Monday, 2 August 2010

Sherlock: The Blind Banker - review


The Blind Banker, second episode in Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson, was my first encounter with the 21st century version of Conan Doyle’s classic detective duo. I missed A Study in Pink last week, but reviews were very positive, and I can see why.

The idea of updating the characters but retaining key elements from the originals was the brainchild of Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss, two very good TV writers. Purists might wince at the idea, but it seems to me that, crucially, the series respects the aspects of Conan Doyle’s stories that made them so memorable. The Blind Banker, certainly, was much more than capable pastiche. The story was written and acted with a great deal of flair.

The story kicks off with the appearance of a mysterious cipher at a City bank. Shortly afterwards, one of the senior bankers is found dead. A journalist dies in similar circumstances. Both men, it turns out, had recently travelled to China. What is the connection, and how can the cipher be decoded?

The story contained various elements of Golden Age detective fictions – locked rooms, ciphers, mysterious foreigners – and the script was full of witty asides. The two leading men are splendidly cast and I love the idea of Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson. Sherlock is different from Jonathan Creek, but not totally different. Again, we have the updating of traditional crime fiction, done with wit and ingenuity. I really enjoyed this episode. Recommended.

14 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for this review. I must be honest, being a purist, I was prepared to give this one a miss. But after your excellent review, maybe I'll re-think.

Suzie Grogan said...

Yes - I am looking forward to this episode - didn't get to watch it in an athletics obsessed family so will sit and enjoy tonight. Last week's episode was just brilliant, and the two main characters walked towards the camera at the end looking just as if they knew they had a hit on their hands...

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, I know exactly what you mean, but it is well done.

crimeficreader said...

Martin,

Many thought the first episode much better than the second and it's still on iplayer.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00t8wp0/Sherlock_A_Study_in_Pink/
I have to admit that I did get a bit bored with last night's but really enjoyed the first which I watched twice...

Martin Edwards said...

Greetings, Suzie. I have had a look at your blog - very good!

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Rhian, I will admit it sagged a bit in the middle, but the beginning and end were truly excellent.

Clarissa Draper said...

Martin, I did a review of A Study in Pink last week after it aired. I haven't watched the second episode yet but it's waiting there for me. I think I have to watch the newest episode of Top Gear first.

CD

Nik said...

I too enjoyed Sherlock - both episodes. The leads have meshed brilliantly. Holmes is just as insufferable as in the original. Maybe Watson is just as inept too - leaving the Chinese girl in a room when he knows the killer can 'walk through walls'... I've actually written the 'very first Holmes story' but getting someone interested is hard going!

Bill Carlin said...

As a Holmesian "purist" I was prepared to hate this series but both episodes have been so full of respect and obvious love for the source material that I found it impossible not to get carried along by the stories. There are a number of nods towards the original canon particularly in "A Study in Pink" (Watson's intermittent limp and occasional reference to a shoulder wound as well as Mycroft's weight problem). Only the sourest of Sherlockians would disapprove.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Clarissa. Nice post.

Martin Edwards said...

Nik - best of luck. There are a number of smallish publishers here and in the US who do Holmesian stories.

Martin Edwards said...

Bill, I'm Sherlock fan rather than an absolute purist, but I agree. The episode I've seen respects the spirit of Conan Doyle more than some adaptations of the original stories!

Nik said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Martin. I'll keep plugging away.

Sarah Hilary said...

Hi Martin, yes! I agree about this show. I almost didn't watch because I love Holmes and the idea of another reworking made me wince. But the humour and style pulled it through, just as you said. I too missed the first episode. Martin Freeman did an excellent job, I thought, as they let Sherlock be suitably "out of time" and eccentric.