It’s been a varied and interesting week on i-player this week; as well as revisiting ‘Dad’s Army’ I was able to watch the film ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’, which I haven’t seen for about 30 years and which I found as disturbing as ever.
Then I was introduced to ‘Death in Paradise’ – very enjoyable but sadly no longer available, and on Sunday I happened across a hastily-compiled tribute to the late Mel Smith, introduced by his partner* Griff Rhys-Jones.
Continuing that theme in the evening was a ‘Not the Nine o’clock News’ retrospective, and then during the week I made the shock discovery of an Actual Human Being appearing on a real-life programme. Yes, there are still one or two around, it seems – one or two people who still know how to be genuine and spontaneous on TV – and the cricketer Phil Tufnell is one:
Mind you, that was a repeat, so by now he’s probably had some media training and been told not to be so genuine and up-front about himself…
But! The thing that totally blew me away this week was the discovery of the new Sherlock Holmes. I confess it freely: when I heard they were doing a new adaptation my reaction was to yawn. I’m done with old Sherlock, I thought. Ever since the excellent Jeremy Brett series I have lost interest in the great detective and decided that he is terminally outdated.
How wrong could I be? And who better to show me that than the time-travelling writer, the genius that is Stephen Moffat? They have done an absolute blinder with this series; in fact I have so many things I want to say, all trying to burst out of me at once, that I can barely put finger to keyboard.
This series is as far as it’s possible to get from the classic Basil Rathbone and his buffoon sidekick (‘By Jove, Holmes! How do you do it?’ etc etc). Benedict Cumberpatch is terrific as a slightly autistic, brilliant but utterly infuriating Holmes, and Martin Freeman is just about perfect as an exasperated Watson frantically trying to teach him some basic social skills. The problem with a modern Holmes is of course that the police are now the forensic experts and they have even less need of amateur sleuths than they did in Conan Doyle’s day: and they have got round this by a combination of Holmes’ own use of modern techniques, such as Google Street View and his own forensic lab, and the sheer pace of the narrative. The man’s brilliance of observation remains as much in the forefront as ever (‘you have marks on your wrists from a desk, meaning that you have recently been studying hard’), while Mycroft sits aloof in the background, inhabiting a room in a gentlemen’s club where no talking is allowed.
Andrew Scott plays Moriarty brilliantly as a gut-churning, glistening, writhing, spitting, hate-filled and manipulative version of evil – and the way they do the Reichenbach Falls is nothing short of genius. So I demand that you watch this now because it has only two days left to live on i-player:
I watched the ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ episode with Daniel and suggested that he look at the Basil Rathbone films for comparison. He said that he would.
And here is the Mel Smith stuff. We are told there will be a proper tribute in the Spring:
*though not in the Biblical sense