Synopsis: Irregulars: In Victorian London, Dr. John Watson approaches a gang of troubled street teens, and ropes them into investigating a series of crimes that are both horrific and mysterious, for his 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, led by 17-year-old Bea and her younger sister Jessie to come together to save not only London but the entire world.
Irregulars follows a pretty standard monster of the day format, with an overarching story arc running throughout the series. In this case, somebody has opened a rip between worlds. Through which supernatural forces are invading London. This is what Dr. Watson hires Bea and her friends to investigate. Meanwhile, Leo (Harrison Osterfield) spies Bea through his coach window one night and falls in love. Subsequently the young prince seeks out the Irregulars and becomes their friend. A tender, tentative romance blooms between Bea and Leo as they fight dark forces together. Much to the chagrin of Billy (Jojo Macari). Indeed, the series does an excellent job of showing the class tensions between street kid Billy and Leo a prince of the realm. John Watson manipulates the Irregulars from 221B Baker Street, leading to Bea discovering that Sherlock Holmes was her and Jessie’s father. We see Henry Lloyd-Hughes‘s portrayal of Sherlock as a rock star like super sleuth in flashbacks. Only to discover that Holmes losing his wife Alice (Eileen O’Higgins) utterly broke him.
One of this series’ major themes is loss. Most if not all of the villains have lost someone. Jessie and Bea lose both their parents in the series finale, and Bea loses Leo who must return to palace life. Having promised to fulfil a marriage arrangement in return for the crown releasing Billy from prison. Additionally there is the theme of found family and love bonding our heroes together. Evidently this is when the Irregulars bring Jessie out of her coma induced nightmare. As well as the flashbacks of Sherlock, John and Alice fighting crime. Make no mistake, this is dark and gritty stuff. We see this when Billy murders his old workhouse master in a fistfight as well as the Golden Dawn members’ murders. It seems clear that Irregulars tempers the horror and darkness of life on the streets with the true companionship the characters have together. This is achieved without ever seeming schmaltzy.
Irregulars boasts a number of great performances from its cast. Thaddea Graham is a strong and likable leader. She is able to show Bea’s strength of character and care for Jessie well. Graham also shows Bea’s vulnerability in the finale to a very good standard. Henry Lloyd-Hughes delivers the most nuanced portrayal of Sherlock I have seen. Lloyd-Hughes shows us a rock star, Captain Jack Sparrow-like Holmes at the height of his career. Who we see fall in love with Alice and attempt to care for her despite trying to utilise her supernatural powers. As well as this we see a broken Sherlock who attempts to do the right thing but whose demons still plague him. Ultimately the audience witnesses the consulting detective apologise to his best friend and sacrifice himself to save the world. Lloyd-Hughes portrays every facet of this Holmes with a deft touch. That only a master actor could pull off.
Elementary, my dear Watson
Royce Pierreson portrays John Watson as much more morally opaque than he has ever been before. Indeed, a lot of the dramatic tension in the first few episodes comes from the ambiguity and cruelty in Watson’s character. Despite this we see a lighter and more carefree Dr. Watson in flashbacks. As well as an ultimately kind John Watson in the finale’s closing moments, when he comforts Bea. Eileen O’Higgins delivers the humanity. Of her character when faced with the glory hunting Sherlock who is not overawed by him at all. Even so, O’Higgins shows us an otherworldly and yet caring Alice in the final episode. Who just wants her family to be together again. McKell David gets most of the funny lines in this series. I won’t lie, I’m definitely a Spike/Jessie shipper. What was more impressive was the scene where Spike stands up to Leo in the palace and implores him to come and help his friends.
Jojo Macari’s character of Billy plays off Osterfield’s Leo really well. Their scenes in the early episodes were some of the strongest. Equally Macari shows Billy’s emotions well in his scenes with Old Vic (Alex Ferns). In my view, the love triangle between Billy, Bea and Leo should have been explored further. I believe that this would have given the actors more to work with. I felt that Darci Shaw‘s Jessie was somewhat weak, although this could have been to do with how the character was written. It might be nice to see a stronger, more mature Jessie in series 2. Who decides what she wants and goes after it.
Irregulars’ incidental music did a great job of setting the scene. The funky urban score in episode 1 let us know who these kids were and what they were all about. This series’ music really helps capture the weirdness and the feeling of having stepped to the edge of the fantastic. As well as ramping up the tension when it needs to.
Irregulars features some excellent CGI. The FX of the spirits in Jessie’s dream world were great. As were the effects of the villains being empowered by ouija boards. Likewise the FX of the rip between worlds in the finale was excellent. We really feel as though we are on oblivion’s precipice. In the same way the effects of the lightning storm in episode 3 and the approaching darkness at episode 1’s end really sold the ominous doom the series is going for.
Irregulars is an excellent show. It’s well written, well plotted and well acted. That it’s set in Sherlock Holmes’s world brings a rich new layer to the world’s greatest detective as well as showcasing some great talent. Although Netflix has not officially announced a series 2 this reviewer hopes there is going to be one because the cast and crew deserve it. This is well worth a watch.
- Incidental Music8.9