Final Problems with the Series: Unhappy Ending

DATELINE:  Solution’s End

holmes-boys

Holmes boys—minus girl

There has always been a tendency to go overboard on flashbacks within hallucinations for the BBC update of Sherlock. And, trying to bring back Moriarty (wonderful over the top Andrew Scott), turned the final episode of Season 4 into a logistical pretzel.

The notion that Mycroft has locked up the homicidal sister of the Holmes boys is daring and ridiculous—and making her a girl with an interest in Jim Moriarty certainly allows for license. We fell into more plot holes during this episode than in the entire Holmes canon.

Alas, how the Holmes girl managed to escape her prisoner asylum island out in the middle of the nowhere ocean pushed the envelope and “note” clue from the Culverton Smith episode into a conflagration highlight of the last show.

Yes, she blows up 221b Baker Street and nearly kills all the stars. The residence will be rebuilt in a coda at episode’s end. However, overkill seems to have taken over, killing subtlety.

We really don’t want Sherlock to turn into the dreadful movie franchise with Robert Downey and Jude Law, utterly miscast lunacy. And, we are not amused to find the dreadful American TV series showing more intellect than this British counterpart.

Eurus is sister’s name.  It’s Greek for East Wind. Oh, we get it. Clever works, but pyrotechnics seem ready made for American TV ratings, not civilized British drama.

Mark Gatsiss finally has a big problem, not a solution.

The series likely will not return for two to three years, if ever. And it makes the “if ever” clause more attractive than anytime in the past four seasons.

The fourth season ends with conclusion that might suffice if production and stars never do another. It also sets a clean slate for future episodes with Holmes and Watson in Conan Doyle style again. Quien sabe?

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Sherlock: Fair to Middle Episode

DATELINE:  Lying Down on the Job

toby-jones-as-culverton

The middle episode movie for Sherlock 4 features Toby Jones, our favorite diminutive character actor, in rare form as evil. Moriarty receives a particularly snide stand-in named Culverton Smith in a ditty called “The Lying Detective.”

After the death of Mary, Watson’s wife, Holmes seemed crushed with guilt over failing to save her—and Watson seemed overwhelmed with mourning. Doyle skipped dealing with such issues for good reason.

Into this vulnerable mode, Sherlock has come face to face with a billionaire businessman/humanitarian who happens to be a serial killer.  It’s a year when billionaires do not fare well in film and television.

Having fallen back into his worst scenario of addiction, Holmes finds little sympathy from the man who writes the blog on their cases.

If there is a departure from the original stories, among so many departures, it is the importance of the women in the lives of Holmes and Watson. Irene Adler and Mary Marston Watson have become revisionist feminists. And Mrs. Hudson is the widow of a drug dealer.

If creative force Mark Gatsiss has his way, there may be other powerful women lurking between the lines of the original stories. Oh, no, not a Holmes sister??

Matching wits with a billionaire with unlimited resources may be a risky business for Holmes, but he has his reasons to leave himself so likely to be a murder victim.

Prodigious displays of his logical insights continue to be thrown away by Holmes, even in his most despondent, hallucinatory situations, induced by drug abuse.

Of course, the mainstay of the Gatsiss version of Holmes is that it always returns to canon, no worse for wear. We understand the need to avoid looking like Holmes picks his deerstalker wardrobe off the rack, but there’s no reason to put the stories on the rack.

 

Sherlock Returns to His Roots

DATELINE: Brides and Dogs

 

Since 2010 the revamped and updated Holmes with Cumberbatch and Freeman has taken on the true mantle of the Conan Doyle knighted revisions. Put aside those terrible movies with what’s his name, and the worse TV show with the female Watson.

Benedict and Martin are the successors to Basil and Nigel, Jeremy and Edward. This time, to show their mettle, the case of The Abominable Bride is set in 1890 or so.

To take the characters back in time levels the playing field with the past great adaptations—and puts this tandem into the canon with accolades.

The Bride case is one of those originally mentioned by Doyle/Watson as too shocking for the contemporary audiences of Victorian England. It is all rather mundane for the 21st century, but keeps the newest fans in ecstasy. This case is really Five Pips.

Holmes is still disparaging to Watson—and even Mrs. Hudson joins in, knocking those Strand stories. She notes she is barely in them. Holmes adds he was barely in the dog story. Watson incredulously asks, “Do you mean The Hound?”

Oh, the new old story is juicy, if not ridiculous too. It is played broadly, cleverly, and wittily. Holmes and Watson’s modern meeting is re-enacted in gaslight fashion without missing a beat.

Holmes notes how he is a man out of time—and the opening credits are the same as the series, only substituting silent newsreel footage of Old London for the new skyline.

Fans of the British series will be thrilled. Newcomers probably need to watch the earlier episodes to enjoy the parallels and references totally.

Sherlock has made Cumberbatch and Freeman movie stars of the first order—but they seem enamored of these breakthrough roles. We too are smitten.