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Octoberween 2018 Guilty (Viewing) Pleasures TV Edition: Miss Sherlock

On 10/26/2018 at 11:48 PM by NSonic79

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I’m a big Sherlock fan. Have been since me mum introduce me to the character. Though I wasn’t old enough to be able to enjoy the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I was able to enjoy the visual representations of Sherlock Holmes from the various BBC productions I saw on my local PBS station. Sometimes they were of actor Jeremy Brett or even that one odd time I was able to see Tom Baker play as Sherlock in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Over the years I got to enjoy the various actors that played the titular character. Though I have been able to stretch my imagination a bit in being able to enjoy the versions of Sherlock Holmes that are out there, like the animated versions of Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, The Great Mouse Detective and of him as “Sherlock Hound”. But overall I’ve found myself enjoying more of the classical versions of Sherlock that you’ll find portrayed as by the likes of Basil Rathbone and Ron Howard in all their black and white glory.

I even was able to enjoy the Robert Downy Jr. version of Sherlock Homes to a degree and the BBC’s more modern take on Sherlock Holmes with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch. Sure their versions took a bit more liberties with the character but overall I felt they got the overall feel that was Sherlock Holmes and both were able to add something fresh to the timeless detective. Now mind you that doesn’t mean I don’t care for all the versions of Sherlock Holmes that have come out as of late. The less we talk about CBS’s “Elementary” the better and don’t get me started on the Veggietale’s version of Sherlock entitled “Sheerluck Holmes.

To quote Doc Holiday in the movie “Tombstone”: My Hypocrisy only goes so far.

So imagine my surprise upon finishing up my binge watching of the entire season of “Game of Thrones” on HBO NOW, that the recommended screen would show me an HBO Asia Original I might like entitled “Miss Sherlock”. A female version of Sherlock Holmes? Really? We are going there? And an Asian one at that?  Would someone dare take the road that the BBC had just recently took when it came to the first female Doctor in Doctor Who? Not only was HBO Asia going insofar as to make a female version of one of the most iconic and well recognized characters in literary history but not even make them British? My first reaction was to ignore the recommendation and find something else to watch. Which I did of course but over time my mind started to think and made me wonder how exactly would this kind of show be pulled off: would “Miss Sherlock” crib directly from the BBC’s Sherlock or create a unique character of their own that is Sherlock yet not too far off the mark she was only Sherlock in name only? Normally I don’t watch Sherlock media till around the holidays, for some odd reason my mind links the black and white Sherlock Holmes serials to Christmas, but given that a good mystery can go well with the Octoberween season I thought why not give Miss Sherlock a try. And upon watching the first season (I hope) I have to say I walked away from the show pleasantly surprised. And this is coming from a guy that will no longer watch newer Doctor Who episodes with a female Doctor….

Miss Sherlock takes place in modern day Tokyo but follows the similar templates that make prior versions of Sherlock Holmes familiar with Consulting Detective Sara “Sherlock” Shelly Futaba solving various cases when called upon by Metropolitan Police Inspector Gentaro Reimon. We are introduced to Sherlock by means of the murder of Doctor Wato Tachibana’s mentor who greets her at the airport upon returning from medical volunteering work in Syria. The murder itself is rather unusual and instantly hooks the viewer given how someone somehow getting “shot” at a Tokyo airport terminal is something of an impossibility, especially when no gunman is found in the vicinity. The first meeting of “Sherlock” and Wato mirrors how the BBC’s Sherlock and Watson first meet if only by the environment they meet up in: the morgue. The difference is that Wato has to not only come to terms with her grief fairly quickly in losing a trusted mentor, but having to console her mentor’s devastated wife along with shielding her from “Sherlock” uncaring attitude toward the deceased. From there we watch as Wato, playing the viewer proxy, as she visits “Sherlock” at her address of “221B” (which the show seems to allude that isn’t the real address) where we meet the landlady who fills us in how who exactly “Sherlock” despite the fact that her real name isn’t “Sherlock”.

From there Wato tags along with “Sherlock” so that she can also learn who killed her mentor and why. “Sherlock” allows her to come along figuring that her skills as a doctor may come in handy (something she was able to deduce about Wato during their first meeting of course). From there we get to see how “Sherlock” and Wato get along as they follow the clues, and additional dead bodies killed by the same method, till “Sherlock” is able to solve the case but failing to solve the overall mystery. We then get to meet “Sherlock”s brother *(thank goodness not sister) who works for the Japanese Intelligence service, cause why not, and recommends that Wato stay with “Sherlock” in her flat since Wato has nowhere else to go given that her parents disowned her for going to Syria and the hotel she was staying in “mysteriously” burns down.

From there the show dives deeper into the growing non-friendship “Sherlock” and Wato have as the grow accustomed to be flat mates and solve crimes together, while at the same time we get to see how Wato tries to keep her personal life and life with “Sherlock” separate despite all the cases they end up taking part in. For the most part “Miss Sherlock” plays itself like any contemporary mystery show. The series doesn’t try to crib or even rip off any stories from the Sherlock mythos. Though there are some homages made to Sherlock Lore like the Reichenbach Building and use mostly play on words for particular characters, the obvious one being Wato AKA Watson, the show itself doesn’t try to fit any of the older mysteries written by Doyle to make them fit into the modern era like how the BBC’s Sherlock did. It is possible I could’ve missed something because at times the show does offer some surprised that you might not expect.

One of those surprises can be in how subtle changes are made to the character in this show yet at the same time feel nature for these characters to have such changes. The best example of this can be the relationship between “Sherlock” and Wato. Though they still butt heads together in being flatmates, similar to what the contemporary Holmes & Watsons characters dealt with, their issues stem mostly in how “Sherlock” has rules that are expect to be followed. No breakfasts but morning coffee, no messing with “Sherlock’s things and wanting complete silence during contemplations are the issue than oddball experiments with rare poisons or shooting guns off in the flat. Even the subtle changes of “Sherlock” and Wato are noticeable yet still feel true to their core character. Instead of “Sherlock” needed morphine to dull his mind during the slow seasons she indulges in chocolate to help her “focus”.  Though Wato is still a doctor she doesn’t exactly try to see in having her own practice but instead tries to find the odd job to broaden her perspectives. Working in a library or as a hostess in a restaurant doesn’t exactly strike you as something Watson would do but it would for Wato, especially when such side jobs lead to cases for the two. Thankfully the running joke for this series about “Sherlock” and Wato’s relationship is how many keep saying they are becoming good friends, where both say they are not, instead of the running joke in the BBC’s Sherlock that both Sherlock and Watson are closet gay lovers.  

But of course that hasn’t stopped certain fans of the series to think otherwise. But I digress.

Even the sibling attitude between “Sherlock” and her brother is different, where instead of them being metal rivals with one being lazy; they both get along rather well and play off one another when dealing with non-family members. Not exactly what we’d expect from Holmes siblings but in this context of the show it works.

As I’ve mentioned earlier the cases are not pulled straight from the Holmes mythos. Holmes didn’t deal with killer viruses, Japanese vampires or brainwashed individuals but they are explored with the same deductive reasoning methods that made Sherlock the greatest detective. The show does give you certain visual cues when Sherlock notices something so that you’ll know her mind is working to figure out its purpose. Though “Sherlock” does have her moments there are actual times where she’ll actually overlook something to the point where it’ll be Wato that chimes in with something that seems minimal but turns out to be the clue that helps to solve the mystery. That I will have to admit is true to the formula for there are times indeed where Watson of old did the same in the books to Sherlock’s benefit.

So why would I consider “Miss Sherlock” a video guilty pleasure? Well aside from a few cases, the rest are your basic solve the mystery story that if your one for mystery shows you’ll see what comes next a mile away. You’ll easily guess who the culprit was and the motive behind it even before “Sherlock” herself does. The show does try it’s best to offer up a red herring every now and then to throw you off the track but like I’ve said if your seasoned enough with shows like these you’ll know what to expect. Some of the cases are not that good and the series main story arch is easily guessed when you realize who has the hidden agenda with the only real surprise at the end, aside from “Sherlock’s supposed death, but that Wato change of character that any Watson fan would’ve have expected. The reasoning behind the change is well done and have to honestly say gives a better justification asto why Miss Sherlock would need to use a gun to solve a problem. Aside from that, and one or two cases, the rest are only padding to help develop the overall story arch to the series or used to help show the characteristics of how Miss Sherlock and Wato get along as their female characters.

It won’t be a waste of time by any means but I had to find myself not trying to hit the fast forward button to an episode when I deduced correctly what would come next. And though yes Miss Sherlock does have an arch nemesis their confrontation doesn’t exactly have the same weight like other versions in modern media. And though they were very cheeky in naming Miss Sherlock’s arch nemesis you might be trying your hardest not to roll your eyes so hard out of how someone thought they were being clever with their naming them.

In the end I enjoyed my time watching Miss Sherlock. I am not sure if I’d rewatch it again given how formulaic the cases can be I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t be watching them again if only to prep myself for season two to come along. If the show has some better writing with some better original cases for Miss Sherlock to solve, and not fall into the same trap as what the BBC’s Sherlock has done, it could be a decent detective series altogether. Miss Sherlock does make subtle changes to the mythos where it doesn’t diminish or completely change in what you’d expect out of a Sherlock character and at the same time they are not just trying to crib directly from the original source material to just make a “female” version of Sherlock Holmes. If you’re not a complete puritan when it comes to Sherlock Holmes and would like a different take on the character, Miss Sherlock is a decent attempt in not just creating a female Sherlock Holmes that is believable but also not British. She may play a base than a violin and wear high heels than a deer stalker cap but down to the core they pay their respects to who Sherlock Holmes is and you can’t get any better than that when shows like “Elementary” are around.  

Sleep well tonight.







10/27/2018 at 09:48 PM

Sherlock Holmes, Vampire Killer. Sherlock Holmes and Zombies. Heck why not? I think it should be even weirder than just an Asian female Sherlock. How about Sherlock Holmes and Robots, with a Japanese production. It'd be Sherlock in the future solving crimes with robots. Actually, that's kind of the story of Blade Runner, now that I think of it. 

Matt Snee Staff Writer

10/30/2018 at 04:47 AM

I'm a big Sherlock fan too and have read all the books. I didn't like the Robert Downey version, but I haven't watched the BBC version. I hated Elementary. I've heard of this new Japanese show but haven't seen it. Sherlock Holmes is goddamn timeless. 

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