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.
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