In Victorian England, a group of homeless teens (Bea, her half-sister Jessie, Spike, and Billy) are making a home for themselves for the sake of their protection and survival, but one of them is having some type of problem. Jessie sleepwalks and has nightmares. There is some concern that she may have developed the same mental ailment that possessed her mother. Two separate events will forever change their lives. First, while on the street Jessie’s sister Bea is almost run over by a carriage that has Leopold, the son of Queen Victoria, who notices Bea when she is scolded by Daimler, a member of the Prince’s staff. Bea makes herself noticed when she yells right back at Daimler. Prince Leopold, who feels stifled and controlled with his life at the palace, is enchanted by the strong and free-spirited Bea. The second event that will change their lives is meeting Dr. John Watson, an associate of Sherlock Holmes. He has an assignment for them. Mysterious supernatural events are happening around London and he wishes for them to investigate these occurrences and wishes for them to report back to him. In the meantime, while Jessie tries to deal with one recurring nightmare, she finds an unexpected ally with a man living in the Bayous of Louisiana. He’s a magical man who makes some strong demands of her.
The Irregulars, which can be found on Netflix, was recommended to us by a friend and it looked like it had some promise. I love a good historical piece, I love stories that feature Holmes and Watson, and I do enjoy a good supernatural/horror series. Now comes a series that has all three, but does it work? Simply put, not entirely. The show is quite enjoyable, but it takes some wild liberties with the Holmes mythology especially with the relationship that Holmes has with Watson. Then there is Watson’s reputation that is more than just tainted. He’s regarded as a morally questionable fellow at best and even evil at worst. There is also the personal life of Holmes. He’s quite addicted to his heroin, but now there is a reason why as he has lost the love of his life, and that person happens to be none other than Jessie’s and Bea’s mother. Also, as detectives go, he’s shown to be pretty much incompetent. He does struggle with the heroin, but even after trying to clean up there isn’t much improvement in his detective skills.
The gang on the other hand, especially Bea and Jessie, show much greater intellectual skill in determining what the next step is they need to take. Then there is Prince Leopold. He doesn’t inform them of who he is, but he does share his skills and knowledge as this new gang of Irregulars tries to get to the bottom of a series of supernatural crimes. However, just as he was in history, this Leopold is a hemophiliac, so you can imagine how unusual it must be with the great ease he has in continually escaping the palace so that he can have some fun with his gang of street urchins. This leads to the setting itself. I can’t speak towards the cast and the population of racial diversity. However, some elements are most certainly questionable. The language is updated to give the series a sense of greater relevance, but I feel this does the series a disservice. While there are elements of world history that were not as socially accepted as we would like for them to be, it could be argued that telling these stories more authentically could also serve as an object lesson for how far we have come given where we came from. However, even if the point is to create something that younger people can relate to, some ideas did not exist at that time. One episode had our gang of Irregulars battling against clones, but the concept of a clone would not be around until the early 20th Century, so for that to be mentioned in Victorian England was more than an outrageous stretch, especially given that it was spoken by Bea, and given her background and how she was brought up the mere idea that she would know what a clone is seemed highly unlikely.
With these particulars out of the way, the series itself was largely enjoyable. The series is part one big story-arc with more procedural type stores designed to link the episodes together. The mysteries don’t seem connected but as Jessie, through her association with The Linen Man (the man from the Bayou in her dreams), starts to discover where some of these criminals are getting their power we start to see an emerging pattern that connects Jessie and Bea back to their mother as well as Holmes and Watson. We also see a larger sense of impending doom as each mystery points to an almost apocalyptic event. This is where the storytelling faltered. Each episode was tightly told in presenting both the mystery and its resolution, but by the 6th episode we were given a lot of padding, almost as if the showrunners had an 8-episode contract, but only enough strong content for 6 episodes. By the time we got to the end of the 6th episode, I was quite ready for the series to be finished. This meant the last two episodes felt like slogging through mud and by the time we got to the final episode I was close to giving up and not seeing how it all resolved.
The cast for this series was adequate. I had trouble understanding some of their motivations at times but given the nature of their upbringing, their actions and reactions might have been close to genuine. They were all equally up to the task for this series, but not one stood out among the rest.
The Irregulars is not a bad series. If you enjoy a good supernatural mystery with more than a healthy dose of horror, then this series might be for you. It starts strongly but falters quite a bit towards the end, and while The Irregulars has yet to be given a green light for a second season, there is some discussion of the series returning for more episodes with our troubled street gang.