Sherlock Season Four Reviews and Recommendations

BBC Sherlock looking dazed, confused and fearful with blurry John Watson and Mycroft Holmes in the background

First Brexit, then Trump and now Series 4. Will the nightmare never stop?

Not having seen all of BBC Sherlock Series 4 (life is too short, especially at my age, and we really should reduce the amount of bad and horrible images and trash we lock into our brains and fill it with good things) and having too many serious issues to focus on at the moment (You see, Humans, this is why we can’t have nice things! We forget Why we aren’t suffering from economic collapse, terrorizing regimes, world wars, and disfiguring, disabling diseases like polio and suddenly think “Oh, the Great Depression, WWII, the McCarthy Era and near nuclear annihilation during the Cold War sounded like jolly times of camaraderie (especially if you were a straight, white male), and weren’t Thatcher and Reagan such lovely parental figures taking such good care of all of us and creating perpetual homelessness to allow us to say at least we aren’t homeless?”). So instead I’m providing links to an excellent review of Sherlock Series/Season 4 by Vox (which brings up several points I’ve been making since S3 Episode 3 at the least (okay, I’ve been complaining since Irene Adler in series 2, but the series didn’t completely derail until S3 E3)) and a compilation of reviews by various press:
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Sherlock: His Last (Abominable) Season

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes looking shocked and horrified with hands covering mouth and nose

Oh, the humanity… Honest, it’s just laying there, a mass of smoking wreckage.”

Some folks have asked if I’m planning to review Season 4 of the BBC’s Sherlock.  the caption above is a quote from the Hindenburg Disaster broadcast. I thought it appropriate…  I’m going to borrow from a comment I just posted on the Timey-Wimey-Wibbly-Wobbly post:

I haven’t seen Season 4. I have not even read any fan reviews, though a friend did tell me she was underwhelmed and confirmed two of my guesses as to what happened in episode 1. I do have a recording of the episode, but I’ve not been inclined to watch it given the condition of the world right now (including the Brexit and U.S. election votes). I suspect this will be the last season until Freeman and Cumberbatch decide they need the money and some suit at BBC wises up. Though by then, there will probably not be a PBS broadcasting in the U.S. any longer and any corporate suit who is looking for a surefire nostalgia success will want to reboot with younger actors.

You’d think Moftiss would realize that what people really want is the Hope that the original Sherlock Holmes stories brought, that smart, good individuals did exist, cared, and could bring about justice for even the poor. We can already see the stupid, cruel, and rich crushing the middle- and poorer-classes while making an obscene gesture to the altruistic and enlightened concepts like “Truth, Justice and the American Way”, as the old Superman TV series put it. Though, in fact, it was also the British Way first.

Yes, I am depressed and despondent over the political and social climate, and the descent of Sherlock into soap opera Shock schlock. In our unenlightened, racing-to-the-Dark-Ages, post-fact, (i.e. stupid and ignorant) society we’ve also devolved into a brutish, cloddish, crude, rude, adolescent male, post-taste culture, if it can be called “culture” except in the social science sense.

As for my review of Season 4, I’ll copy my comment in the You’re Disappointed With Me post on the Season 4 pre-release Christmas episode:
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An Apology to Steven Moffat and What Sherlock Holmes Has In Common With Jane Austen and Henry James

Was that an actual apology?

Was that an actual apology?

I owe Steven Moffat an apology. I may have been wrong about Dr. Who. I was talking with a friend about the season opener, introducing Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, and a piece I’d read by a Dr. Who fan complaining about the previous Christmas Special with David Tennant, Matt Smith, and John Hurt. My friend, a devoted Dr. Who fan, rejected my complaints about “Deep Breath,” and other recent episodes, being an amalgamation of popular Whovian plot devices and tropes assembled Lego-block fashion into a formulaic structure (And what does this have to do with BBC Sherlock, you ask? Patience. It’s going to connect in a moment.).

My friend then explained that this was what the Whovian fans expected, what they wanted — something familiar, something they recognize, with just enough difference to make it new. It was then I had an epiphany; Dr. Who fans were like category genre readers, or even Marvel Comics movie fans, wanting the comfort of  consistency — a recognizable structure, core characters, style and certain established tropes. I owe Mr. Moffat and apology for my critiques that his scripts and production for Dr. Who were hackneyed; the very things that I criticized in the series were, in fact, essential to the target audience for the series.

But the Dr. Who story structure is not the Sherlock Holmes story structure, which, given my criticisms with “A Scandal in Belgravia” and “His Last Vow,” makes the recent comments from Moffat and Gatiss even more frightening.

…Moffat said it is part of the overall appeal of the series: “An episode needs to be about something in their lives. It is not enough for it to be a mystery.”

Gatiss agreed, saying: “It is a series about a detective, it is not a detective series.”

— Quote from Digital Spy, Nov. 1, 2014

The truly ironic point missed by Mofftiss is that focusing on the personal lives of the characters is exactly what they’ve done with Elementary — and Castle and The Mysteries of Laura and, well, most every network detective or mystery show on the air. ELEMENTARY-liu-miller

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Mrs.Hudson Is Doing Some Housekeeping

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock Holmes stretched out on the sofa in his blue robe.Due to an unfortunate incident resulting from an experiment gone horribly wrong, we’re having to move some things about a bit and make some repairs. We shan’t be long (We hope, though it would go a bit faster if someone who shall remain nameless, Sherlock, would get off the sofa and help. And don’t give me any of that working nonsense. You’re sulking. We all know your sulking.)

 

Do come back in a tick for tea. We will have some news and gossip shortly. (Guy Fawkes at the latest.)

 

 

More Sherlock Holmes, Please Asks BBC and Stephen Fry

Benedict Cumberbatch as BBC Sherlock Holmes in deerstalker sneering

Everyone will be wearing The Hat!

It seems everyone is wanting to see more Sherlock Holmes. And we will. More about that in a moment.

First, Calling All Cosplayers who can be in the London area by 19 July!

Mark Gatiss, Stephen Fry and the National Literacy Trust, along with a number of other authors and celebrities, are attempting to break the Guinness Book of Records for the largest collection of people dressed as Sherlock Holmes, 19 July, at University College London (UCL). The funds raised will go towards the Save Undershaw organization. Undershaw, the former home of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was saved from demolition and conversion to a golf club by the efforts of Mark Gatiss, Stephen Fry and many others, however, it’s in desperate need of repairs before it can be converted into a historical site and literary resource. They are, alas, out of outfits for those who don’t have one of their own, but donations and raffle tickets are still available.  For complete information, check out this lovely article on Look to the Stars. And for another take, there’s this piece at Experdon Charity News.

The BBC is Also Wanting to See More Sherlock Holmes

The BBC Trust, the overseers of the BBC Corporation, noted in its annual review, in oh so British understatement, that BBC viewers perceived the BBC failed “to take risks” with BBC1 depending upon long-running, predictable series with exceptions such as Sherlock.  The report also noted that viewers lamented the limited hours of each Sherlock series. Citing US Continue reading

More Sherlock Season 4 Spoilers Reported

The International Business Times offers more spoilers for Sherlock Series/Season 4.  [Do I actually need a SPOILER ALERT here? Really? ] The article quotes Steven Moffat alluding to Moriarty’s returning as a major character and an increase in romance as well as more screen time for Molly and Mrs. Hudson.

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In All Fairness, He’s a Drama Queen, Too

Benedict Cumberbatch holding a paper sign at the paparazzi next to photo of otter holding leaf over face

If Benedict Cumberbatch starts working with otters, I bet we could solve global warming and achieve World Peace in my lifetime!

The International Business Times has an interesting summery of Sherlock and Sherlock Holmes news and gossip, including some Sherlock Series/Season 4 updates and hints from Mofftiss. Since Mofftiss is already teasing and people are already guessing about what’s to come in Series/Season 4, I’ll throw out a few guesses and thoughts of my own.

Sherlock Series/Season 4 Possibilities

First, I believe that the comment by Sherlock in “Sign of Three” that he loves to dance and then demonstrates his skills, followed by —

“Never really comes up in crime work but, um, you know, I live in hope of the right case.”

— is a tease for “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” where the men really do dance. Mofftiss have already done one of these literal re-takes with “The Naval Treaty” being about a belly-dancer and not a military department. (Although it will mean Cumberbatch taking a lot more dancing lessons since it was obvious he didn’t do the pirouette and his waltzing wasn’t Strictly Ballroom quality — but lovely all the same.)

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A Scandal in Baker Street, CAM

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes looking out the Baker Street window with Martin Freeman as John Watson

Those women appear to be protesting. John, what exactly is a “male chauvinist pig?”

The Daily Dot has a piece on the growing concerns among a some Sherlock fans that the apparent sexism and misogyny of Steven Moffat ,expressed in various interviews and certain Dr. Who scripts, has taken root in BBC’s Sherlock series, particularly in the ending of “His Last Vow” in Series/Season 3. Now I’ve expressed my sense that Sherlock has been morphed into The Doctor in my Series/Season 3 rant review, however, I’d avoided publicly airing my earlier concerns about the show’s portrayal of key women from the original Canon. So since I’m burning bridges, let’s go ahead and discuss some issues with the women in Sherlock.

[Oh, and do I really have to say SPOILER ALERT?]

The Daily Dot notes:

What has some fans angry is that Sherlock’s interpretation of Milverton’s death completely removes the agency and power of the female character in the original story. An unfortunate occurrence that neatly fits in with Moffat’s track record with female characters in both Doctor Who and Sherlock.

“The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton” is one of the very few examples in Victorian-era Holmes canon where a female character takes practical action on her own behalf, while Holmes and Watson technically fail to solve the case. Milverton, like Sherlock’s Magnussen, is a foe so powerful that it’s virtually impossible to defeat him using Holmes’ usual methods, which is why the story has to end with Milverton’s death. The final scene of the short story is Holmes identifying Milverton’s killer, but tacitly agreeing with Watson to let her get away with the murder because Milverton was such a loathsome figure.

If Moffat and Gatiss had simply said they wanted Sherlock to kill Magnussen because it was a more interesting story for him as a character, or because it provided an exciting development to lead into the next season, it wouldn’t have been a big deal. But the fact that they seemingly couldn’t believe that a woman defeated Milverton only exacerbates their problems with Sherlock fans who already take issue with the way women are portrayed in the show. Links to the interview are already spreading on social media…

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You’re Disappointed In Me — Sherlock Series 3 Review

…don’t waste your time and ours hooting at crap! Go after the good stuff, or leave it alone.”

— Daniel C. Dennet, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, “Sturgeon’s Law”

You're not the only one depressed right now, Sherlock.

You’re not the only one depressed right now, Sherlock.

Because Sherlock is not (was not?) “crap,” I am compelled to share this review, even though I know it won’t make any difference in what is going to happen in Series 4 and 5. I feel in all fairness, though, I must warn you, that, in the words of the divine Miss Bette Davis, “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

First, before I go any further, let me say that even though my comments on episodes 1 and 2 are brief, it’s not due to lack of appreciation. I have not had television reception for 13 years, but purchased both a wide-screen plasma TV and installed minimal cable just to watch the episodes, and then held rather elaborate Sherlock Series/Season 3 parties for the event. I do not regret a penny spent. Sherlock Series/Season 3 Episodes 1 and 2 were incomparably wonderful, nonpareil storytelling in an expanding Sahara of television.

We’ll get to episode 3.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO DON’T REALIZE A REVIEW WILL HAVE SPOILERS

“The Empty Hearse”

I thought “The Empty Hearse” was a brilliant send up of all the post-Reichenbach Fall hysteria, in the original meaning of the word,  which was very reminiscent of the reaction of the reading public when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem.” (By the way, Holmes first fans had to wait 10 years for his return.) It was witty, thought provoking, and gave fans some much needed catharsis, as well as poking a bit of biting fun at the excesses it skewers. There was plenty of angst, but there was a great deal of good natured fun with the characters, and just enough mystery and deduction to  make it an actual Sherlock Holmes story, and not simply an homage to fan fiction.  (People forget that “The Empty House” also focused more on Holmes’ return then on the mystery.) Hearse, however, is not necessarily comfortable viewing for those who don’t like facing a bit of self-examination or non-traditional television. And not particularly satisfying, or undertandable, for “mundanes,” i.e., non-fans. But then freshness and originality is what made Sherlock such a success!

“Somebody loves you! If I had to punch that face, I’d avoid the nose and teeth too.”

—Irene Adler, Sherlock, “Scandal in Belgravia”

Fans of the series got John not just punching Sherlock in the face, but fans of the Canon got a nod to the John Watson originally fainting, when Sherlock reveals himself, in Freeman’s masterful performance of a man willing himself to stay standing and conscious. The acting was, if anything, even better than the previous episodes, and I was struggling for some decorum while inwardly bubbling at Benedict Cumberbatch getting to show off his comedic chops (little did I know then what was to come).

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