Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s eccentric detective has returned—this time to TV and a contemporary setting. Sherlock, the BBC series which airs in America on PBS, has won over critics and viewers alike. The modern adaptation features British actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of Sherlock Holmes. Cumberbatch has starred in a number of popular and acclaimed films, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; War Horse; Star Trek Into Darkness, and Twelve Years a Slave. Cumberbatch has earned accolades for his portrayal of Conan Doyle’s ever-popular sleuth. The role garnered him an Emmy Award in 2012 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries.
Teaming up with Cumberbatch is Martin Freeman, who starts as Holmes’ steadfast sidekick, Dr. John Watson. Freeman, who starred in the BBC version of The Office, portrayed Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. Also lending Holmes a hand is a character named Molly Hooper (portrayed by Louise Brealey)—a pathologist who uses her expertise to him crack cases.
In his new incarnation, Holmes is a detective based in London (yes, the address is still 221 Baker Street). Dr. John Watson, meanwhile, is a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps who has lately returned from a stint in Afghanistan. Holmes’ abilities are initially questioned by the formal authorities, including Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade (played by Rupert Graves), but his formidable skills in detection soon become obvious. Aiding in the bolstering of his reputation is Watson’s blog (yes, blog!), in which he chronicles their crime-cracking successes. The blog earns Holmes unwanted attention—a degree of celebrity that makes him uneasy.
The show carries the characters well into the modern world, with episodes that feature decidedly modern plot points, including a covert terrorist ring and a dominatrix (Sir Conan Doyle is certain to be turning in his grave!). But—as in the traditional stories—Holmes continues to be confounded by Jim Moriarty (played by Andrew Scott), his old enemy and intellectual equal.
Sir Conan Doyle’s resilient and much-loved character is clearly here to stay. Sherlock debuted in the UK in 2010. It is now in its third series, and in July, it was picked up for a fourth, although exact dates for the premiere are still up in the air. The show even has its own app, Sherlock: The Network, and has given rise to various websites. The series airs on PBS’s Masterpiece at 9 p.m. EST.