Sherlock Holmes has gone through a lot of looks through the years. From the deerstalker hat and cape of Basil Rathbone to the coat and scarf of Benedict Cumberbatch to the bohemian gentleman’s garb favored by Robert Downey Jr.’s interpretation of the character, when bringing the great detective to life there is an understandable desire to make each version somehow different from the ones that came before. Netflix’s The Irregulars—now available to stream—takes that desire to a new extreme. In the show, Holmes has a pierced ear. And a buzzcut. In flashbacks to him in his prime he has long hair and looks like a Victorian London version of Captain Jack Sparrow.
This description should tell you everything you need to know about The Irregulars, a show that either misunderstands or cares very little about what makes the world Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created work. The protagonists of this show are the Baker Street Irregulars, who in the Conan Doyle stories were the street urchins who the detective employed to be his eyes and ears in the city. In The Irregulars, they’re less “eyes and ears” and more “the ones who actually solve the mysteries,” setting this up as Netflix’s latest attempt to capitalize on the success of properties like Stranger Things and It, giving us yet another ragtag group of teenage mystery solvers up against some great paranormal evil.
Thaddea Graham stars as Bea, the older sister of Jessie (Darci Shaw) and the leader of the Irregulars. Struggling for money and fearing having to return to a workhouse, Bea accepts a job from a vaguely sinister Dr. Watson (Royce Pierreson), who asks the crew to look into mysterious happenings around London. They eventually find that Watson is desperately trying to keep up appearances because Sherlock (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) has disappeared, and that a tear in the fabric of reality is endowing villains with supernatural powers.
The things that work first: Graham is excellent. She isn’t given the best script to work with, but she is affable and plucky and eminently watchable. But it’s Pierreson’s take on Dr. Watson that manages to be The Irregulars’ brightest point. His Watson is more competent that past screen iterations, and his stern mannerisms are an interesting direction to take the character, one that manages to be fresh while not rendering the character recognizable.