The Heatley Cliff

Oh Sherlock, My Beloved! What Happened To You?

Recently, has anything rocked harder than a Sunday night on PBS? Yes, I realize that sounds like I’m trying to be a sarcastic jerk, but I’m really not. First Downton Abbey, then Sherlock. It’s the stuff of which dreams are made! That is, if your dreams, like mine, trend towards the staying home and watching TV variety.

Man, was I excited for Sherlock. Last week I talked about JJ Abrams’ brilliant choice to cast Benedict Cumberbatch in his second Star Trek movie. This is because I believe Benedict is an angel sent from heaven whose eyes are further apart than most humans’ so they can see every inch of the person he’s looking at (me one day) and whose voice is so beguiling, so enchanting, I would happily listen to him recite a phone book.

I loved Benedict in the Sherlock series. He was sexy, sassy, brilliant, wore the hell out of a coat; he handled his scarf like a Frenchman. He was just awesome. And then this season, he wasn’t. What happened?

As I write this, I have only seen the first two episodes of three (what is wrong with these people – a season should be at least 12 hours of TV viewing!) But, as I am truly a dedicated journalist (ha!), I read extensive reviews for the last episode. Don’t worry. I won’t be spoiling anything here.

The first two episodes this season were just downright silly. There was always something sinister to Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, something a little dangerous. This made him more than just an Asperger-ish egomaniac with a floppy hat. It gave his character dimension and complexity. The way scenes were shot, the viewer literally got inside his mind, a device which really worked. Watson was the straight man who still managed to offer up comedic relief. Sherlock, while still pretty rude and offensive, managed to have a certain flair that was infectiously charismatic.

Sadly, in this latest season, he was stripped of that for the first two episodes. He seemed more Inspector Clouseau than the brilliant Holmes we all know and love. He was doddering, floundering even. He pouted and acted like a precocious child. The balance was off in the writing. This time around, those interesting devices which pulled the viewers along with Holmes’ breakneck speed of deduction seemed forced and overused.

Most importantly, Holmes needs a worthy foil. He needs a villain just as charismatic as he is. Or at least someone as interesting. If I wanted to watch someone goofily plan a wedding, I would watch…you know The Wedding Planner. Now, I have read that things ramp up in this last episode. However, I have also read that while we finally get a villain, he is more Terminator than Moriarty. I know other things escalate too. However, it’s the last show. And I can’t help but feel at this point it’s too little too late. I can’t unsee the things Sherlock has done this season so far. I can’t unhear the nonsense he’s been spouting. The writers have basically shown him picking his nose on the toilet. The mystery around Cumberbatch’s detective is gone. I’ve seen too much.

Sometimes a show loses its way once in a while. Writers get cocky, producers get lazy, actors get bored. This is especially true when a series is doing really, really well. It’s almost as if they don’t need to try as hard. Reviews have been okay for this season, maybe not as dazzling as in the past, but solid. So perhaps it’s just me. Perhaps I am being too demanding, too picky. Still, when you know a show can really be THAT GOOD, how can you not want it to live up to its full potential? Fingers crossed, then, for season four.

Featured image via ShutterStock


Related posts:

Why Americans Need to Watch Sherlock on PBS this Sunday

Obsession and Sherlock Holmes: Why The Two Go Hand In Hand

10 TV Shows We’re Excited to See Return in 2014

  • Annie Swingen

    I wholeheartedly agree. The wedding episode was such a letdown.

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  • Caleah James

    It isn’t you. I have asked my friends numerous times in the last couple weeks,”Am I the only one not really feeling this Sherlock?”. I missed him saying “obviously” all the time, calling people stupid, his cold straight unemotional face, his attitude of “being better than everyone”, his social awkwardness…..the relationship with him and Anderson and the other detectives, his rude comments and furrowed brow, this Sherlock (in the first couple episodes) was spritely and silly and way way way too nice and emotional….and smiled way way too much and laughed and cracked jokes about himself!! he would never do that!! He was a completely different character….Yes, the third episode brings back the REAL Sherlock a lot more, the villain is awesome, the twist is good and I didn’t see it coming, and Sherlock is exactly as cold and calculating and as “Sherlock” as he should be. But yes, it is a bit too little too late….fingers crossed that in season four he is back to himself.

    • Abigail McShinsky

      If you’ve read the full collection of original works, you would see that the human, self-deprecating side is there and well-represented. I think the last several episodes have done a great job relaying Conan Doyle’s character of Holmes. In fact, he’s self-deprecating and overly-kind (which not-so-subtly hints at his true narcissim) very often. His callousness is just as present as his humanity.

      I think the writers of the show did a great job displaying this inner conflict. If anything, they may exaggerate his incredulity a bit.

      And it’s not unusual for him to get a bit stumped, either. CD’s Holmes is not a super-hero.

      Just some thoughts from a Sherlock scholar :)

  • Stuart Little

    You will like the 3rd episode more… Business as usual.

  • Lauren Elizabeth

    I disagree, I LOVED the wedding episode. It was more about character development than plot development, and I find that fascinating. It isn’t enough for Sherlock to be a one-dimensional “highly functioning sociopath” (which isn’t a real thing, and certainly doesn’t describe him, only how he wants to be seen. Tons of literature on that from psychologists/fans out there).

    Sherlock is constantly in the push and pull of cold, rational logic vs. the fact that he actually IS a human being. I think the writers do a splendid job of coming up with brilliant crimes for him to solve, all while exploring his humanity (or seeming lack thereof – but it’s more that he blocks emotion in himself so as to be “clear-headed” and coldly logical than any actual psychological condition). I agree the first two eps of series three were a bit fluffy, but I personally enjoyed how well the cast riffs off each other — and we even see depth to Mycroft, something I didn’t see coming. It was a welcome surprise. Maybe if there were more episodes on a series we wouldn’t notice this shift as much?

    I think good TV shows characters evolving (and oftentimes, devolving), but they have to always be going somewhere or else it makes for boring, procedural TV. And god knows we have enough of that! I suppose my bias is that I’m very interested in character psychology, so when writers can delve into that while delivering a great crime drama, I’m impressed. My two cents.

  • Emily Anne Mazzoni

    I couldn’t even get halfway through the wedding episode. But I thought the first episode was great, and I was really pleased to find that I liked the third episode as well. I didn’t see the Mary twist coming at all.

  • Mel Hassan

    I loved the wedding episode! I thought the stag party sequence was brilliant! And it shows a whole different side to Sherlock, so it was a lot about character development. Plus it was just downright funny! The last episode did kick it up a notch and had the craziest plot twist ever. And Moriarty is coming back so you know series 4 will be amazing!

  • Angi Watson Dudas

    I loved it. To each his own.

  • Roxy Magdaleno

    Having already seen the last episode, I think articles like this should wait until the entirety of the season has aired. You might think a bit differently.

  • Angela Harris

    The third episode was a little disappointing actually, sorry to say. It starts amazingly but then I think Moffat forgot that it was only 90minutes so it was clued up in 5 minutes. The very end bodes well for next season though :)

  • Louise Kay Sheard

    Sadly, I agree. I didn’t enjoy this series as much as I really really wanted to. Hopefully it will be back better than ever. Fingers crossed

  • Nikki Java Di

    I loved this season. I thought showing Sherlock in the light they did added even more complexity to the character and gave us a glance into his humanity, without losing his still oblivious sociopath self. The story-lines gave us more to chew and more to anticipate and added layers to the show that can now be built upon in the next season. I found it sort of beautiful. Anyway, to each his own. Hopefully you’ll enjoy the last episode.

  • Brianna Kirkland

    Wow. Everyone who didn’t like it, just didn’t get it IMO. I loved the first two eps so much (especially TSoT – watched at least 5x already), and the third wrecked me! I fall in love with a show because of the characters, and this season was all about the growth of Sherlock as a character. You ask, “what happened to him?” The answer: he just spent 2 years being dead, isolated from his best friend – that until this season, he never realized was so important to him. Spend some time on Tumblr in the fandom and read some breakdowns of the subtext and meta of the entire series to really understand where this is all coming from and where it’s all headed. But if you’re not that dedicated of a fan, and have decided that it’s not for you anymore: well, to each his own. Just a handful less fervent fangirls for me to compete with for Benny’s love.

  • Claire Patzman

    I completely agree that Sherlock was a little floundering this season, but I see it as deeper character development. It shows that without John, Sherlock cannot function the way he usually does and that he’s actually pretty upset about John getting due to his worry that he’ll lose John. Though the first episode was a let-down, i thought the The Sign of Three (wedding episode) was fantastic! You got to see into his mind palace and experience his way of thinking and his more vulnerable side when Mycroft invaded it. His speech was amazing and I’m happy I finally got to see him expressing his love (whether you see it as platonic or more than just friends, it’s definitely there) for John. The last episode is fantastic and has a great twist and I hope you enjoy it so you don’t feel too let down :)

  • Gabrielle G Plaster

    I love him this season. He’s truly a changed man. It is ridiculous to think that a person can go through life and remain the same. I’m glad that he is an evolving complex character…. The hard ass sociopath would have gotten old. Promise.

  • Molly Laurel

    Hang in there! The third episode was amazing!

  • Amanda Singleton

    I think you need to see the third episode and get back to us. At this point you haven’t seen enough (dare I say it).

  • Kelly Edwards

    I agree! I love the show so much, but when the season finale was over I wasn’t crying with a fist in the air in anger for more. You are completely right that a season needs to be way longer!! I too have my fingers crossed for season 4. In the meantime we shall wait for Downtown Abbey to redeem itself from the Mathew disaster a la “revenge of Bates” 😉

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  • Aisha Abduljalil

    Wait till you see the last episode. 😉

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