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Five Reasons You Should Be Watching <i>Sherlock</i>

We miss Downton Abbey, too, but if you're desperately in need of quality British television entertainment to tide you over until the Crawley clan's return in January 2013, we strongly recommend that you give Sherlock a try. A big hit in its native land when it premiered two years ago, the Steven Moffat co-created series -- which brings Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic sleuth Sherlock Holmes fully into the modern day -- had a successful run on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery franchise in late 2010. Now, it's back for a second batch of three 90-minute episodes, which kicked off last night with "A Scandal in Belgravia." Yes, we know Sunday is a busy night for television and everything, but if you don't already have Sherlock on your DVR, here are five reasons to add it right away:

It's A Real Reimagining, Not Just Repetition
Although Moffat and his writing team use Doyle's original stories as starting points, they spin the mysteries off in ways that take into account the technology, society and even political climate of the modern world. "Belgravia," for example, followed the broad outline of the 1891 story "A Scandal in Bohemia" (one of the author's personal favorites) but added the contemporary twist of a terrorist cell attempting to pull off a devastating attack on a transatlantic flight. The characters fully belong to the present day as well. Dr. Watson, for example, records their exploits on a blog rather than in a diary and he's not above checking out the hit counts to see how many people are reading him.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman Are Holmes and Watson
This isn't a case where the new Sherlock is a descendant or reincarnation of the original sleuth. No, this Sherlock is the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is the Dr. Watson. They're solving these mysteries for the first time and learning how to work together for the first time as well. (One of the funniest moments in last night's premiere came when Holmes first donned his iconic deerstalker cap... to hide his face from the news photographers who are suddenly interested in his exploits thanks to Watson's blog.) Both actors are terrific in their roles and it's almost a shame that their busy movie schedules (Freeman is currently starring in The Hobbit, while Cumberbatch is in the midst of shooting Star Trek 2) limits the time they can spend as Holmes and Watson.

It's Much Better Than Those Terrible Movies
As if you needed more proof why those Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law outings are a waste of time, Sherlock schools those Guy Ritchie-directed messes in every way. For one thing, the show actually has the characters solve mysteries, instead of just sending them from one action set-piece to the next. Also, when they make the decision to add a spunky female character to the mix -- as Ritchie did first with Rachel McAdams and then with Noomi Rapace -- they actually give her a character to play. Last night, Sherlock matched wits with (and fended off the advances of) Irene Adler, who proved herself more than a match for the great detective.

The Next Two Episodes Are (Based On) Classics
Moffat & Co. are following up "Belgravia" with updates of two of the most famous Holmes stories, "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "The Final Problem." The latter, of course, is the one in which Holmes and his arch-nemesis Moriarty tussle above the Reichenbach Falls, setting up one of the greatest literal cliffhangers in literary history. We can't wait to see how that encounter plays out in the third episode, appropriately titled "The Reichenbach Fall."

It's Just So Well-Written
Here's a collection of our favorite lines from "Belgravia." With dialogue like this, no wonder we're hooked.

"We have this website that explains the true meaning of comic books, because people miss a lot of the themes. But then all the comic books start coming true."
"I'm a private detective. The last thing I need is a public image."
"Stop boring me and think. Brainy's the new sexy."
"I would have you right here on this desk until you begged for mercy twice." "I've never begged for mercy in my life." "Twice."

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