• BBC but co–produced with WGBH Boston - two series of three x 90 minute episodes. Writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have pedigree working on Dr Who and League of Gentlemen – show mixes horror and suspense with comedy – appeals to a wide audience. Heavily trailed on TV and on the internet. Sherlock’s own website, The Science of Deduction and Watson’s blog – update cases and offer teasers for future episodes. Quirky cast, Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, appeal to audience – Freeman popular from The Office.
• Amateur sleuth, maverick detective who does things his way; one step ahead of the police. The more normal Dr Watson is the audience’s touchstone – a way of being able to relate to the Homes character.
• Media language – ambitious visual effects such as split screen to show Holmes’ thoughts and that he is aware of everything around him; text messages appear on the screen and subtly fade. Use of accelerated motion and extreme POV shots followed by a reaction shot e.g. CU of Homes’ eyes to imply he’s solving the problem. Episode 3, Series 1 – the hours left to solve the case are superimposed on the screen, 24-like. That episode featured five interlocking cases leading to a confrontation between Holmes and his arch enemy, Dr Moriarty, all moving at a rapid pace.
• Representation – Sherlock is refined, intelligent and aloof – corrects the grammar of a murderer in prison; gets bored easily – eccentric – fires gun at walls of his flat. Character’s traits have been updated – wears nicotine patches instead of smoking a pipe; dresses stylishly (wears Dolce & Gabbana shirts), dresses in grey black and has a timeless look. Show is self-referential – Watson makes comments about Holmes looking superior with his high cheekbones and in the Hound of the Baskervilles episode he is posed on hilltops, deliberately artfully against the sky.• Watson, by contrast, is ‘ordinary’ – dressed in earthy colours; he is stable and long-suffering. Moriarty is snappily dressed, rude, cunning, but – likes Holmes and Watson – young, to appeal to a younger generation.
• The show’s post-modern aspects can also be seen in the references to the possibilities (always denied, of course) of Holmes and Watson being gay because they live together. This is an issue discussed in the literature about Holmes because, with one exception, he is never attracted to women; it also satirised the fact that films in which two men feature as close friends or companions are scrutinised by critics and theorists for any aspects of a homosexual subtext.
• The representation of London reflects the contemporary setting – the bustle of the streets; accelerated motion, the London Eye etc, but the show’s historical roots are reflected in the sepia tones of the opening credits.
• The police are always one step behind Holmes and he is in frequent conflict with them, especially the female officer as well as other branches of authority, including the government secret service organisation headed by his brother, Mycroft.• Women tend to be portrayed as subservient or ignorant or as comic foils (like Mrs Hudson); the one woman who isn’t is Irene Adler, the ‘woman’ of the Conan Doyle stories, the one person who he admires because she thinks along the same lines as him; however, when she appears in the show, although she is clearly a strong character and uses her sexuality to her advantage, she is depicted naked, as if to appeal to a traditional crime show male audience.
• Audience – the show has been a critical and commercial hit, including among younger viewers who, it is felt, have been deserting TV. It has been marketed at the same audience as Dr Who and repeat screenings on the BB3, a channel designed to bring new British talent to younger British viewers, has helped this. The show has received massive publicity from trailers, print media like the radio Times, but also many newspapers of all types, websites, blogs and the iPhone. Holmes is also part of Britain’s cultural heritage and more than that, a major part of the worldwide crime- writing heritage and appeals to older audiences. Its appeal hasn’t been hurt by the success of the two Sherlock Holmes movies directed by Guy Ritchie.
• Critical reception was overwhelmingly positive; it has been nominated for numreous industry awards and the first series won the 2011 BAFTA Television Award for Best Drama Series. It was shown on Masterpiece Theatre on PBS in America and it was nominated for an Emmy All six episodes have been released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the UK, alongside tie- in editions of some of Conan Doyles original books. Soundtrack albums from each series have also been released.
The shows popularity resulted in enquiries for coats similar to Sherlocks, reportedretailer Debenhams. Garment manufacturer Belstaff put the wool trench coat wornby Benedict Cumberbatch back into production before the series had ended. TheIndependent reported, "designer Paul Costelloe moved to meet thedemand, offering tailored coats and scarves based on the series. Publishers andretailers reported a 180% rise in sales of Sherlock Holmes books during the firstseries broadcast. Speedys, the sandwich shop below the flat filmed as Holmesresidence, reported a sharp rise in new customers who recognised it from theshow. BBC Online published several tie-in websites relating to the shows fictionalworld. These were written by Joseph Lidster, who had also contributed to theDoctor Who tie-in websites. In 2012, Sherlockology, an unofficial websitededicated to the series, was named the Best Fan Site in Social Media at the ShortyAwards.
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