Review: The Irregulars 2021 By Tom Bidwell
After dropping an ominous teaser for it in February, Netflix has now released a full trailer for its upcoming series The Irregulars. It’s part of the streaming channel’s Sherlock Holmes cinematic universe (no that’s not a thing, but it could be!) after last year’s charming Enola Holmes series, which told the story of Sherlock’s younger sister, based on the novels by Nancy Springer (although Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate has sued Netflix for that series’ portrayal of Sherlock as too emotional).
The Irregulars is loosely based on the street urchin gang called the Baker Street Irregulars, who appeared in several of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. In the books, the Irregulars are sort of like confidential informants for Holmes and Dr. Watson, giving them info from the streets and helping them solve cases in Victorian London.
The Netflix production, however, casts Sherlock and his sidekick in a decidedly sinister light. It also puts the supernatural elements that typically lurk around the edges of Holmes stories front and center, with Jessie (Darci Shaw), a girl who “can see things normal people cannot,” like perhaps dead people, and something called a “Rip” (capital R, says the closed captioning) in “the barrier between our world and the next,” which sounds very not good. The Irregulars — Jessie, Bea (Thaddea Graham), Billy (Jojo Macari), Spike (McKell David), and Leo (Harrison Osterfield) — have to close the Rip, or everyone’s doomed.
If you’re familiar with the famous tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, you might recall a group of street kids who Sherlock Holmes occasionally calls on for information. Well, thanks to Netflix, they’re now getting their very own show – with Holmes and Watson playing second fiddle, if you will.
WHAT IS NETFLIX’S THE IRREGULARS ABOUT?
According to Netflix, the eight-episode series follows our gang of troubled street teens around Victorian London as they are “manipulated into solving crimes for the sinister Doctor Watson and his mysterious business partner, the elusive Sherlock Holmes.
As the crimes take on a horrifying supernatural edge and a dark power emerges, it’ll be up to the Irregulars to come together to save not only London but the entire world.”
HANG ON A MINUTE… SINISTER? WATSON?
Well, as creator Tom Bidwell explained to the BBC, “Our series is what if Sherlock was a drug addict and a delinquent and the kids solve the whole case whilst he takes credit.”
So if you were half-hoping to spend eight solid hours getting all gooey over the great detective, you’d better have a thing for the cast of Trainspotting, because our boy is not looking well.
But back to our real heroes (ouch!), Bidwell has both reimagined and expanded the world of the street teens, who were a group of five boys in Conan Doyle’s original text. Now, two of the characters are female and they all come with fully fleshed-out back stories (horray!)
SO WHO’S WHO?
The lead cast is a great roll call of young and upcoming talent. Heading up the underground gang is Bea, played by Us’s Thaddea Graham, and there’s Jessie (Judy’s Darci Shaw), Spike (Snatch’s McKell David) and Billy.
WHO’S PLAYING SHERLOCK? IS IT…?
No, it’s not Benedict Cumberbatch. Or Robert Downey Jr. Or Jonny Lee Miller. Or Henry Cavill. Henry Lloyd-Hughes of The Inbetweeners and Killing Eve fame will be donning the deer stalker (or will he, really?), and Murdered By My Boyfriend’s Royce Pierreson will be playing Dr Watson.