When it premiered back in 2010 as part of PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! lineup, Sherlock was an immediate critical success, but few had actually heard of it. In fact, Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes (a Victorian update of sorts) basically eclipsed the series for a while.
But Sherlock somehow prevailed. A slightly offbeat, darkly comical interpretation of Sir Conan Doyle’s master detective series, Sherlock’s second season (or series, as they call it in England) raised the bar for cinematic television. From its wonderfully breezy opening (“A Scandal in Belgravia”) to the gripping finale (“The Reichenbach Fall”), Sherlock has found its stride and a much larger American audience than when it first premiered.
Arguably, it’s the onscreen chemistry between Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) that really makes the series crackle. It also helps that each episode is a feature length (hour and a half) experience.
Here are five things you might not know about the critically-acclaimed series.
1. Hobbits and Dragons Actually Work Well Together
In Peter Jackson’s world (director of the new Hobbit trilogy and The Lord of the Rings series), Hobbits and dragons aren’t exactly the best of friends, but outside that world, they’re pretty close. Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins in films and Cumberbatch is the voice of the terrible, fire breathing Smaug. Jackson undoubtedly needed some chemistry between the two actors. It just goes to shows that Cumberbatch and Freeman can deliver completely different characters and still give a great performance together.
2. The Edgar Allen Poe Connection
Not only is Sherlock the recipient of a loyal fan base, the series recently won an Edgar Award for Best Television Episode Teleplay written by Steven Moffat for “A Scandal in Belgravia.” Granted, Season 2’s finale, “The Reichenbach Fall” provided all the action, drama with Sherlock’s addiction and nail biting that fans expect from the series, but “A Scandal in Belgravia” served as a wonderful jumping-on point for new viewers. It’s appropriate that Sherlock won an Edgar Award given that the Edgar’s are named after Edgar Allen Poe, who is credited with inventing what we know today as the detective tale. In fact, Poe’s own literary character, C. Auguste Dupin, a master of deduction just like Sherlock Holmes, influenced Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s rather cyclical.
3. There’s a Real Life On-Screen Romance
You’ve probably heard it by now: the bromance between Sherlock and Dr. Watson is a major feature of the series. Some fans have taken to writing fiction depicting a love affair between the two. As it turns out, Dr. Watson’s love interest, Mary (Amanda Abbington), might be here to stay. Freeman and Abbington are professed life partners. No word yet if they’re going to tie the knot as they did in the current season of Sherlock, but anything’s possible when life imitates art.
4. Thanks to Sherlock, Hollywood Is Learning to Text
Texting, as a dramatic device, is just about as dry as it can get. That’s why movies and documentaries featuring the act of writing typically go to all sorts of lengths to make it more dramatic. Texting is no different. Sherlock devised a unique way to make texting more visually arresting: displaying floating words. Even Wired has featured a piece on the Sherlock texting phenomenal. And more Hollywood movies are utilizing this visual technique that Sherlock made so popular.
5. If You Like the New Doctor Who, You Might Like Sherlock
Oftentimes, we develop an interest in an author due to their body of work. Maybe they’re great at making you laugh, cry or give you a good mystery. Moffat, a man with a seemingly endless supply of creativity, is the show runner and co-creator of the series. There have been many comparisons to the Doctor (on BBC’s Doctor Who series) and Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. They’re both the smartest men in the room, and they often save the world. Moffat brings the same craftiness to Sherlock.