Netflix's latest fantasy series is shrouded within the world of Victorian London and Sherlock Holmes. But there are supernatural occurrences afoot.
'The Irregulars' is based within the world of Sherlock Holmes and his accomplice John Watson in a Victorian-era London. The series promises to show us Holmes "as we’ve never seen him before" - and it does. When he does eventually show his face, he's a shadow of his former self.
But Holmes isn’t the main protagonist here, as a band of street urchins take up the majority of the focus throughout the eight episodes. The group is headed up by Bea (Northern Irish actor Thaddea Graham), who alongside her sister Jessie (Darci Shaw), and their friends Spike (McKell David), Billy (Jojo Macari) and newcomer to the group, Leo (Harrison Osterfield), are recruited by John Watson to help solve the more "supernatural occurrences" that have been plaguing London in recent history.
For a title bearing the Netflix Original moniker, there really isn’t much here that is all that original. The horror elements present have been executed far better in countless other TV series, and none of the "monsters" really feel unique enough to warrant us remembering them. It was a bold move for the creators to place us into a world based on such a popular character that we’ve seen time and time again - from Robert Downey Jr. to Benedict Cumberbatch - and it’s unfortunate then that Sherlock Holmes, even though he's only in half of the series, is still easily the most interesting character.
Being a series which is lead predominantly by teenage characters, it’s rather disappointing then that it's all just a bit boring. The monsters that are causing a ruckus in the city range from the laughable (stealing people’s teeth really doesn't seem that scary all of a sudden), to the grotesque (stealing people's faces would have been unique if Arya Stark from 'Game of Thrones' hadn't done it first). The quality of acting is also questionable, with perhaps a dozen wooden performances scattered throughout the series.
'Enola Holmes', which this writer was sceptical about at first, was such a triumph. It expertly showed that the concept of placing Holmes in the back seat can actually work, because it was a lot of fun. Unfortunately for 'The Irregulars', the central characters aren't all that much fun, which is something you want when they're being chased by a man firing crows at them (yes, really).
Having said that, it’s not all bad news. Victorian London does shine on the screen, with each set and every costume being a grand nod to the time period. Northern Irish star Thaddea Graham as Bea, the unapologetic leader of the group, holds her own. She does the best with the script that she can, and is certainly a rising star to watch out for in the future. In a similar vein, McKell David is completely underused here, with him offering little more than a supporting role to the other supporting characters. Spike is a cheeky, fun character, almost a Jay-like personality from 'The Inbetweeners', but his character is never actually allowed to do anything. It's a pity because McKell clearly has the range required for an expanded-upon role, but is confined to not actually being allowed to give us that oomph the series is crying out for.
Netflix seems so confident that the series will perform well for them, word on the street is that 'The Irregulars' has already been given a second season before its even been released. We don’t know whether to believe this or not, considering the series isn’t all that great, but hey, critically-panned Netflix shows have a habit of staying around longer than anticipated (*Ahem* 'Space Force' and 'Fate: the Winx Saga', here's looking at you), so we’ll have to wait on official confirmation on that one.
If you're a die-hard Sherlock Holmes fanatic, you'll either get a kick out of 'The Irregulars' or wish that it had never been made. Most casual viewers will most likely fall in the latter category too.
'The Irregulars' is available now on Netflix.