We Sherlock fans endured a vast, interminable wait between series one and two, but I have to say, tortuous as it was, I’m glad the creative forces behind this show decided to take their time. It’s a show well worth waiting 18 months for, and I will happily do it again. We just don’t see television of this caliber that often.
On some level, it’s hard to imagine Sherlock living up to itself, isn’t it? Series one was spectacular, as we all well know, and it set the bar for series two obscenely, ludicrously high. How could they possibly do it a second time?
Well, they did – albeit in a very uneven way.
I can’t fault the acting, design, or rampant cleverness of this series for one instant, but I’ll admit I found myself a bit removed from the first two episodes of this set of three. The Moff (that’s Steven Moffat, for the non-geek) himself described series one as Watson’s story, and series two as Sherlock’s, wherein the world’s only consulting detective confronts love, fear, and death for the first time. And I think therein lies the answer – I found myself missing Watson’s central role a bit. He’s still very much in evidence, have no fear, but Watson was our touchstone in the first series, and canonically speaking, he’s just a more relateable soul than our beloved Sherlock. And while I absolutely loved watching Sherlock’s distant reserve start to crack and crumble, series two in many ways was still a very intellectual enterprise. Take the first episode, A Scandal in Belgravia, which brings into play the one and only Irene Adler. Much as I enjoyed watching the most cerebral mating dance the world has ever seen, to me the story felt more like a logic puzzle than anything else; forebrain, not hind – which makes perfect sense, seeing as it is Sherlock’s story. And while I enjoyed the episode, I did still feel a bit removed from it all.
That same feeling persisted throughout the second episode, The Hounds of Baskerville. And while the second installment was a visual feast of an episode, showcasing some truly spectacular scenery, foggy and ominous as one could wish, I still just wasn’t fully enveloped by it. The mystery was certainly an interesting one, but honestly as I was watching the episode at times I found myself thinking about the actors themselves, marveling at their performances rather than enjoying them as their characters – which again, speaks to how I was feeling a bit distant from the proceedings. Overall, as with the first series, I’m inclined to think the middle episode is the weakest of three – but this episode does boast one of the most hilarious moments Martin Freeman has delivered to date.
But then the third episode, The Reichenbach Fall, rolled around – and ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, the third episode is spectacular. It MAKES series two. Did I rewind and re-watch the last fifteen minutes of the episode the minute it was over? Why yes, yes I did. Hold onto your hats, folks. You may have felt safe, thinking the Sherlock team couldn’t possibly deliver an ending as tortuous as the final moments of the first series – oh, but they did. They did.
So in the end, Sherlock carries on its tradition in fine form. I will say series one remains my favorite, and series two didn’t unequivocally sweep me away, but this is still some of the best TV you’ll see this decade, period, full stop. May there be many, many more to come.
Once again, it’s going to be a long 18 months…