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Jan 20 2014

Sherlock review (no spoilers)

I watched the season 3 premiere of Sherlock last night on PBS. The series is loosely based on the Conan Doyle stories updated to the modern period. It was fun. What the show lacks in plausibility it makes up in the way that the characters are drawn and portrayed. The casting of the main characters is first rate. The first episode of the new season was broadcast in the UK on January 1, 2014 but the big secret that people were waiting to see revealed was not reported widely in the US and I managed to avoid reading about it.

Those who follow the series will recall that season 2 ended two years ago in a different kind of cliff-hanger. That episode had Sherlock jump off the top of a hospital building to his death on the sidewalk below. But a short time later, in the closing scene, we see him hiding behind a tree watching his friend Dr. Watson and landlady Mrs. Hudson grieving at his gravesite. So the question that aficionados have been thinking about for two years is how he managed to fake his death. The new season explains how he did that (or does it?) and proceeds on a new adventure with a new villain to replace he infamous Moriarty. This episode leans heavily on the Guy Fawkes motif and seems to be indebted to that excellent film V for Vendetta that I reviewed eight years ago.

Before the show was broadcast, the creators produced a seven-minute teaser.

The TV broadcast lasted 90 minutes but it was followed by a 30-minute behind the scenes look with interviews with the writers and actors. You can see yesterday’s episode The Empty Hearse online here until March 4, 2014.

The other two episodes in the new series will be aired on Sunday, January 26 and Sunday, February 2 at 10:00 pm on PBS.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    Rob Grigjanis

    Phew! You scared me briefly, Mano. I just checked the schedule, and our “local” PBS station (WNED Buffalo) won’t be airing the first new episode until Thursday Feb 13. Until then, they’re showing the season 2 episodes.

  2. 2
    Mano Singham

    But you could watch it online now.

  3. 3
    wtfwhateverd00d

    I was certainly of the belief they better show how the non-death happened and it better be believable.

    But I was actually okay with what they did do which was to show several ways of varying believability that it might have occurred and then sort of said, none of those were how it happened.

    I’m not sure why, but this season’s episodes seemed much more interesting, and um, maybe correspondingly much less rube goldberg like than the prior seasons.

    You’ll certainly enjoy next weeks which is a lot of fun, though perhaps not a terribly complex story at all.

    There’s a good article at Wired today explaining many of the references in the episode to Doyle.

    I do think Steve Moffat should just get it over with, get a room for himself and the person he is most in love with,Steve Moffat, and write the Sherlock Who mash-up that he clearly wants to.

  4. 4
    Rob Grigjanis

    Mano @2: I hate watching online. And good things are worth waiting for.

    wtfw @3:

    I do think Steve Moffat should just get it over with, get a room for himself and the person he is most in love with,Steve Moffat, and write the Sherlock Who mash-up that he clearly wants to.

    That’s fine, as long as he burns it immediately on completion. Sherlock is great, but mostly because of Cumberbatch and Freeman. The horrible neoWhoness creeps in now and then.

  5. 5
    flex

    Really?

    I thought this episode wasn’t as good as most of the others. I particularly liked The Blind Banker and A Scandal in Belgravia.

    I thought that the climax on this one was poor. I won’t say anything about it, other than as an electrical engineer with a number of years designing circuitry there were some serious discrepancies. If it turns out that the villain planned it this way, well, I’ll forgive them.

    But the various ways to resolve the previous cliff-hanger were fun, even though the real solution (if there was one) was probably not shown. And I liked the nod to fandom.

    I also really enjoyed the nods to other Doyle stories, but those have been good through-out the series.

    Finally, Dr. Watson’s reaction was spot on. Much better than Doyle, and more than made up for the other short-comings of the episode.

  6. 6
    wtfwhateverd00d

    @4 Rob, Agreed on all points!

  7. 7
    Al Dente

    I did like Watson beating on Holmes for being bloody Sherlock Holmes.

  8. 8
    cafink

    I was extremely disappointed by the Sherlock season premier. Their resolution of the climax was essentially to say “Sherlock had it all planned out,” without actually giving us any of the details of the plan, which felt like a cheap cop-out. Without any real resolution, whole cliffhanger essentially turned out to be a two-year-long shaggy dog story.

    A lot of other little things bothered me, as well. For example, although Sherlock is not known for his tactfulness, he would surely have been able to work out that John was about to propose to his girlfriend. I have trouble believing that he would have been so giddy about his silly prank that he would have been that oblivious.

  9. 9
    Mano Singham

    @cafink,

    He had to know that Watson was about to propose but since he is a self-admitted sociopath, he only thinks of his own needs.

  10. 10
    flex

    I think they hit the ball out of the park in last night’s episode.

    I confess that the solution to the mystery had already occurred to me before the reveal, but it’s shown up in more than one of the murder mysteries I’ve read over the years. Sherlock, being a student of murder, should have figured it out earlier. But maybe he was distracted by John’s wedding.

    I also picked up on the oddness of the woman knowing John’s middle name, but thought it was a script-writer’s error at the time. I should have known better. They also threw so many clues out about the victim, that it wasn’t a surprise.

    Overall though, minor nit-picks aside, I think it was the most enjoyable episode of Sherlock yet. Tightly written, well-paced, and all the threads nicely knotted together.

  11. 11
    Mano Singham

    @flex,

    I enjoyed the episode too. It seems like the writers went for a lot more humor this time around.

    My one concern is the number of coincidences. It just so turned out that the two seemingly trivial cases that Holmes and Watson selected (the guardsman and the mayfly) out of all that were available to them ended up being the ones that were relevant to solving the main one.

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