Okay, admittedly I only watched one episode, but they missed the point so badly in that one that I’m not going to watch more.
If you are unaware, The Irregulars is a new Netflix series (or at least I found it on Netflix) about the Baker Street Irregulars, as Sherlock Holmes called them. They were a gang of street urchins, whom Holmes would at times employ to find out things when he couldn’t stretch himself enough. The point was that they could access areas many others couldn’t because no-one thought much of children on the streets.
This is actually kind of an interesting basis for a series. As I remember, these children weren’t developed much in the original stories by Doyle, but I also remember finding them intriguing as a kid. Holmes would mention them off-handedly and they seemed like a bit of mystery for even Watson (who was often sort of peripheral to Holmes’s adventures as much as the Irregulars were).
The show seems like a low-budget TV series in line with something like Doctor Who or a Sy-Fy series. The cast feels pretty good and at least some of the characters felt charming, but then there was this scene in which someone commanded an unkindness of ravens to attack someone. “Okay,” I though to myself, “maybe this is just some weird pseudoscientific trick they used”, which happened at times in the original stories, but then one of the gang members talked to someone in New Orleans in some sort of clairvoyance experience. I wasn’t paying much attention near the end of the episode, but it did seem like the whole raven thing was
The thing is, while Arthur Conan Doyle was into all sorts of supernatural phenomenan, most famously spiritism, Holmes was always grounded in the scientific understanding of the time. Some of the things were quite outlandish (as well as racist, sexist and classist, although maybe a little less than one might think for the last one), but he tried. This is actually pretty much a defining attribute of those original works.
So, why would you go completely against this? Sure, I’m all for making your own versions of existing properties. You can use those same characters or stories from different points of view to communicate different ideas, but by making a change such as this, you are specifically not doing that, but instead just making sure your audience knows that you either didn’t read any of the original works or just didn’t understand them at all.
It also just feels lazy. Holmes is all about being clever (even if Sherlock went way too far with this and not being clever enough at the same time). We have clever criminals and Holmes being able to thwart their plans by being even more clever. It’s a good concept, which has been working for well over hundred eyars. Bringing in supernatural forces just leaves you with an easy out, so you don’t need to be clever. I’m not claiming that you can’t be clever with magic around, but based on this one episode, the writers just seemed to want to avoid having to do that.
There are some moments which work, but all this becomes meaningless when you just make one of the characters Special. Everything is going to revolve around her instead of the crimes and mysteries. This series should have been about something completely different, but the creators just missed the mark. By miles.