Not something I do a lot of, but this blog is about a TV show with a crime underbelly.
There are some tropes going around fiction and TV, here are a few:
- Teenagers running around solving crimes.
- Victorian ragamuffins being more than ragamuffins.
- Adding a bit of fantasy/magic or general steampunk.
- Stealing ideas from other writers.
Knowing that this are tropes, you’d think that one entity that included all would be off the interest list, however “The Irregulars” caught my eye and I decided to watch. I should admit that the steampunk elements appeal to me because my other author persona (Abi Barden) writes steampunk.
IMDB blurb for the Netflix series is:
“Set in Victorian London, the series follows a gang of troubled street teens who are manipulated into solving crimes for the sinister Doctor Watson and his mysterious business partner, the elusive Sherlock Holmes.”
So as I said, every cliché has been thrown into this one. When approaching stuff like this, I try to forget what I know about the original, so forget what Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about Sherlock. Also forget the particulars of history and the fashion of history, and you’ll have to ignore the fact that none of the characters are dirty enough. Though the one bit of history they did get right is that there was an upswell of interest in spiritualism in the 1800s not exactly hindered by Queen Victoria wanting to contact her own beloved Albert.
I wasn’t expecting much from the series, but I was pleasantly surprised. One of the things that I like most about this series is that it shows history in all its colour – and yes I am talking about the colours of the characters skins. The UK and especially London have always been places of diversity, so the mix of race and colour, rather than looking odd added a touch of realism to my point of view of London. Just to be clear, this was not an ‘in your face’ attempt at political correctness, it was just an acceptance of what things would have been. That John Watson is black – so what? That he was acted well is surely the more important factor. Played by Royce Pierson of “The Witcher”. The only character I think they got completely wrong was that of Mycroft Holmes, who was neither strong enough not intelligent enough.
The lead actor, Thaddea Graham, was brilliant as Bea who led the team of street kids like a general, or mother, she’s excellent. Oddly reminded me of a young Julia Styles, no idea why. In fact, I would have to congratulate all the younger actors in this series, they each did an absolutely cracking job.
Having said forget Sherlock – that’s not really possible. And I’ve seen some rampant complaints about how Sherlocks personality was written wrongly. When he does turn up, several episodes in, he’s a total druggie. How is that in any way different from what Conan Doyle wrote? Even if you watch the much-sanitised Cumberbatch version of the character, he took drugs and was totally uninterested in relationships. The Sherlock in The Irregulars was left responsible for young children, and he passed them over to an orphanage – that strikes me as very Sherlock. The only thing I consider totally wrong for the character is that he loved someone, he even sacrificed for that someone. So not the self-centred Sherlock of canon.
The crime does take the backseat a little, but it is there, and it is solved by deduction and reasoning. It also leads smoothly into the more mystical elements of the series. Each story stands alone, but links beautifully meaning that the overall story hangs together with sense. While there are a lot of liberties taken with mysticism and magic, the flash backs and logic of this side of things rounds out the characters and perfects the storytelling inherent in the piece.
In short, I’d fully and happily recommend the series, it is delightful.