Monday, 16 January 2012

Another series of Sherlock over, another long wait...

Series two went out with a bang (followed by a "wheeeeee" and a "splat") on Sunday with Steve Thompson's The Reichenbach Fall. Here's a brief (because I'm actually properly a student with studying to do again) review:

I wasn't actually too optimistic about this episode, for two main reasons:

1. Steve Thompson - it's written by a man whose previous work has been, to put it nicely, underwhelming. His first series Sherlock episode was by far the weakest of the three and his Doctor Who episode was a televisual abomination with 2011's most infamous continuity error and one of the most cringingly stupid sci-fi ideas to have ever been imagined. Reflections. Portals. No.

2. The Final Problem - the source material for this story, while often seen as one of Holmes' more iconic adventures, is actually a pretty naff story, written entirely to satisfy Arthur Conan Doyle's boredom with the character. Holmes has gathered evidence (the nature of which is unrevealed) to arrest his nemesis Moriarty (whom the reader has never heard of before - granted the show had already beat Doyle on that front), gets a train across Europe to escape, then is seemingly pushed into a waterfall in an unseen "climactic" showdown with his evil arch enemy of the past 20 pages.

Nevertheless, the episode was fucking BRILLIANT.

Especially the last half hour. So much tension, both dramatic and homoerotic.

Far surpassing the source material (and incorporating elements of another, actually not bad, Holmes story, The Priory School, if I'm not mistaken), The Reichenbach Fall was a non-stop 90 minute mind game between Holmes and Jim. Jim Moriarty, that is. The episode incorporated the best parts of the story while relocating them efficiently to twenty-first century London (so a hospital roof may not be as visually dramatic as a Swiss waterfall, but, you know, TV budget, and they've already been to exotic Dartmoor), adding more funny nods (nice to see the return of the"Sherlock Holmes hat") and retaining the series' great visual flourishes. And while I still don't like referring to him as 'Jim', Andrew Scott's villainous mastermind really shone here in his repeated (and actually seen) confrontations with Holmes; it was a delight to watch the two geniuses (genii?) interact; magnificently acted, each trying to stay one step ahead of the other. Not forgetting Martin Freeman, who, as always, hit the perfect emotional chords and can never have enough praise.

The episode also saw a major development in the character arc of the once-emotionless Holmes being gradually humanised by his friendship with John. While this development was subtly present in Conan Doyle's works, the series brings it to the front and portrays the friendship beautifully. Holmes realises how much he has grown to like his friends, allowing Moriarty to use this to his psychopathic advantage, and making that ending all the more tragic.

Wait a minute, it's not finished yet...

What the fuck?

OK, I knew that would happen. Of course he's alive. That's what Sherlock Holmes does. But do we really have to wait so long to find out how?

Perhaps... has anyone else noticed this:

You know how the last series of Doctor Who ended with the Doctor faking his death to fool his enemies but having to live with his friends thinking he's dead?

You know what we all just watched?

I call it now: Holmes used the Teselecta.

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