The Irregulars (2021)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

An entertaining and fast-paced "alternate world" take on the gang of street kids that help Sherlock Holmes out with his cases, The Irregulars is a fun romp based on a comic book series, but may not please die-hard Holmes fans.

Bea (Thaddea Graham) does her best to keep her ragtag makeshift family together in the London slums. They take on what odd jobs they can to earn enough to keep food on the table, but cannot afford the money they need to help out her sister, Jessie (Darci Shaw). Plagued by nightmares that seem to be steadily getting worse, Jessie has begun to sense things about people and feels haunted by a sinister Grim Reaper figure in her nightmares. So Bea is in no position to refuse an offer by Dr. Watson (Royce Pierrseson) for them to help investigate the disappearance of several missing babies. It doesn't take long for her to discover there's something supernatural at work behind these events, since Spike (McKell David) and Billy (Jojo Macari) creep into an infant's room in time to see an enormous raven make off with the infant.

In solving cases for Watson, Bea becomes more and more curious about his absentee friend, Sherlock Holmes (Henry Lloyd-Hughes). A once-renowned detective who seems now to be a slobbering drunk, she wants to know what caused the change in him. Little does she realize that the answer to her questions will solve a painful case from her own past. And in the meantime, she's starting to fall for a handsome and smart young man called Leo (Harrison Osterfield). She doesn't realize, however, that he's one of the Queen's children... running away from a life he doesn't want to lead, and plagued by a dangerous tendency to get easily hurt.

I've never read the comic books on which this is based, so I went in not knowing much about the story other than it was a cross between Sherlock and Supernatural. On its own, it's a decent supernatural series about all kinds of monsters and creatures that go bump in the night. The twists are predictable but the characters are entertaining -- well, most of them anyway. Bea is a likable heroine who would do anything to protect her loved ones, she has a believable romance with Leo, Spike offers comic relief, Jess' fears are relatable, and Billy has a paternal instinct toward his friends. But Watson and Holmes here are unrecognizable from the canon and I can't say I liked it. Watson is something of a villain and Holmes is a fall-down useless drunk who makes no deductions and is an egomaniac, despite doing nothing productive for the last decade. Our first introduction to him is him vomiting over the side of a bed. In that sense, I kind of wish they had left him and his doctor friend's names out of it, or called them something else -- because this is a far cry from "Holmes." At the risk of spoilers, let's just say he's emotional, moody, falls in love with a woman, and is neglectful of his family and responsibilities.

The swearing is almost constant and most of it abuses Jesus' name, which also didn't thrill me. But the cast is good, the special effects are well done, and I got caught up in the story even though I had to put aside my personal feelings about the "mistreatment" of my favorite fictional character. Each episode has a stand-alone mystery to solve but it builds into a much bigger arc that resolves itself by the end of the first season. Netflix has already renewed it for a second, so I imagine we'll be seeing these kids back in full form in a couple of years... though given one twist in the final episode, I'm not sure where they'll go from here or who they might introduce next time.

Sexual Content:
Implied sex (characters climb into bed together and kiss); close-up rear nudity in one episode (it's implied everyone in the room drops their robes for a pagan ritual); another episode has a man walk through a bathhouse in which we see many naked rear ends. Watson is "in love" with Sherlock and devoted to him. Women dance together at a ball. Leopold fends off the advances of an amorous woman; another woman who intends to marry him tells him to get in "lots of practice" before they get married, since she doesn't want a man who doesn't know his way around a woman's body. Illegitimate children.
 
Language:
Six abuses of God's name, 9 uses of God d**n, 24 abuses of Jesus/Christ's name, dozens of uses of sh*t, 4 uses of pr*ck, 3 of twat, 4 of the f-word, several uses of "balls," etc.
 
Violence:
A lot of gruesome stuff, including a creature / person that peels people's faces off their bodies and uses them to transform into them; a woman who intends to murder a man and uses dead children to do it; a woman who has sewn pieces of other people onto her husband (and leaves her victims alive but missing body parts); a possessed nun tries to drown someone after snapping two people's necks (twisting their heads around backwards); birds attack and peck someone to death; a psychic man causes people to kill themselves by throwing themselves off balconies; dead bodies come to life, a girl has dreams of being strangled, etc. Often gory.

Other:
Extreme occult themes. A rift has been ripped between this world and Purgatory, allowing spirits and magical powers to seep through and infect people, giving them evil supernatural powers. They often access these abilities through Ouija boards, but a nun also becomes possessed through praying -- as does another character. A girl has sinister dreams full of death and violence, dead bodies, etc., and enters a mental world controlled by someone else with psychic powers. A man vomits over the side of the bed, and later pees on the floor. Lots of drinking.