I had pretty much given up hope that there would be another season Sherlock after Watson signed on to be a Hobbit, some character by the name of Bilbo–really, what was Martin Freeman thinking?! And finally there was: another series of three: “A Scandal in Belgravia,” “The Hounds of Baskerville,” & “The Reichenbach Fall.”
It is hard to be satisfied with knowing there will be only three 90-minute episode per series, but if the time goes into craft, I will take the trade every time. Series 1 (2010) was marvelous; I mentioned that here. Those rumors that Series 2 had surpassed the first? They are completely true. Everything we adored in the first followed into the second–except for those sexy transitions, I loved those. The blocking, the focus: deep or overlay, the colors, the costuming, the sets! it was so very very lovely.
The stories were more daring. As you may or may not know, this Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss created television series places Sherlock and Watson in modern day, interpreted by and translated into present contexts. They use Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories of the Detective and the Doctor as a basis for the characterizations and the mysteries. Any skepticism about the modern take was trimmed away with this second season.
————–“A Scandal in Belgravia” directed by Paul McGuigan, written by Steven Moffat.
In episode one: “A Scandal in Belgravia,” we meet Irene Adler. In Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films, our most recent reference to Ms Adler, we are introduced to a deceptively demure con-artist cloaked in the trappings of the female society. Writer Stephen Moffat’s Adler survives at the edge of polite society as well–as a dominatrix who uses information learned and pictures taken to insure her own welfare. A provocative translation; and one that works very well.
The show already jokes about the sexual nature of Sherlock and Watson’s relationship, despite Watson’s serial dating. Part of the issue is that Sherlock is hard to read. He is solitary and very much a mystery, add the fact he functions on a different level most of the time. How much is he able to emotionally tie himself to another, let alone physically respond to another?
“A Scandal in Belgravia” is deliciously wicked and beautifully complicated. Lara Pulver does a lovely job as Irene Adler, sharp and yet vulnerable, ever deceptive; sounds a bit like Sherlock, doesn’t she?
———–“The Hounds of Baskerville” directed by Paul McGuigan, written by Mark Gatiss.
Plenty have found “The Hounds of Baskerville” the weakest of the three, but “weakest” hardly means sub-par. Mark Gatiss had a challenge writing a story based upon one of Doyle’s best known mysteries. He managed to make it scary, weird, and –well, mysterious. Who knows what is actually going on. Is there really a demon-hound? Thematically, it is very well done: >>potential spoiler<<< To what ends will a supposed friend or loved one use another in their need to research, to know? >>okay<< What secrets are best kept hidden?
Where Sherlock excels is in the casting. They really are consistently good. Russell Tovey as Henry Knight created a believable character of torment and absolute uncertainty. And I loved the house they used. The sets were wonderful, not blatant in their horror (except the moors at night): a government experiment lab, a compound steeped in urban legend, a quaint village, a house strangers could see into to watch you, the wilds marked with caution signs and minefields–okay, the last is a fairly obvious horror.
————-“The Reichenbach Fall” directed by Toby Haynes, written by Steve Thompson.
The finale, “The Reichenbach Fall” was intense. James “Jim” Moriarty hasn’t left the show’s consciousness, but he takes center stage in the 3rd episode. He is out to destroy Sherlock–and not just his reputation.
Andrew Scott as Moriarty is absolute insanity. He is so creepy with that voice. And he is so cold. The character is terrifying in how clever he is. While we’d like to think that he couldn’t outwit Sherlock, the show would suggest otherwise and persuade you very quickly to its point-of-view.
Where is the truth and which are the lies is another pre-occupation and the greatest source of the tension. The episode relies on what we know to be true, and what we think could be true. It also relies on a very definite ending, and some creepy story-telling of the Grimm-sort. There are puzzles, but the overlying question is: how can Sherlock possibly survive–let alone win?
Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock has surpassed himself, and Martin Freeman as Watson is our perfectly suited avatar. Not only has Watson’s perspective been key, we rely on it so ever much more this series and Freeman is capable of the task.
If you have yet to see BBC’s Sherlock, I highly recommend it. The show generates great mysteries, interesting camera-work and effects, and a drama involving wonderful character dynamics of the the humorous, melancholic, and disturbing kind.