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SHERLOCK is an utter gem of British television programming, and a series that I hope will be around for a long time to come. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary "consulting detective" first appeared in print nearly one hundred and twenty five years ago. In that vast amount of time, there have been countless, stage, film, radio and television productions featuring Sherlock Holmes. Re-imagined for the twenty-first century by DOCTOR WHO alumnus Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, SHERLOCK takes the character out of its native Victorian setting and deposits Holmes into present day London… a place where technology and forensics walk had-in-hand with the uniquely keen observational skills of the resident of 221B Baker Street. SHERLOCK stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. A self-described "high-functioning sociopath," Cumberbatch’s Holmes is a fascinating character to watch as he alienates just about everyone in his orbit, yet his services prove invaluable to Scotland Yard, despite being labeled a "freak" by everyone but Detective Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves). Like everyone else, Freeman’s Watson is infuriated by Holmes’ total ambivalence towards other human beings, but his fascination with Holmes’ abilities, allows the Afghanistan War veteran to become swept up in the ensuing mysteries, not to mention, sharing the flat 221B Baker Street.

SHERLOCK: SEASON ONE ($40) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a two-disc set that features the following three ninety minute episodes: A Study In Pink, The Blind Banker and The Great Game. A Study In Pink introduces Watson to Holmes, with the two becoming flatmates in the home own by Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs), just as Lestrade has Holmes to look at an uncanny series of serial suicides. The Blind Banker finds a series of deaths linked to coded messages containing unusual symbols, the first of which is spray-painted on an inaccessible wall of a bank. The Great Game starts with a bomb blast across from 221B Baker Street; this is actually the prelude to a game of cat and mouse between Holmes and the bomber, who gives Holmes a number of crimes to solve in a prescribed period of time… otherwise a bomb strapped to an innocent victim will explode. All three episodes are thoroughly entertaining… and the third has a terrific ending that leaves the viewer salivating for more.

BBC Home Video (via Warner) has made all the episodes that comprise SHERLOCK: SEASON ONE available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. SHERLOCK features 1080i presentations that are genuinely excellent, plus the Blu-ray renders the mildly stylized aspects of the series visuals quite well. The image usually displays a terrific level of sharpness and clarity. Additionally, the picture tends to appear quite dimension, as well as offering fairly terrific fine detail and texturing. Some shots do look a bit softer than others, but there is nothing here to complain about. Colors can sometimes appear on the cold and antiseptic side, but are generally rendered with good saturation. Blacks are deep and whites are completely stable. Contrast sometimes appears to have been given a slight push that gives the picture a bit of an edgy quality. Shadow detail is rather nice. There is some grain/noise in the darker sequences, but nothing beyond what one should normally expect.

All of the episodes that constitute SHERLOCK: SEASON ONE are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 448kbps soundtracks. Despite being lossy, the sound is efficient and holds up rather well. For a television production, the sound designs do provide a nice use of the outlying channels during key moments. However, much of SHERLOCK is talky mystery/drama, so those passages are localized front and center. Incidental sounds and environmental noises (especially cell phones) are well integrated. Despite the lack of a lossless encoding, the music has a strong sense of presence. The bass channel adds weight. Dialogue is clean and fully understandable. No other language tracks have been included, but English subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the extras. Running Audio Commentaries are featured on A Study In Pink and The Great Game. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Unlocking Sherlock (thirty three minutes) and Pilot: A Study In Pink (fifty five minutes), which is a pre-broadcast pilot that was used to sell the series to the network.

As I stated above, SHERLOCK is an utter gem of British television programming. The Blu-ray presentations are fairly terrific. Recommended.


Sherlock: Season One [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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