The Irregulars is a no-brainer, and thankfully, Tom Bidwell’s version of this world duly delivers.
This review of Netflix’s The Irregulars season 1 contains spoilers — the series will be released on the streaming service on March 26, 2021.
Let’s make a cake – we have the YA genre, the supernatural and a twisted Sherlock Holmes & Watson, all rolled into the ingredients and spread out evenly to make a flavoursome story. That’s it, that’s the pitch. When the executives mulled over this commission, it mustn’t have been a hard decision. An original story of Sherlock Holmes has already graced the Netflix thumbnails with Enola Holmes, and YA series appears to be the platform’s “bread and butter” since the infamous first season of 13 Reasons Why. The Irregulars is a no-brainer, and thankfully, Tom Bidwell’s version of this world duly delivers.
It’s not completely a Sherlock Holmes story, although the elements of the character and his sidekick shine through. Netflix’s The Irregulars follows Bea (played by Thaddea Graham), her sister and her friends who live in depths of poverty in Victorian London. They are a set of troubled teens, and with that YA fictional approach, they all have their unique problems that the story enjoys fleshing out. The troubled street kids are manipulated by a sinister Dr Watson to solve supernatural crimes, with the mysterious and elusive Sherlock hidden away.
This is a dark and twisted version of the universe; it’s refreshing to have a revisited story that takes different paths. Loyal supporters of Sherlock Holmes will be desperate for the usual tropes, but this Netflix series dares to be different. It dares to venture out and bring a harsher elusiveness to our favourite characters. Surprisingly, the urge to have the constant presence of the two detectives is not felt, mostly due to the kids, who bring roles that enlighten the audience with their stories of courage and togetherness in the hells of poverty. Special mention must be aimed at Bea, who is a delightful character to enjoy, with many conflicts to observe. Thaddea Graham brings the character alive and essentially makes this series hers to keep if Netflix chooses to commission a second instalment.
The Irregulars season 1 a chapter-by-chapter approach, each one bringing a unique mystery while an overarching evil layers on top of London like an undesirable veil. It’s the CAOS season 4 approach, where the story progresses, yet there’s something to hold on to with each chapter. As season 1 reaches the latter half, the plot grows stronger, and fans who want more of Sherlock Holmes will undoubtedly get it.
Netflix’s The Irregulars is slightly hammy with the exposition, but that’s to be expected; they are investigating the supernatural after all, but there are moments where it feels like the characters are stood still with a whiteboard explaining to the audience beat by beat of what’s happening. Luckily, it does not overshadow the cast’s effort or dismantle the writing. Still, it would make a second season stronger if it is strayed away from burdensome plot descriptions and instead continued to rely on the characters’ emotions.
It’s the emotional aspect that truly works for this series; with all the brilliant costumes, directing and special effects, what really pulls the audience in is the characters’ ability to relay their deep-rooted objectives. Tom Bidwell has opted for the character-driven effect, taking the best parts of what a YA series can deliver and placing them into a formidable Sherlock Holmes & Watson story.
Let’s hope The Irregulars brings in enough pull from teenagers and loyal fans of the story. If it manages to achieve both demographics, Netflix may have another staple series on their hands.