When asked who is considered the best detective in the entertainment world, Sherlock Holmes should come to mind. Few fictional sleuths have attained the same level of fame from their adventures in books or onscreen.
“The Irregulars” is an adaptation of that famous fictional sleuth — sadly, though, it’s quite a poor representation. The show has more of a modernized quality to it with its frequent pop background music and romantic tropes, which distract from the more somber themes of the show.
The new mystery follows a group of impoverished teenagers in Victorian-era London when they are unexpectedly hired to investigate cases for the iconic detective. In a city divided into two parts, the privileged and the disaffected, these outcasts are relegated to the shadows. By blending into the background, “The Irregulars” are able to navigate spaces a man like Holmes could never investigate.
Sherlock Holmes’s friend and assistant, Dr. Watson, tracks down Bea (Thaddea Graham, “The Letter for the King”), the leader of the Irregulars, after becoming aware of her sister Jessie’s (Darci Shaw, “Bitter Sky”) supernatural visions. After learning four baby girls have been kidnapped, Dr. Watson hires Bea to investigate any information on the matter, promising compensation in return. Out of desperation for money, Bea, her sister and two other friends Spike (McKell David, “On the Edge”) and Billy (Jojo Macari, “Cursed”), immerse themselves into the world of solving mysteries by combining and utilizing the clues and tools available to them.
Each episode follows the gang as they investigate a new case. There doesn’t appear to be a larger plot throughout the season, which makes the storyline somewhat hard to follow. It might be compared to “Scooby-Doo,” where the amateur sleuths only solve one small mystery at a time. This may have been meant to allow the audience to have more of a connection with the characters and give insight into the strengths or weaknesses of each character’s detective strategies, but the Irregulars are unable to develop much further than that.
For the viewer, though, the one major question throughout the series is: Where is Sherlock Holmes himself? The series doesn’t introduce Holmes until halfway through the season. Though the show preserves some aspects of the original book series, like location and character names, it seems the Netflix series’ intention was to “pass the baton” to the Irregulars and completely disregard the rest of the source material.
Through all of the supernatural and dark magic, the series has a deep focus on more serious subjects like wealth and class. Because the Irregulars are poor misfits living on the impoverished side of London, the show displays society’s treatment of those often cast aside by those in power. Bea and her friends were reluctant to accept Prince Leopold’s help because, just like the rest of the “posh” people of London, he seemed likely to discard them once their usefulness ran out.
“The Irregulars” is intriguing enough to keep your attention for a few moments, yet it is ultimately a waste of time. There’s nothing worse than destroying a classic story like “Sherlock Holmes,” and not including the man himself makes the new series feel like a cheap ploy for the teen market.
If the show stuck to just a few cases to solve all across the board, then it might’ve been worth the binge.
Daily Arts Writer Jessica Curney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.