The Irregulars is a TV show set in the Victorian London era where a group of teens are tipped into the world of supernatural and mysteries. The show was created by Tom Bidwell and is inspired by the characters mentioned within Sherlock Holmes novels, which was written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Unlike other fictional shows or movies that involve Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, this time around; they are not the primary focus of the show but a bunch of street orphans who take up the task of solving mysterious cases. This gang of teen detectives who named themselves ‘The Irregulars’ is led by Bea (Thaddea Graham,), the heart of the group; alongside her sister, Jessie (Darci Shaw), the psychic; and their friends, Billy (Jojo Macari), the strength of the group; Spike (McKell David), the skeleton holding the group together; and the ‘knowledgeable’ hemophilic aristocrat, Leopold (Harrison Osterfield).
The supernatural show opens with the mystery behind missing babies in London which prompts Watson (Royce Pierreson) to seek the help of Bea on the mysterious case while she gets money in exchange for her service. Now the question that comes to mind following Watson’s unusual request for help is; why will the doctor and smart Sherlock Holmes need the help of some irrelevant street kids? Each episode of the show portrays different supernatural beings with phenomenal power. These supernatural beings are all connected to an unknown and darker power called the ‘Rip’. The Rip is a veil between the purgatory and the real world. The veil between these two worlds is at its thinnest and if it isn’t dealt with as soon as possible, it will consume the world. Apparently, this sinister phenomena preys on the weak minded who seek the ultimate power to change the course of events in their life.
The show is basically a case-by-case episodic event which ranges from a raven controller, a woman who steals people’s teeth to make clones and a woman who possesses an Arya Stark-esque style of stealing people’s faces to get revenge, amongst others. The strange abilities of Bea’s sister, Jessie, who is referred to as a ‘Ipsissimus’ and the series of horrifying nightmares she has in the show, gives room for a bigger plot alongside the curiosity to know her connection with the dark event that terrorizes the whole show. The show’s premise lays on Watson’s constant saying that “something dark has come to London” and the irregulars’ admonition to get to the bottom of the case before the darkness swallows them all.
The Irregulars owes its twisted plot to the acclaimed fictional character of Sherlock Holmes and the 2020 film adaptation of Sherlock Holmes’ sister, Enola Holmes, played by Millie Bobby Brown. The movie, Enola Holmes, is a testament that the character of Sherlock Holmes can be pushed to the backseat or stripped of his usual main lead role which might still be a triumph for a movie. Netflix’s claim to give a different look to Sherlock Holmes’ story holds up the end of its bargain. The Sherlock Holmes (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) portrayed in The Irregulars is nothing like the 221B Baker Street detective we’re all familiar with. His character is only shown halfway through the series and when he did appear, he is portrayed as an addict and a broken man living in the shadow of his former self. The young cast in the show did a splendid job in taking up the uncanny role of detectives in a Holmes-based series. The shift in focus to young teens, the paranormal activities that covers the show, and the unusual representation of Sherlock Holmes and Watson makes the show different from the regular Sherlock Holmes tale, which is the whole point of the adaptation.
The idea behind the execution of The Irregulars and the choice of diverse characters is riveting, even unique but the suspense and deduction of clues that come with shows affiliated with Sherlock Holmes is absent. The concept of a show involving Holmes is enough to make viewers interested, so viewers would expect suspense and puzzles to accompany it but the Netflix series falls short and fails woefully at this. Dr. John Watson in The Irregulars is a black man, an unusual casting idea to make the show distinctive but I think this could be a flaw or a good thing depending on each viewer. In my opinion, I see nothing wrong with this portrayal since all I cared about was how far they would go with their creativity and ingenuity. However, at the rate Hollywood is going with TV adaptations of books, old movies or shows, of course, we’ll definitely get to see more exciting TV series , but do not be surprised when the distinctive role of the vampire slayer, Blade, is given to Noah Centineo.
The plot of The Irregulars is predictable with crass dialogues. Another flaw in the show is the costume and make up. For street rats that live in a basement at one of the dirtiest places in London, Bea and her friends except the aristocrat, Leopold, appear too neat; I could bet all my dime on it that they do not have money problems like it was presented in the series. Whoever is in charge of this aspect failed to include little details to fit these street detectives into their presented background. Also, the series isn’t as scary as it was presented in the trailer, particularly, Watson’s voiceover in the trailer which says, “You think you’ve seen horror, you know nothing of what it is to be afraid”. Trust me, there is nothing to be afraid of, maybe just the tooth fairy case in episode 2 because there is this dark aura with the character. Furthermore, the selection of music in the show seemed out of place and didn’t fit at all with the period. It seems this is the new norm for tweaked plots, just like the anachronistic selection of music in Bridgerton.
The main highlight of The Irregulars is the bond of friendship and the powerful hold love has on people. The close knit friendship between Bea, Jessie and their friends with their distinctive personalities, makes them the perfect irregulars, because at the end of the day there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for each other. They are also symbolic to the show as they depict how salvation can come from the least expected people. Human’s selfish ambition to only care for their personal needs without considering the stakes, is also depicted in the series in a harsh way through Alice (Eileen O’Higgins), who is introduced towards the end of the show as Bea and Jessie’s mother. In all, The Irregulars isn’t the regular Sherlock Holmes story but it gives viewers a Sherlock Holmes tale like we have never seen before. For a strong fan of the popular fictional character who wants to see something different about Sherlock Holmes story, you will either be disappointed or impressed with the show.
- The presentation of Sherlock Holmes as a beatdown figure who is on the brink of self-destruction ought to divert the attention of viewers to the teen detectives. Interestingly, the few scenes Henry Lloyd-Hughes helmed are my favourite.
- As if the portrayal of John Watson as a black man isn’t enough change, the portrayal of his sexual preference is really amusing.
The Irregulars is currently streaming on Netflix.