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The unaired pilot of BBC Sherlock - a review and analysis by a geeky and over-excited film student…

I just watched the unaired pilot of BBC Sherlock that was directed by Goky Giedroyc and I must admit I’m intrigued. It is really odd watching an episode that is (mostly) the same but at the same time absolutely different from the aired episode “A Study in Pink” that was shot later and directed by Paul McGuigan. This sounds like a paradox but it isn’t. Actually it’s almost like textbook.  You could show it at film school to show the impact and handwriting that a director has on a film.

For all of you who haven’t seen it: The “original” pilot is only 55 minutes long and therefore 30 minutes shorter than the aired version “A study in pink”. The BBC decided to reformat the show and to shoot it again. While the story and the dialog (mostly) is the same for almost the whole of the episode the most intriguing part is seeing all the differences.

1) The directing // visuals
McGuigan has a very visual and elegant style of telling a story through pictures and symbols. It’s not very obvious when you watch “A study in pink” but you absolutely can see the lack of symbolism in the “original” pilot. Something simply doesn’t feel right and all the time while watching I felt that something - like a character - was missing (and I don’t mean Mycroft who wasn’t in the original plot).  I really love and enjoy the directing and the camera work on McGuigan’s BBC Sherlock. The camera positions and angles are always quite unusual and very interesting and tell a story for themselves. I’m not saying that Giedroyc’s directing is bad but it’s much more “classic” if not “standard directing”.  There are no risky shots, no “daring” of the audience to look closer. I’m not saying this is a bad thing but it definitely caught my attention.

2) The locations
The locations on the early version of BBC Sherlock seem to have much less detail and appear much cheaper than the ones in “A Study in Pink” but I have to admit I LOVED the interior of 221B Baker Street in this version. I completely understand the reason’s why the changed the set and I know that it was necessary but my heart cried a bit when I saw the original one. It seemed to be a lot more comfy than Sherlock’s total mess of a flat in the later version. It made Sherlock look less like a very high functioning sociopath and more like an aristocrat. *laughs* Alone the interior of his home shows that Sherlock’s character is a bit different in this version than in “A Study in Pink” but I’ll come to that point later.


3) The editing.
Using typography and effects is nothing new in the world of television but I think the dynamic use of the typo in the Sherlock episodes really defines the whole mood and style of the show. It seems much slower and less clever without them which is quite interesting. Of course there are still some great slo-mo and timewarp effects in the original pilot but it still doesn’t have the dynamic and it simply doesn’t give you the boost you’ll have while watching McGuigan’s version of the script.

4) The directing // characters
This is the most interesting part. You might think that the heart, the core of the story and the characters are the same due to the same dialog in the script but you couldn’t be more mistaken. I must say that I was pretty torn when I watched Giedroyc’s version in case of the characters because there is such a HUGE difference especially the way Benedict Cumberbatch  portrays Sherlock in this version. He’s not as alienated as the “later” version of Sherlock and a lot less eccentric, well I dare say he’s almost likeable. Cumberbatch says the same dialog but he seems less sharp, less insulting more… human. The whole character doesn’t appear to be ice-cold or arrogant or above everyone else like he does on the show - he’s much friendlier and warmer, he even says “please” a couple of times. ^^ I must admit I adore this version of Sherlock. I mean I do love “our” Sherlock but this interpretation was like the icing on the cake. I guess that’s a matter of taste, though and lots of people are going to disagree with me on this which is totally okay.

What I also totally adored about the original version was the fake!dunk Sherlock and drugged!Sherlock in it. Oh, and Sherlock standing on that roof like freaking Batman! I really had to lol at it but I bloody LOVED it.  Probably some of my favourite scenes of all episodes.

Another positive aspect of the unaired pilot is - and I’ve never thought I’d say that when I started watching - the lenght. The plot is, without a doubt, very compressed but imho it makes so much more sense this way. I loved that the final scene between Sherlock and the Murderer actually played in 221B Baker Street and not at that school. It made the ending so much better and much more tense.

So my lovely Sherlockians! What do you think?

Filed under Sherlock Unaired pilot bbc sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch Steven Moffat Mark Gatiss Martin Freeman

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    I totally agree with Sherlock being completely adorable and it just being the icing on the cake
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