Television: Sherlock Holmes, Series 2

BBC's SherlockI was planning on having a reaction post to each episode of Sherlock that was going to come out–similar to what I do for Doctor Who. Except, well, life got a bit too busy. So instead, I’m making one reaction post for the whole of Series 2–and a week late at that.

So, Series 1 ended with a cliffhanger: Moriarty has Sherlock and Watson cornered–and Sherlock’s about to do something desperate, namely shooting a vest strapped with bombs that would blow them all up to kingdom come. And how does this get resolved? By the Bee Gees. Music really does have a way of saving souls. Cop out or not, the resulting pardon Moriarty gives our heroes does set up his character nicely. Our main villain is unpredictable–and this pretty much sums up the three episodes of Sherlock Series 2. Unpredictable.\

A Scandal in Belgravia. One of the most popular characters in the Sherlock stories is The Woman: Irene Adler. She’s almost always appeared as a love interest for our titular hero–except in the original (and only) story she appears in: A Scandal in Bohemia. Miss Adler is set up as the only woman to have ever outwitted Sherlock, and somehow this was translated into him having feelings for her. Though it is alluded to, it was never verbalized out right.

With that said, I applaud the team of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss for being able to flesh out the closest adaptation to the real Irene Adler with their version of The Woman. She’s smart, she’s wicked–and she’s in it for herself. That was the Irene Adler we meet in A Scandal in Bohemia–and it’s the same Adler we meet in A Scandal in Belgravia. Well, except the modern version is more independent off men.

The way Moffat wrote Sherlock’s admiration for The Woman was admirable in itself. There are allusions to how other adaptations have presented Adler, as a love interest; there’s a slight wink at the Sherlock fandom (at least that’s how I read it) while alluding to the relationship between Sherlock and Watson; and the story is tweaked in such a way that a short story transformed into a full-length feature with ties to the end game. Moffat’s inclusion of Moriarty in the story serves to give the character of Adler more backstory–while, at the same time, letting Moriarty grow more as a formidable foe.

So however you felt about the resolution to the Series 1 cliffhanger, the main story of A Scandal in Belgravia will surely turn you into a believer again.

And then we come to: The Hounds of Baskerville.

I read the novel that spawned the adaptation–and I’ve given my two cents worth on what I thought about the story and how it was told. I’m happy to say that the modernized version lives up to the original story–and exceeds expectations. Unfortunately, coming from the astounding first episode, it does fall a little bit flat.

Mark Gatiss, who wrote the episode, really knows how to do horror. Creeping the hell out of you, and yet keeping you glued to your seats. But it’s the science of things that killed the thrill of this episode, I think. Which is a shame, because guest star Russel Tovey was amazing as the troubled Henry, the guy who hires Sherlock to investigate the death of his dad–that happened more than a decade ago.

Unlike the novel, where Sherlock was absent from the picture for the better half, the television adaptation has Sherlock very active in the case. A bit too active though, in my opinion. Just like the novel, there was certain disjoint in how Sherlock was in the first episode, and the last episode, compared to how he was shown here. Or maybe I just can’t get over the oddness of how the post-production staff (and the director) thought Sherlock’s “mind palace” worked. It just seemed very awkward and unnatural, in my opinion. And I still can’t enjoy the episode fully because that scene, with Benedict Cumberbatch twitching and shrugging and playing with thin air, continues to bother me.

The Reichenbach Fall. Of the three episodes, this is the only Sherlock story that I wasn’t familiar with. Based on The Final Problem, in which author Arthur Conan Doyle decided to kill Sherlock, I came in knowing that I would be crying buckets of tears–or, at the least, I’d be very close to crying by the end of the peisode. After all, if there’s one thing I learned from Steven Moffat’s time in Doctor Who, it’s this: Moffat is amazing as a horror writer–but he is ruthless when it comes to tear-jerking scenes. Then again, he wasn’t the one who wrote the episode. But this was supposed to be the end. And in a way, even though the series has already been picked up for Series 3, the episode was the end.

This episode served as a culmination of everything that happened from A Study in Pink onwards–especially with regards to Moriarty as a villain. Because, like Irene Adler, Moriarty only appeared once in the original Sherlock stories–and his only purpose was to be the cause of Sherlock’s death. The team behind the drama series managed to fully flesh him out, and turn him into one truly frightening villain whom you can see actually defeating Sherlock. And with that, they’ve truly made BBC’s Sherlock as the adaptation to end all adaptations.

You can’t get any better than this.

3 thoughts on “Television: Sherlock Holmes, Series 2

  1. Pingback: Book: The House of Silk | taking a break

  2. Pingback: Book: A Study in Scarlet | taking a break

  3. Pingback: Television: Sherlock and His Last Vow | taking a break

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