While the start of the New Year is a great time to get pumped up about the all those exciting new opportunities to become a better person and whatnot, it’s also a great time to celebrate the return of television. Specifically, television that has been on hiatus for a while (I’m looking at you, 30 Rock). And for those of us who also like to tune into telly from across the pond, fireworks and a parade are in order for the return of the BBC’s Sherlock. After a 17-month hiatus and fans going completely mad at the end of the first series, the second series finally premiered on Jan. 1.
Sherlock, co-created by Steven Moffat (also the head writer for the Doctor Who series) and Mark Gatiss (who has also written for Doctor Who and plays a small, but important, role in Sherlock), is a modern-day adaptation of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. The show follows Sherlock Holmes, the world’s one and only “consulting detective” — played by the lovely Benedict Cumberbatch — and Dr. John Watson, his only friend — played by the adorably hilarious Martin Freeman — as they go about solving crimes in London.
A truly amazing show, one of the best things about Sherlock — besides the superb writing and sheer entertainment of it all — is how Moffat and Gatiss have been able to make the show their own, but still pay homage to Doyle. Each episode is loosely based on one of the original stories, which is often reflected in the episode's titles ("A Study in Pink" is based on "A Study in Scarlet"). Even Sherlock and Watson’s address is a direct reference to the original works: 221B Baker Street. Some of the greatest references, though, often pass by a bit too quickly for everyone to appreciate. Probably the most blatant — and possibly best — reference to Conan Doyle himself is in the preview for the second series’ finale, "The Reichenbach Fall." At 0:12, if paused properly, it’s possible to make out the words, “In a twist worthy of a Conan Doyle novella” on the newspaper.
And that’s not the end of it. In the first series, there are constant references to Sherlock and Watson’s respective blogs, which actually exist. The fact that these blogs were created, and are actually updated as the series progresses, adds so much more to the viewing experience because, as a viewer, you actually get to read the blog posts that Watson makes during the show. It almost feels as if you’re a part of Sherlock by being able to read the thoughts of the characters. Also, it’s pretty hilarious to read the comments left by the different characters from the show.
Fortunately, it’s also totally fine if you don’t really know much about the original stories. Sherlock is one of those shows that appeals to a rather large demographic, as it deals with crime-solving, the intriguing friendship between an asocial being and an ex-army doctor, and all the brilliant things that Sherlock has to say. And even if all those things don’t necessarily seem like your cup of tea, it’s worth trying an episode or two (it really is). After all, the New Year is all about trying new things, isn’t it?
The second series started off with "A Scandal in Belgravia," based off of Doyle’s "A Scandal in Bohemia," and it was fantastic. In fact, it was probably the best way to start 2012. There was a very different feel to this episode from previous ones, mainly because it was the first time fans got to see Sherlock as an actual human being with real human emotions and not just as a “high-functioning sociopath,” but it was still worth the incredibly long wait. The really great thing about this episode, though, is the fact that it was the sexy dominatrix Irene Adler — played by the gorgeous Lara Pulver — who brought out the human side in Sherlock. It’s quite interesting, as there is a sense that Irene Adler is definitely attracted to Sherlock, but the audience is never really quite sure if Sherlock is equally interested in her. And if he is, it’s never clear what it is about her that he likes, although it would seem that he’s attracted to the fact that she, literally and figuratively, beat him and is just as smart as him, if not more so. Of course, we may never know, as Mrs. Hudson, his landlady, says, “It’s Sherlock. How will we ever know what goes on in that funny odd head?”
"The Hounds of Baskerville," although suspenseful and fun, was not nearly as well-written as "A Scandal in Belgravia." It was the most fear-inducing episode so far, yet throughout the entire episode there was this expectation that something incredibly epic was going to happen, which was a disappointment, because the ending just seemed a bit slapdash. It was also odd that the usual music wasn’t used in this episode. Even though the intense, fear-inducing music did its job (i.e. freak out the audience), it seems the episode would have fared better with the music that is usually used in the series. This isn’t all to say that "The Hounds of Baskerville" wasn’t fun and entertaining, but compared to "A Scandal in Belgravia," it fell a bit flat. Although this may have been due to the fact that “The Hounds of Baskerville” was just completely different from all the previous episodes in that it wasn’t set in London (it was set and shot in Dartmoor).
And as tragic and upsetting it will be for Sherlock fans the world over, the series finale will air next week. Honestly, it seems a bit criminal that a TV series is allowed to be this short. Three episodes a series (even though each episode is 90-minutes long) is just not enough; in fact, it’s rather cruel. What’s even crueler than three-episodes-a-series, though, is Moffat’s response to the question about the possibility of a third series, to which he answered: “If he [Sherlock] survives!”
At this point, I don’t even know if I, or the rest of the fans for that matter, will be able to survive “The Reichenbach Fall.” Goodness knows at the very least I’m going to need a shock blanket.