Sherlock’s observations are translated to the screen through written labels applied to the screen, for example if Sherlock is doing a Google search on his smartphone, that text is superimposed on the screen so the viewer has an idea of what the thought processes that Sherlock has are.

Cumberbatch plays the title with just the right amount of snark and conceit with just a dash of common decency thrown in that I think if Doyle were alive today he would immediately recognize his character. I love all the actors. Martin Freeman is excellent as Watson, (who has just returned home from the war in Afghanistan) his vulnerability and quiet pride are a great offset to Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. Rupert Graves is also easy on the eyes (and convincing!) as Detective Inspector Lestrade.

Oh, so good. Even if you choose not to read the book, you should definitely go out and watch the show.  (Five stars)

April @ The Steadfast Reader


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