The Irregulars ★★★
Creator: Tom Bidwell
Direction: Johnny Allan, Joss Agnew, Weronika Tofilska
Cast: Thaddea Graham, Darci Shaw, McKell David, Harrison Osterfield, Jojo Macari
Duration: between 49 and 58 minutes (eight episodes)
Genre: Fantasy Drama
Release: March 26, 2021 (Netflix)
Who are Los Irregulares? Originally it was a group of street scoundrels who assisted Sherlock Holmes in his investigations . Although they did not lavish too much on the work of Conan Doyle (they only appeared in two novels and a short story), they acquired quite a cult aura and, in fact, already in the eighties they had their own series (‘The Baker Street boys’) in the BBC.
Now, the group’s name, and little else, resurfaces in a series created by screenwriter Tom Bidwell , who we know mostly for his work on ‘My mad fat diary’ and the 2018 adaptation of ‘Watership Hill.’ Specialized, yes, in the youth and the family, Bidwell now dares to delve into the macabre to tell the story of a gang of young orphans who fight against the forces of evil in Victorian London .
Leading the group is the brash Bea ( Thaddea Graham ), who cares for the well-being of everyone, but in particular her sickly little sister Jessie ( Darci Shaw ). Tough guy Billy ( Jojo Macari , Kyle in ‘Sex education’) has a crush on Bea, as does Prince Leopold ( Harrison Osterfield ), joining the adventurous clan despite secretly suffering from hemophilia. Complete the group Spike ( McKell David ), a guy who achieves everything based on natural charisma.
The attitude, be that as it may, does not pay the bills, so they are forced to accept the proposal of the sinister Doctor Watson ( Royce Pierreson ) and his elusive partner, Sherlock Holmes ( Henry Lloyd-Hughes ): to go where they do not want to go, Find the most difficult clues in the most dangerous places. “We are respectable men, and as such we have no access to the worst reputed areas of London,” Watson tells them.
To paraphrase a certain glorious Catatonia song , these could be cases for Mulder and Scully. Supernatural, with touches of terror. Babies born the same day that disappear without a trace, teeth pulled at night from children or not so children, parts of the body stolen.
And like the protagonist of the aforementioned song, Jessie cannot sleep alone: she is being the victim of strange nightmares in which she travels through tunnels of hell and ends up being captured by a masked man.
The ghoulish cases seem related to a bigger problem, a more general plot. Something is taking over London. A bit like it happened in ‘Stranger things’ , someone has left a door open to another world. And if our gang fails to close that rift, in the end it will end not only London, but the entire world as we know it. Of course, what an obsession with leaving the portals between worlds open. The last one, close the portal!
More than a detective story (although the third episode has Agatha Christie-style who-did-it airs), ‘The Irregulars’ is an ‘X-Files’ with the changed era and younger and more intense central characters , so concerned about strange phenomena as for their hormonal changes. A little less angst and a little more humor would have benefited the project.
Bidwell does not show any reverence for Conan Doyle’s legacy, nor for the folk music of the time: both Paul Haslinger’s original ‘score’ (‘Halt and catch fire’) and the selection of songs push the adventure through ‘ electronic beats’. In that section, as in his freedoms with profane language, ‘Los Irregulares’ is pure ‘Dickinson’ . Imagining a ‘crossover’ of the two is quite fun.