OK, let me tell you this before we start. I’m not a huge fan of British drama on TV. I don’t like Dr. Who (sorry Gem), I don’t like Luthor, or that King Arthur thing, I think they look cheap, sometimes nasty, and aren’t acted very well, or at least, in a style that I find enjoyable. I like American dramas, especially when they are full of British talent. American TV shows are expensive looking, gritty, bloody, interesting and sexy. My favourite shows of the past few years are Rome, Game of Thrones, The Wire, The Shield, The Walking Dead, Spartacus and Dexter. Smart, interesting and gripping shows, shows that make you long for next weeks episode, a feeling I never get with British TV.
Now I will admit that I’m still mad at the BBC, great institution that it is, for being partly responsible for the cancellation of my favourite show ever, Rome. I loved Rome, it was perfect, and the sad fact it only got two seasons is a crying shame. Over all though, the BBC is a fantastic institution that is quite rightly the pride of British entertainment. However, I don’t like its drama output, especially in matters Geeky. I hate Dr. Who, hate it, it’s one of those things that I just can’t imagine anyone liking, but I have friends, good friends who love it, so I realise that I am very much in the minority here, but I hate the writing and the acting, and the shitty special effects (sorry guys).
So that’s where I’m coming from, now you know what kind of TV I like, let me explain my confusion with the new take on the great detective. When I first saw Sherlock, maybe two years ago now? I didn’t like what I saw, I didn’t like Benedict Cumberbatch, I did like Martin Freeman, I didn’t like the modern setting at all and I didn’t like the smart arse writing. I watched one episode, I forget which, and hated it. My major problem is that, I like Sherlock Holmes. I’m a big fan of Basil Rathbone as Holmes, and one of my favourite films is The Hound of the Baskervilles, with Peter Cushing as Sherlock. I like that Sherlock Holmes is set in Victorian times, it adds a certain historical mystique to proceedings, and also, in my opinion, makes Holmes’ deductions even more spectacular. I also love the Robert Downey Jnr. Films, a different take certainly, but one that I am very much behind. A modern Sherlock Holmes, for me, is robbed of one of the things that make him most interesting, the historical factor, and Sherlock just didn’t do it for me.
Then, I split up with my girlfriend. I was depressed, and didn’t want to go anywhere, and it was in this moment of despair and self pity, that BBC iplayer gave me something to take my mind off my woes. Three episodes of Sherlock were on, I watched the first one, thinking that at least for a time, I could hate something or someone else, but you know what, two episodes and three hours later, something had happened. I was not only looking forward to episode three, I had cheered up considerably. I liked Sherlock!!! Sure, it had problems. I wasn’t a massive fan of the writing all the time, it was all too painfully modern to my eyes, mobile phones and text’s seemed to be all too prominent, but Cumberbatch was growing on me, they might not have got the setting to my taste, but they had got the characters spot on. It wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly adequate.
Then I watched episode three. Oh. I can’t remember right now how prominent Moriarty was in the first two episodes, maybe he was only mentioned, I certainly am not going back to make sure, but his appearance in episode three, really pissed me off. Moriarty is to Holmes what the Joker is to Batman, and he should not be treated as a joke. The recent Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, got Moriarty spot on, he was a serious threat, was a cunning and dangerous opponent to Holmes, and had a grand scheme, with serious consequences. Moriarty in Sherlock? Well it’s like they couldn’t cast an decent actor so had Jim Hensons’ Workshop create a new Muppet instead, and got Bobcat Goldthwaite to voice him. That ending in the swimming pool, with Moriarty acting like a mix between a small annoying child, and an even more annoying whining child, destroyed all the good will I had for the show. I couldn’t believe it, that performance derailed the show far more devastatingly than the truck did the train in Super 8.
Time went by though and I think I forgot about how bad Moriarty was. In fact when I heard that Sherlock was back, and that this time they were going to tackle my favourite story, Hound of the Baskervilles, I was quite optimistic. Oh boy, was I in for a weird time. I quite liked the first episode of series two, it again relied on text messaging, again it was full of lines and acting I was not quite with, but I liked Irene Adler, I liked the chemistry between Holmes and Watson, and I liked Mycroft a lot. But Moriarty was there, and he blew a raspberry with his tongue and he was fucking stupid again. The beginning of the episode, the conclusion to the cliff hanger of last series, made me cringe with disgust. Moriarty was ruining an otherwise OK series, the idiot, not so much the Napoleon of Crime, more the Ruprect of Crime (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Fans ahoy!!). Overall though, episode one barely got a pass from me.
The Hounds of Baskerville, was OK. I didn’t really like the new take on the story, but I did like the sense of atmosphere that was created, and I suppose for a story so rooted in the past, Mark Gatiss did a good job of updating the story of a spectral hound. However well he did though, it just wasn’t quite for me, it didn’t live up to my, admittedly, quite high expectations for this particular tale. It was then, with baited breath that I sat down to watch The Reichanbach Fall, an episode that would be Moriarty heavy, and no doubt quite annoying.
I was quite surprised. I thought this last episode was the strongest episode yet. Martin Freeman was stunning, no matter about anything else, his Watson is the strongest thing in Sherlock. The beginning and ending scenes in particular showed very strong acting from the future Bilbo Baggins, and that makes me happy. Whilst I was watching the show, I couldn’t help but think that Sherlock was becoming Batman. The plot, Moriarty set out to ruin Holmes’ reputation and life with a grand scheme, was very Batman villain esque. Moriarty himself, especially in the opening segment seemed to be taking lessons from 60’s Batman Joker, or Riddler. When I started to see the show like this, Moriarty didn’t bother me so much, I didn’t like him, but he no longer bothered me enough to spoil the show. All in all, I liked the last episode quite a bit, it was camp, emotional, well acted, and engaging. I look forward to more Sherlock, and think that maybe with less well known stories, at least for me, I will be able to disengage my inner fan boy and cut this show some slack. Whilst I don’t tend to agree with all the praise that lots of critics etc. are giving it, I will agree that it is probably the best British Drama on TV, the best of a very poor bunch. Also, if Sherlock achieved nothing else than to prove that Martin Freeman can act the shit out of a role, that is a very good thing.