Other than football, baseball, and illegal gladiatorial competitions, the only TV show I keep up with is FOX's House.
This is mainly because my neighbors are all out on Monday nights, allowing me to crawl through the tunnel I dug into their basement and sit for an hour in front of this eldritch glowbox they call the "television" before I'm forced to scurry back to my reed-nest on the banks of the Columbia. Though a list of ways I love that show is so long it would force us to build a second Internet, among my favorite parts is the relationship between Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard, a dynamic that's heavily inspired by Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels.
And which is mirrored, in similarly modernized fashion, in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. Here I would make some insightful comment about snakes eating their own tails if I weren't currently so fever-riddled I have to sleep in asbestos blankets. Point is, House does does the Watson/Holmes thing better than the new movie, but Sherlock Holmes is just fun enough to justify the sequel they're obviously banking on.
Once Robert Downey, Jr. (as Holmes) and partner Jude Law have put the murderous black magician Mark Strong in prison and slated for execution, Downey falls apart. Brawling, late-night experiments, weeks locked in his room — without a case, he's lost.
But after Strong is hanged, he returns from the dead, busting out of his crypt and escaping into London to resume his dark rituals. Only a mind as sharp as Downey's may be able to stop Strong before he raises the evil forces he plans to use to rule the world.
Downey is in that rare class of actor who makes everything he's in better. Right now I'm so sick I can barely tell what season it is, but if Downey walked through the door wearing a nurse's uniform and carrying a thermometer and an enema bag, I'd consider it the happiest day of my life.
It's no big shocker, then, that he brings all kinds of wit and eccentricity to the part. It is surprising he has any good material to work with at all, considering Sherlock Holmes' script was written by no fewer than four different writers.
It's been my experience that any time a script has more than two authors, it will almost inevitably end up disjointed and schizophrenic, often with a plot that makes so little sense the only way to understand it is to insert a whisk inside 6-8 inches into your ear canal and beat rapidly. Sherlock Holmes feels cohesive, at least, and is plenty funny, but it's also marred by a certain blandness of plot to the point where you hardly need to be a Holmes to work out where the whole thing ends up.
Meanwhile, director Ritchie, despite a spotty career, is more than qualified to handle the movie's grimy, kinetic action scenes, and his mini-montage techniques are perfect for speeding through Downey's complicated deductions.
That's all enjoyable enough, and the detailed relationships between Downey, Law, and con-woman Rachel McAdams sets some serious groundwork for a franchise. To this I offer a mild but honest "Sweet." Still, unless they move past the typical plots and archetypal characters displayed in Sherlock Holmes, they'll be skating on thin ice.