The BBC/PBS Sherlock (2010-) is the creation of two Doctor Who writers, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Maybe that’s why Cumberbatch’s frenetic Sherlock, in his dark wool trenchcoat, bears a passing resemblance to the tweedy, time-traveling sci-fi hero. This sleuth’s cases owe apparent debts to the original Conan Doyle stories, but he’s thoroughly a man of the 21st century. (In a nod to the character’s traditional drug use, this Holmes sports nicotine patches and craves cigarettes.) He has his own website (Dr. Watson blogs there) and is adept at using the Internet as a crime-solving tool, but his own Asperger-ish brain and personality makes him a human Google anyway, capable of mapping connections and envisioning those links in three-dimensional space. (It’s a visual touch picked up by CBS’ new drama Intelligence, where Josh Holloway’s brain really is wired to the Internet.)
Fortunately, Cumberbatch is up to the task of playing a lightning-quick mind; he can rattle off his observations rat-a-tat without straining his mellifluous baritone. It doesn’t hurt that he’s paired with a Watson played by Martin Freeman, in a part not unlike his skeptical and reluctant Bilbo Baggins. Watson knows what a smug show-off Sherlock is, but he’s bound to follow him, if only to see what brilliant insight he’ll drop next.
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