While I was over at my dad's house, busily recruiting my stepmother into the cult of Downton Abbey, my father launched a sneak attack, and had me watch the first episode of Sherlock, which airs on BBC in the UK, and comes to PBS in America much later (much like Downton Abbey itself).

I can't claim to be the biggest Sherlock Holmes fan in the world, and yet... I agreed to watch the ninety-minute premiere. My dad and I don't agree on much, entertainment-wise, and yet... I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

And hey, while we're talking about things I'm not generally enthusiastic for, add "Gritty Reboots of Classic Properties" to the list, and yet... Something about the way this show weaves modernity into the traditional stories really works. The first season is available on Netflix Instant, so I settled in at home to watch the rest of the episodes. There are only three in the first season, but each one clocks in at an hour and a half, making this more like a set of mini-movies than an episodic television show.

All three episodes were incredibly engaging, though not without some problems: The landlady character is wasted to the point of being totally unnecessary. Sherlock comes off as arrogant, which is entirely natural, given the character's immense mental acuity, but Benedict Cumberbatch (Britishest Name Ever) sometimes has problems portraying that without making the character tedious. Sherlock is physically powerful and agile as well, which combined with his observational skills, risks turning him into an invincible super-human.

These are minor issues, though. In general, this show is far better than I expected it to be. The storylines are solid, and provide plenty of winks to the source material without being corny. As Dr. Watson, Martin Freeman creates a perfect blend of incredulity, peevishness, and gleeful willingness to assist in Sherlock's schemes. When Sherlock returns to America's shores this May, my dad can be assured that it has a new viewer firmly in its clutches.

Sherlock - Season 1: B+


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