Genre: Crime, Drama Creators: Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs
When Sherlock was first aired in 2010, I absolutely adored it; the modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, (Played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman) added with interesting and seemingly impossible cases to solve, with a fantastic occasional villain in the form of Jim Moriarty. (Andrew Scott) The long wait times between series did annoy me, especially considering the cliffhanger nature of each of the series’s finales. However, I was able to justify this I said to myself that it meant that more time could be put into each series, especially since they’re only three episodes long each. I credit Sherlock with introducing Benedict and Freeman to me and a usual sign of quality going forward in future series and other projects that they do.
So, I’ve started off pretty positively about the series, this is probably the part where you expect me to say that I didn’t like the latest adventures of our duo.
I won’t be doing that. I still really liked it, I think Sherlock is still at it’s best with some great moments… but I do have some concerns.
To start with my positive opinions about Series 4, there’s a lot of focus on the personal stories of Sherlock and Watson, with some great moments for the two and other characters. If I had to pick a favourite out of the three episodes on offer here, I’d have to say the second one (‘The Lying Detective’) for reasons that I’ll get to in a bit.
In addition, the series has never looked better, with some awesome moments throughout, and a lot of moments where I was sat in stunned shock at what had just happened. The acting is still at it’s best; I don’t really expect less from these people at this stage. It’s finale feels like something that all of the series has been building up to somehow (aside from a single issue plot wise that I won’t spoil here) and makes for a delightfully thrilling conclusion. (and actually a conclusion, barely any annoying cliffhangers)
Now, here’s where I actually talk about the negatives and concerns that I have about the series. You’ll no doubt have gleamed this from the title but my greatest concern is this;
There were no cases to solve…
With all of the focus on personal stories – which, yeah were great – there was barely any crimes that needed solving. Before you point out that there were, give me one example of a case that any of the characters did not have some form of personal investment in… I might be wrong but I certainly didn’t see one, none that were particularly clever anyway.
I like Sherlock because it’s meant to be clever; it’s about solving impossible cases just as much as the characters that were involved. But the tone of Series 4 feels so self-congratulatory that they seem to have decided that impossible crimes aren’t worth the attention anymore. Remember in Series 1 when there was a serial killer who somehow made his victims commit suicide of their own free will? Remember when Sherlock had to solve cases as quickly as possible to save lives? Or how about when they did a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles? (My favourite Sherlock Holmes story)
I can’t think of many actual clever moments in this series that actually, truly grabbed me. The closest to an actual case was in ‘The Lying Detective,’ and even then it was dealing with the fallout of ‘The Six Thatchers.’
Oh and that’s not even talking about the cheap explanations for being able to find someone, or surviving something point blank. As I said, it all feels like vanity.
None of this is to say that I didn’t like this series. I still do, there was more than enough to keep me invested and all of the episodes were excellent in their own ways – only having a few flaws. ‘The Final Problem’ was fantastic episode and serves as a great grand finale were they to end it here (Which they probably won’t)
There just has to be a way to balance out impossible crime solving with the personal investiture of the characters. Going forward, I am hoping that – true to their word if you’ve read what they’ve said – they renew their focus on the mystery and crime solving.
I’ve written this a lot more negatively than I intended to, and for that I do feel a bit bad. But overall, there really aren’t enough problems with this series for me to actually dislike it at this point; I’ve been underwhelmed enough by other material as it is. Sherlock Series 4 was great, in my opinion, but it does have one or two issues which I will be keeping in mind in the future.
Perhaps there’s a lesson in how I’ve felt about this.