Studying Sherlock: “The Sign of Three”

img_0565

There’s no doubt in my mind that Sherlock is quickly becoming one of my favourite TV shows. My Sherlock journey has only lasted just over a week, so I can’t say it means a lot to me yet or that it’s an all time favourite, I imagine that with a few re-watches and a bit of time, I will be comfortably able to join the show’s fandom. That being said, I do think I have watched enough of the series to say that I love it. Not as much as a lot of people, I’ve only known it a few days, but all this time I have been (metaphorically) bashing my head against the wall asking myself why I didn’t start watching this series earlier. Better late than not at all, and I’m so glad that I did start to watch this show, as I have fallen in love with it.

There are three main reasons for this. Firstly, the characters. Characters are what this series is built on, it’s the relationships which fuel the stories and the drama. Secondly, the cleverness. I don’t want to throw the word genius around like it’s a coin in a fountain, but this show really is intelligent. Finally, the comedy. The witty relationships, the one-liners, and the constant jokes, Sherlock is definitely one of the funniest shows on TV. I laugh so much each episode, as well as impressing me, and scaring me sometimes, it also makes me feel good.

There probably isn’t an episode more suitable thanĀ The Sign of Three to explain why I have fallen in love with this series. It really is a summary of the fantastic experience I have had with the programme so far. Besides that, it’s probably also the most conventionally enjoyable episode to date.

So, let’s start with the characters. While this episode is based at the wedding of John and Mary, it is the relationship between John and Sherlock which takes the main focus (as with every episode). Sherlock’s best man speech more or less summarises the complicated but brilliant connection these characters have had together so far. It’s quirky, it’s a bit bolshy and obnoxious at times, but there’s genuine love in there. While Sherlock may be incredibly rude to Watson throughout his adventures, he does respect him and loves him in his own little way. Moments like that throughout the series, such as “I don’t have friends, I only have one” from The Hounds of Baskerville have always been the show’s sweetest and most touching, so to get a full episode exploring that side of the relationship is a treat. The chemistry Cumberbatch and Freeman have is never shown better than it is here, and their level of respect for each other, as well as the bickering and the anger, is a joy to watch.

Clever plots are something which you could almost expect from Sherlock, but here, I must admit it impresses me. This episode could have easily been written as a clip show, Sherlock could have talked about his meeting with John in A Study in Pink, locking him in a room in The Hounds of Baskerville, or the carriage bomb in The Empty Hearse. Most shows probably would have done that. What really impresses me is that we have three separate plots here, all of which tie together in the most genius way at the end. While I wouldn’t say this case “kept me on the edge of my seat”, it certainly intrigued he, and the clever resolution to how everything tied together surprised me in a brilliant way. I love how everything connected, what seemed to be three unconnected cases was actually one massive case. That and I was really impressed with the solution. Definitely one of the most thought out and intelligent, and despite this being the lightest episode so far, one of the most thrilling too.

As this is the lightest episode so far, this episode does rely a lot on the quirky humour this show is also founded upon. Most of the humour does come from the relationships, but there’s also some really good one-liners and observational comedy here too. Pretty much from the beginning, where Sherlock phones Lestrade to help him with his speech, I was laughing hard. Every scene with Mrs Hudson and Molly were a joy as usual, and I alps really enjoyed all the moments Sherlock and Watson were drunk. You can tell here that both Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch are brilliant comic actors, their timing is stellar, and their expressions are pitch perfect.

This episode was just highly enjoyable really. All of the cast looked like they were having a great time, particularly Amanda Abbington (Mary) who is wonderfully charming and so happy to be there, despite not being the most developed character at this point. It kept a good pace throughout, and anything which features December 1963 by The Four Seasons deserves extra points. I also really enjoyed the ending.

Production wise, brilliant as usual. Stunning direction, music, and costume in this one too. Everyone looked great in their wedding attire.

Overall: Contains all three signs which drew me to this show in the first place. Really enjoyable and fun, with some great humour and lovely character focus. Stellar.

10/10

Episode Ranking
1. The Reichenbach Fall
2. The Sign of Three
3. A Study in Pink
4. The Great Game
5. A Scandal in Belgravia
6. The Hounds of Baskerville
7. The Blind Banker
8. The Empty Hearse

Advertisements

Studying Sherlock: “The Empty Hearse”

img_0553

I suppose there’s one benefit to getting into a TV show late: the absence of waiting times between series. While most Sherlock fans would have had to wait two years for the resolution of how Sherlock did it, I could have found out anytime I wanted. Of course, that has its drawbacks, cliffhangers allow for speculation and conversation, the elements a lot of fan communities thrive on. But, if you’re someone who can’t stand in a queue for McDonald’s without making noises of impatience like I am, then hey, everything has its pros.

So, Series Three. I must admit it feels weird to say that still, considering a lot of TV dramas would still be on their first series (or just starting their second) after six episodes. Two years have passed for the characters and the live audience, and The Empty Hearse aims to tell us how Sherlock did it, and how the characters have moved on/react to him coming back. Except, that’s not all it does. The Empty Hearse tries to add a standard plot about a bomb in there as well. While the character work and explanation are stunning, it’s the plot which turns this story from a great one to a good one and probably the weakest episode of the show this far.

In my opinion, it is the character work which makes Sherlock stand out from all other crime dramas on TV. While I love shows like Death in Paradise and Law and Order UK, Sherlock is special because it’s not actually a detective show, rather a show about a detective. The character work here is stunning. What’s interesting is to see how each character reacts to Sherlock’s “resurrection”. Mrs Hudson starts screaming, Lestrade calls him a bastard (delivered perfectly by Rupert Graves), and Molly and Mycroft both knew. It is, of course, John Watson’s reaction to Sherlock coming back which is the most interesting reaction. The John/Sherlock friendship is what this series is based on, and the way in which Watson reacts to his friend is both wonderfully performed and acted. There’s anger, there’s annoyance, but there’s also elements of respect and love, effectively a summary of their relationship. The scenes they have together, especially in the restaurant and on the tube carriage, allow for some funny and touching moments between the two characters. They’re the scenes which make this episode work, with Gatiss writing their pairing beautifully.

There’s also some great moments with the other characters. The scenes where Molly stands in for John are also a highlight for me. Part of this is because Sherlock and Molly are my two favourite characters, Sherlock being the most interesting and Molly being utterly adorable, but I do think they have a really sweet and touching relationship, and the scenes they have together always make me smile. They’re probably the closest thing in fiction I have to a “ship”. Saying that makes me feel a bit ill, as I have no desire to see them get together in a romantic way, but I do love their moments together greatly.

This episode also sets out to explain how Sherlock did it. The resolution is witty, clever, and bonkers, like the character and the show itself, so it certainly isn’t a disappointment. It was certainly well thought out by the writers, so eccentric it was believable, and a lot of fun to watch, so I’m very happy. I also enjoyed some of the other ways speculated by the characters, such as the Derren Brown explanation, and the one where Moriarty and Sherlock are holding a dummy by the rope and then proceed to kiss. Gatiss does do humour very well, as do the actors, and they’re very entertaining scenes. Okay, the concept of the Empty Hearse does seem like it is trying a little hard to be meta, but it’s fun and it’s enjoyable, I can’t complain.

Where this episode faults is its plot. Firstly, a terrorist bomb is rather unimaginative for Sherlock, and secondly, while at times it provides moments for the characters to develop and have some lovely moments, it gets in the way at others. I could have happily watched 90 minutes of Watson’s reaction to Sherlock coming back. It’s the character moments which make Sherlock work in my opinion, the plot here does feel like it was taken off a crime show plot generator.

As this is the opening episode, it also sets up an arc for each of the characters. The last series saw Sherlock become more emotional and his downfall, this series has seen Watson nearly get burned in a bonfire. It was definitely an intriguing scene, and I can’t wait to find out why. This episode also introduces the character of Mary. Here, eh, she’s okay, doesn’t really have much to do, but I’m sure she will get some good character work over the next two episodes. Amanda Abbington is fun and pleased to be there, and she’s certainly a likeable character, so I can’t wait to see what gets done with her.

Production wise, stellar as usual. There’s also some really good comedy here, something which I have started to expect from Gatiss. He’s definitely the best at portraying the quirkiness of the Sherlock/John relationship, probably because he’s a little bit odd (in a good way) himself. The “ff…/cough” gag gave me a laugh, as did the making fun of John’s facial hair.

Overall: In the moments it’s good, it is superb, the character work here is stunning, but the boring plot does ruin it slightly. It’s a good, watchable, piece of TV, but it’s nothing more.

7/10

Episode Ranking
1. The Reichenbach Fall
2. A Study in Pink
3. The Great Game
4. A Scandal in Belgravia
5. The Hounds of Baskerville
6. The Blind Banker
7. The Empty Hearse

Studying Sherlock: “The Reichenbach Fall”

img_0551

While I wouldn’t say I’m hard to please, at times I can be ridiculously fussy. I like to believe that everything has strengths and everything has flaws, no matter how big or small they are. Sometimes I feel like I’m so obsessed with this belief that I become pessimistic. Sometimes I feel that I’m so desperate to try and find a flaw that it becomes nitpicking. It’s always good to have balance, particularly if you’re making a statement about the quality of something, but sometimes unnecessary criticism can ruin an argument. Sometimes you’re just clutching at straws.

I have spent ages trying to find a single flaw in The Reichenbach Fall and I honestly can’t find one. While calling it the best piece of television ever would probably be slightly hyperbolic, I would still call it perfect. To me, The Reichenbach Fall is practically flawless. It’s one of those pieces of media where everything just clicks. The writing, the acting, the direction, the pacing, the music. Not one shot is badly framed, not one line is poorly delivered, not one second is wasted. This is TV at it’s finest, why TV is my favourite medium of telling stories in a nutshell, and why Sherlock, despite me only getting into the show last week, is quickly becoming one of my favourite TV shows. This is art, and it’s wonderful.

So why? Why is this episode so wonderful? What does this episode do better than any of the five before it? What makes The Reichenbach Fall the show’s masterpiece when the show has already provided us with episodes such as The Great Game and A Study in Pink? Well, I’m probably not the best person to try and explain that, but I can try.

In my opinion, the element that has made Sherlock special compared to a lot of other crime dramas is it’s character work. This is a show which is about the relationships between each of the characters as well as it is about the mystery. It’s the relationships which really turn this series from a great one to a fantastic one, and I love how the character work has become more prominent in Series 2. The character of Sherlock is one which has been built specially, and his development this series, and how Cumberbatch portrays it, has been a joy to watch. The scene where admits he underestimated Molly and that she always counted is touching, and the phone call to John on the roof nearly had me in tears. It’s great to see a character who is obviously Aspergers portray so much emotion, as a common misconception of the spectrum disorder is that all Asperger’s people are uncaring and lack empathy. Sherlock has grown a lot this series, and here Cumberbatch gives his greatest performance, nailing all the aspects of the character which made him warm to me. At times he’s beautifully blunt and eccentric, and at others, he’s so wonderfully human. Watson’s scene at the gravestone, where he tells Sherlock he was the most “human human” he’d ever known is lovely. The Sherlock/Watson relationship has grown so much since A Study in Pink. Freeman and Cumberbatch have such fantastic chemistry, and the scenes which they’re together are always amazing.

The selling point of this episode, though, would have to be Andrew Scott’s Moriarty. He’s probably one of the most menacing villains I’ve personally seen on television. He’s unnerving at times, disturbingly funny at others, and sometimes he’s frightening. He’s the sort of person who would steal every scene he’s in, but he’s acting alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, so it’s the two of them together that get the praise. They have fantastic chemistry, they know how to play with each other to an excellent extent, and they’re a pleasure to watch together. To me, Moriarty feels like The Master Doctor Who never had. He’s got all the elements of the character they’ve tried to create with John Simm and Michelle Gomez but done to a more menacing and scarier effect. Maybe it’s because this isn’t a family programme like Doctor Who is, but Scott does unnerve me. He feels like a great threat, and you do feel for the characters around him. A stunning performance of a stunningly written character.

This one also has the most interesting plot of the series so far. This one does actually feel like a finale, it ties up the themes of the series really nicely but is a brilliant story in its own right. I also think it’s the darkest story of the show so far. Stories about how lies can hurt people are always quite frightening as they feel real, and Moriarty’s plan to construct Sherlock’s downfall is both extremely clever and tense. I don’t want to say it kept me on the edge of my seat throughout because that’s cliche and overused, but it did. It’s a thrilling story, one which does keep your interest and one which does make your stomach turn. What’s even more impressive is that Steve Thompson’s name is on the script. Okay, there’s traces of Moffat all over this, but still, the fact that master of mediocrity Steve Thompson managed to write one of the most thought out, thrilling, tense, exciting plots in TV means that he has no excuse for the half-arsed bore fests he has often put out. Seriously, fantastic work.

Production wise, again, marvellous. Toby Hayne’s direction is fabulous, the cinematography is lovely, the music is brilliant, and the pacing is fantastic.

Really looking forward to how the cliffhanger gets resolved. Being someone who got into the show late, I did see it coming. The existence of the Series 3 DVD on my shelf told me he didn’t really die, but I imagine it must have been a brilliant moment on live watch (it still was really exciting for me in fairness) and I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s explained.

This really is why the BBC are the best of at TV Drama. This really is why Sherlock is the 11th highest rated TV show on IMDB. This really is a testament to what clever writing, brilliant direction, and stellar performances can do. It’s one of the best pieces of visual media I have seen, and I adored every second.

Overall: Stunning. Absolutely stunning.

10/10

Episode Ranking
1. The Reichenbach Fall
2. A Study in Pink
3. The Great Game
4. A Scandal in Belgravia
5. The Hounds of Baskerville
6. The Blind Banker

Studying Sherlock: “The Hounds of Baskerville”

Sherlock - Series 2

While I’d say that Mark Gatiss is a writer who’s work can drastically vary in quality, I would say that the majority of his scripts are enjoyable. Even when they’re dark, like The Unquiet Dead, there is something about them which feels rather lively and watchable. He’s not the world’s greatest writer, but he’s not a boring one either. His scripts have heart and effort is put into all of them. They don’t always work, and some of his Doctor Who scripts are some of my least favourites, but, when he does work as a writer, he can be fantastic. He’s inconsistent, but he can produce some great things. The Hounds of Baskerville is one of them.

Okay, The Hounds of Baskerville is nothing amazing. It’s not as good as The Great Game and it’s not the best script he has ever written, but, it’s a highly enjoyable 90 minutes of television. Here, Gatiss plays to his strengths of horror and humour, and it really works. It’s not a perfect story, but it’s certainly a good one. There’s a good mystery in there, as well as some good character work, so you can’t ask for anything more.

The Hound of Baskerville, as I said, works as it fuses together Gatiss’ skills of both horror and humour. Let’s start with the horror. Combined with some good direction by Paul McGuigan (though not as noticeably interesting as his other efforts), Hound manages to be a tense mystery which does keep you interested throughout. The concept is great, and as somebody who can be a bit scared of big dogs (I’m not bad with them, but I don’t like it when they’re particularly loud or jumpy) it is pretty chilling. The script plays out in a very suspenseful manner, and the horror is very psychological. What could have been a bit silly is actually pretty tense and terrifying.

Where this episode really strives though is its humour. Gatiss does have a very witty style, the way the characters pick at each other is hilarious, and thanks to the stellar comic timing of the cast, I’m laughing a lot throughout. I loved the scene at the beginning when Sherlock was almost having a fit in search for his cigarettes. It’s almost childlike and crazy, and Cumberbatch is stellar. I also really liked such moments as when they drive into the base using Mycroft’s ID, and the scene where they find out that Lestrade is also in Dartmoor. The witty relationship between all of these characters is something that really makes this series a hit, and I do think Gatiss has the edge of representing that.

There’s also some lovely character moments. I really liked the scene at the end when Sherlock reveals that he deliberately locked John in the room is an excellent scene, and where he admits that John is his only friend is really touching. I also really enjoyed Sherlock’s mind palace sequence, that was really clever and beautifully shot. These past two episodes, Sherlock has really grown as a character, and he has become really interesting to watch. Looking forward to what gets done with him next, as his development thus far has been impressive.

With most of the action taking place in Dartmoor, a lot of the familiar locations and characters are pushed aside or absent. It’s good to see Lestrade, as Rupert Graves is brilliant, but this effectively means Hounds had to make use of a proper guest cast. They did an excellent job here. Russell Tovey does a good job, though maybe overdoes it in some parts and his voice is obviously put on, but he does capture the fear of his character very well. The other characters are well performed too.

The way the case comes together is very clever, and the drug twist, while not exactly genius, is a satisfying resolution to the case. I must admit though that I saw Dr Frankland being a baddie from the very beginning, there was something about the way he was shot and even performed which seemed suspicious, but it was still an interesting conclusion to the problem.

Production wise, again, stellar. The direction helped add to the horror, creating it in some scenes, such as when Watson got locked in the cupboard, and the music was very eerie too. The pacing was fine, and I wasn’t bored through any length of the runtime, though it did feel about five minutes too long.

It’s not the best episode of anything ever, but it’s a solid, enjoyable script. Solid, enjoyable scripts are not exactly what I want in a series which is three episodes long, but you can only review what we have, and what we have is a decent 90 minutes of TV. It’s not the greatest Sherlock episode, but if this is one of your weaker ones, then that goes to show the quality of your show. Sherlock is becoming one of my favourite TV shows, and this journey has been an excellent one so far.

Overall: A good mix of horror and humour and an enjoyable 90 minutes of television, but nothing particularly special.

8/10

Episode Ranking
1. A Study in Pink
2. The Great Game
3. A Scandal in Belgravia
4. The Hounds of Baskerville
5. The Blind Banker

Studying Sherlock: “A Scandal in Belgravia”

Sherlock - Series 2

How do you approach a review? From what I’ve found there are two different ways of doing it. The first way is trying to remain as objective as possible. You can never be fully objective, a review is effectively just an opinion and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but some reviews do argue their cases with thorough analysis. It’s something which is very hard to pull off, but, if you’re intelligent enough, strong cases which are hard to argue against. The second way is to remain entirely subjective. To talk about your own experiences with the matter at hand, rather than a statement on whether it is good or bad. I’d say my reviews tend to fall into the latter category.

However, sometimes it’s not that easy. Sometimes you get matters like A Scandal in Belgravia. Objectively, this episode is, or is close to, a masterpiece. It’s extremely well written, acted, directed, superbly made in all regards. However, I personally wouldn’t call it a masterpiece. While there’s not really much wrong with it, if anything at all, I really can’t put my finger on why I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have done. I certainly liked it, and I think it’s very good, but I don’t think of it as the special episode a lot of people do.

As I said, I definitely enjoyed A Scandal in Belgravia. It certainly kept me entertained for an hour and a half, and there’s certainly plenty here to like about it.

The first thing which is noticeably excellent here is the characterisation of Sherlock and his relationship with the other characters. Throughout the first series, Sherlock was portrayed as someone who was incredibly blunt, self-centered, incredibly eccentric, and often in his own little world. The characteristics all remain, with Sherlock still being my favourite character in the whole programme, but he certainly gets some more layers. The most interesting of those is his care and companion. The scene in which he realises Molly’s Christmas present is for him is really touching, and the relationship he builds with Irene is a really interesting bit of character development. He grows a lot over the course of this episode, and it’s really sweet to see how he genuinely cares for Irene, in his own little strange way. Irene, of course, being his equal and opposite, played marvellously by Lara Pulver. The chemistry she has with Cumberbatch is brilliant, and it’s lovely to see how they grow as characters together in this episode. Sherlock for the first time here appears as if he is human, and it’s beautiful to watch. Irene Adler is a fascinating character on her own. Pulver is the perfect casting choice for this character and really owns the role.

However, what is really good here is how the character moments here, which are the strong focus of the story, aren’t the only thing about it. This story also has a very Moffaty complicated plot. The case is made up of lines which appear to be throwaway at first, so the way that it all comes together at the end is utterly genius. I must admit that I guessed the “I am Sher-locked” twist, but that’s because I’m sure I have seen it on some mercy, not due to the nature of the script. It’s certainly a very clever moment and one which makes me regret not getting into this series earlier. The case is also quite tense and fun too, and it’s really enjoyable to see how it gets solved at the end.

Production wise, this episode is also superb. The direction is brilliant, and there’s extremely clever cinematography in certain places. The music is good, and it’s extremely well paced too. There’s not really a moment I feel bored or unimpressed, and every minute of its runtime adds something to the plot or the development of the characters. Can’t say that about a lot of things. Not one second is filler.

There’s also some great humour here too. I actually had to pause the DVD after Watsons’ “I always hear punch me in the face when you’re speaking because it’s usually subtext” because I was laughing too much. Again, Moffat’s best humour is his sarcastic and blunt type, and it’s great to get a lot of that here, from other characters as well, as Sherlock.

As I said, there’s not really much I can criticise about it. I must admit I was disappointed that Moriarty left in the first scene, although that said the scene was beautifully quirky, and I thought Sherlock’s nudity gags were a few too many, but apart from that, I got nothing. I think it’s a really good episode, even more so in retrospect, as it has gone up in my mind since writing this, but there’s just something about it that prevents me from calling it a masterpiece. It’s really good, but not a masterpiece in my opinion.

Maybe it’s just not exactly to my personal tastes. Love stories aren’t my favourite even if this one is damn excellent. I don’t know. But I’m hoping this is a story that will improve on rewatch. And to be honest, this not being my favourite episode of the show so far, just goes to show the quality of this series.

And as I haven’t mentioned it before, damn that theme is good. I kinda want it as my ringtone now.

Overall: A brilliant story with some fantastic character work, but one I can’t say I personally love.

8.5/10

Episode Ranking
1. A Study in Pink
2. The Great Game
3. A Scandal in Belgravia
4. The Blind Banker

Studying Sherlock: “The Great Game”

img_0524

Blimey, we’re at the end of the series already? I’m going to have to get used to this, a series being only 3 episodes long.

Though admittedly, to me, The Great Game only really feels like Episode 2. While The Blind Banker was definitely a good piece of TV, and possibly even a good episode of Sherlock, it wasn’t the Sherlock I met during episode 1. It was quite traditional and clever, rather than modern and genius. The Great Game is more a continuation of the style and the tone established in episode one, developed further and with a touch of Mark Gatiss. Needless to say, it’s absolutely marvellous. Intelligent, witty, eccentric, modern, mad, this is the Sherlock I fell in love with. This is a new sleuth for the twenty first century, and I absolutely love it.

The thing which impresses me most about The Great Game is its plot. While Sherlock has many claims to fame in terms of how it all comes together, such as its stunning character work (which I shall get to later), it is plot which really makes me go “wow”. The Great Game is packed with so many different cases, so many twists and turns that it’s kind of surprising everything wraps up in a coherent way. A good surprise though. Everything is explained intelligently and with logic, and the conclusion to each case is satisfying and admirably clever. I love seeing how the different cases played out. You can tell that Gatiss is a massive fan of horror here, using wonderful skills in suspense and tension to almost create fear. This episode is beautifully dark, and it’s incredibly gripping. The “I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen” is a reviewing cliche, but sometimes it’s true.

The multiple different cases is something which I really enjoyed about this episode, and something which I felt Gatiss tied up extremely well. Most detective shows only feature a single case per episode, whereas this one features at least four or five. Yes, they are all linked, but they’re all so different and watching each one get solved, particularly the ones in the timed conditions, is beautifully thrilling. Perhaps this is a way to make up for the short number of episodes, as this at times doesn’t really feel like a finale, but I don’t care, it’s brilliant and oh so clever.

This episode also has some really strong character work. Mark Gatiss really gets these characters (he did co create the series after all), and his writing of Sherlock himself is easily the best so far. Maybe because Gatiss is a bit eccentric himself, more so than Moffat is, and is possibly writing with a bit of himself in there, but whether there’s a resemblance or not, its fair to say that Gatiss’ understanding of Sherlock is superb. From the scene at the beginning where he’s too busy correcting the grammar of the criminal he was talking too, Sherlock is written marvellously, and Cumberbatch is on fire. All the other characters are written marvellously too. It’s nice to see Lestrade again, after his sad absence from the last episode, Mrs Hudson remains hilarious and entertaining, I could take Molly home she’s so lovely and sweet, and Mycroft (remains marvellously smarmy and odd. Character work is what sets this series from a lot of other detective series. It’s absolutely marvellous.

This story does feature the best scene so far in the series, which is the scene at the swimming pool. Andrew Scott’s Moriarty is perfect. He’s wonderfully menacing and psychopathic, and a very modern villain to suit the modern protagonist. Scott plays him marvellously, he’s unnerving to watch and he does terrify you in places. Gatiss’ writing is also superb. Again, his passion for horror rings in his writing, the darkness of the character is fantastically frightening. I spent the whole time thinking how good Gatiss would be at writing Missy actually, hoping he does that some day.

The scene is incredibly tense, so tense that I don’t know if I even blinked during those last ten minutes. In that scene alone, I can see why this series is one of the highest rated on IMDB. I don’t recall watching something with such wide eyes before, and by the time the credits rolled, I was literally open mouthed.

Despite all this praise though, I would still call A Study in Pink the better story. Maybe it’s because this one is harder to follow, probably requiring a couple of watches to fully get it. This one is also a tad less (traditionally) enjoyable, and admittedly it doesn’t feel like a finale. Maybe that’s because it’s only episode 3 and episode 2 might as well been a different show. Maybe that’s because it’s not meant to be.

But, overall: Stunning character work, plot, direction and performances. This game certainly is great.

9/10

Episode Ranking
1. A Study in Pink
2. The Great Game
3. The Blind Banker

Studying Sherlock: “The Blind Banker”

img_0520

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.

7/10

Episode Ranking
1. A Study in Pink
2. The Blind Banker