on 7 June 2014
This is the third in the BBC's totally watchable series, starring Benedict Cummerbatch, and Martin Freeman, with both actors playing really believable parts and making a delightful duo. Sherlock has been brought into today; normally, I don't like this, but was instantly captivated by the first episode. (Am no spring chick, but my 93yr old mother loves them as well.) These are not just believable, they are fast and slick, up to date technologically, and are the kind of tv drama that one wants to see more than once. There is so much in them. Worth a punt if 'you' are not sure about buying this and/or have missed the tv. I have them all!
Sigh. This will be considered "heresy" by the hoi polloi, considering the press this series has engendered. But I cannot give the new season of "Sherlock" the hightest of marks, much as I had hoped.
The three new episodes are simply (relatively) vacuous. No main plot--no REAL mystery to solve. What has happened--I am afraid--is that Cumberbatch and Freeman (Sherlock and Watson) now have become SUCH popular stars that the writers have forsaken what got them there in the first place and so now are simply Hollywoodizing the two actors (to which neither seems to mind!), like Lady Gaga or Paris Hilton or Kate. The first episode was "trying" to explain, with lots of smoke and mirrors, how Sherlock survived the Reichenball "fall"! Big time sigh. Too easy. And too much time "explaining it," although, of course, no "real" explanation is given. And then we see just how clever Sherlock continues to be--and it's clever for clever's sake. No real plot here. But I excused it, saying that the audience needed an explanation (but not for 1.5 hours, of course). Then episode 2--another big sigh. Would that wedding reception NEVER end? Pul-eeze. More smoke and mirrors and no real mystery to solve, just bits and pieces either to tantalize the viewers or the scriptwriters simply had nothing better. Episode three picks up a bit--and of course I am eager to see what the next season brings. I love series. The First Season was A-plus, certainly one of the most exciting episodes I've ever seen ("Study in Pink" is a classic!). Ditto for the full episodes of the two first seasons. First time viewers of the series were sure to be confused and turned off, as some have reported to me.
But, please, scriptwriters/producers--get back to a central case and forget about what cute, clever, and camera-ready actors you are featuring. We want great action plots. And of course we're completely ready for Moriarity to re-surface.
on 26 January 2014
So keenly awaited.........so why only three stars?
When this series first began I felt that the blogging,the thought processes the technology were excellent updates bringing the detective into a 21st century world and through series one and two this enjoyment continued apace. The cliffhanger last episode of the second series meant that I awaited series three with intense anticipation. Three episodes-one excellent-the final one-to elevate the rating but after an ok opener which left more questions than answers we had the frantic superspeed story-of sorts- of episode two...the wedding....and herein lay the problem for me: Mary-the third character,making the duo into the trio which takes,for me,the edge away from the series. Was this 'Sherlock' or was it Holmes and the Watson's? Does Sherlock need a third eye? a woman with a past-a lazy device if ever there was one. The episode reeked of the writers self satisfaction and I waited for Holmes' aside in his wedding speech - cue piece to camera- 'hey viewer how clever are we?'
The 'crimes' in the first two episodes were tame at best and offered few surprises for me, I watched but was not engaged. Could the series be saved? Well, of course the answer is a definite 'Yes'. Episode three, with a creepy,genuinely evil adversary for Sherlock in Charles Augustus Magnusson wonderfully played by Lars Mikkelson-(shame he wasn't chosen to be Moriarty). This WAS back to the good times,a great story,more detection,a thrilling finale.
So, what next for Sherlock? One can't help but fear that the 'Mary' back story will raise its ugly head again in the fourth series along with our intrepid trio of crime fighters working together to solve crime.......such a shame that the nepotism of the casting threatens to ruin a fine show.
on 7 November 2014
When ‘Sherlock’ burst onto the BBC, you could say I was excited. The show took one of my all-time favourite characters and created a modern take that was cool and believable. Season 1 was an absolute triumph and rightly propelled the careers of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman further. Season 2 was also very good, with two out of the three episodes being great, but it also hinted at what was to come. By Season 3, ‘Sherlock’ is seemingly less about crime solving and more about relationships.
The relationship between Sherlock and Watson is key to any version of the characters, but it should be a backdrop for intelligent debate and intriguing mysteries. It would appear that Steven Moffat, no stranger to sacrificing actually storylines for characters, and Mark Gatiss have forgotten this. Out of the three episodes here, only one actually has any sort of mystery. The rest are small events that seem to wrap around the latest anguish for our heroes. I am all for development and nuance, but not in the stead of something that actually holds the episode together.
The show still has plenty to recommend it. The acting is brilliant and it has a level of direction and set design rarely seen on British TV. It is perhaps the best looking show of the past few years and when the cool clicks, there are moments of greatness. However, these moments are far too far between and you end up over the 3 episodes with 200 minutes of omphaloskepsis and only 70 minutes of Sherlockian adventure. Add to this the potential of the worst version of Moriarty making a return and things may not be much better in Season 4. Still worth watching, but only just.
The show does look spectacular and should be seen on BluRay. There are extras on the disc that will please fans, but as the show plays its cards so close to its chest, you never really get to discover that much.
on 2 February 2014
I confess I refused to watch ‘Sherlock’ when it came out, expecting it to be a self-indulgent pastiche. Then one day I happened to come across it on the TV and was proven wrong, spectacularly and happily, for two seasons. However, if Series 3 had been the first series, I would have gone away quite chuffed with my initial prediction.
The plot of this series is as follows (SPOILERS): Sherlock comes back from the dead, but John Watson has moved on with his fiancée Mary and is furious at Sherlock. They have multiple tussles, culminating in Sherlock exploiting a terrorist threat to trick John into forgiving him. He gets away with it, though, because he saved John from a human bonfire, so John asks him to be his best man. After the wedding, John becomes hyperactive and violent because he isn’t around danger anymore, and Sherlock turns to drugs, claiming that it’s to lure a master blackmailer into making him a target. They are prevented from talking this out by the discovery that the master blackmailer, Charles Augustus Magnussen, has something on Mary, who turns out to have a very dodgy past. Sherlock goes about trying to get the information back from Magnussen.
If you haven’t actually seen the series you may be thinking, ‘But this is about Sherlock Holmes… where’s the mystery?’ Well that’s just it. We saw little snippets of cases, but essentially, the first episode contained a terrorist threat that no one took seriously (the only mystery was the pun on ‘underground’ vs ‘Underground’, which hardly took Sherlock Holmes to work out), the second involved a rather convoluted murder attempt that would have been clever had we not had to see Sherlock stumble through it while drunk, and the third wasn’t a mystery at all, just a game of cat-and-mouse.
The writers say that their series is ‘a show about a detective’, not ‘a detective show’. If there’s any character on whom you could base an entire show, it’s Sherlock Holmes - but they have managed to ruin him. Throwing up on the carpet (in a rather maliciously crass revision of a scene in rival show ‘Elementary’), hallucinating John’s voice, spending long, visually unsettling sequences sorting through disturbing issues in his head… no one wants to see that. That’s for fan fiction writers. There’s another problem: pandering to a certain type of fan. We had Sherlock Holmes, of all people, spelling out that he loves John Watson in a garbled, overly rhetorical best man speech that lasted an entire episode (really! I learned 'show, not tell' in primary school). We had a clingy woman talking about a relationship that had gone sour while the camera focused on a drunken Sherlock & John as they reacted sentimentally. We had Magnussen actually showing John a video of Sherlock saving him from the bonfire (okay, they didn't need to take 'show' so literally)! We had Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents as Sherlock’s parents, which would have been a nice cameo had the rest of it not been so ridiculous. I’ve no problem with people wanting to see Sherlock & John as a couple, but these people's pleasure (I chose that word carefully) can’t come before an accurate portrayal of the characters. The first two series made the dynamic agreeably ambiguous. This one, despite its introduction of John's wife, is at risk of alienating people who just want to see them as, in the books, they are. ‘We don’t have to stick to the books,’ the fans will cry; no, fair enough, but in that case the writers should stop bragging that theirs is the most faithful adaptation.
There are good things about this series. Amanda Abbington as Mary Morstan wiped the floor with anyone who claimed that she got this role solely thanks to her relationship with Martin Freeman. She stole the show in every single scene she was in. Certain aspects of Mary's behaviour needed some (or even a lot of) explaining, but it’s hardly Abbington’s fault that the writers decided to skip her attempt to explain herself with a time leap, and have John decide that he doesn’t want to know her backstory. Sweet, but we needed that backstory, to account for something very specific. On the other hand we have Mycroft, developed very well, and played with Gatiss’ usual wit (although occasionally degraded like all the others: can you imagine Jeremy Brett slamming Charles Gray against a wall and saying 'Don't appal me when I'm high', in order to excite screaming fans who find psychotic behaviour sexy? No). Sadly the other supporting characters were reduced to montages of reactions seemingly designed to make the perfect ‘gif set’ for aspiring graphic designers on Tumblr.
Hints of brilliance demonstrate that 'Sherlock' should really stick to what it set out to do, because it does it fantastically. The nods to the books were excellent - Gatiss gave us not only a new, very funny version of Sherlock’s return but also an enactment of the original one, which turns out not to be Sherlock - very clever, in the good way. Sherlock’s acquisition of a fake girlfriend was played very well (although rather belied by the mawkish behaviour in the first two episodes). Lars Mikkelsen gave an absolutely spine-tingling performance as Magnussen; I didn’t think it was possible to be so fascinated and revolted at once. I was rather put off by Sherlock’s jarring statement that he hates Magnussen because ‘he preys on people who are different’, since we get no sign that this is Magnussen’s motivation AT ALL, and the line was clearly just thrown in to rub ideology in our faces; but the twist in the tale was absolutely genius. I thought, ‘That’s more like it,’ before the finale went rapidly downhill.
I won’t quite spoil the end; suffice to say it is utterly bonkers. It started with an almost word-for-word, non-supernatural remix of a Doctor Who episode, then we got the cherry on the cake for the James Bond reminiscences. I’ve seen a lot of people blaming Moffat for what’s wrong with this series and that’s unfair, as it was Gatiss who gave us 3 drawn-out false versions of the suicide stunt, and Thompson who wrote (most of) the best man speech and the absurd ‘stag night’ scene; Moffat actually did some of the best work with this series, since he tied up several seemingly random plot threads really cleverly. But we can blame him for this finale. All realism was lost and the moral compass of the series completely shattered. I’d be interested to see how that’s explained away in the next series, only I don’t think I’m going to watch it.
All in all this was a great disappointment. Buy it if you want 4.5 hours’ worth of a mentally troubled detective named ‘William Sherlock Scott Holmes’ (?!) and his downtrodden best friend having ‘a domestic’, with some flashes of narrative flair, cinematographic circus acts, and admirable attempts by Benedict Cumberbatch & Martin Freeman to deal with a rather schizophrenic script. And I'm sure many do want that. Or you may want to watch it from an anthropological point of view, since the show's decline into madness is in itself worthy of a Poe story. But if that isn't what you signed up for, stick to the Rathbone films or Granada series, which thankfully give us Sherlock Holmes and John Watson.