Just Finished Sherlock Series Two

I remember really liking the first series of BBC’s Sherlock. I think I wanted to write about here on UM, but time got away from me, I forgot a lot of it and that post fell by the wayside. At this point, I remember very little of that first season, but while watching the second, a few things came back to me. As far as I’m concerned, this series soars because of two things: performance and style. Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic as the aloof genius Sherlock Holmes and I’ve been a big fan of Watson actor Martin Freeman since watching the original Office and even Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (I saw it before reading any of the stories, so gimme a break). At the same time you’ve got some brilliant editing combined with this great onscreen thing they do when Sherlock looks people over and words pop up during these crazy close ups that show the things he’s noticing and what they tell him about the subject. The stories are also pretty good, but I don’t know how much of that credit should go to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and what to the show’s writers. Unfortunately, all of those things weren’t enough to get me to really dig this second series. Since there’s only three episodes, I’ll just run them down real quick. SPOILERS FOLLOW.

First up we have “A Scandal In Belgravia” which It hought was the season’s high point. We pick right up from the end of the previous season, but then get into an adventure with a woman named Irene Adler who seems to be his equal. She has a cell phone with a bunch of secrets rigged to explode unless she gets what she wants. Of course, Sherlock figures out the password and saves the day. I really, really liked this episode. I thought Lara Pulvrer, who played Adler, was fantastic. It’s very difficult to pull off the kind of detached super genius that Cumberbatch does without being annoying, but I think she nailed it in this role. This episode was also just a lot of fun with lots of twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat.

I can not say the same thing about “The House of Baskerville,” though. This one has Holmes and Watson visiting the small town of Baskerville where reports of giant wild dogs are running rampant. One guy swears he saw a demon dog and Sherlock gets drawn in as well, but my problem with this episode is that it just felt too long. I kind of got where they were going fairly early on — not exactly, but a general idea that was correct — so seeing a genius like Sherlock struggle so hard was not a great viewing experience. I will say that seeing Sherlock struggle with what he saw and what his mind tells him can and can’t be real was pretty fantastic, but all of this could have been done in 60 minutes and would have been a lot more tight. Also, not for nothing, but there were some seriously 90s horror tropes that no one wanted to see or hear again being dragged out kicking and screaming. That thing where the camera gets shaky and then cutting to another scene while playing a woman’s scream? I hate that thing. It’s used A LOT in this. That didn’t garner much favor with me.

Lastly we had “The Reichenbach Fall” which is based on “The Final Problem,” a story I haven’t read, but have read about thanks to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and some other stories. That meant I knew how this one was going to end too, which wasn’t a huge problem because I generally like how these guys tell stories. And, the story itself was a good one, but I had a gigantic problem: Andrew Scott as Moriarity. This guy made a lot of choices that just drove me nuts. Above I said I liked how Irene Adler was handled because she walked the fine line, Scott just went into annoying, batty territory for me. And, even though I thought his plan was brilliant and brilliantly executed, I could not take this guy seriously. In fact, he was so annoying, I just wanted someone to ice him and be done with it because I was not having as much fun with the back and forth between Holmes and Moriarity that I should have, like I did in Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows.

And yet, I still want to watch a third series. I might not have been 100% in love with these three episodes, but still, watching somewhat disappointing episodes of Sherlock is still more enjoyable than watching average episodes of other shows. Plus, I’ve got to find out how that guy did that thing that was revealed at the end of the episode. You know what I’m talking about.

Quick Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows (2011)

Longtime readers will remember that I quite liked the first Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law Sherlock Holmes flick. It was a good mix of period piece fun, action and the larger aspects of the Sherlock mythology that I’m familiar with as someone who has only read one of the Doyle stories. I had just as much fun when my wife and I watched the sequel from last year which featured Downey Jr., Law, Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace and Mad Men‘s Jared Harris. As with the previous installment, I thought the casting was spot on, everyone showed up to play and the result is a really fun, somewhat cerebral action flick.

Of course, it’s difficult to think of any Sherlock Holmes story without comparing it to the wonderful BBC series Sherlock, which my wife and I also really enjoyed the first series of and are smack in the middle of the second (review coming soon). That series has done such a masterful job of capturing a modern day Holmes, that it’s nearly impossible to watch or read anything else without picturing Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s also important to remember that Sherlock Holmes predated Sherlock and the two can easily co-exist even if you prefer one over the other.

And you know what? I kind of like that there’s two different takes on a character like this. It’s kind of like how Warner Bros. had the Christopher Nolan Batman movies going at the same time as Batman: Brave and the Bold. It shows that these characters are not only somewhat timeless, but also incredibly versatile. Plus, I think it looks neato when we see how Sherlock’s thought process works when he’s about to attack someone or defend himself. I’d be in favor of one of these movies coming out every few years and living forever on Netflix Instant and weekend afternoon movies.