A Chat with Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (“Sherlock”)

The characters of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty associate Dr. John Watson have been interpreted every which way but loose since their original inception in 1887, courtesy of Arthur Conan Doyle, and with Guy Ritchie’s take on the Holmes mythos having only just hit theaters last year, it would seem to be a bit premature to put Baker Street’s most famous detective onto the small screen as well…but, then, “Sherlock” – premiering here in the States as part of PBS’s “Masterpiece” on Sunday, Oct. 24, bears precious little resemblance to Robert Downey, Jr.’s big-screen adventure. This is a modern-day look at the characters and their mythology, and for those who might be skeptical that they can successfully survive such a transformation, I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’ve only seen a portion of the first episode (“A Study in Pink”) thus far, but it was more than enough to sell me on tuning in on the 24th. Mind you, I also had the advantage of sitting down with the series’ executive producers, Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis, whose enthusiasm for the project proved decidedly contagious.

Bullz-Eye: Steven, you and I met in passing a few years ago at the “Jekyll” panel…a show which I loved, by the way…

Steven Moffat: Oh, thank you. Oh, good!

BE: …and, Mark, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I now know that you made an appearance in that series.

Mark Gatiss: That’s right!

BE: So, Steven, what do you enjoy about the challenge of contemporizing British icons? I mean, you can argue that Dr. Jekyll is an icon of sorts, but then you’ve got Doctor Who, and now Sherlock Holmes.

SM: Well, being honest, for me, there isn’t really…it looks like there’s a narrative through that, that I’m trolling for things, but I’m really, really not. “Jekyll” was a totally different experience to this, the one big difference being that it was a sequel set in the modern day. And, really, it looks as if I’ve just been doing that, but, really, seriously, it wasn’t that. This is a completely different experience, and the challenge of this…well, they’re just joys, aren’t they?

MG: It’s true, yeah.

SM: There are so many things that…well, once having started talking about this, we realized it was going to work, because he can still be coming home from Afghanistan, a flat share is what we now call sharing rooms, we’ve gone back to sending telegrams by sending texts…it’s just perfect.

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A Chat with Paterson Joseph (“Survivors”)

Paterson Joseph is the sort of actor whose face tends to be familiar more to the Anglophiles who frequent BBC America than to the average Stateside viewer, a fate owed to the fact that the majority of his projects – such as “Casualty,” “William and Mary,” “Peepshow,” and “Hyperdrive,” to name a few – have had highly limited screenings on our shores. They’ll soon see him, however, as one of the stars of BBC America’s latest import, “Survivors,” which premieres on Saturday, Feb. 13th. I was able to catch up with Joseph a few hours after he’d done the TCA panel for the series, but the start of our conversation was delayed momentarily by the fact that he popped into the bar just at the moment that I was saying good night to my daughter on the phone. Thankfully, however, he was quite tolerant of my family matters, and we soon settled in to talk about “Survivors,” though not until after I let him know why I recognized him.

Bullz-Eye: When I first started watching “Survivors,” I saw you and I kept thinking, “I know this guy. I know I know this guy.”

Paterson Joseph: Oh, really? (Laughs)

BE: And then I suddenly realized, “It’s the Marquis!”

PJ: Ah, yes: the Marquis De Carabas! (Smiles) I loved “Neverwhere.” Absolutely loved it. And I wish…see, if the “Doctor Who” we have now had happened that same year, before we did “Neverwhere,” then “Neverwhere” would’ve worked like a dream, because it would’ve had all the money that it needed. Unfortunately, at that point, the only proper sci-fi that we had was “Blake’s 7,” which had not gone down well at all…and I suspect you know exactly what I mean by your expression.

BE: I don’t know what you’re talking about. (Laughs)

PJ: (Laughs) And, so, sci-fi was persona non grata until “Doctor Who,” but then “Doctor Who” happened, and…well, you know all this, but now fantasy drama, sci-fi, has got lots of money. It’s a damned shame. But Neil Gaiman, I think, is still trying to get a movie done here. He’s working on it.

BE: I’m ready for it. I’m ready for “Neverwhere,” “American Gods,” and anything else of his that they want to adapt.

PJ: Yeah, he’s great, man. Great.

BE: So what was your familiarity with the original version of “Survivors”?

PJ: I probably saw the opening sequence when I was about 10…and then was told to go to bed. (Laughs) So I had never really seen it, but I did remember the opening sequence when I saw it on YouTube. It’s quite striking. And then I watched the first three episodes when I got this job, and…I might as well have done in some ways, because it’s so vastly different.

BE: Yeah, Adrian (Hodges) was just saying about how he made a point of changing a key moment in the first episode, just to keep people on their toes.

PJ: That’s right!

BE: So how developed was the character of Greg Preston when you first came aboard? Did he evolve at all once you got into the role?

PJ: He was always…I mean, I described it in my interview when I read it as…he seems a bit like a guy who’s basically walking on water. Everything seems fine, he’s walking away, everything’s very serene. But underneath is a sea of shit. That’s how I described it to them in the interview, and I think that’s right. I think Adrian always had that in mind, that there was a world of pain under Greg’s easygoing persona. Even in his sort of dismissive “I don’t need people” persona, there was a world of pain and desperation, and you see that in…well, for you guys, it’s in Episode 7. It all comes out. Literally. You see everything.

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