Sherlock (2010 – )

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Created by:  Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Loo Brealey, Mark Gatiss and Andrew Scott.

Even though I’m fully aware of the inflated ratings television shows receive on IMDB, I bought into the Sherlock hype and tracked down a copy of season 1.  I’m happy to report that the BBC’s modernized eponymous mini-series deserves its 9.2.  I’m also happy to report that fans of Elementary (like myself) can enjoy Sherlock easily without making comparisons to its predecessor;  aside from the framework, modern day adventures of Sherlock and Watson, the shows are quite different.  Where the American version is character driven, the BBC version is centered on solving crime.  In fact, one of the few criticisms I read about the British show mentioned the lack of character development.   I’m not convinced these characters lack depth only that there’s a subtlety to the character revelations and they are not the shows main focus.

What I like: The writing, acting and direction are excellent.  Sadly, there are only three episodes per season but each is 1h 30min of challenges, crimes, banter, wonder and humour.  Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding as the master logician with no social graces and Martin Freeman is the consistently empathetic Watson.  When the two come together and laugh it adds a nice touch of character and humanity to warm the audience to the often stark episodes.

What I don’t like:  The show is created to raise its audience’s intelligence so it’s disappointing to find Watson often bumbling to catch up when even we understand what’s going on.

My rating: Buy it.  This show has no time to waste on commercials.

IMDB: 9.2

Metacritic: 85%

Airs: BBC & PBS

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Devil (2010)

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Director: John Erick Dowdle
Written by: Brian Nelson (screenplay), M. Night Shyamalan (story)
Starring: Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O’Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Geoffrey Arend and Jacob Vargas

One scathing review of M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil referred to the movie as a “chiller”.  I like that.  I think it aptly describes what I saw.  I am not one for horror and gore but I like a bite-your-nails experience and, despite the glossed-over storytelling, the movie made me yell at the screen, which means I was involved.  If you like horrors, this isn’t for you.  It is, at best, a suspense thriller about four people who are tortured in a stuck elevator.  It is frustrating, creepy, entertaining and fiendish without the explicit gore of so many movies.  It will make you jump but it won’t stay with you.

What I liked:  I was entertained enough that I didn’t try to figure out what was going on.  The suspense was successful enough to make me frustrated and antsy.  The ambiance was creepy enough to provide an eerie feeling throughout and I gasped and jumped in the right places.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t anything beneath the surface.  No character depth, no depth of story. Everything is explained explicitly.

My rating: Feel free to turn off your thinking cap.

IMDB: 6.3

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%