The first time I watched one of my very favorite shows was the result of a lie.
I had just gotten home from a run and was still antsy. I was apparently driving my roommate nuts and, like one would with a toddler, she sought to distract me from my random pacing with some entertainment.
"Let's watch a movie!" she said, even offering to make some popcorn.
I know myself. Sitting through a movie is a rare and noteworthy event that was not going to happen in my jittery state.
"Okay, how about a show? I have the first season of 'Sherlock,'" she wheedled.
"Is it an hour long show?" I demanded, thinking I could manage a half hour show, which without commercials is only 22 minutes or so.
"Nope," she said and popped the disc in.
It was only after an hour that I started to get suspicious.
Little did I know that each episode of Sherlock, a BBC series, runs approximately 90 minutes long. After pausing in mock rage to berate my roommate, I turned it right back on and finished the episode - and the rest of the three episode season over the course of two days.
My first impression, and one that holds three years later, is that Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson is the perfect compliment to Cumberbatch's "functioning sociopath" personality. It has been a long time since I read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel Sherlock Holmes but I have seen a few screen adaptations over the years, including Robert Downey Jr. in the "Sherlock Holmes" movies - they were okay - and Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu in "Elementary," the American show on Sherlock Holmes that came out two years after BBC's Sherlock exploded into pop culture.
None of them compare.
I am sharing this series with you now because the third season of "Sherlock" is finally, finally airing in America - and you can watch it legally for free on your computer through PBS. I would suggest, of course, watching the first two seasons before diving into number three because certain flashbacks and aspects of the backstory are alluded to but not fully explained. Not understanding those hints would definitely take away from the experience.
I have written before on character development, or lack thereof, in long-running TV shows. It bothers me when characters devolve into caricatures, losing any depth they may have had in the beginning. In "Sherlock," although it is only in its third season, I can see that the opposite is true.
Sherlock, who is described by himself and others as a sociopath, develops friendships and relationships with people around him. He begins to realize that his actions affect those who care about him, even if that realization does not always change his course. Watson, an injured military doctor, adjusts to civilian life and Sherlock's idiosyncrasies, all the while helping him solve some crazy cases.
Sherlock has just about everything - romance, suspense, mystery, comedy. As the temperatures refuse to budge above 0 most days, this may be a good time to cuddle up with some blankets and 12 hours (13.5 after Sunday!) of some BBC goodness.