TV Review: The Return of Sherlock

January 4, 2014
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New Year’s Day is always an important day, laden as it is with all the symbolism of new beginnings. January 1st, 2014, however, was especially exciting as it also heralded the long-awaited return to our screens of Sherlock, the BBC’s brilliant, modern-day re-imagining of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, starring the incomparable Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Bilbo Baggins himself, Martin Freeman, in the role of John Watson.

And what a return it was. It’s been over a year since we were all left hanging on the edge of our seats as Holmes threw himself off the top of a building in an apparently forced suicide attempt to fake his own death, leaving millions of viewers to wonder just how he managed to pull it off. In fact, writer Mark Gatiss and producer Steven Moffat (the head honcho behind the current series of Doctor Who), had some fun with that, peppering the new episode with some outlandish theories as to how and why Holmes had done it – the best of them was Holmes faking his death so he and Moriarty could elope.


Anyway, Holmes is back and there’s a crime to solve, an underground criminal network intent on blowing up the Houses of Parliament – although if Holmes really wanted to rid the world of an evil criminal network, he’d have done better to let Parliament go up in smoke. Of course, that’s not really his style. After all, the game’s the thing.

Of course, apart from the crime-solving, which you couldn’t do Holmes without, the key to Sherlock is in the relationships, and there was some lovely stuff in the New Year’s Day episode. There’s some lovely back and forth between Sherlock and his older, cleverer, yet equally isolated, brother Mycroft (played with camp deliciousness by writer Mark Gatiss) as they try and outdo each other in a game of deduction and, wonderfully, a game of Operation!

Watch out too for a lovely, unexpected reaction by Inspector Lestrade to Holmes’ return.

Specifically though, it is his relationship to his friend and helper Dr. John Watson that really defines the show. Watson’s reaction to discovering that Sherlock was still alive was both pricelessly funny and plausibly moving. Sherlock’s distant lack of usual human empathy makes it hard for him to imagine that Watson would be anything but pleased to see him again. He doesn’t quite comprehend Watson’s anger and sense of betrayal.

Needless to say, after some soul searching, a daring rescue and some in-the-face-of-certain-death bonding, the duo are back and all set for a brand new season of fighting crime, with a sinister shadowy figure watching them to boot, a new Moriarty figure for Holmes and Watson to pit their wits against. Season three promises to be just as wonderful as the first two were. Personally, I can’t wait.

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