People underestimate the importance of the second episode. While the first episode of a series is hardly an easy task, it only has to establish everything and encourage your audience to keep on watching. The second episode, however, not only has to do those tasks but also has to remain consistent with everything that was good about the first one. Find out what the first episode did well, and then use that in the second. While the audience is waiting to be taken on a new journey, they are also now looking for familiarity. This was my personal problem with The Blind Banker.
While I can say I enjoyed The Blind Banker, I do find it odd that a lot of elements which made A Study in Pink so great are lacking or completely missing. While I can tell it is the same show as what I was watching before, the strengths of the last episode are not as prominent in the script. The Blind Banker is not a bad piece of TV by any means, it’s well made and performed, but when it is good it’s not good in the same way. The Blind Banker is ultimately a disappointing second episode. It could have been ao much worse, but it could have been so much better.
Let’s start with the things which I enjoyed about this episode. Personally, I found the strongest element to be its plot. It’s built up extremely well throughout this episode, all of its separate elements come together nicely at the end, and there’s a good mystery in there, which while not keeping you on the edge of your seat, it certainly does keep you interested. The Blind Banker’s plot is effectively a standard piece of detective fiction. The elements needed to solve the case are gradually introduced as the story goes along, and the conclusion is satisfying. It’s a perfectly good piece of detective drama. There’s enough going on to keep you guessing and getting bored, but it’s fairly standard.
This would be okay in most other detective series, being not too dissimilar to something I could imagine watching on ITV3. The problem is that Sherlock is not a standard detective drama. This is “a new sleuth for the 21st century”, as it says on the DVD box, and this episode doesn’t feel that way. All the things which I loved about A Study in Pink seem to have lessened or disappeared completely. The use of social media and modern technology to solve the case is limited, Sherlock is written as a little bit odd rather than completely in his own bubble, the tension is slightly limited. If this was Morse or Lewis, this would be fantastic, but this is Sherlock, and it’s the being the regular detective drama which puts it as a fault.
There’s also no Lestrade, a character which was featured throughout A Study in Pink and who was absolutely brilliant. Another thing which worked with the last one is the pacing, it used its 90 minutes to its advantage, rather than having some moments feeling like filler space. Nice to see Molly again, though, I like her, she’s very sweet.
Steve Thompson is good at writing his more down to earth characters though. While Sherlock is definitely portrayed as eccentric, it’s often through exposition not really what he does, and he’s not as obviously mad as he was in the last one. Watson is written magnificently, though. Thompson does portray him rather well as the ordinary man in an extraordinary situation, and I love the little moments such as his anger with the self-service checkout and his falling asleep at work. Sarah also is written well too, although it is a shame for her to comply to the damsel in distress role in such a modern series. The other characters, while there’s a tad too many to remember, are written very well too. All are believable, well rounded, and realistic. It’s a wonder why Steve Thompson has always got Doctor Who scripts featuring characters which are a bit “out there”, whether they’re from the past, an android, or a mutant. Give him an episode set on contemporary Earth and he’d be fine.
Production wise, again this is very good. This series looks gorgeous, with Euros Lyn’s direction being superb, and the cinematography being lovely. The music is again very good, and it’s edited very nicely.
Overall: It’s a good piece of TV, don’t get me wrong, but compared to the masterpiece that was the first episode, it leaves me a bit disappointed. It’s decent and perfectly enjoyable, but I’d be blind to call it anything special.
1. A Study in Pink
2. The Blind Banker