Such was the ego-stroking the cast & creators received for their first series of SHERLOCK, they couldn't help but gain huge confidence as they try to top themselves in Series 2. Steven Moffat always did have roaring self-esteem, and so he and co-creator Mark Gattis shrugged and decided to take on the three most iconic touchstones in the Sherlock Holmes canon. Series 2 is a (mostly) brilliant reworking of, in Moffat's own words, "the Hound, the Woman, and the Professor."
It was a ba11sy move to reimagine Sherlock Holmes in 21st Century England. That it worked tremendously is due to smart writing and the amazing chemistry between the two leads, Cumberbatch and Freeman. The writers inserted clever touches such as the onscreen texts which reveal Holmes' instantaneous deductions and his ready application of contemporary tools (cell phones, the Internet, etc.) to aid his investigations. In this universe, Holmes attains his clients primarily thru Watson's popular online blog in which the good doctor recounts Holmes' cases. The writers and creators are so cocky nowadays that they don't hesitate to inject broader bits of comedy (an act of heresy were this show not as good). As such we witness fleeting play-on-word references to Holmes' more trivial cases such as "The Geek Interpreter" and "The Speckled Blonde." For whatever reason, I smile whenever the camera pans to Speedy's Sandwich Bar & Cafe, atop of which is where Holmes and Watson share lodgings, very much still 221B Baker Street. At heart, Sherlock Holmes is still very much the cold, calculating machine. But Series 2 aims to poke a hole in that stance.
"A Scandal in Belgravia" picks up where Series 1 left off, a cliffhanger involving Watson strapped onto an explosives vest and a stand-off between Holmes and weird international consulting criminal James Moriarty. This matter is resolved within moments (or, more likely, put on the shelf), with Moriarty casually sauntering off to torment Holmes on a later day. "A Scandal in Belgravia" is this series' compelling adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia," the story that introduced the world's most famous femme fatale in literature, the crafty and alluring Irene Adler. In this incarnation, Irene Adler is a dominatrix (someone refers to what she does as "recreational scolding"; heh). She blackmails her high end clientele with compromising images she stores in her mobile phone. One such victim happens to be closely linked to the royal crown, and so that Internet phenom, Sherlock Holmes, is dragged (clad only in bed sheets) into the affair. I will say that "A Scandal in Belgravia" is an utter pleasure to watch. For one thing, it delivers two amusing comments about Holmes' trousers.
This is the most fleshed-out (in more ways than one) that Irene Adler has ever been portrayed on screen. Lara Pulver is classy and mesmerizing as "The Woman," and she creates plenty of sparks with Cumberbatch. Irene Adler certainly gets under Holmes' skin. Holmes eventually takes possession of Irene's all-important cell phone but for most of the episode he's stumped by the access password. The solution, when it finally arrives, drew a big smile from my mug.
I wasn't as enamoured of "The Hounds of Baskerville," which I thought was the weakest episode, and yet still quite watchable. But, then again, I wasn't that fond of the original story, either, so I do claim some bias. Some of the original plot survives: that of a man in the atmospheric moors being stalked by an infernal hound. But then we eye the forbidding British army compound and the conspiracy theorists, and that's the modern spin in play. If "A Scandal in Belgravia" introduced Sherlock Holmes to a twisted kind of passion (it's questionable whether it's love he feels for Irene), "The Hounds of Baskerville" shoved terror directly in his face. It's a bit jarring to see the aloof detective quivering in fright.
The deadly mind games between Holmes and Moriarty escalate in the riveting third episode, "The Reichenbach Fall." The story opens with Moriarty allowing himself to be captured by the constabulary after three daring simultaneous break-ins. I won't say more except that it's all part of Moriarty's devious plan to get Sherlock Holmes, that this pushes Holmes to the very brink of defeat, that this may be the finest bit of acting I've seen from Martin Freeman (one of cinema's finest reactors), and that Andrew Scott ("Moriarty") redeems himself from his previous what-the-hell-was-that? appearances. Really, no universe should exist in which Moriarty throws a raspberry.
SHERLOCK - THE COMPLETE SERIES TWO comes with 2 discs and the following bonus features (or the Region 2 set does, anyway):
- lively audio commentary on "A Scandal in Belgravia" with co-creators/writers Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss (who also is rather good as "Mycroft Holmes"), producer Sue Vertue, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Lara Pulver
- audio commentary on "Hounds of Baskerville" with Moffat, Gatiss, Vertue, and actor Russell Tovey ("Henry Knight")
- "Sherlock Uncovered" - featurette which offers an overview of the three episodes comprising Series 2 (00:19:06 minutes)
on May 21, 2012
As I watched the first season of "Sherlock," my fondness for this show increased. From the opening moments in "A Study in Pink" to the Moriarty's stunning entrance in "The Great Game," I knew I was witnessing the rebirth of an icon. Yes, Mr. Downing Jr.'s portrayal in Hollywood's version is admirable and entertaining, but to find the true spirit of Sherlock Holmes one need look no further than this series. However, to say that it was ever more than "darn good television" would have been pushing it. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman put on a fantastic show, and ever so often the writing and acting gave small glimmers of greatness, but I was never tempted to say that the show had achieved lasting greatness (though to successfully transpose Holmes into the modern age was a feat in and of itself).
However, with "The Reichenbach Fall," I'm pleased to say that Sherlock has left far behind casual crime drama (good drama though it was) and has now entered the realm of true, incredible art. From the writing to the acting, to the gripping, gut-wrenching final moments (I don't know who deserves more credit, Cumberbatch or Freeman for displaying some amazing acting chops), I am pleased to say that this episode delivered some of the finest television I've ever had the privilege of watching. To go any further into how incredible this single episode is would do a dis-service to you, if you have read this review so far. Stop reading and watch. Really.
on January 17, 2012
That's all I need to convince you to watch this series.
I guarantee it.
Start from the beginning, Season 1. Fifteen minutes. If you want to turn it off after that, be my guest.
The writing, the acting, the CINEMATOGRAPHY, the costumes, the portrayal, the twists, the turns, the wit, the suspense: all create a fresh, new, brilliant invention of Sherlock Holmes in the 21 century...it will capture you and never let you go.
So go...watch this. You will not be disappointed.
on January 16, 2012
This is the first series that I've seen from BBC, and let me tell you: it did not disappoint! The superb acting is matched only by the writing and effects, and the chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (as Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, respectively) lends the series a realism that sucks you in and makes you root for them from the first minute. Although set in the 21st century, this series stays faithful to the canon, with details that any true Sherlock Holmes fan will appreciate. You will want to watch them again and again. It will definately be worth the money, once it's available.
The first season certainly ended on a terrific note and fans could hardly wait for the next set of episodes in a thrilling, modernized Sherlock Holmes take. In "Sherlock, Series II" we find the world's greatest consulting detective and his good doctor up to even more thrilling escapades. Season I was so thrilling that I ordered the advance copy of Season II from the UK--it's not yet shown here in the States, but there is great anticipation for it, however.
Sherlock's "brilliance" has never been so cleverly presented. Benedict Cumberbatch (as Sherlock) and Martin Freeman (Dr. Watson) seem perfectly matched and merely watching their bantering (and loyalty) is refreshing and at the same time touching. The genius of Sherlock, just because it's been updated in time, is never in doubt--but updating it to modern times, with the latest of technological "gadgets" is also a bit mesmerizing.
In Series II, we find (only) three adventures: "A Scandal in Belgravia," "The Hounds of Baskerville, " and "The Reichenbach Fall," are all based upon the original Arthur Conan Doyle stories, with, of course, clever updating.
And what Holmes adventures would be complete without at least a mention of Moriarty. We found him at the close of the final episode in Season I and, of course, we pick up where we left off.
At the end of "The Reichenbach Fall," I was a bit shocked--but the realized that the clever producers have, once again, set us up for another season. It cannot come too soon.
Clever, clever, clever!
on May 20, 2012
After season 1 episode 1, I had high hopes for this series. I was a little disappointed by subsequent episodes. However, with this season 2 episode 1, WOW...Sherlock is back! The actress playing Irene is tremendous. Cumberbatch and Freeman are as great as ever. They really try to make Sherlock a little less robotic and more human in this episode which helps in caring for the characters. I've said it before in another review but I'll say it again - Martin Freeman is going to be absolute perfection as Bilbo Baggins in the Hobbit!
on May 15, 2012
Not just any woman, of course, but Irene Adler -- the only woman who's a match for our hero. She's not just brilliant -- she's also a beautiful woman who's highly skilled at using her sexuality and seductiveness to get what she wants. What happens when she matches wits with the asexual Sherlock Holmes?
Updated for the 21st century, this episode does not disappoint. We gain unprecedented insight into Sherlock's psychology. Stay closely tuned after you think you've figured it all out. It ain't over til it's over -- and it's not over until the very last scene. Riveting in every way!
on January 29, 2012
This season blew me out of the water. The third episode ripped my heart out and made me want to give it to John Watson. I hope BBC won't take too long with the third season, but I also don't want a rushed job done on my dear Sherlock. I'm so conflicted! Sherlock and John's friendship really grew during this season. All I want is my Sherlock...and Watson back--soon!
on June 20, 2012
How many times have we all mused about the fact that there is nothing good on television?
I remember a time when about 80% of humanity had so disavowed the "tele" and the productions that were being shown on it, that all anyone could do was to boast about how they would mysteriously "only watch the Discovery Channel."
I don't know what that 80% is saying about TV nowadays, but as for me, I have been pleasantly surprised by the outcropping of shows that have raised the bar of the medium so far as to equal and often surpass the holy grail of visual art, the feature film. Fx, one of my favorite filmed adventures of all time is "Lonesome Dove", a TV mini series that rivals or surpasses anything ever put on film, in my humble opinion.
Comes now, a retelling of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, revisited and refashioned by a group of visual artists who's love of both Conan Doyle's character and, of the of the visual arts, have come together to show us that film has, indeed, become the literature of the age.
I will confess that I have seen just five of the six episodes (the fifth anxiously awaited), but could not help but come to this page to say to anyone who has an ear to hear it, this is one of the best programmes I have ever seen, in any medium, at any venue, at any time in my short life. I have worked in film, dabbled in writing, watched, admired, and abhorred all manner of attempts to bring story to screen; and, after seeing "Sherlock", all I can say is, "Bravo!", and my hat goes off to the people who brought this production to life.
So ... what can I offer by way of details, that could justify such effusive praise?
Where to begin?
To start with, I will quickly mention the components that are required of a review, out of respect for tradition and for the people involved.
Our own Mr. Sherlock Holmes has been recreated by Mr. Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch; a rather pompous and decidedly English name, although I think the four names are more due to marriages and screen name choices, rather than any attempt to claim aegis of the English aristocracy. The show opens with John Watson, without naming him; and, at first it is hard to tell who this man is supposed to be playing. But the moment we see Sherlock Holmes, gazing down the lens of a microscope, we are engaged. Cumberbatch (could YOU pick a better surname for the actor to play Holmes?) is nearly perfect, or better than, because you haven't seen it all until you've seen it all. I don't know anything about this production specifically, but I can just imagine a frustrated producer asking the director, "Well, what is it that you are looking for, exactly?"
To which the director invariably replies, "I don't know, but I'll know it when I see it," to which the producer can only roll his eyes. In Cumberbatch, "it" has been found.
And a word about John Watson, played by Martin Freeman: this is no bumbling ol' man; but a thoughtful, courageous, war-ravaged veteran, who craves the intensity of wartime, and needs Sherlock as much as Sherlock needs a friend, who is just bright enough to appreciate his genius. It is a friendship of loyalty, and mutual need, only hinted at in the writings of Conan Doyle.
The story is modernized to play to today's audience; Sherlock doesn't wear an 19th century hunting cap, nor does he smoke a pipe. He muses, "It's impossible to maintain a smoking habit in London these days ..." so slapping on a few nicotine patches helps him think through some difficult puzzles.
He is no stranger to technology, either. His cell phone is his best friend and he uses it to its full potential to solve crimes and gather information. And when it comes time for Doyle's classic line, "The game is afoot!", someone rightly updated the remark to read, "The game is on!"
Even Lestrade has been updated to a more rounded character. No longer the bumbling idiot, fumbling after Sherlock Holmes and railing irrationally at him even as he solves case after case, OUR NEW Lestrade is an earnest man of average intelligence, who knows full well the value of his "consulting detective." And by way of humanizing Mr. Holmes, whom one suspects may be a "high-functioning sociopath," it may just come to pass that Sherlock has a care for him as well.
I don't think there is any need to give it all away with my blathering. Watch it. Love it, like I did, and never again claim that your TV addiction is exposing you to mindless drivel; there's a new sheriff in town; and his name, is Sherlock Holmes! :)
on September 21, 2012
There are so many choices on TV now all to some degree should entertain, yet in almost all is a distinct lack of substance. Finally a series that challenges the mind, while satisfying at every level the question "are you entertained?" Having watched the previous season, this episode is a significant leap from last season, and is really the crown jewel of a really excellent series. With an excellent story, superior acting, and first rate filmography and editing, this plays less like a miniseries than a mini-movie- and let me add I was much more entertained by this episode than a lot of movies I've seen recently.
To put it succinctly, if you are looking for a smart series, like mysteries, and appreciate great TV, you will love this series. This is what Sherlock Holmes should- needs to be in the 21st century, and it is perhaps one of the more enjoyable 90 mins you'll spend in front of the TV- spend it with Dr. Watson and Sherlock