A review by Nalini Haynes
Opening scene: how Sherlock survived, explained in action-oriented detail.
Cut to fanboy talking to Detective Lestrade, sharing his theory about how Sherlock survived. Lestrade, being the genius he thinks he is, declares Sherlock is dead.
Cut to chained man being beaten by person speaking in a foreign language. Chained man tells torturer that his wife is having an affair and if he goes home straight away, he’ll catch them in the act. Torturer rushes off.
Mycroft tells Sherlock Mycroft saved Sherlock.
Sherlock declares he saved himself.
As arrogant as ever, Sherlock gate crashes John Watson’s proposal to Mary over dinner, only to be bewildered when John is furious that, for two years, Sherlock didn’t bother to tell John he survived. Only thirty or forty people knew he survived, after all.
There was a mystery to solve in between meeting the fan club, seeing another theory about how Sherlock survived and hearing from Sherlock how he survived.
This episode was a bit choppy due to Sherlock’s various means of survival being interlaced with Sherlock tormenting John and solving the crime.
The strongest stories in the Sherlock series to date have been updated versions of original stories by Sir Arthur Conon Doyle like the TV episode ‘A study in pink’ based on Doyle’s ‘A study in scarlet’.
While the acting is brilliant – you can’t go past Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for an entertaining duo – the plots in this season are deeply flawed. A train goes missing but it’s found in a train tunnel near a train station built in the 20th century that isn’t on the maps, of which there is no record and no-one has ever noticed the entrance to the tunnel when driving past. Two men are fatally stabbed – skewered – yet neither feels the pain of having a long, thin dagger plunged into their torsos.
The original Doyle stories have come under fire over the years because Sherlock infallibly draws conclusions from observations. For example, a man’s pocket watch has scratches around the hole where the key is inserted to wind the watch so Sherlock deduces the man is a drunk. A few other possible solutions suggested over the years are that the man has low vision or an age-related degenerative disorder that gives him the shakes. Sherlock observes, concludes and is invariably correct.
The difficulty with Sherlock the TV series is Sherlock predicts without justification when playing his mind games. Sherlock tells one man to phone his wife because she’s in labour and tells another to rush home to catch his wife with his lover. No attempt is made to justify these rash predictions; the writers need either an illusionist, a crime writer or to follow Doyle’s original writings more closely.
Sherlock the TV series is carried by the brilliant acting, relying on Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, a great supporting cast and nods to geekdom with the Sherlock fan group making repeated appearances. Fanservices include Sherlock’s coat that is practically a character in itself. A cross between crime/drama and comedy, Sherlock is a fun series requiring suspension of disbelief in order to flow with the characters’ dynamics.