Posts Tagged ‘ The Mentalist ’

Sherlock Holmes and all his Pale Imitators

I finished watching the new BBC series Sherlock this afternoon and I thought it was brilliantly done.  It is a modern rendering of Mr. Holmes complete with computers and cell phones.  However the main character remains true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyles creation,  super smart and extremely arrogant.  He does not cater to fools lightly and has no time for foolishness other then his case of the moment.  When he is not engaged he is bored and more then likely goes back to the only other thing he seems to find of interest…drugs.  He is not affected by people nor sex with either gender.  He is a walking, talking computer.  I think this series gets him just right.    While I don’t consider myself an absolute expert on Sherlock Holmes I have read all the stories and watched most of the films made of them.  My personal favorite being the BBC series starring Jeremy Brett.   But this current one has jumped very high towards the top of my list.

American television frequently attempts to bring the feel of the Sherlock Holmes stories to it’s bland detective shows.  Currently there are a few starting with The Mentalist.  I watched about half of the first season and I just couldn’t take anymore of it.  It’s protagonist is an ex-Mentalist of the con man variety who purport to read minds and talk to the dead in other words a psychic but who is now retired and helping the police solve crimes.   It is a show in line with the rest of the so called detective series on CBS which means it’s extremely boring and cookie cutter bland more in line with Murder She Wrote then Sherlock Holmes.  The episodes I saw were simplistic and had the Ken Dollish Mentalist doing parlor tricks in order to solve murders.    The smirky Mentalist at the end of each show explains his tricks and renders the California Bureau of Investigation astonished.  Awful dreck!

Another TV show that follows the Sherlockian path is  Bones on Fox.  I must admit I couldn’t get passed the first episode.  The constant hilarious banter between the good looking cast members just didn’t hold my interest.  I wonder how many forensic scientists the makers of that show know?  I would bet that most science nerds who go into that field are not extremely funny nor fashion model beautiful.  American TV is chock full of TV shows with blonde & beautiful cops gritting their teeth and making arrests as their hair is blown just so for the cameras to get their good sides.  It’s ridiculous but Americans love them.

The only show that comes closest to the consulting detective is the consulting diagnostician Gregory House, MD.    From his name House/Holmes, the numbered address of his apartment 221b to his closest friend  Wilson/Watson, the producers don’t go thru too much trouble to hide the fact that the Vicodin addicted House was patterned after Sherlock Holmes.  Yes I know the show is not perfect…the rest of the cast are mostly beautiful and the show caters to American audiences used to simplicity but the main character continually stays true to the Sherlockian pattern.  He is arrogant, super smart, dislikes most people and is a walking/talking computer in his field much like his doppelganger British counterpart.  I’ve watched every episode of this show and continue to not because the show is so interesting, every episode is practically the same as the last, but I stick to it because of the main character.  He is uncompromising and is played brilliantly by the British actor Hugh Laurie.

Which brings me to my conclusion.  I think the British do this sort of thing much better then their American counterparts.  Currently they have a couple of  mystery series playing on BBC America that are just terrific.   On Friday nights Law & Order: UK, yes I know it’s patterned after an American series but it’s extremely well done.  (I am a fan of the Law & Order franchise as well)  The other series which is much closer to Sherlock Holmes is Luther starring Idris Elba.  Both of these show boast very good acting, smart plots and consistently play up to an audience instead of down.  Tune in sometime  to either of these series or Masterpiece Mystery on PBS and tell me you don’t see a difference in quality from the so called mysteries that play regularly here in America.  There is really no comparison.

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