For Review: Arthur and George, episode number one

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Martin Clunes and Arsher Ali

Arthur & George saw its debut on PBS tonight, and now the network can lay claim to everything Sherlock Holmes, even that related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  This British series is about Conan Doyle and his adventures, much in the same vein as Sherlock Holmes.  It is apparently based on a novel about Conan Doyle’s life or something.  Anyway, the show has a mystery.  There is a lot of dialogue.  There’s some creepy stuff and suspense.  That’s about it.  It’s not meant to be a biography and I doubt if it’s even close to a realistic portrayal of the man’s life.

Conan Doyle sounded to me like a very private man and a pretty professional one too, a student of various things like history and drama.   He wrote many historical novels, which sounds like a lot of work and research.  There’s not much of that in Arthur & George.  Conan Doyle is given a pretty standard personality.  He gets depressed.  He laments about his relatives and friends.  He has dedicated interests in justice and possesses all the superficial stuff everybody knows from hearing about the author of Sherlock Holmes.  It’s not exactly a character study.

Still, Arthur & George is well-done and looks good.  I liked the drama and was intrigued by the suspense.  It felt unique at least.  Martin Clunes stars as Conan Doyle and he does a good job.  The director gets the most out of him.  There’s no hammy jokes or innuendo, as in Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbun, instead its just a story about Conan Doyle helping somebody out with a case.  It has hints of being Sherlock Holmes without being Sherlock Holmes, which works for a while, I guess.

Overall, this is a decent episode which wears a little thin by the end.  It goes in the typical directions, which is disappointing, but this is probably all they can do to get an audience while people wait with baited breath for anything Sherlock related done by Cumberbun.  The best thing about this episode was not Martin Clunes, but Arsher Ali, who fights against his stereotype and brings something great to his character.  Too bad he doesn’t have more screentime.  I’ll definitely be checking out episode two of this series.

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