The Blind Banker, second episode in Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson, was my first encounter with the 21st century version of Conan Doyle’s classic detective duo. I missed A Study in Pink last week, but reviews were very positive, and I can see why.
The idea of updating the characters but retaining key elements from the originals was the brainchild of Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss, two very good TV writers. Purists might wince at the idea, but it seems to me that, crucially, the series respects the aspects of Conan Doyle’s stories that made them so memorable. The Blind Banker, certainly, was much more than capable pastiche. The story was written and acted with a great deal of flair.
The story kicks off with the appearance of a mysterious cipher at a City bank. Shortly afterwards, one of the senior bankers is found dead. A journalist dies in similar circumstances. Both men, it turns out, had recently travelled to China. What is the connection, and how can the cipher be decoded?
The story contained various elements of Golden Age detective fictions – locked rooms, ciphers, mysterious foreigners – and the script was full of witty asides. The two leading men are splendidly cast and I love the idea of Una Stubbs as Mrs Hudson. Sherlock is different from Jonathan Creek, but not totally different. Again, we have the updating of traditional crime fiction, done with wit and ingenuity. I really enjoyed this episode. Recommended.