Culture & Criticism Since 2003
First, a major spoiler: Sherlock Holmes survived the Reichenbach Fall. The first episode of Season Three of BBC1’s “Sherlock” discusses how he did it.
The acclaimed series, the third season of which has already concluded in the United Kingdom, will begin to air on PBS on January 19th. As with the two previous seasons, it consists of three episodes running an hour and a half each.
How acclaimed is it? The Guardian, which tends to be rather sober in its assessments of television programs, while taking a slightly jaundiced view of stories that aren’t exactly canon, ran an effusive review this week written by Lucy Mangan.
The first two episodes of the series saw more style than substance, but oh, what a lovely style it was! The titles, like the show itself, are a nod to canon, but not an overt duplication; these include: “The Empty Hearse” (“The Empty House” is the one in which Sherlock returns from the dead), and “The Sign of Three” (“The Sign of the Four” in which Watson marries Mary). Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is cold and remote (“A high functioning sociopath” in a phrase perhaps overused in the series), but with the right amount of snark to leaven it. Doctor John Watson (Martin Freeman with shaved feet) is a brilliant foil for Sherlock, and there is an admirable cast of supporting characters.
However, the best is saved for the final episode, “Charles Augustus Magnussen” (loosely based on “The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton”), a story in which Sherlock faces his most revolting and dangerous foe: a man who controls much of society through blackmail. The re-imagining of Magnussen (played brilliantly by Lars Mikkelsen) bears more than a slight resemblance to a certain publishing magnate who has been in the news lately. All that’s missing is the Strine accent.
People who have seen the previous two seasons either love or hate it—and a huge majority love it. Steven Moffit and Mark Gatiss (who also plays Moriarty) are two of the main reasons the moribund “Doctor Who” series is both an incredible world-wide success and the BBC’s most popular show ever, and it’s not surprising that they’ve had similar success with “Sherlock.”
Season Three of “Sherlock” premieres on PBS Sunday, January 19th, 2014 at 9:58 ET. (No that time is not a typo.) Visit the PBS website for details.
Zepp Jamieson was born in Ottawa, Ontario, and spent his formative years living in various parts of Canada, the UK, South Africa and Australia before finally moving to the United States, where he has lived for over 40 years. Aside from writing, his interests include hiking, raising dogs and cats, and making computers jump through hoops. His wife of 25 years edits his copy, and bravely attempts to make him sound coherent. Reach him through The Electric Review.