Haven't we had enough Sherlock Holmes? There was Guy Ritchie's 27082010mockney take on the super sleuth, Jeremy Brett's deliciously perverse one in ITV's 1980s series and Rupert Everett's recently underwhelming one on the BBC.
It's felt like a deer-stalker overload in the past few decades. So hopes weren't high for this contemporary take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's murder mysteries, until, that is, you clock that it's crafted by Stephen Moffat (overlord for Doctor Who) and Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen). And the duo have produced an absolute hoot; three episodes (why only three episodes? Did the BBC really have such little faith?), full of wit, dastardly fiends, terrific London locations (all beautifully shot) and, most of all, exquisite acting. Benedict Cumberbatch is simply sensational as the socially awkward, caustic ("Oh, look at you lot. You're all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing") and brilliant Sherlock, while Martin Freeman also excels as his faithful sidekick (or "pet" as Moriarty tartly refers to him), Dr Watson.
Their affection feels genuine, and the dialogue is suitably droll, lofty (from Holmes, of course) and teasing. Holmes teases Watson about his sexuality, intelligence and background; Watson teases Holmes about his lack of knowledge about the most basic things, such as the solar system. Sherlock is enormously enjoyable.