Sunday, 28 July 2013

Sherlock | A Study In Pink Review

Welcome, to the personal blog of James R Mortimer. Apparently, writing a blog about everything that happens to me will honestly help me.

But then nothing happens to me.

And so, in my void of nothingness, and on the first day of a holiday in Wales, yesterday I rewatched A Study In Pink, the first Sherlock episode. Normally when I sit down and watch something it won't take me very long to get bored. Or I'll get distracted. Or something will turn up on YouTube and I'll watch that instead.

I watched A Study In Pink in one go, non-stop. And it's amazing. It is an almost perfect episode, and it is one of the best pieces of TV drama - ever. Seriously. It's complex, yet completely logical and easy to follow. There's perfect dialogue between the characters, and Steven Moffat not only overcomes the tricky 'first episode' hurdle, but shows all the other writers how first episodes should be done.

I remember the first time I saw this - and it had me fooled the whole way through. Recently a friend of mine began watching Sherlock - and she's fallen in love with it as well. (Not just because of Benedict Cumberbatch, although that has something to do with it I expect.) Sherlock is a wonderful series, and its first episode paves the way brilliantly. There's enough in it to warrant a rewatch, as the conversations and the relationships between the characters make it a joy to watch the story over and over again. The plot, for someone who hadn't read the Conan Doyle story until afterwards, is surprising - but it's also conveyed in an inventive enough way to make it interesting for those who know what's going to happen.

There's only so much I can say about how wonderful it is. And so I'll pick up on why it's "almost" perfect. The scene with John and Mycroft, although full of tension and very interesting the first time you watch it, is just a bit of a bore second time around. There are moments when I enjoyed it - but the rest of the time it just feels like it's dragging. It's one conversation tagged onto another and then another, and it begins to get dangerously close to a "filler" scene. I realise that the episode had to be extended by half an hour and that the pilot is without this scene (the pilot has more problems though so we won't go into those yet), but in other moments, that half an hour is filled well. The episode is handled better as a longer story. It's just the Mycroft/John scene that interrupts this - and that's all it does, interrupt the story. (Although I will admit - I did wonder if they'd actually given Moriarty to Mark Gatiss.)

The other issue is a tiny, tiny problem. "Sorry sir, who's status?" the pointless character who John can flirty with says at the end. She delivers the line so poorly - and it's not a great line anyway. It's in there purely for the geeky "Sherlock Holmes & Dr Watson" moment - which might work if delivered well and vaguely realistically. But it's a cliche line played as a cliche - and it really makes the episode end in a bit of a cringey way.

But apart from those. It is amazing. And you know it's a good episode when how someone says a line is one of my only criticisms.

So overall - I'd give this episode a 95% score of awesomeness. It is THAT good.

A Side Note on the Pilot: The Pilot, or what was intended to be the actual Episode One, isn't good. Maybe because it doesn't even compare to the episode one that aired - but maybe because it's just not great. It feels wrong in some ways. Sherlock wears a forensic suit-thing, which feels wrong. He spends the whole of the confrontation scene drugged which completely messes up the tension. The dialogue is just so much better in the actual episode, and everything seems much more considered and real. It feels like a wider story in the actual version - and the Pilot is relatively one-dimensional.

So yeah - thank Goodness the BBC wanted three 90 minutes.

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