Small noses with access to a ton of information circulating in the streets of London, the Irregulars of Baker Street are reworked in a series mixing investigations, puzzles, fantasy and supernatural. Will this clever mix be enough to convince us that these budding investigators can compete with the famous Sherlock Holmes?
Available on Netflix this Friday March 26, the series Baker Street Irregulars signs a new production featuring the universe of Sherlock Holmes. The creation of this series is up to Tom Bidwell, with a 100% British production and cast. In particular, Les Irréguliers features young teenagers, offering their talent and their ease of access to information from London in the service of Sherlock Holmes and his business associate, Doctor John Watson. It is therefore not the latter who end up being the main protagonists.
Jessie, Béa, Spike and Billy form a group of budding investigators who evolve in a threatening London, like a terrifying shadow above the young characters. The street children of the original works give way to teenagers who not only gather crucial information, but also bring a critical look at events and turn out to be much smarter than one might think. They find themselves having to investigate occult and paranormal phenomena, which find their origins in “the breach”, passage between the world of the living and that of the dead.
As with the Sherlock Holmes news, each episode has its own investigation, though the thread of the mysterious breach connects them all. Both derived from a classic, and a genre totally out of step with the original works, Baker Street Irregulars succeeds in convincing us that the succession of Sherlock Holmes has arrived.
Anything but elementary Sherlock Holmes
In terms of genre, the series contrasts hugely with the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, but this will not be the first time for a spin-off production from the universe of Sherlock Holmes. After being romanticized and seasoned with plenty of action in Guy Ritchie’s films, or transported to a contemporary era with the BBC series, the universe of Sherlock Holmes is reworked in a different genre, but one that is reminiscent of the one already explored by Le Chien de Baskerville in 1959. The series does not hide it, the fantastic is at the heart of the plot. The investigations revolve around supernatural events most often involving magic from another world. Either go or break, it’s a daring bias that we think works well with the teenage world.
We still appreciate the few details that nod to traditional detective fiction, such as the first investigation which takes up the codes of crime in an enclosed space. Beyond that, it’s a total revisit that offers Baker Street Irregulars, in a less streamlined tone but a lot more entertaining in its own way.
A renewal of youth and dynamism
Sherlock Holmes is almost completely erased from the series, giving voice to the young people of the neighborhoods who become the true heroes of the story. They bring a new and youthful look to works that are more than a hundred years old. On the production side, some recalcitrant special effects sometimes had difficulty convincing us. Fortunately we count them on the fingers of one hand for this first season and, once we get over it, the series really plunges us into its atmosphere. The zoom effects make the series really more dynamic without it becoming too immature.
The transitions are quite confusing, the scenes often passing from rooster to donkey without warning. If it is surprising the first times, it actually adds originality to the series which ultimately does not take itself too seriously. It’s even quite funny when you go from a rather daring scene to a scene of horror in the blink of an eye. Moreover, this aspect of the series also contributes to its originality. Juggling between rather bloody scenes and jump scare from time to time, the little horror side of the series fully engages the emotions of the viewer. On this subject, the series reminds us Penny Dreadful by John Logan, a Netflix series which also takes up the codes of Victorian literature from the angle of horror, even if Baker Street Irregulars is much more affordable for the most sensitive of viewers.
Headlining a five-star British cast, some of whose actors stand out more than others in the interpretation of their role. Special mention is given to Thaddea Graham (Us) who plays the role of Bea, the leader of the small group of investigators and the intermediary between them and Watson. Independent and strong, she manages to move us to tears at times.
McKell David (Snatch), who plays Spike, brings a breath of fresh air that does good to the series between two scary scenes. He interprets his role wonderfully, bringing a touch of lightness to the dramatic tone of the series.
However, the real nugget of the series remains the adaptation of the character of John Watson, brilliantly played by Royce Pierreson (The Witcher). Far from the image of the doctor rarely involved and a little simplet, Watson is here a man much more mysterious and engaged since he speaks to himself on behalf of his partner. In addition, his manipulative, violent and dark side attests to a very convincing depth of character.