The BBC’s Sherlock is full of problems. Race, gender, sexual orientation, and plot—co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have done questionable things with all of them. But the cool thing about Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character is that Sherlock inspires so many of his fans to create their own interpretations of the timeless detective, whether they have the BBC’s budget or not. Today’s web crush is one of the more creative ones.
Baker Street is a short webseries written and acted by Hannah Drew and Karen Slater, who have re-imagined Sherlock and Watson as Sherlock and Jane: two girls in their mid-twenties who live together in a house in Toronto, Canada. Jane Watson spent the last four years in med school in London before returning to Toronto for heretofore unknown reasons. Now she interns for a professor at the local university and has a vlog on the side. Sherlock has “a relationship” with the university, but doesn’t seem to do much aside from making a mess of the house and orchestrating crimes from her room.
Sherlock and Jane being girls is a definite way to include diversity, but Drew and Slater don’t stop there. Mary Morstan is a Black woman, and Stan Hopkins, the Lestrade stand-in, is Asian. Though the plot hasn’t gotten into it yet, the creators have Word of God confirmed that Sherlock is asexual and Jane is bi, and throughout the episodes, they’ve remained really cognizant of the fact that two ladies living in Toronto would have a much different experience than two men in Toronto (or in London, for that matter). Jane and Sherlock really don’t get on at first, and when they finally do hang out together, it’s because Jane drags Sherlock out on a double date which, surprise surprise, Sherlock doesn’t care for. Both ladies also find that wandering around dark alleys solving crimes is a much different experience for them than it is for Sherlock and John.
Though it’s clearly inspired by BBC Sherlock, the main difference between that and Baker Street is that Baker Street is set when the characters haven’t yet grown into their adult selves. Jane has a strong sense of what’s right and what’s wrong, and she has no patience for Sherlock’s amorality. Sherlock, in turn, is a little more immoral than her BBC counterpart—she hasn’t yet discovered that solving crimes is more fun than committing them, and as such, she chafes at Jane’s black-and-white interpretation of things. It’s an interesting character study of both ladies, and it’s a younger side of them that we haven’t seen in other recent adaptations.
If I had one complaint about it, it would be the relatively low production value. Drew and Slater studied theatre, not cinema, and it’s clearly their first time filming anything. The non-vlog scenes are fine, but Jane’s vlog is (probably intentionally) pretty low-quality. The audio mixing is nonexistent as well. Thankfully, there are captions for almost all the videos, and the cinematography does get a little better as the series goes on. Don’t let this dissuade you from watching, though—you should give Baker Street a chance! The first season is done, and the creators are hoping for a Season 2 as soon as they can get the funding.