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Sherlock’s Success Crosses the Pond

By Melanie Coffey
Staff Writer

On Jan. 19, four million viewers tuned in to PBS to watch season three of the award-winning British television show “Sherlock,” which premiered after a haitus of two years. The show, which began in 2010, has been nominated for 17 Primetime Emmy Awards as well as a Golden Globe, and has won 13 BAFTA Awards including Best Drama Series, Best Sound, Best Director and Best Writer, according to While some may be surprised that a show can do so well when airing only three 90-minute episodes every two years, the saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” proves true here, as the ratings steadily escalate each season.

“Sherlock,” written and created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, is a modern adaptation of the adventures of
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s titular detective, and his loyal doctor John Watson. Although the adventures were published in
1887 in The Strand Magazine, the same characters now race around present-day London in taxicabs
and communicate on the newest smart phones while taking down the world’s most dangerous criminals. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch (“Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “The Fifth Estate”) as Sherlock Holmes, and Martin Freeman (“The Hobbit” trilogy) as Watson, the show has a talented cast.

“The cast is incredible, and the amount of talent that works on the show really says something,” said Cayla Avellino, a freshman Film major. “The fact that Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman come back every couple of years to film this BBC show after working on projects such as ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ speaks volumes about the show’s quality. The cast really lends a hand in making the show what it is,” she added.

The show is a phenomenon with the premiere of the third season becoming the most watched television drama of this decade in the United Kingdom. The show boasted a staggering average of 11.2 million for the entire season. Although it is still considered a “cult classic” show in America, found on Netflix and other media, the popularity is increasing as the PBS Masterpiece’s show ratings rise. The audience between the second and third season rose by 25 percent and the ratings of the time slot for the show (10 p.m. on Sunday evenings) increased by 81 percent. So, while the show may not be breaking incredible records here in the States, it is getting well-deserved attention and bringing more viewers to the non-profit PBS.

During an interview on Jan. 19, Sherlock writer/co-creator Mark Gatiss told Phil Itter for Al Jazeera News, that he believes the reason the British show is becoming popular in America is that, “it goes right back to the fact that they are definitive. They’re originals. And I think over the years of so many different films, etc., they’re incredibly identifiable icons. They’re so get-able. More than anything, what people have responded to is the fun of the show, which is so much what Doyle’s stories were actually like. They’re quick reads, they’re jolly thrilling, blood-curdling thrilling adventures and really, that’s what we wanted to do,” he added.

Plot twists, beautiful film work, and fantastic acting are sure to bring the patient audience back every two years to watch the show for its three-week run. As the newest season begins in the United States, the network questions if the ratings will rise or fall after the explosive first episode. But one thing is for sure: Sherlock is progressing from something watched only by a condensed fan base to a wildly successful television show for PBS.

Sherlock airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on PBS until Feb. 2.

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