Who Wants to Play a Game Called Murder? A Review of BBC’s “Sherlock” Series 3
First off this picture that I found on Pinterest needs to be shared if you want a picture to go along with the title of this article
Okay, so Sunday was the Series Three finale of BBC’s Sherlock here in the States. I did not have any interest in watching Super Bowl Whatever-Number-They-Are-On. In fact, this ecard that I also found on Pinterest pretty much sums up how I felt about it.I am not really overly interested in that sort of football. I will watch it live at the stadium, but I do not want to watch it on the telly. Most of the time the announcers and other crap they show during timeouts and review makes me feel like I am wasting my time.
When it came to Sherlock I decided that I would only do a review of it once the whole series was finished. For those who are confused about why I say series rather than season, that is just what the British call seasons. Quirky, but that is just how it is. Sherlock is divided into three episode series. However, the episodes are about 90 minutes in length. They really are more like short movies than anything. Which is something that I love about the show. Now that the third series is over I will give you all my opinion of it. I may go back at a later time and do a review of the first two series, but for now, Series Three it is. I will do my best to avoid any major spoilers, but if I cannot, they will be in red.
To put some of my feeling about this series I will give you a bit of background. I love the Sherlock Holmes stories. I have read all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories and even the modern ones. I was delighted when I heard they were doing an updated version of it. Now, I have watched all of the old movies and they were good. I did like them. That being said, I am not overly fond of most of the modern ones and I cannot stand Elementary. I hate that show with a great fiery passion. My reasoning is mainly because of two things. Thing one: Sherlock does not live in the United States! He just does not! I do not care if he did once live in England. Sherlock Holmes lives in England and that is that. No place else for me. That wanted to make me turn the show off, but I it is the second thing that made me turn it off for good. Thing two: Dr. Watson is NOT a woman! Ever! I cannot stand that part of the show. That is biggest problem that I have with the show. Sorry Elementary fans. That is my opinion and it will not be changing. So, back to BBC Sherlock. Series Two left me feeling a bit upset and delighted at the same time. Upset because: Holy calamari! Why Sherlock‽ Why‽ Delighted because I wanted to know how the heck he did it. As I said earlier, I have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories and when I saw the title of the final Series Two episode, “The Reichenbach Fall”, I knew Sherlock was going to die at some point. Despite knowing that, I still cried the first time that I watched it. The actors are just that good and the writing is that amazing. Kudos to all involved in that.
After almost two whole years, part of me wants to believe that that was an intentional wait because that is how long Sherlock was supposedly dead, we finally get a short episode lasting just a smidge over seven minutes. The name was “Many Happy Returns” and it was a happily welcomed by my friends and I that watch the show. It features only three characters: Anderson, Lestrade, and John. It starts off with Lestrade talking to a slightly troubled Anderson. I say slightly troubled because he is not really sure that Sherlock is dead and it seems to be implied, in this mini-episode and in the first episode of Series Three, that he at least partially blames himself. It then shifts to Lestrade delivering a package of some of Sherlock’s old things to John. As it turns out, include in this package is a tape with Sherlock’s birthday message to John from when he was busy. On the tape Sherlock says he will see John again soon. Despite only being about seven minutes long, it is packed with information. Thanks to Anderson’s rambling, the episode references three references to the original stories in the first two minutes alone! These being “The Adventure of the Empty House”, “The Adventure of the Six Napoleons”, and “A Scandal in Bohemia”. It does not stop their either! There is also a reference to the first episode of the Series One, “A Study in Pink”, in the form of the pink phone in the box of Sherlock’s things. In addition to that reference found in the box, “The Adventure of the Yellow Face” is found in the form of a mask. In Sherlock’s video to John I noticed two other stories being referenced. These being “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott” and “The Adventure of the Dying Detective”. That means that in the span of the short special there are a whopping seven stories that are alluded to! Holy calamari! What a way to bridge the two year gap there guys. Kudos to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. I knew I loved these two for a reason.
If “Many Happy Returns” was a Christmas gift, then “The Empty Hearse” was a New Year’s gift. For viewers in the UK. Stateside, it did not premiere until the 19th of January. I loved it! It was by far my favorite opening episode of any show that I have seen in a long time. I laughed, I cried, and I even got a bit miffed at Sherlock. There were a few things that I had heard about prior to seeing the episode that I was not sure about, but kept popping up when I was reading various things my friends sent me for some reason even though they knew that I did not want any spoilers. The first was Mary Morstan’s more involved part in the story line. Let me make something clear first, I have no beef about Amanda Abbington being cast as Mary. I adore Amanda. She is a riot and a half. During this episode, I loved her! I found myself being pleasantly surprised by how much I turned out liking her despite not being overly fond of her expanded role in the series. No problems there, but we will talk a bit about Mary in a bit. Then there is the whole thing about Sherlock’s family. Apart from Mycroft, his parents are only mentioned in passing. His French heritage is hilariously alluded to by Sherlock disguising himself as a French waiter. In the original stories, Mummy and Daddy Holmes never make an appearance. Ever! I sort of had a bit of a beef with the show when I heard that they were going to make an appearance in the show this series. To put it frankly, I was a bit miffed. Then I watched the episode. My reaction went something like this: ‘Oh… My…Gosh! Wanda-freakin’-Ventham’! Of course, Timothy Carlton plays Mr. Holmes. Wanda Ventham though. Wow! If you have read the blog section of the site, or look through the “fun” section up at the top, you all know how much I adore Wanda Ventham.
Overall, the episode was packed with so much awesome win that I had went and pre-ordered the DVD right then and there so that I would have it as soon as possible. I loved it beyond what I figured that I would because of my unsureness of Mary’s expanded part and the appearance of the Holmes’ brother’s parents on screen. This episode was well worth the two year wait. John gives Sherlock some well deserved punches and ends up on top of him on the floor in what I assume was an attempt to kill him. The crazy theories about how Sherlock survived, my favorite being the one where Sherlock and Moriarty were in on it and they almost kiss, sort of made the episode giggle worthy at times and it makes one think that maybe Gatiss and Moffat are cyber stalking the fan sites. Now that I think about, they probably do. Those sneaky guys. I also enjoyed the addition of Guy Fawkes Night. That was delightful. Some of my friends had no idea what was going on when the kids were asking for a “penny for the Guy” and I had to explain it, but oh well. It happens.
“The Sign of Three” is an interesting episode. Honestly, out of the three episodes it is my least favorite and not for the same reason that I am sure a lot of other fans have. *cough* John getting married to someone other than Sherlock. *cough* Really people? Really? Anyway, this is the episode that has the marriage of John Watson and Mary Morstan in it. The episode does have a lot of good parts to it and a really funny part too. Let us begin with the things that I liked about this episode. I loved Sherlock’s distress about being John’s Best Man and having to give the speech. It leads to Lestrade rushing away from a crime because of an “emergency” at Baker Street. The emergency ends up being Sherlock having problems writing his speech. Silly Sherlock. We see a lot of Sherlock awkwardly delivering his speech filled with his respect and “love” for John. During this he talks about a few cases that John assisted with in an attempt to solve a case he was currently trying to solve, “the Mayfly Man”. This leads to him talking about John’s stag night which I will talk about in a moment. In the end the case is solved and we get to hear Sherlock play the violin for Mary and John’s first dance. We also learn that despite being as socially awkward as he is, Sherlock loves to dance and is apparently very good at it. Judging by Benedict’s pirouette, I would not doubt that he is good at dancing. Whether or not he actually even likes to dance in the slightest is another story since, based upon the next episode, that could have been a lie. I was sad to see Sherlock just walk away from the wedding reception at the end because I really wanted to see Sherlock actually dance and not just practice. Back to John’s stag night though. That was quite possibly the funniest part of the series to date. Basically John and Sherlock go out and get drunk and end up in jail after attempting to take a case in their drunken state. This is where “the Mayfly Man” case really starts. While they are at the “scene” some
interesting deductions are made including the awful “deaded” one about the skull, the “thingamabob”, and my personal favorite one about the “egg? chair? sitty thing?”. Drunk Sherlock and John were awesome. Here are some highlights for you. They almost fell asleep together on the stairs of the flat. They play a wonderful drunken game of what is basically the “headbands” game that includes some Johnlock fan service. It also leads to John asking if he is “a pretty lady” and Sherlock wanting to know if he is “the current king of England”. While at the “scene” Sherlock gets sick while “clueing for looks”. Also, Mycroft running on the treadmill makes me giggle for some reason. On other thing to note is that Benedict Cumberbatch looks absolutely amazing in morning dress. I mean just look at this delight picture you can find on the marvelous site Pinterest. Classy as hell. He should wear that all the time. Just saying
So, despite all the good things that I have to say about the episode, why is it my least favorite of the three? There is really only one thing that really bothered me. That one thing was the switching back and forth as often as it did. It left me slightly disoriented and I am still not entirely sure that I caught everything in it. In fact, I know I did not because PBS always cuts the shows down when they air it in the States! AHHH!!! Freakin’ PBS! I felt like I could not keep up with the storyline. Of course, they might have done that to make the audience feel more like they were actually there watching Sherlock deduce things since most people, in cannon, cannot keep up with him. It was slightly irritating. There were also some cases mentioned that I wanted to know more about. “The Elephant in the Room” being one of them.
The series finale made me exceptionally happy for numerous reasons. Also, you will notice that this episode’s review section has a lot of red in it. Yeah, for this one I could not really get away from that. So, if you have not seen it and do not want it spoiled I would go watch it before watching it. If you do not care about spoilers before watching it then go right ahead and read on my friends. If you do not care about spoilers then do the same. First things first though, in case the audience has forgotten, Sherlock is a recovering drug addict. This is brought up when John finds him undercover in what is basically a crack house. It is also reviled that Sherlock is going to go after Charles Augustus Magnussen. Magnussen is based on the similarly named title character of “The Adventure of Charles Agustus Milverton”. I actually quite liked him and I love the actor that plays him. Lars Mikkelsen is a delight to watch in Danish. My favorite Danish movie that he has been in is “Flammen & Citronen”. I recommend watching it if you have the chance and can get ahold of it. In this episode we also find out that Sherlock is dating Janine, Mary’s bridesmaid. Wait, what‽ Sherlock dating someone‽ What is the world coming to? We find out later that that was just a ploy to gain access to Magnussen’s office. That is also why I am left wondering whether or not Sherlock actually loves dancing or if that was just part of the ruse to get at Magnussen. Remember that earlier I said I had my doubts about Mary? Well, this is the episode where I really start to get a bit miffed about the whole thing. Nothing against Amanda Abbington of course, she does an amazing job in the part. However, she ends up being the one holding Magnussen at gunpoint when John and Sherlock break into his office. Then, to make things worse, she shoots Sherlock! She freakin’ shoots him. I wanted to scream. Granted, she purposefully shot him in a place that would most likely not end up killing him and calls him an ambulance. When Sherlock confronts her about the whole thing he brings John along with him and in the end John throws a big old hissy fit. Which is pretty funny when you think about it. John is supposed to be the stable one. We also find out that whatever is on Mary’s flash drive would cause John to not love her anymore should he read the information it contains. We learn that John never did read the information and throws it into the fireplace during Christmas at the Holmes’ family home. Sherlock also drugs his entire family and Mary in order to get Mycroft’s laptop. He need this as an exchange for Magnussen giving them the information from his vaults that he has on Mary. Much to everyone’s shock, Magnussen’s vaults are basically the same as Sherlock’s Mind Palace. That jerk. We get to get a glimpse of how Mycroft views Sherlock when the detective pulls out a gun and just flat out shoots Magnussen. Holy calamari! First Sherlock gets shot and then he does the shooting. There is quite a bit of gunfire in this episode. Jeez. In the end Sherlock, the Murderous Consulting Detective, gets an alternative penalty thanks to big brother Mycroft and leaves to go on a MI6 mission in Eastern Europe that will most likely kill him.
This episode was an amazing ending to this amazing series. If you have not seen any of Series One or Series Two, I would recommend watching them before watching this series. You might get a little lost without that background. Of course you might not have that problem if you have read all of the Sherlock Holmes stories. So, what about this last episode makes it my favorite of the three despite the first being my favorite series premiere? You see, I was about to get up and fix me a nice cuppa to calm my nerves upon seeing Sherlock essentially marching to his death, and I really should have learned to not do this after my whole irritation about Loki in Thor: The Dark World, then this happened.
Yes, I think we all missed you and your amazing Westwood suits and psychopathic charm.