Full of bitterness, spite, snobbery, sarcasm, self-loathing, abuse, addiction and recovery, Showtime’s limited series Patrick Melrose is simply an irresistible tour de force from Benedict Cumberbatch that I cannot recommend strongly enough.

Debuting on May 12, the five-episode series is based on Edward St. Aubyn’s scathing and wonderfully sardonic novels about the landmines of inherited wealth, one of which was nominated for a Booker Prize. With Emmy contention clearly and rightly in mind, this sprawling adaptation was brought to the small screen by writer David Nicholls and Deutschland 83 director Edward Berger.

Still, even with the behind-the-camera talent and a strapping cast that includes Matrix alum Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Blythe Danner, Alison Williams and Prasanna Puwanarajah, this multi-decade tale is clearly the Cumberbatch show. Whether or not you are a fan of the Sherlock, The Imitation Game and Dr. Strange actor, he more than rises to the occasion here as the silver-tongued but deeply scarred Melrose, who tumbles down the rabbit hole of his poisonous family, dinner parties with Princess Margaret, and the wreckage of delayed consequences.

For more of my sober and perhaps not so sober view on the Showtime and Sky Atlantic co-production, check out my video review above. However, I will say that having seen several episodes now, I believe that The Looming Tower’s Jeff Daniels officially has a serious contender in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Emmy race.

Let the battle begin.

This review was first posted on May 10.