Season 1 Episode 1

A Study in Pink

Aired Unknown Jul 25, 2010 on BBC
out of 10
User Rating
618 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Sherlock Holmes is introduced to ex-army doctor John Watson who he moves in with and then convinces to help him solve murder mysteries. Their first case together is one that looks, to police, like a case of linked suicides.

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  • The very best Sherlock Holmes adaptation there is

    Sherlock Holmes has lived on to the 21st century: adapting to its technology, but not its society, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's iconic conception gets refurbished all around by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and is solving the same crimes he has already been solving more than a hundred years earlier in just a slightly altered fashion in Sherlock, a superb BBC series.

    The three-part first series commences with "A Study in Pink" and introduces its titular sleuth in what is easily the most peculiar way of all Sherlock Holmes adaptations: flogging a corpse. Of course, that slightly disturbing start fulfils the mere purpose of solving a death and the next scene reveals that Benedict Cumberbatch's rather young Holmes is not that big of a sociopath. In any case, we have yet to see a more spellbinding and distinctive on-screen portrayal of SH (as he signs his text messages) than the charismatic Briton's and because of that, the changes of character traits in comparison to the novels don't concern me at all. His colleague Dr Watson, often narrowed down to a simple right-hand man in adaptations of lesser quality, is equally uniquely and lovably portrayed by Martin Freeman and the two are the perfect match for each other, delivering amusing pieces of black humour, exchanging small insults, and sharing erotic dinners. More first-class acting is to be found in supporting roles, with unexceptionally all cast members making the most out of a witty, funny, and not once boring screenplay written by series creator Moffat himself. Especially Phil Davis as the episode's memorable antagonist and series creator Moffat himself as Holmes's brother Mycroft are dazzling additions to the cast and impress as they are conversationally facing Sherlock's two protagonists.

    This particular detective story itself is not among the greatest Sherlock Holmes adventures of all time, but is gripping until the end and expertly interwoven with the exposition and establishment part the series pilot logically brings with it. The cream of the crop is the dialogue though, trotted out at a breakneck pace and ever quotable. "A Study in Pink" is then topped off by technical grandeur, in beautiful captures of London and the characters, properly timed editing with not one scene being either too long or too short, a catchy score blending mysterious and funny musical aspects together, and wonderful set design for 221B Baker Street especially. My only issues with Sherlock are the opposite of grave and can be easily dismissed: for one, Sherlock's inner map of London and some of his deductions fly in the face of reason and for the other, his written thought bubbles shown on screen are fully unnecessary when explained just a moment later.

    Otherwise, "A Study in Pink" is outstanding filmmaking on every level and brilliant at transferring the original story into this day and age, with Holmes an avid mobile phone user and Watson a veteran of the Afghanistan war. From this pilot onwards, I've considered Sherlock to be the very best adaptation of the Conan Doyle novels there is and one of the most entertaining TV series into the bargain.

    My detective scribblings:

    - I was quite surprised about not seeing Sherlock reacting to John's two different ways of pronouncing the word 'assume' within a matter of minutes.

    - "I'm not his date!" More serious shows could profit from running gags.

    - Sherlock Holmes receives almost universal disdain in this series and, as he casually mentions to pickpocket from Lestrade when he's annoying, one can somehow relate to that.

    - What an absolutely magnetic sequence of Sherlock discovering the story behind the pink phone that is: flashbacks, cross-cutting, camera movement, and all the brilliant facial expressions by Benedict Cumberbatch make it by far the pilot's most impressing.moreless
  • Just starting

    How long is one episode ?? And why are there only 3 episodes of each season ?

  • And everybody thought it couldn't be done

    One more time, I thought. So many shows have been made about the most beloved mystery series of books in the literary era. In a way, nobody can match Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce for sincerity. Those early movies are always being reran, and deservedly so, despite the technological flaws, they stand up as the true visual image of Sherlock Holmes. Some other rather ordinary films have been made, and then came Jeremy Brett, who, as fine an actor as can be, stepped gracefully into the role for a long series of well-crafted and stunningly nostalgic, faithful episodes of the classic tales.

    Then we have Elementary, which, to be honest, I only watch because I love Lucy Liu. It is a well written and engaging show, and as down to earth as we can get in this age. I turned to Sherlock because of my hunger for a new caricature of my beloved childhood hero in print.

    Boy, was I surprised. These guys have got it right, spot on. Far and away the most brilliant writing, acting, and production I have seen in my lifetime (Rathbone was before I was born). I was captivated immediately with the crafty references throughout the show, even though Sherlock and Watson don't exactly look like Doyle's descriptions. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Afghanistan has just had another reason for Watson to take a stray bullet, was it in his ass or his shoulder, hehehehe.

    Having said that, there are some problems. First and foremost, they are moving too fast. Sherlock has already been to Reichanbach with Moriarty after only six episodes. What's next? Silver Blaze at Thor Bridge? Besides that, I don't like the sci-fi element. A man cannot die on the pavement and then be at his funeral. I also agree with a previous reviewer that it was excruciating to watch Sherlock take forever to figure out the cabbie was the guy (actuallyt, Monk would have done it faster), and there are a lot of loose ends in each episode that don't get resolved. But this is as good as it gets for television, and I suppose you can tell how much thought and effort goes into this series, by the fact they've only made six episodes in three years.

    I am looking forward with anticipation to the season 3 premiere. Please, please, feed the audience. I hope the upcoming season resolves some of the issues, while keeping its connection to the Canon.

    Thank you, BBC.

  • Such an incredible modernization

    I never would have believed that Sherlock could be successfully updated to include an Afghanistan war veteran who blogs for therapy as Watson. And that's only the first half of an impressive duo - I now totally get the fan obsession over Benedict Cumberbatch's performance. It's one of a kind.

    After the pilot, I marathoned the remainder of the series in 24 hours. Fantastic.
  • A phenominal re-telling of a classic story through a modern lens....

    .... "A Study In Pink" is a fantastic beginning to a brilliant series. Dr. Watson, fresh from his tour in Afghanistan, meets his new flatmate: Sherlock Holmes, the world's only consulting detective. After an initially dull return to civilian-hood, Watson's life has a deep surge of excitement and danger as he becomes a partner to the work of Sherlock Holmes - their first case together sees the unraveling the secret behind a string of apparent suicides.

    "A Study In Pink" is a very good adaptation of Doyle's "A Study In Scarlet." Naturally, the modern-day setting changes many of the original elements found in the book but many of the same ideas and moments are used throughout the episode. Being the first episode of the series, "A Study In Pink" does an excellent job introducing the characters to the audience. Watson's trials while attempting to re-adapt into civilian life are handled very well and the many complexities of Holmes are setup terrifically - both characters are very compelling, immediately hooking the audience into the story and series as a whole.

    A great mystery for captivating characters to solve inside a stylish and fresh but familiar world, "A Study In Pink" is an exciting beginning to a wonderful series. The first episode of BBC's "Sherlock", "A Study In Pink" is a superb introduction to the wild ride of deduction and danger of this brilliant modern-day Sherlock Holmes adaptation.moreless
Vinette Robinson

Vinette Robinson

Sgt Sally Donovan

Guest Star

Phil Davis

Phil Davis


Guest Star

Tanya Moodie

Tanya Moodie


Guest Star

Una Stubbs

Una Stubbs

Mrs Hudson

Recurring Role

Rupert Graves

Rupert Graves

DI Lestrade

Recurring Role

Loo Brealey

Loo Brealey

Molly Hooper

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • When Sherlock and John are first seated at Angelo's restaurant, Angelo brings a candle for the table. In the next shot for John's conversation with Sherlock, John is chewing, although neither of the two placed an order for food, nor did we see Angelo bring anything else to the table. In the next full shot of the tabletop, we see an entre for John, a glass of wine, and a cup of tea before the two leave the restaurant.

    • The newspaper article seen four minutes into the episode about the dead student has multiple repeating paragraphs: the first paragraph from the first column matches the second paragraph in the third; also, the last five lines of the second column are repeated in the beginning of the third column.

  • QUOTES (51)

    • Molly: Listen, I was wondering. Maybe later, when you're finished...
      Sherlock: Are you wearing lipstick? You weren't wearing lipstick before.
      Molly: I, uh... I refreshed it a bit.
      Sherlock: Sorry, you were saying?
      Molly: I was wondering if you'd like to have coffee?
      Sherlock: Black, two sugars, please. I'll be upstairs.
      Molly: Okay.

    • Sherlock: Ah, Molly. Coffee, thank you. What happened to the lipstick?
      Molly: It wasn't working for me.
      Sherlock: Really? I thought it was a big improvement. Your mouth's too... small, now.
      Molly: Okay.

    • Watson: Is that it?
      Sherlock: Is that what?
      Watson: We've only just met, and we're going to go look at a flat.
      Sherlock: Problem?
      Watson: We don't know a thing about each other. I don't know where we're meeting, I don't even know your name.
      Sherlock: I know you're an army doctor and you've been invalided home from Iraq or Afghanistan. I know you've got a brother who's worried about you, but you won't go to him for help because you don't approve of him-possibly because he's an alcoholic, more likely because he recently walked out on his wife. And I know that your therapist thinks your limp's psychosomatic, quite correctly I'm afraid. That's enough to be going on with, don't you think? (he exits and pops back in) The name's Sherlock Holmes and the address is 221B Baker Street. Afternoon. (leaves)
      Stamford: Yeah. He's always like that.

    • Watson: Well this is a prime spot. Must be expensive.
      Sherlock: Mrs. Hudson the landlady is giving me a special deal. She owes me a favor. A few years back her husband got himself sentenced to death in Florida. I was able to help her.
      Watson: So you stopped her husband from being executed?
      Sherlock: Oh, no. I ensured it.

    • Watson: That's a skull.
      Sherlock: Friend of mine. Well, I say friend.

    • Sherlock: Brilliant! Yes! Ah, four serial suicides and now a note. Oh, it's Christmas.

    • Sherlock: You're a doctor. Actually, an army doctor.
      Watson: Yes.
      Sherlock: Any good?
      Watson: Very good.
      Sherlock: Seen a lot of injuries then, violent deaths.
      Watson: Well, yes.
      Sherlock: Bit of trouble too, I bet.
      Watson: Of course, yes. Enough for a lifetime. Far too much.
      Sherlock: Want to see some more?
      Watson: Oh God, yes!

    • Sherlock: Possible suicides. Four of them. There's no point sitting at home when there's finally something fun going on.
      Mrs. Hudson: Look at you, all happy. It's not decent.
      Sherlock: Who cares about decent? The game, Mrs. Hudson, is on!

    • Watson: That was amazing.
      Sherlock: You think so?
      Watson: Of course it was. Extraordinary. It was quite extraordinary.
      Sherlock: That is not what people normally say.
      Watson: What do people normally say?
      Sherlock: "Piss off."

    • Sherlock: Is your wife away for long?
      Anderson: Oh don't pretend you worked that out. Somebody told you that.
      Sherlock: Your deodorant told me that.
      Anderson: My deodorant.
      Sherlock: It's for men.
      Anderson: Well of course it's for men. I'm wearing it.
      Sherlock: So's Sergeant Donovan. Oof. I think it just vaporized.

    • Sherlock: Shut up.
      Lestrade: I didn't say anything.
      Sherlock: You were thinking. It's annoying.

    • Watson: What am I doing here?
      Sherlock: Helping me make a point.
      Watson: I'm supposed to be helping you pay the rent.
      Sherlock: Well, this is more fun.
      Watson: Fun? There's a woman lying dead.
      Sherlock: Perfectly sound analysis, but I was hoping you'd go deeper.

    • Sherlock: Dear God, what is it like in your tiny little brains? It must be so boring.

    • Sherlock: We've got ourselves a serial killer. Love those-there's always something to look forward to.
      Lestrade: Why are you saying that?
      Sherlock: Her case. C'mon! Where is her case, did she eat it? Someone else was here and they took her case.

    • Mycroft: You don't seem very afraid.
      Watson: You don't seem very frightening.
      Mycroft: Yes. The bravery of the soldier. Bravery is by far the kindest word for stupidity, don't you think?

    • Mycroft: I am the closest thing to a friend that Sherlock Holmes is capable of having.
      Watson: And what's that?
      Mycroft: An enemy.
      Watson: An enemy?
      Mycroft: In his mind, certainly. If you were to ask him, he'd probably say his archenemy. He does love to be dramatic.
      Watson: Well, thank God you're above all that.

    • Mycroft: What is your connection to Sherlock Holmes?
      Watson: I don't have one. I barely know him. I met him... yesterday.
      Mycroft: Hmm, and since yesterday you've moved in with him and now you're solving crimes together. Are we to expect a happy announcement by the end of the week?
      Watson: Who are you?
      Mycroft: An interested party.

    • Mycroft: Do you plan to continue your association with Sherlock Holmes?
      Watson: I could be wrong, but I think that's none of your business.
      Mycroft: It could be.
      Watson: It really couldn't.

    • Mycroft: I imagine people have already warned you to stay away from him, but I can see from your left hand that's not going to happen.
      Watson: My what?
      Mycroft: Show me.
      Watson: Don't...
      Mycroft: Remarkable.
      Watson: What is?
      Mycroft: Most people blunder around the city, and all they see are streets and shops and cars. When you walk with Sherlock Holmes, you see the battlefield. You've seen it already, haven't you?
      Watson: What's wrong with my hand?
      Mycroft: You have an intermittent tremor in your left hand. Your therapist thinks it's post-traumatic stress disorder. She thinks you're haunted by memories of your military service.
      Watson: Who the hell are you? How do you know that?
      Mycroft: Fire her. She's got it the wrong way around. You're under stress right now and your hand is perfectly steady. You're not haunted by the war, Dr. Watson. You miss it. Welcome back. Time to choose a side, Dr. Watson.

    • Watson: Listen, your boss. Any chance you could not tell him this is where I went?
      Anthea: Sure.
      Watson: You've told him already, haven't you?
      Anthea: Yeah.
      Watson: Hey, um, do you ever get any free time?
      Anthea: Oh, yeah. Lots. Bye.
      Watson: Okay.

    • Watson: What are you doing?
      Sherlock: Nicotine patch. Helps me think. Impossible to sustain a smoking habit in London these days. Bad news for brainwork.
      Watson: Good news for breathing.
      Sherlock: Ah, breathing. Breathing's boring.
      Watson: Is that three patches?
      Sherlock: It's a three-patch problem.

    • Watson: I just met a friend of yours.
      Sherlock: A friend?
      Watson: An enemy.
      Sherlock: Oh. Which one?
      Watson: Your archenemy, according to him. Do people have archenemies?
      Sherlock: Did he offer you money to spy on me?
      Watson: Yes.
      Sherlock: Did you take it?
      Watson: No.
      Sherlock: Pity, we could have split the fee. Think it through next time.

    • Watson: Have you talked to the police?
      Sherlock: Four people are dead. There isn't time to talk to the police.
      Watson: So why are you talking to me?
      Sherlock: Mrs. Hudson took my skull.
      Watson: So I'm basically filling in for your skull.
      Sherlock: Relax, you're doing fine.

    • Sherlock: I love the brilliant ones-they're always so desperate to get caught.
      Watson: Why?
      Sherlock: Appreciation. Applause. At long last, the spotlight. That's the frailty of genius, John. It needs an audience

    • Watson: People don't have arch-enemies.
      Sherlock: I'm sorry?
      Watson: In real life. There are no arch-enemies in real life. It doesn't happen.
      Sherlock: Doesn't it? Sounds a bit dull.
      Watson: So who did I meet?
      Sherlock: What do real people have, then, in their real lives?
      Watson: Friends. People they know, people they like, people they don't like. Girlfriends, boyfriends.
      Sherlock: Like I was saying, dull.
      Watson: You don't have a girlfriend?
      Sherlock: Girlfriend, no. Not really my area.
      Watson: Oh, right. Do you have a boyfriend? Which is fine, by the way.
      Sherlock: I know it's fine.
      Watson: So you've got a boyfriend?
      Sherlock: No.
      Watson: Right, okay. You're unattached. Like me. Fine. Good.
      Sherlock: John, I think you should know that I consider myself married to my work. And while I'm flattered by your interest...
      Watson: No.
      Sherlock: I'm really not looking for any...
      Watson: No. I'm not asking. No. I'm just saying, it's all fine.
      Sherlock: Good. Thank you.

    • Sherlock: Don't stare.
      Watson: Um. You're staring.
      Sherlock: We can't both stare.

    • Watson: That was ridiculous. That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever done.
      Sherlock: And you invaded Afghanistan.

    • Sgt. Sally Donovan: Are these human eyes?
      Sherlock: Put them back!
      Sgt. Sally Donovan: They were in the microwave.
      Sherlock: It's an experiment.

    • Sherlock: This is childish.
      Lestrade: Well, I'm dealing with a child.

    • Anderson: According to someone, the murderer has the case and we'll find it in the hands of our favourite psychopath.
      Sherlock: I'm not a psychopath, Anderson. I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.

    • Sherlock: Oh, look at you lot. You're all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing.

    • Sherlock: Anderson, don't talk out loud. You lower the IQ of the whole street.

    • Cabbie: Taxi for Sherlock Holmes.
      Sherlock: I didn't order a taxi.
      Cabbie: Doesn't mean you don't need one.

    • Cabbie: Oh yeah. I'll tell you what else. If you call the coppers now, I won't run. I'll sit quiet and they'll take me down, I promise.
      Sherlock: Why?
      Cabbie: 'Cause you're not going to do that.
      Sherlock: Am I not?
      Cabbie: I didn't kill those four people, Mr. Holmes. I spoke to them, and they killed themselves. If you get the coppers now, I promise you one thing: I will never tell you what I said.
      Sherlock: No one else will die, though, and I believe they call that a result.
      Cabbie: But you won't ever understand how those people died. What kind of result do you care about?

    • Sherlock: If I wanted to understand, what would I do?
      Cabbie: Let me take you for a ride.
      Sherlock: So you can kill me too.
      Cabbie: I don't want to kill you, Mr. Holmes. I'm gonna talk to you, and then you're going to kill yourself.

    • Cabbie: Sherlock Holmes. I was warned about you. I've been on your website too. Brilliant stuff. Loved it.
      Sherlock: Who warned you about me?
      Cabbie: Someone out there who's noticed.
      Sherlock: Who? Who would notice me?
      Cabbie: You're too modest, Mr. Holmes.
      Sherlock: I'm really not.

    • Watson: So why do you put up with him?
      Lestrade: Because I'm desperate, that's why. Because Sherlock Holmes is a great man, and I think one day-if we're very, very lucky-he might even be a good one.

    • Cabbie: One thing about being a cabbie. You always know a nice quiet spot for a murder. I'm surprised more of us don't branch out.

    • Cabbie: You ready yet, Mr. Holmes? Ready to play?
      Sherlock: Play what? It's a 50-50 chance.
      Cabbie: You're not playing the numbers, you're playing me. Did I just give you the good pill or the bad pill? Is it a bluff? Or a double-bluff? Or a triple-bluff?
      Sherlock: It's still just chance.
      Cabbie: Four people, in a row? It's not chance.
      Sherlock: Luck.
      Cabbie: It's genius. I know how people think. I know how people think I think. I can see it all, like a map inside my head. everyone's so stupid, even you. Or maybe God just loves me.
      Sherlock: Either way, you're wasted as a cabbie.

    • Sherlock: So. you risked your life four times just to kill strangers. Why?
      Cabbie: Time to play.
      Sherlock: Oh I am playing. This is my turn.

    • Sherlock: And because you're dying, you murdered four people.
      Cabbie: I outlived four people. That's the most fun you can have with an aneurysm.

    • Cabbie: When I die, they won't get much, my kids. Not a lot of money in driving cabs.
      Sherlock: Or serial killing.
      Cabbie: You'd be surprised.
      Sherlock: Surprise me.
      Cabbie: I have a sponsor.
      Sherlock: You have a what?
      Cabbie: For every life I take, money goes to my kids. The more I kill, the better off they'll be. You see? It's nicer than you think.
      Sherlock: Who'd sponsor a serial killer?
      Cabbie: Who'd be a fan of Sherlock Holmes?

    • (to Sherlock)
      Cabbie: I bet you get bored, don't ya? I know you do. Man like you. So clever. But what's the point of being clever if you can't prove it. Still the addict. But this... this is what you're really addicted to. You do anything-anything at all to stop being bored. You're not bored now, are ya?

    • Sherlock: Why have I got this blanket? They keep putting this blanket on me.
      Lestrade: Yeah. It's for shock.
      Sherlock: I'm not in shock.
      Lestrade: Yeah, but some of the guys want to take photographs.

    • Sherlock: Not now! I'm in shock. Look--I've got a blanket.

    • Sherlock: Are you all right?
      Watson: Yes, of course I'm all right.
      Sherlock: You have just killed a man.
      Watson: Yes, I know. It's true. But he wasn't a very nice man.
      Sherlock: No. No, he wasn't, really, was he?
      Watson: And frankly a bloody awful cabbie.

    • Watson: You were going to take that damn pill, weren't you?
      Sherlock: Of course I wasn't. Biding my time. Knew you'd turn up.
      Watson: No you didn't. That's how you get your kicks, isn't it? You risk your life to prove you're clever.
      Sherlock: Why would I do that?
      Watson: Because you're an idiot.

    • Mycroft: He's always been so resentful. You can imagine the Christmas dinners.
      Watson: Yeah… no! God, no!

    • Mycroft: For goodness sake! I occupy a minor position in the British Government.
      Sherlock: He is the British Government when he's not too busy being the British Secret Services or the CIA on a freelance basis. Good evening, Mycroft. Try not to start a war before I get home, you know what it does for the traffic.

    • Watson: What are you so happy about?
      Sherlock: Moriarty.
      Watson: What's Moriarty?
      Sherlock: I have absolutely no idea.

    • Watson: So. Dim sum.
      Sherlock: Mm. I can always predict the fortune cookies.
      Watson: No, you can't.
      Sherlock: Almost can. You did get shot, though.
      Watson: Sorry?
      Sherlock: In Afghanistan. There was an actual wound.
      Watson: Oh. Yeah, shoulder.
      Sherlock: Shoulder. I thought so.
      Watson: No you didn't.
      Sherlock: The left one.
      Watson: Lucky guess.
      Sherlock: I never guess.
      Watson: Yes, you do.

  • NOTES (4)

    • This episode was loosely adapted from A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle, first published as A Tangled Skein in Beeton's Christmas Annual (1887).

    • Mark Gatiss is uncredited as Mycroft Holmes.

    • Injoke: The student who dies at the beginning is named James Phillimore, a reference to a character mentioned in passing in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Problem of Thor Bridge," "who, stepping back into his own house to get his umbrella, was never more seen in this world", just as the student disappears while fetching his umbrella.

    • International Airdates:
      The Netherlands: October 20, 2010 on KRO
      U.S.: October 24, 2010 on PBS (Masterpiece Theatre)
      Czech Republic: October 11, 2011 on AXN


    • Shoulder Wound:

      At the end, Watson references being shot in the shoulder, despite being seen in the episode to have a limp. This is a clever reference to a continuity error in Doyle's writings, in which Watson was originally described as having shoulder wound, but later was described as having a leg wound.

    • Title: A Study in Pink

      This is a play on the the first Sherlock Holmes story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle called "A Study in Scarlet".

    • Jeff: You don't want to phone a friend.

      This is a popular saying from the show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." It is an option to get extra help with the questions along with "Ask the Audience" and "50/50".