BBC’s Sherlock: Better than (gasp) Doctor Who?

It was inevitable that Sherlock would draw comparisons with the Beeb’s long, long-running sci-fi series, [[Doctor Who (TV Series)|Doctor Who]]. They’re helmed by Steven Moffat, who brings along with him a set of high expectations from devoted followers. They’re both institutions in British fiction. They both feature a prodigious genius battling against evil with a devoted companion in tow.

It’s no surprise then that The Sun points out that Sherlock‘s first episode scored a higher mark in the audience appreciation index than the [[Doctor Who Series 5|latest series]] of Doctor Who did.

The BBC’s Audience Index, in which viewers mark a show out of 100, awarded 87 to the launch episode of Sherlock – starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

The last series of Doctor Who – which introduced [[Matt Smith]] as the new Time Lord – kicked off with an 86.

Hardly newsworthy, scoring one point extra on the appreciation index. OK, it was the first episode of a brand new show, but it was highly anticipated by the public – even among rubber-neckers who were tuning in to see if Moffat’s modern retelling would crash and burn.

Personally, I thought Sherlock had several advantages over Doctor Who – the first of which is that it isn’t constrained by 30 previous series’ worth of programming! But the dynamic between Holmes and Watson is already established, which makes it a matter of finding the right people for the roles. Still, John Watson and Amy Pond share the common ground that they’re the representative of the audience following around this jabbering genius and not totally understanding what he’s up to most of the time.

And maybe it’s just me, but I found Sherlock a bit more like a grown-up version of Who: darker, more sardonic and Moffat freed from the constraints of toning it down for a junior audience. Uncomfortably close to Doctor Who at times, as I said in my review of the first episode, but in my opinion it was a step above. Stripped of trying to appeal to a broad audience, the pilot’s goal was to establish the characters of Holmes and Watson and deliver a damned good mystery at the same time. It did both admirably well.

For all my criticisms of Moffat’s writing during Doctor Who’s fifth series, I can’t complain about anything in that first episode of Sherlock.

Which leads me to the open question – has Sherlock got the potential to be better than Doctor Who?

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