Review | A Darkness Has Come To London: Meet "The Irregulars"

Sherlock Holmes had his story told countless times ever since his first appearance in 1889, especially nowadays with the possibility to transform it into an audiovisual production. We had amazing ones such as the Robert Downey Jr. movies, Benedict Cumberbatch’s series for BBC, and even another Netflix creation that was considered innovative, Enola Holmes, with Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill. But this time, it’s quite different from everything you’ve ever seen.

The Irregulars is a new take on Sherlock’s classic story, set during Victorian London in the 19th Century. And it is different from the other times it was told - including Enola’s version - because it’s not centered on Sherlock and his loyal assistant, Dr. John Watson, even though they are very important to the plot. The series talks about a group of misfits teenagers who live on the streets of London that get dragged into some investigations assigned by Watson. But this time, let’s add up a little bit of supernatural.

Since its release, The Irregulars has entered on many Top 10 Netflix’s Charts all over the world and it’s been conquering many hearts with only a few episodes available. And we have some fresh faces doing their first job as main characters on a big production like Thaddea Graham ("The Letter For The King"), Harrison Osterfield ("Catch-22"), Darci Shaw ("Judy"), Mckell David ("The Gentleman"), and Jojo Macari ("Sex Education"). Sherlock is played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes - known for a small part in the fourth Harry Potter movie as Fleur Delacour’s Yule Ball date - and Watson is played by Royce Pierreson, who has been a part of The Witcher and Murdered By My Boyfriend.

Let’s take a closer look at the series, but beware, there might be some spoilers

  1. 1. We Are Your Family Too

    As told before, the series focuses mainly on telling the story of a group of teenagers living on the streets of London, more specifically on Baker Street, that are united for surviving like a family, even though they are not blood-related. Every character fits perfectly on a puzzle to construct a beautiful narrative.

    The story of Bea, Jessie, Spike, and Billy will get you hooked from the first episode to the last simply because it takes a while for you to get to know them personally. The first episode will give you a taste of their main characteristics that will be further developed. We can see that Bea is the strong female leader that we love, Jessie is sassy and gifted with magic, Billy is tough and kind of grumpy and Spike is ridiculously funny.

    Parting from that, stories start to develop between the group, creating small arches that you’ll want to watch more and more. When they start to work for John Watson, we can get a glimpse of what the rest of the season will be like. While some scenes will put you on the edge, others will make you fall in love with the characters or laugh so hard. It’s the perfect dosage of entertainment.

    This is the time where we see Jojo Macari’s true ability as an actor since Billy is completely different from what the actor is in real life. Macari can step down from his chaotic energy to get more serious with Billy. The boy has been hurt before and along with Bea and Jessie, he had the roughest life that taught him how to be strong. Jojo impersonates that perfectly!

    And Spike will most certainly be your favorite character. He sometimes can be a coward and run away from danger, but his comedic side always brings the best of the character. He might be afraid but will face everything thrown his way as we see in episode two when he invades 221B after debating with Bea about it. You’ll laugh with Spike and will keep him close to your heart.

  2. 2. The Crown

    "The Irregulars" also explores a very important part of the British culture when a member of the Royal Family joins the story. Prince Leopold, the youngest of Queen Victoria’s heirs, has lived his entire life inside the palace due to a genetic disorder called hemophilia, a disease that makes an individual incapable of making blood clots. But it’s his 17th birthday and Leopold wants to go out and explore the city he has lived in for so many years but knows nothing about.

    All of that experience led Leo to meet the other kids in a fight in the middle of Baker Street when his royal carriage almost runs over Jessie. The boy would keep sneaking out of the palace to meet them again several times during the season, leaving a double life.

    It’s very cool to see that they brought veracity to Leo once he was based on the true Prince Leopold. It’s the smallest details that bring a different touch to the story and make us actually see the dynamic inside the royalty, which will probably be more explored in a possible second season.

     And Harrison Osterfield’s performance was completely amazing while interpreting this polite and extremely smart man. Leo is goofy and socially awkward because of all the lack of interaction with the outside world, which makes him cute and funny while he’s being smarter than everyone in the room. You definitely can’t take your eyes off him every time he comes around again.

  3. 3. Sisterhood

    And let’s open space for the two queens of the show, Bea and Jessie, owners of one of the most beautiful relationships on the series. The sisters lost their mom at a very young age and needed to be raised on their own, taking care of each other through many years of their lives. While they both have different stories with the other characters, Jessie and Bea have that kind of genuine sibling love. They fight like all of us do, but love beats anything else.

    Bea is this strong woman that is not afraid to stand up for herself, her sister, or the people she loves. She’ll always get to the bottom of everything she compromises to do and it is so good to watch her interact with other characters because her tone always changes depending on who she’s talking to. For example, she shows herself protectively over her younger sister, but we can see how she toughens up whenever she’s talking to Watson. Thaddea Graham did an amazing job portraying Bea and I think it’s a good start on her career. Please, keep your eyes on this woman!

    Jessie is another splendid character. Not only is she funny and sassy, but she’s the one who brings to the group a bit of that supernatural part promised on the show. Darci Shaw knew very well how to switch from funny to serious, and every single scene when she showed herself as scared and taking control over the situation, she did it perfectly.

  4. 4. Bringing Back The Classics

    Whenever there’s a new adaptation of Sherlock Holmes, people get worried about what it will turn out to be like. Once most of the fans are in love with Benedict Cumberbatch’s version of the famous investigator, it is hard to come up with their expectations.

    "The Irregulars brings" a different Sherlock, one who was taken over by grief, darkness, and fame. We see one of his lowest points after going through a series of traumatic experiences for several months. Henry Lloyd-Hughes was an amazing choice for the character because we can see every emotion being transmitted through his eyes. And for those who love that “Smartass Sherlock”, you’ll get a bit of that.

    But this is Watson’s turn to shine. While Sherlock takes a while to finally make an appearance on the show, John Watson gets more screen time to be developed. He makes you doubt his loyalty in every episode once you don’t know if he’s a good or a bad guy. This indecision and the lack of answers will make you stick to the very end to know what exactly is Watson’s deal. And it’s so good to finally see a black actor playing such an iconic character.

    Some other known aspects from the classic story - like the apartment 221B on Baker Street and Mycroft Holmes — are also coming back to make an appearance. Oh, and for those who love the Johnlock ship, you’re gonna love their relationship on The Irregulars.

  5. 5. Jump scares, heart fluttering and laughs

    We were promised supernatural and that’s what we get. What’s so interesting about this show is that we don’t have that kind of extra-scary approach to the story, except for a few jump scares, which helps people that don’t actually like horror productions watch the series without stopping it midway. The dark approach is so simple and still is what differences it from anything we’ve seen of this universe before.

    Harrison Osterfield, who plays Leo, said in one interview that came out before the show that he couldn’t define The Irregulars in one genre only. Later we would find out that it was true since it’s a mixture between comedy, romance, horror, mystery, drama. It’s one of those works that you’ll get a full package to have fun for a few hours.

    So while you solve supernatural mysteries with the characters, you’ll get involved in love stories that include love, at first sight, unrequited love, troubled romances. Every piece of new information about their past life will put you on the edge and, of course, will make you want to have a strong friendship like the characters. Oh, and don’t forget about the comic relieves that are very important and present in the plot.

  6. 6. Modernity In Victorian London

    If there’s a thing that is dividing opinions about the show is the touch of modernity added to the 19th Century England. But "The Irregulars" is proof that you can bring today’s world to ancient history and make it even cooler.

    Starting with the soundtrack that doesn’t give us boring old music, bringing instead some electronic and fresh sounds to the scenes, which oddly worked just fine. The beats bring a different rhythm to the series and a unique personality that will be remembered by those who watched it.

    And the same goes for the language. Even though the noble characters never break the formality pattern, the others seem pretty comfortable about throwing slangs now and then. It works on helping the distinction between commoners and royalty while it’s not something that will bother who’s watching it.

    But what still is the most interesting and the coolest about this modernity is the diversity included on the show without any background stories or crappy excuses to justify why they have black and Asian people walking freely around London. It’s a big step to have someone like Royce Pierreson playing Watson, even if it didn’t please much of the fans. And the fact that we have an Asian woman playing such a strong leading role is fantastic! It surely is a positive point for you to press play on Netflix.

  7. 7. Aesthetics, Costumes and Make-Up

    Being a part of a production with so many creative possibilities can be quite fun and the creators did an amazing aesthetic job along with the crew. While the story takes a dark perspective, they also have the possibility to explore the royal side of it.

    Starting with the makeup, they did an amazing job of not making the supernatural parts look like something weirdly characteristic that came straight out of "Buffy, The Vampire Slayer". Many scenes prove how talented and careful the makeup artists were with the show. For example, there’s this girl who was murdered after the crow attack in episode one that looks very realistic. Also, an honorable mention to the impressive man with body parts from different people sewed together to save his life in episode six.

    Also, the costumes were beautiful, especially Prince Leo’s, because since he’s a part of The Royal Family, the costume designers got the chance to play with expensive suits and coats to give life to the character. I bet you all will want to steal at least one piece of clothing from any noble character (shout out to Leo’s blue coat). And it’s good to see the changes made on Leopold through the episodes once he decided to stick around the group.

    The Irregulars themselves are always wearing mucky and shabby clothes, which makes justice to their lifestyle. The same goes for Sherlock, whose destructive personality reflects on his looks. Also, Dr. Watson’s clothes are just as fancy as royalty’s, making Royce look even more attractive than he already is.

    The scenes were well constructed aesthetically and it was good to see the “workers” part of Victorian London along with fancy locations such as palaces and big mansions like the Holmes’ on episode three. And it was amazing when the scenes used a little bit of sequence plan, bringing uniqueness to the show.

  8. 8. What About Season Two?

    Netflix hasn’t spoken about renewing the series for a second season, but they have been giving some hints of a possibility for "The Irregulars" to come back and continue their story.

    There’s much left to explore, such as Leo’s farewell in the last scenes, Spike’s story development, and his supposed feelings for Jessie, along with Billy, his backup story, and his love for Bea. And one of the biggest questions that kept the fans wondering: what will Watson do now that Sherlock is gone?

Season one is now streaming worldwide on Netflix.

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The article above was edited by Isadora Noronha Pereira.

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