I’ve always been a big Sherlock fan. I grew up with the stories by Arthur Conan-Doyle, and I’ve watched the film and TV adaptations. I don’t think it’s just the genre I enjoyed – I’ve tried other mysteries (and liked them, mostly) but I’ve always gone back to Sherlock Holmes because it’s Holmes himself that I’m fascinated by.
So far I’ve been really impressed by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s modern-day spin on the original Conan-Doyle tales. Series one started off all about the cases, but as we’ve gone on it’s got deeper and more complex. Now we’re onto series four which is probably the most mind-bending of them all, and it’s all headed towards the answer we’ve been waiting for – has Moriarty returned?
If you’ve read any reviews of the most recent series then you’ll notice that a lot of people feel it’s got too action-oriented, and involves too many guns and explosions. Yes, series four may contain a scene that involves possibly the worst CGI explosion that I’ve ever seen, but I disagree with these statements. If you’re focusing on these elements then you’re doing it wrong – what you should be looking at is the incredible development of characters and relationships since the last series.
Most of these relationships include Sherlock in some ways – how Sherlock and Watson’s friendship starts to fall apart; the complicated past between Sherlock and Mycroft that finally gets revealed; the subtle yet important relationship between Sherlock and Molly, which has only been touched on. Most important of all is Sherlock’s relationship with himself and his drugs of choice, which of course is a vital part of his character. We also witness Watson and Mary’s relationship start to fray at the seams after the birth of Rosie, and see a wide of Watson we rather wish we hadn’t.
Each episode presents something powerful, whether it be an event or just a concept. The first episode brings us a death we weren’t expecting that dramatically changes the dynamics of the whole series. The second eerily echoes recent events with Culverton Smith (Toby Jones), the entrepreneur and much-loved TV personality who Sherlock just can’t seem to prove as the serial killer. The third… well I’ll leave it up to you to watch, but it will certainly get you thinking.
As with all the other series everything is as excellent as before, with compelling plots, brilliant acting, and beautiful visuals. Benedict Cumberbatch excels yet again as Sherlock (a role he was born to play), but it’s Amanda Abbington who really stands out this time as the seemingly divisive Mary. Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs) brings a lot of humour, and keeps the whole set of characters together as it all starts to go downhill. More involvement from Mycroft (Gatiss) is welcomed as we learn more about the mysterious man, and there’s also a new character (I’m not saying who as spoilers!) who gives a truly captivating performance.
The programme’s trademark use of text on screen has also been upgraded, with Sherlock cleverly arranging his own mental concepts around in the physical environment. When we see it from another character’s perspective he’s just waving his arms around like a fool, as of course there’s nothing there. Some of the scenes may feel a bit farfetched at times, such as an intricate trick Sherlock plays on Mycroft to get him to cooperate which involves blood pouring out of the eyes of painted figures. God knows how he did it but that’s beside the point – what we’re really supposed to see is a reinforcement of the bizarre relationship between Mycroft and Holmes.
I can honestly say that I’ve never felt so much emotion from a Sherlock series as I have with this one. Many of the concepts involved are difficult to process mentally, and so it’s more of a journey than just something to watch when you’re bored on a Sunday evening. The important thing is not to take it at face value – there’s a lot to gain from it all but, like Sherlock himself, you have to partake in some serious deductions.
Sherlock at CeX
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