As most people know, a year and a half ago Jodie Whittaker was announced as the new Doctor in Doctor Who. She started her first season last fall, which has been an exciting, glorious, and beautiful ride to watch, as a long time fan and someone who firmly believes this is a great trajectory for the show, I’m pleased with how it has turned out so far. (I’m upset that the next season will not air until 2020, the injustice)!
What some may not know about, is that there is another Sherlock Holmes adaptation that came out last year. If you haven’t caught on yet, this adaptation stars a female Sherlock Holmes. I know! Shocking?!
[Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor saying oh brilliant once she realizes she’s a woman]
Yes, it quite simply is absolutely brilliant!!
However, this is different than previous incarnations of Sherlock Holmes because not only is Sherlock a woman but it is also set in Tokyo, Japan. (Yes, they speak Japanese in the show, but there are subtitles, sit down). In my less than humble opinion, this is probably the best adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.
First off, there is Sherlock (aka Sara Shelly Futaba) played by Yuko Takeuchi. She, of course, is a consulting detective for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police working to help solve crimes with the help of her “Watson:” Dr. Wato Tachibana (Wato-san) played by Shihori Kanjiya.
The accompanying characters in Sherlock and Wato’s life are Mrs. Hatano (Mrs. Hudson), Inspector Gentaro Reimon (Lestrade), Kento Futaba (Mycroft), and of course, Moriarty (who I will not reveal, mwahahaha; I mean come on, it’s the fun of watching the show).
I know what some people may be thinking: “Really, another Sherlock Holmes!?! Aren’t there enough already?” The simple answer is no. The slightly longer answer is, no and this is better not only due to the fact that Sherlock is a woman but the fact that it does justice to the books and is set in Tokyo, Japan with an all-Asian cast (I will be repeating this quite a bit; I apologize in advance…but not really sorry).
[insert gif of the master saying: is the future going to be all girl?!]
Second, Sherlock is still a genius but is more like someone who doesn’t recognize social cues. In certain episodes, Wato has to remind her or chase after he to remove her shoes before entering someone’s house (a cultural practice in most of Asia). Yet, her rudeness is a quirk, instead of encompassing her entire character. Yet, she keeps with the introverted self and sensory overload anxiety. While she is still the smartest person in the room, they also have the rest of the cast be present and have their own strengths/smarts. Sherlock respects the two police officers she works with, even if she will never show it. Wato is given the chance to not soften but more compliment Sherlock’s mannerisms, where Sherlock is brash, Wato is more tactful (as an example).
Along with probably the first series to have Kento (Mycroft) and Sherlock love each other as siblings. He suggests that Wato move in with Sherlock (after the hotel burns down) not out of a need to spy on his sister, but because he doesn’t want her to be alone. He actually acts like a big brother, which is refreshing to see in general in shows. There is also present throughout the first season the idea that Sherlock can have relationships with others and not only Watson. She is allowed to have a loving brother, a motherly landlady, and two police officers that she does respect as friends all in her life.
Most people always marvel at the fact that Sherlock has this character arc. He/She no longer only cares about himself, he cares for (and in some cases; definitely in this case) loves Watson. Not that it isn’t something important, but I appreciate the fact that they write Wato as her own person. They have her go job hunting, date, and go to counseling (which they do an amazing job showing the importance of recovery from mental illness). They give Wato her own arc in the first season as well that will challenge her in future seasons as well. I find that an annoyance in much of BBC’s Sherlock is that Watson always acts so in awe of Sherlock in every. single. scene.
Before I have an angry mob after me, I want to say: I do like the BBC Sherlock. Do I like it as much as I did when it first aired? That would be a resounding no. As much of Steven Moffat’s writing tends to be, he tries to be more flashy with little plot, many plot holes, and most of the time, he never takes the time to explain anything (I’m looking at the season 2 finale and Sherlock’s “death”). I think the BBC Sherlock became too much like a superhero instead of a regular person. Yes, Sherlock Holmes is a regular person, don’t all faint at once. S/He has quirks, but s/he is in no way a superhero or a highly functioning psychopath (I truly hate that line). As Justin Charity states “Sherlock, in particular, rendered the detective’s supposedly careful deduction as exhaustive, orgasmic belittlement; his insights so illegible that their illegibility becomes the show’s main joke” (“Rehabbing the World’s Greatest Detective”).
Sherlock and Wato are both presented as their own characters who complement each other with their own strengths and weakness. Most importantly we are given, an obliviously Asian cast, where both males and females show emotion. Many times when the male suspects where arrested they cried the same amount of tears as women; they break down when their loved one was gone, and that is not something shown a lot on American television.
My last thought on this series, that is a touch spoiler-ish. They allow Sherlock to be human. As I said, Sherlock is a regular human, just like the next person. In this show, she reads and observes and is cultured is all. As usual, there comes a case where Sherlock is framed and a character says: “She always reveled in tragedy.” Yet, when she kills a man to save all of Tokyo, millions of people, she is utterly destroyed (along with the fact that she then realizes she failed to protect Wato).
As someone who has grown up in the aftermath of most feminist movements (minus the fourth wave, which we are living through at the moment), I am ecstatic that this show exists. Not just as someone who is a feminist, but also, for the fact that this is an all Asian cast (yes, I know I already mentioned that, but it bears repeating). In the current climate, I sometimes am saddened by how people react; however, then I find this show that shines some hope that the future will be okay. As the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) says in response to the Master asking if the future is going to be all girl: “We can only hope!”