Holmes himself, in fact, remains merely a shadowy presence through much of the series, which focuses on a highly resourceful group of street urchins, recruited by Holmes sidekick Dr. Watson (Royce Pierreson) to assist him in probing matters of the paranormal. Those strange occurrences add up to a larger threat, one that unfolds via a series of cliffhangers that make “The Irregulars” perfect fodder for a regular old binge.
The teens are a diverse lot, including a pair of sisters, Bea and Jessie (Thaddea Graham and Darci Shaw), the latter exhibiting eerie psychic powers. Adding to the soapy qualities, Bea encounters a slumming prince (Harrison Osterfield) who has defied his handlers by venturing out into the city, becoming an unlikely member of what amounts to this Victorian London-era version of the Scooby gang.
Street boys called the Irregulars were featured in a few of the original Holmes stories, but any similarity pretty much ends there. Indeed, the eight-episode series quickly takes on a life of its own, building toward a somewhat messy (perhaps inevitably, given the subject matter) conclusion that provides a degree of closure while leaving the door ajar for further adventures.
“The Irregulars” doesn’t yield the same kind of swoon-worthy moments as the former, but it’s generally more satisfying — with a strong cast that includes not only the kids, but recurring roles for Clarke Peters (“The Wire”) and Rory McCann (“Game of Thrones”) — especially for those who can appreciate how cleverly the writing reimagines Holmes lore in order to fit this macabre framework.
What “The Irregulars” achieves isn’t exactly elementary, but it has taken a familiar hodgepodge of elements and managed to concoct something that feels fresh and engaging, if not exactly new. And the show mostly gets away with it thanks, in part, to those meddling kids.
“The Irregulars” premieres March 26 on Netflix.