“The Irregulars”: Another Sherlock Holmes Reimagining?
Reading Time: 4 minutes
When you think about the mystery genre, chances are Sherlock Holmes is one of the first names that will pop into your head. As one of the most beloved fictional characters of all time, the detective is an incredibly well-known figure in pop culture. However, the story of Sherlock Holmes extends far beyond Arthur Conan Doyle’s original novels. There has been a multitude of films and shows, each with their own reimagining of Sherlock Holmes and his partner John Watson. The newest name to be added to this long list of adaptations is “The Irregulars,” which was released on Netflix on March 26.
“The Irregulars” revolves around a ragtag team of misfits who start investigating supernatural crimes in Victorian London under the instruction of Dr. John Watson (Royce Pierreson). The eccentric lineup includes Bea (Thaddea Graham), the unofficial leader of the group, and her sister, Jessie (Darci Shaw), who experiences eerie visions and has psychic powers. Coming along for the ride are Billy (Jojo Macari), a street fighter, and Spike (McKell David), the comedic relief of the group. Finally, balancing out the gang of vagrants and criminals is prince-in-disguise Leopold (Harrison Osterfield).
Throughout most of the show, we follow this cast of characters as they move from one odd case to another. These mysteries, which include eye-gouging ravens and face-stealing women, hint at a more sinister force at play, adding to the overall mystery. Despite the young age of the teenagers, their rough upbringing and the gruesome nature of these crimes give an interesting maturity to the characters and a grittiness to the show, which is balanced by the entertaining banter between the group of friends.
All of this takes place in the dirty, cobblestoned streets of Victorian London. The setting is fantastically portrayed, and the costumes work well to immerse the audience into the show. The CGI is also impressive and contributes greatly to the eerie tone. Since the cases rely heavily on the supernatural, the special effects do a lot to keep the show grounded and impactful. For example, when Jessie has nightmare sequences about plague doctors and monsters, the CGI of the show works to sell the terror.
With supernatural elements, curious mysteries, and even blossoming romances, the show attempts to juggle countless genres but manages to do none of them effectively. The supernatural aspects of the mysteries, though entertaining at times, often feel gimmicky and almost cartoonish at other times due to how dramatized some of the villains are. In one case, a “tooth fairy” is introduced as an antagonist, and despite the attempts to villainize her, it was hard to buy. The concept alone was difficult to get past, and the character’s writing and presentation did little to help the audience see her as a convincing villain. In addition, the main villain of the show felt exaggerated and cliché (not to mention that his evil laughter could have used some serious work). Moreover, the supernatural aspect of the mysteries takes away from the intrigue of mystery itself. When every case can be explained with some unintroduced supernatural phenomenon, the solutions never feel clever or thrilling, especially when compared to the more intricately designed mysteries of Conan Doyle’s works. Ultimately, the majority of the mysteries had interesting premises but were badly executed. Even the romances fall flat, with unnecessary love triangles and a lack of chemistry between love interests.
The plot, despite its original and intriguing premise, lacks excitement. Most episodes become formulaic with every episode starting off with a supernatural case and ending with the villain being defeated in a similar way every time. Many of the twists are predictable, and the climax of the show is poorly written and rushed. In addition, the overarching conflict is solved too easily, so there is never any real narrative tension for the audience. Certain plot points feel unnecessarily dragged out, while others feel undeveloped and sudden.
Despite the mediocre execution of the plot, the characters help make up for it. The core cast all have unique personalities that balance each other out as well as in-depth backstories and personal struggles. The crew’s development from mistreated and cagey orphans to courageous heroes is wrought with many obstacles, but their ultimate triumph allows for a satisfying and entertaining journey. Their personalities also contrast with each other a great deal, creating an amusing dynamic. John Watson and Sherlock Holmes (Henry-Lloyd Hughes) play important roles in the show, though they are portrayed in a much darker way than we are used to seeing them. However, unlike most other portrayals, they don’t play a major role in most of the actual mystery-solving, giving the teenagers space to shine.
All told, “The Irregulars,” has an imaginative premise but lacks the execution needed to make it a truly entertaining show. The plot relies heavily on the mystery, but the supernatural aspects take away from any intrigue. As a Sherlock Holmes reimagining, it lacks the charm and mystery of Conan Doyle’s books. Fans of the iconic detective should look elsewhere for engaging mysteries or a faithful adaptation. However, despite these letdowns, the characters are well-developed and have you rooting for them every step of the way. “The Irregulars” brings a likable cast but not much else, ultimately failing to tell a compelling story.