Top positive review
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Perhaps the best series on British TV.
on 2 June 2014
Once Breaking Bad had finished, I was looking to find another show on TV that I could immerse myself into whilst waiting for the fourth season of Game of Thrones. My friend then introduced me to Sherlock, a modern day TV show adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective novels. When I heard that Mark Gatiss of The League of Gentleman and Dr Who writer Steven Moffat were behind the show, I was intrigued and I started watching the first and second seasons in only three days and then caught season 3 on BBC1 earlier this year. All I can say is that this show is absolutely amazing.
I at first found the concept of modernising Conan Doyle's books to be a bit flimsy. Updating classic stories to fit a certain time period can be a risky move, especially when the source material is so acclaimed. However, setting Sherlock in 2010s London has been done to perfection. The characters and situations blend seamlessly and makes for compelling viewing. I never read Conan Doyle's books myself so I'm unaware of how much the show follows them aside from the setting.
Benedict Cumberbatch is excellently cast as Sherlock, creating a character that is witty, deadpan and clever as well as arrogant and snobby yet displays moments of genuine compassion to those closest to him. The character displays some symptoms of Asperger's syndrome which is even suggested in one episode and as an Aspie myself, this characterisation allows me to identify with Sherlock's character brought on by Cumberbatch's amazing portrayal. There are also hints that Sherlock is asexual which displays his general apathetic attitude to normal human behaviour. Martin Freeman also does great work as John Watson, who is the yang to Sherlock's yin. Relatively more calm and rational, he acts as the emotional angle to Sherlock's scientific persona. the supporting cast are also strong. Una Stubbs and Mark Gatiss in particular both provide excellent warm performances as Sherlock's landlady Mrs Hudson and older brother and semi-rival Mycroft respectively.
Each season of Sherlock is divided into three episodes which at first glance appears to be insultingly short yet they all run at around 80 minutes each, which gives each episode more of a mini short film feel than an episode of a show. Each episode is thrilling and watching Sherlock and Watson investigate the different cases and playing off one another really makes for great viewing especially in scenes where Sherlock arrogantly professes his genius or talks down to others. Even the weaker episodes ('The Blind Banker' and 'The Hounds of Baskerville'), which tend to go a bit over-the-top are still exciting to watch and I always have a great time watching them.
If I had to pick my favourite season, I'd probably have to go with the second season as 'A Scandal in Belgravia' and 'The Reichenbach Fall' are definitely the most compelling episodes and show a deeper side to Sherlock's character than in other episodes. Season 3 starts off a bit slow but the finale is tremendous and jaw dropping. Season 1 does what it needs to do by introducing us to the principal cast and offering some exciting mysteries with the reveal of main villain Jim Moriarty played excellently over-the-top by Andrew Scott who also represents what Sherlock would be without his close group of friends.
My only real criticism of Sherlock is the fact that each season ends with a cliffhanger. I generally don't mind cliffhanger endings but considering that there is a two year gap between seasons, it's a bit of an annoyance and feels too much of a tease when fans have to wait so long for the next episode to see what will happen after something shocking has occurred. It's not a detriment to the show itself because the cliffhangers are still incredibly effective. It's just a bit of a nuisance to have to wait a couple years for them to be resolved.
Sherlock is essential British TV that is both entertaining and deep viewing. It's quite possibly my favourite TV show at the moment and definitely worth watching if you enjoy character-driven thrillers with some comedy to them. This show is funny, thrilling, compelling and bloody brilliant.