I’ve watched the fifth episode of the BBC series SHERLOCK, which means that I have watched half of the whole run of the show and, thus, am completely qualified to opine upon it. I have to say, I see what people enjoy about the show. Both Sherlock and Watson are adorable, and it’s fun to watch their interplay. I almost wanted more of their personal lives and less case-solving.
My main problem with the show is that there’s no human element to the actual cases that Sherlock takes on. They’re all just the work of incomprehensible supervillains with incomprehensible supervillain motives. Which, to me, makes them less interesting than the average episode of Law and Order. Because in L&O, there’s always a very human reason for the murder: someone got in the way of something that someone else wanted. In Sherlock, people just do things because they’re bored. However, if that’s the case, then you can justify anything for any reason.
I guess my whole problem with the show is summed up by the first episode (which was actually the one I liked the best), where Sherlock realizes that they’ve got a serial killer on their hands and says something like, “Woohoo, a serial killer. I love serial killers. They’re so much fun!”
However, to me, serial killers are not fun. They’re boring. We get it, they murder people for psychosexual reasons that are rooted in their need to feel dominant over another human being. And while that’s not exactly what’s going on in every Sherlock case, I haven’t seen one, out of these five episodes, where the underlying crime wasn’t committed for what I’d consider to be incredibly stupid reasons (in fact, the episode I liked the best was the on where Sherlock has to solve five cases in a row. In each of those individual cases, I was engaged, because it felt like the crime played a part in some real human aspiration).
Incidentally, I don’t think that this necessarily stems from a problem with the source material. While the motivations in Sherlock Holmes short stories weren’t quite as gritty as the ones in Law and Order, they were realer than the ones in the show. I don’t want to spoil either story or show for you, but the first episode is based off the Holmes story “A Study in Scarlet.” The motivations of the criminal in the show are very different from those in the story. The same is true for the episodes based off “A Scandal in Bohemia” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” For whatever reason, the showrunners have chosen to systematically shift the motivations of the criminals in the show. Perhaps they think it makes the show grittier, or that it better fits in with the shows themes (i.e. Holmes is an anhedonic calculation machine, so his foes should be calculation machines who suffer from a surfeit of passion).