That’s Elementary, my dear Watson. No. Wait. It’s Sherlock!

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with thedailygrime

“I’m not an uber Sherlock fan, so I didn’t bother watching the first episode of the new season until a few days after it had been aired. So I ended up reading the reviews before seeing the program for myself. The reviews were what is euphemistically called “mixed”, which is another way of saying that the first episode was universally panned.

The thing is though, even before watching the first episode, I didn’t understand what the reviewers were talking about.” The Game Is Afoot

Sherlock-dressed-as-French-waiter

The full title of thedailygrime‘s review is The Game Is Afoot – How The Critics Want To Sink Sherlock And Why I Think They Never Will, and if you’ve been keeping up with all things CumberVic on this blog, you will understand why I couldn’t help myself. Just had to read the review, and once read a reply begged to be written.

You see… my last Benedict Cumberbatch post inadvertently added me to the nameless hoard of critics who have met the Empty Hearse, first episode of Sherlock the Third, with a good old battering by the proverbial pan. I am ready to admit however, that an even greater disappointment than an underwhelming return of the show would be its cancellation. I certainly do not want for this series to end up being Sherlock’s Titanic, so I am glad to find that there are many out there who are enjoying Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat’s latest offering.

I enjoyed thedailygrime‘s style in taking on the reviewers and decided to examine the evidence in consulting detective fashion and add my own deductions to the mix.

Let the games begin!

I’m afraid there will be a few SPOILERS in what follows, so if you haven’t watched The Empty Hearse and want to hold on to that element of surprise, read at your own peril. I’ll do my best to keep them to a minimum, but can promise no more than that.

tdg: “They talked about far-fetched explanations for Sherlock’s faked death. I thought “surely everyone was expecting that?””

I’m with tdg on this one. Far-fetched explanations were not the problem. Dramatizing fandom’s theories as to what went down on that roof in The Reichenbach Fall finale was fun to watch, yes. However, it did feel like the writers were pandering to the fans instead of getting on with telling the story at hand.

I also rather enjoyed watching Scotland Yard’s former forensic expert Anderson’s guilt-ridden antics in this respect, with one exception. If you’ve seen the episode you will know which one was over-acted. Yep. That’s right. That oh-so-dramatic moment when Anderson latches onto the walls, ripping off those crazy notes he’d been wall-papering over the last two years. It was too much of a good (?) thing. And this brings us to the next point:

tdg: “They also said it was confusing. Well, it’s a fast paced detective program. It’s meant to be confusing, surely?”

An astute viewer, I dare say, will not be confused by any narrative, no matter how many twists it may have and however fast-paced it may be. They will be stumped however when the pieces of the puzzle do not fit together, even when they finally reach the end and have the big picture.

That last reference to Anderson was a clear example of that. It lacked finesse and it was somewhat confounding. Here we are with Holmes and Watson, in the deepest darkest bowels of the underground, attempting to disarm a bomb that is about to make mincemeat of all of Her Majesty’s Members of Parliament and the Houses themselves (admittedly, judging by the usual number of MP absentees, there might’ve been fewer victims than the wanna-be terror-plotters may have hoped for) and suddenly we a wrenched back into Anderson’s layer for an impromptu Sherlock confession on how he had faked his own death two years earlier.

Was this supposed to be Sherlock telling John about how he faked his death and why, via Anderson? Or… is this Sherlock’s memory of a former meeting with Anderson kicking in for some incomprehensible reason at a cliff-hanger moment? Or… did the director realise during the edit that he’s run out of places to plonk this into, and decided that it was as good a time as any for the big reveal? I’ll guess… the latter.

It did make for confusing viewing and, instead of increasing suspense, it only increased my levels of frustration. Several of the transitions from one scene to the next suffered from the same inexplicable disjointedness. They should’ve been handled better.

tdg: “And there was the question as to why Sherlock faked his own death anyway. Well, you could try asking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that. He invented that particular twist. You can’t blame Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat for that.”

It’s good to see that tdg and I are on the same page again. I did not require The Empty Hearse to understand why Sherlock had faked his death. Moriarty had destroyed his reputation and, to completely demolish his nemesis, he had all (well… almost all) of Sherlock’s associates at gunpoint. To save them, Sherlock had to die. Mystery solved.

It was the “how” that required additional attention and I felt that the episode gave sufficient scene time to the question. I only wish that final reveal had been better placed.

tdg: Why would Sherlock fake his death? Well, he’s a narcissistic psychopath.”

I beg to differ. Sherlock is not a narcissistic psychopath. He is a highly functioning sociopath 😉 Will not squabble re his narcissism. He does rather fancy himself, moustache or no moustache.

The final mystery: Why does thedailygrime think that critics are attempting to sink Sherlock and why won’t they manage it?

Well… I recommend that you read The Game Is Afoot to find out. I can’t speak for any of the other critics, but I beg to be absolved of the crime of which I stand accused.

Come to think of it, I wish I had delayed watching The Empty Hearse and read the onslaught of “mixed” reviews first. It may have tempered my expectations, and perhaps… I might’ve been put on the defensive and watched it afterwards determined to like it against all odds. Alas. I fear that since even my lingering obsession with the lead was unable to rob me of my critical prowess, I may have lamentably reached the same conclusion: Deduct again. Deduct better.

*

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Sherlock the Third

Benedict-Cumberbatch-as-Sherlock-Holmes-and-Martin-Freeman-as-Dr-John-Watson-from-the-new-series-of-Sherlock

Welcome to The Batch on Sunday: Your Online-Home For All Things CumberVic

The Batch on Sunday reports!

We all know that the third series of Sherlock will blast its witty detection onto BBC One screens on Wednesday, the 1st of January 2014. But for all that, The Batch on Sunday team feels that it may as well be 2024. Never have three weeks felt so lengthy! To wait for even one day longer seems unbearable.

The show’s creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, have done a good job of keeping the plots for the three episodes of this new series secret. No matter how much we searched the Internet for some juicy spoilers, there was not one to be found.

All we know so far is that #SherlockLives, and while reassuring, we need not pretend that we did not know this already. Final appearance of the smartly clad detective in the shadows of the graveyard aside, no Sherlokian could be fooled into believing that the protagonist would be killed off with a whole new series promised in advance.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who was the youngest ever actor to be cast as Sherlock when the first series aired in 2010, sympathises with the plight of the nation, having himself experienced some of the impatience the rest of us are suffering from as we wait for the elusive detective to finally reach our screens. He admitted that “I sort of got into the same obsession that the nation did, before we did it.”

Sorry, Cumberbatch. Whilst you are much loved, in this case no amount of sympathy will do the trick. We want Sherlock and we want him now!

If this is another three pipe problem, I begin to suspect that we’ll be smoking ourselves into an early grave. Not all of us have Sherlock’s comebackability to rely on. Perhaps a Sherlock calendar with a factoid countdown is in order. We must do something to pass the time until he is ready to come back from the dead. Lucky Christmas is just around the corner.

Merry Cumberbatch everyone and a Happy New Sherlock!