Just finished watching the BBC series Sherlock Holmes which is set in modern-day London. These British dramas have only three episodes each year and we zipped through three seasons worth in a week’s time. The first season was good, the second so-so and the third excellent. Benedict Cumberbatch is terrific as Sherlock Holmes and the supporting cast is a match for him. The series is available on Netflix streaming . Do watch it if you can.
However, that is not what I want to write about. What struck me about this series is that there were no car chases, no crashes and no explosions. ( There was one scene that showed the Houses of Parliament come tumbling down as a result of a terrorist bomb but it was just Holmes imagining what would happen if he didn’t stop the terrorists in time.) Despite this, these were all first class mysteries with their fair share of tension.
I have no doubt they would have been much more explosive had they been made for American TV. Why ? Do really need to see cars ramming into each other and buildings being blown up to get our jollies ? I remember the car chase in The French Connection and how thrilling it was but we seem to have gone overboard with such scenes. With the advent of computers and CGI, such scenes have proliferated. For instance, the climax of an American made movie had Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes fighting the villain on London’s iconic Tower Bridge as it collapsed about them. Computer generated effects are fine but when they are used to show events that are patently false, the drama enters the realm of fantasy.
At least, when buildings and bridges are depicted tumbling down, no actual destruction takes place. This is not true of on-screen car crashes which really happen. Whenever I watch one of these, I can’t help thinking ” What a waste!” and I wonder why these are necessary and how the British and the Europeans manage without them. Is it because we Americans like them so much ? Is it because overseas productions do not have the lavish budgets that Hollywood and the American studios enjoy? Or is it an example of our wastefulness ? Or perhaps it is because of all of these? I don’t know.
Unfortunately, Indian movies seem to be modeling themselves on Hollywood. Recently, I saw two Bollywood movies and they were replete with car crashes ( and explosions) and the thought crossed my mind ” Are these really necessary?”