Category Archives: Sherlock (BBC)

Sherlock – Series 4, Episode 3 – “The Final Problem” – Bad “Sherlock” Fan Fiction

sherlock-the-final-problem

    God, I hate what Moffat did to “Sherlock.” He pretty did to “Sherlock” what did with Amy and making her “The Impossible Girl” and a plot device that only existed for the Doctor and nothing more. This episode has more of that too and ruins what could have been a great character if she hadn’t been turned into really bad fan fiction. If they make another season of “Sherlock,” and Moffat and Gatiss are in charge, I probably won’t watch it…not after the finale like this. This was an episode that was so bad on so many levels and makes me worried for the next season of “Doctor Who,” as Moffat is still the showrunner on that show.

   “The Final Problem” was written by Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss (the creators of the show so you’d think they’d know better than to write crap like this) and directed by Benjamin Caron.

SPOILERS ahead

  Sherlock and Mycroft’s sister has escaped from an asylum and it is up to the brothers and Watson to stop her as she tries to kill them with a drone that is also a bomb and reveals to them that she now controls the asylum, putting them through tests so that she is entertained.

The Pros: Cinematography – The cinematography is always beautiful (though the slow motion jumping out of an explosion was stupid and took away from some of the nice cinematography). Still, it looked nice even though the writing was crap.

Soundtrack – Music has always been one of the solid parts of that show and there are some great violin pieces, but that is it. The music this entire season has been great but it doesn’t save this episode.

The Cons: Character Assassination – Did you think Mycroft, Sherlock and Watson were fleshed out characters…well prepare for them to become caricatures of themselves!

John Watson – Watson is there to be the soldier, he says this multiple times and reminds Sherlock to be the soldier…and that’s it. It’s like someone heard about who Watson was on this show and wrote the only thing we were told about in the first episode in the first series…

Mycroft Holmes – Mycroft is manipulative and cares…we see this Sherlock and Eurus…I guess? Nope the writers don’t know what to do with Mycroft. He is manipulative and has a good heart and isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. He is only descriptors and not a character.

Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock is the genius who cares who apparently now  will do anything to save anyone no matter how monstrous they are. Given there was no bases for this prior I’m not sure where it came from given he killed someone at the end of last season. He apparently really loves his sister even though she killed a bunch of people including his best friend. Sherlock ceases to be a character though too as all his past actions are erased so that he can have a relationship with his sister and grow even though both have become plot devices though more so Eurus since Holmes is still driving the story and gets the emotional payoff.

Eurus Holmes the Plot Device – Eurus is crazy in the same way Carrie from “Carrie” is and Jean Grey is in “X-Men 3.” She exists only as a plot device to explore Sherlock’s trauma. She is crazy for the sake of being crazy and no reason is given. She is crap writing and is like “The Impossible Girl” in relationship to the Doctor. She exists only for Sherlock’s and Mycroft’s emotional growth and nothing more.

Happily Ever After – The ending is corny and apparently Mary being dead is okay since it was all about Watson and Sherlock the entire time! God this script is a hack script.

     This was an episode that started out with so much promise…the ending of the lying detective at least set up Eurus as being a fully fledged human being, apparently that was too much to ask though and Gatiss and Moffat had to “Carrie” / “Jean Grey” her. Everything that happens in this episode is for Sherlock and it doesn’t even fit within his character. The episode is literally retconning memories so that everything is about Eurus and Sherlock’s relationship, a relationship that never existed before. I can’t recommend this episode and I honestly fear for Moffat’s last season of “Doctor Who.” If we get this level of writing than Capaldi’s Doctor is going to be ruined. Watch at your own risk but this is an episode of television that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone as you won’t get back that time and the writing is a whole list of what not to do.

Final Score: 3 / 10

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Sherlock – Series 4, Episode 2 – “The Lying Detective” – Character Development and Confession…This was Needed and Succeeded

the-lying-detective-1

“The Lying Detective” is up there with one of my favorite episodes in “Sherlock.” This is an episode that captures the best parts of what made so much of Series 2 work. What drives this story is the core relationship between John and Sherlock, especially as it relates to family aka Mycroft and Mary. This gives it power as there is an underpinning of vulnerability that pervades the entire episode.

The episode was directed by Nick Hurran and written by Steven Moffat and produced by Sue Vertue.

The story involves Sherlock regressing back into addiction as he seeks to take down a man he suspects of being a serial killer (Culverton Smith). John hasn’t seen him for weeks but finds himself pulled back into Sherlock’s game as the plot to take down Culverton unfolds.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Set-up – The episode starts out with Culverton confessing to his friends he’s a killer and wiping their memories of the incident. Immediately he is established as a powerful antagonist and we get Sherlock’s obsession with him.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is once again beautiful, it continues to be one of the strongest aspects of this show.

The Action – This is an action heavy episode and the tension stays high through everything. I honestly didn’t know what would happen at times and that made the narrative stronger.

The Soundtrack – David Arnold and Michael Price’s score is really on display this episode as we get the haunting terror of Culverton the drug fueled isolation of Sherlock and John’s loneliness. The music feeds the narrative and strengthens it.

The Characters – The characters have always been the best part of the show and thankfully Moffat manages to develop many of them this episode, rather than keeping them static.

Molly – Molly appears briefly and does a good job at balancing out John as she is the second Doctor who John requests before he’ll help Sherlock take down Culverton.

Culverton Smith – Toby Jones is so good at playing creeps. In this we see his obsession and safety in being a billionaire and tied to politicians and businesses. It takes Sherlock entering Hell for him to confess what he’s done though when he is caught he shows that he’s been holding all this in and still feels happy as he’ll be even more famous once him being a killer comes out. He’s a sick individual and it makes for an interesting character.

Mrs. Hudson – Mrs. Hudson helps bring John and Sherlock together as we see she has a nice car (her drug lord husband) and that she doesn’t take crap from anyone. This is a great Mrs. Hudson episode as we see how she notices things and knows Sherlock and Mycroft better than anyone. It was a nice twist and it added a lot of depth to her character.

Mycroft – Mycroft is a lizard for most of this episode when he isn’t looking after Sherlock and trying to be a good brother. We also see that he’s trying to protect his sister, which John first figures out in the episode. There is more to this reveal than anyone knows though as shown by the final reveal.

Sherlock – Sherlock goes into Hell to take down a killer and to seek out John again as we see that he really does act from emotion and isn’t detached from it. This instability is explored deeply in the episode as we see him question reality even as he is getting more connected to other aspects of reality. It’s tragic in many ways and I felt for him when he finally starts dealing with his addiction and John forgives him. Sherlock finally shows affection which we see he’s always wanted to some degree (whether from Irene or John).

John Watson – John is dealing with loss this episode as he sees Mary in his mind’s eye and talks to her. He is dealing with anger, denial and sadness and also shame and regret for the affair he had. After he confesses this to Sherlock mind Mary leaves and we see him begin to heal as it is also only from him arriving that he saves Sherlock from Culverton (a callback to the first episode of the series when he stops another killer).

Eurus – Eurus is the other Holmes and has embraced the mind fully as we see her as John’s therapist at the episode’s start. We don’t know her motivations yet but she helped take down Culverton and at the end of the episode is about to shoot John. There are Moriarity aspects to her and I really want to know her more as she is a villain with a lot of potential.

The Reveal – Eurus is Mycroft and Sherlock’s sister! This was cool as she’s John’s therapist and we see that she was playing everyone. We don’t know her motivation yet but the hints that she might not be all together there and Mycroft’s fear of her leave a lot to hope for. Moffat writing her helps mellow out the hype though. He’s set up a lot of badass female antagonists and failed to have them payoff.

Confession and Healing – A core part of this episode is confession and healing. Culverton’s confession to his friends is what leads to his demise as it gives Sherlock what he needs to take him down, John and Sherlock confessing to one another leads to healing with them both feeling the loss of Mary and helps reestablish their friendship and gives us the heart and theme of the episode.

Okay/Con: Everybody is Getting Together – Lady Smallwood gets together with Mycroft and it implies it could be serious someday, John wants Sherlock to get together with Irene when he learns that she texts him. This is cute in some ways but having everyone hook up had romantic comedy aspects to it that took me out of the episode.

The Cons: Pacing – There are some pacing issues, it starts out strong has great rising action but sort of teeters off when John sees the confession tape from Mary and when Eurus reveals herself to John to shoot him. If this had been a bit smoother the episode could have been perfect.

This was Moffat once again at the head of his game. Every major character gets development and Sherlock’s psychology is explored and isn’t justified. This is a story that wants to explore the darker parts of human nature and what humans are capable of, and it succeeds. It isn’t a perfect episode as the romances that get set-up through the episode feel a little off sometimes and it does have pacing issues, but that doesn’t take away from the core power of the narrative and character development that takes place. This was such a great episode that really captured the core relationships and mystery, which made this show so great in the first place.

Final Score: 9.5 / 10

Sherlock – Series 4, Episode 1 – “The Six Thatchers” – Of Secrets, Betrayal and a Needless Death

the-six-thatchers

     “Sherlock” is a show I greatly enjoy but have a complicated relationship with at this point, and this episode does a great job capturing everything I like and hate about this show. Oh it is still a favorite, I still like “Doctor Who” for all the crappy stories that have come out of that show (the good still carries) and the same rules apply to “Sherlock,” and as it both so happens both are current Moffat projects and his writing problems become more apparent the longer I’m in both enjoying and critiquing his worlds he is showrunning or involved in.

      “The Six Thatchers” was directed by Rachel Talalay, written by Mark Gatiss and produced by Sue Vertue.

   The story involves Sherlock being pulled from exile to solve the Moriarity hack. Issues soon become more complicated though as Sherlock gets back into being a detective expecting Moriarty’s game to be revealed in time as a destroyed Margaret Thatcher bust ties him into conspiracies tied to Mary, Mycroft and British intelligence as a whole.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The world of “Sherlock” is a fascinating one. You have sociopaths, spies, geniuses, serial killers, governments and countless other players all with agendas and games that it is up for John and Sherlock to solve. It more often than not makes for a fascinating journey.

The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful as always and I enjoyed the use of blue to show drowning as that is a major theme of the episode. Our characters are isolated, each in their owns ways and it is in their isolation that the drama plays out.

The Characters – The characters are compelling and usually the best part of the show. All of them are flawed and it makes for good drama.

Greg Lestrade – Lestrade has become a bit of Sherlock fanboy at this point, though I like that he is still a member of the team, even if it just to bring cases and to remind Sherlock at least a little of his humanity. Rupert Graves is fantastic as always.

Vivian – Vivian is the one who is responsible for the death of Mary’s mercenary team and in the process of that one of them blaming Mary. She’s a secretary who is always listening and even outsmarts Mycroft. I have respect for her for that and even though I hate the writing choice, she does kill Mary which is more than any other villain has done up to this point. Marcia Warren does a good job.

Ajay – Ajay was a member of Mary’s mercenary team who blamed her for them all dying. He is a tragic figure as it was him keeping his mouth shut that lead to him being tortured into insanity. I felt bad for the guy as he wasn’t a bad person to begin with, just flawed like Mary.

Mycroft – Mark Gatiss is the best version of this character thus far and it is wonderful seeing him in over his head and his organization being compromised. This was an episode where we see brilliant Mycroft does not know anything and that he was played just as much as everyone else by Vivian’s manipulations.

Mary – Mary being a secret agent was made to finally work in this and it is dealt with in a respectful way, we also see that she is a great mom and a wonderful partner to Sherlock. I could have watched many more episodes of her team ups as even if her relationship with John is falling apart, she keeps Sherlock human in many ways. Her death by Vivian was a tragedy in more ways than one that I don’t know if the show could ever recover from fully. Amanda Abbington in the end made this show better.

John Watson – Martin Freeman is such a charming actor, even though this episode does a lot to show he can be just as awful as Sherlock. We see him cheating on Mary even as he’s doing a great job raising the kid and we see him feeling inadequate to her, which is stupid given he is good at what he does. In the end his arc returns to the stupid status quo it was at the end of last season. John hates Sherlock for not saving Mary. We’ve been here before and I hope Gatiss can write himself out of this hole. He never should have killed her character.

Sherlock – Sherlock is his usual sociopathic self with many more moments of humanity now though…from his conversations with Mary and Lestrade or his awareness when he’s being a jerk. Cumberbatch of course is wonderful in the role and that there isn’t much more I can say on that. The one thing that is different is how the episode was filmed makes Sherlock much more of an alien and isolated…and it works.

The Reveal – The real that Vivian had did everything to cover up her selling state secrets was beautiful. She was humanized even as a villain and in the end it is Sherlock’s stubbornness that helps lead to Mary’s death. The episode is a tragedy and the reveal works towards that.

Okay/Con: John and Sherlock Hating Again – We were here in Series 3 and we’ve been there before even before that. This is a tired trope and it loses power each time it happens. Unless we are doing their own individual stories, we know this isn’t going to last, so it cheapens the drama.

The Cons: The Death of Mary and an Overall Problem – “Sherlock” is not very good in how it handles it’s protagonists who are women. This article goes into a whole of a lot better.( https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/01/sherlocks-women/512141/ ) and in the end it serves no purpose but to bring us back to the needless drama of the two. Mary’s death was pointless and she didn’t even get to get her own justice against the one who had wronged her. Mary was a plot device for Sherlock and John’s drama just like Adler was and that is a problem with this show that could be easily fixed by simply writing these protagonists as players rather than pawns of the plot.

     I really like that “Sherlock” is back and I appreciate the fact that it was good rather than sucking like the beginning of Series 3. I don’t know if Moffat and Gatiss’s problem with writing women who can be part of the team or at least not objectified in some way will ever happen, but until it does I will critique it when I see it and enjoy it for the art that does come out of it. Moffat and Gatiss are extremely talented men and I know just how much they are capable of in this show and their other projects like “Doctor Who.”

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

Sherlock – Special – “The Abominable Bride” – Confusing at Times but a Powerful Message

Sherlock The Abominable Bride

      “The Abominable Bride” is an episode that is a bit unfocused but comes together at the end and never stops being fun. It more than makes up for the end of Season 3 and even the overall message of the internal mystery is powerful too and is timeless, which is something Moffat usually doesn’t cover in his episodes. I’ll get into more of the details later but this episode was a trip (in more than one way) and for non-spoiler thoughts, is well worth checking out.

      The episode was directed by Douglas Mackinnon and written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

Spoilers ahead

       The episode takes place in Victorian England where Sherlock is seeking to solve the case of the Abominable Bride who killed herself but has come back from the dead and is hunted down her husband and other evil men. All is not as it appears to be though as even the story is meta.

The Pros: Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful per usual, which one thing that has been true of even the weakest episodes of “Sherlock.” There is great use of freezing the frame and using the London fog to cast mystery and shadow and with it an element of horror which lended strength to the narrative both main and meta. Suzie Lavelle did a great job.

Soundtrack – The music continues to be one of the strongest parts of this series and plays into the mystery, horror and self reflection that really defines this episode and the series at it’s best when it is at it’s strongest. David Arnold and Michael Price did a wonderful job.

Dialogue – The dialogue is snappy, sharp and natural and fit the characters beautifully. This was an episode that didn’t drag because the writing kept things moving, especially in how the different characters interacted.

Characters – Characters have always been the strongest part of the show and the Special is a shining example of this. Though there are some glorified cameos I won’t really mention since I don’t really feel the cameos got exploration.

Mary – Mary is fighting for equality in England and she is the one who discovers the organization that created the Abominable Bride. It is wonderful seeing her front and center and I hope she becomes part of John and Sherlock and that they become a trio. Amanda Abbington once again does a fantastic job.

Moriarty – Andrew Scott is back, though it is only in Sherlock’s mind palace as we learn part of his plan was to trap Sherlock inside his head as he really did die and wanted to bring Sherlock down with him, like he did in the story of the Reichenbach Fall. In the end he fails to account for Watson though and it is his downfall as within his mind Sherlock is able to realize that Moriarty is not alive and that all of this was a ploy to trap him so that his final attack on the world could go forward.

Mycroft – Mark Gatiss is my favorite Mycroft and in this we see the tender side of his relationship to Sherlock as he was there to pull Sherlock out of his addiction and cared for him. We also see a fat Mycroft in the past (and how he looks in the stories and novels) which is a treat. He never stops being Mycroft though and we see him team up with Mary to help and protect John and Sherlock. Gatiss truly owns this role and he gets great character development this episode.

Watson – Martin Freeman’s Watson gets some wonderful character development in this as in the past we see that Sherlock uses how Watson sees him in order to solve cases and build himself up and that Watson truly is smart and has learned a lot from Sherlock. He saves Sherlock from his mind Moriarty and helps him wake up as well as solving the Abominable Bride case with him and his wife Mary. He is a great character as always.

Sherlock – Benedict Cumberbatch really owns this role and is a natural Sherlock Holmes. I really liked seeing his Victorian self solving the case and them actually dealing with the dangers of his addiction as it takes him going under to solve the case of the Abominable Bride and realize that Moriarty is dead but he put things in place in case that ever did happen. His arc is learning to accept help and letting go of his addiction to needing a case or drugs to feel alive. It’s very well done and Sherlock actually grows over the course of the episode.

Equality and Justice – The suffragette movement is addressed and the fact that some of them are using the Abominable Bride for justice against evil men. It’s really cool as it uses the sexism of Victorian society to show how far we’ve come and how far there is to go.

Letting Go and No Longer Alone – Sherlock’s arc is letting go of Moriarty in his mind and accepting his death and accepting the love from his friends….that his brother, John and Mary are there for him and that is how he can defeat and has defeated whatever has come his way. No longer the superhuman, he is now human.

Okay/Pro: The Ending – We know now that Moriarty truly is dead but he put something in place for when he does die and now it is up to Sherlock and John to solve it. I liked them talking in the past, it was some of the best John and Sherlock moments…and Sherlock did get some great monologues. I’m doing it as okay since it took Sherlock overdosing to get there.

Okay: The Bride – The organization the Bride is a part of is wonderful, but the bride is a plot device and never fully grows beyond it. She isn’t a bad plot device but a plot device is not a character. Lestrade had the same problem.

Lestrade – Graves does a good job with what he’s given but he’s just kind of there to give Sherlock the plot to solve. I would have liked to see more with him as he’s never given the chance to fully be his own character.

    This was a favorite episode and clearly showed that Gatiss and Moffat are back in their game when it comes to this show. I was disappointed with Series 3, especially in it’s treatment of Mary in the finale and how the kill was handled, as well as the villain being one note…but this got back on track. Sherlock has always been about the characters and this episode showed once more why we keep coming back to this show and what drew us to the stories of Sherlock Holmes in the first place.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10

“Sherlock” Pilot – Series 1, Episode 1 – “A Study in Pink” – The Thrill of the Hunt and Dangerous Detachment

a study in pink sherlock

   “Sherlock” has become far greater than the show it initially come from as it has not only boosted Cumberbatch’s career it also brought about a resurgant interest in the character and stories of “Sherlock Holmes.” This is also the show that put Steven Moffat as a writer and director on the map and you can see his ideas in this show rub off him being the showrunner of “Doctor Who.”

    “A Study in Pink” was directed by Paul McGuigan and written by Steven Moffat.

     The story involves Dr. Watson’s return from Afghanistan and his attempts to get acclimated to life again as he is pulled into a mystery from a possible flatmate Sherlock Holmes in which a string of similar suicides are tied to something far more sinister taking place.

The Pros: Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful! There is a dark tone over everything and it captures the isolation that both Watson and Sherlock feel as they are both outsiders in different ways where the thing that connects them is their thrill of the chase and the mystery in life’s game.

The Soundtrack – David Arnold and Michael Price did a fantastic job on this soundtrack! It captures the methodic feel of Holmes as well as the thrill that Watson and Holmes take in the hunt.

The Mystery – The mystery is fascinating as we have supposed suicides but as we learn more that it is based on a 50-50 chance of murder dying as well. From here it is how well a dying man does mind games on his victims and how others react to the bodies left behind. The clue that makes finding the murder possible is a lady pink not having her pink suitcase present which lead to the discovery that she planted the phone on the murder allowing Sherlock and Watson to find the murder.

The Cabbie – The Cabbie is a great threat as he sees himself as carrying for his children’s future as he lost his wife and is terminally ill. To this end he gets sponsorship from Moriarty and is willing to risk his own life each time as he knows each death means his children get more. His story is tragic and shows how desperation can change people.

Mycroft Holmes – Mark Gatiss is how I envision Mycroft to be, a brilliant, over-controlling man who at the end of the day wants to do his duty and protect his brother. Gatiss shows this in Mycroft perfectly and we get a fake out initially where he is presented as possibly being Moriarty but later we see that clearly is not the case.

Dr. Watson – Watson is a veteran from the war and his arc is finding the thrill in the chase again as the lack of stimulation makes him feel isolated in his return to England. He does not have friends which is one reason Sherlock is able to attach to him and vise versa, they are both people outside what is normally considered good and it makes them compelling to watch as they grow to like one another. Martin Freeman is great in the role.

Sherlock – Sherlock drives the story and he is a dick. We see him completely oblivious to people’s feelings towards him unless it is hate and he is constantly berating the police force for their stupidity. His arc is coming to treat others with more respect and having greater social awareness, Watson functions as his external conscience in this way as he is there to shoot the cabbie when Sherlock is about to play the game where he has a 50-50 chance of taking the pill that will kill him. Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic!

Okay: Ms. Hudson – She is a kind old lady with a string of unstable relationships. She is the mother figure to them and is there to remind them to be outside themselves as she is always present at 221B Baker Street.

Lestrade – Lestrade is the well meaning leader of the police who is empathetic and in over his head. I wanted to see more of the character as usually in Sherlock adaptations he is the faceless antagonist there to make Sherlock look good. This time he feels like an actual character just doing the best he can. Rupert Graves is good in what little he is able to do in the plot.

The Cons: Talking at Women – Whether it is Ms. Hudson, Mycroft’s assistant or others most of the women are talked at and are there to spit exposition at. This was annoying as they deserved to be fleshed out more and Sherlock, though he is a dick was usually always courteous in the books as he had to hear the person to learn.

Faceless Minor Characters – There are a few people on the police force who are antagonistic for the sake of being antagonistic and it struck me as petty and only there to make Sherlock look better by comparison. They serve no purpose but to be in the way to solving the case.

When the Police Became Stupid – There is one point where they are tracking the phone that we know the killer has and the police just stop looking for it and leave…this is after they came to Sherlock’s flat to get the evidence of the suitcase. This was plot stupidity as they should have followed up on finding the phone as they would have found the killer. There was no reason for this except to make Watson and Sherlock the heroes without any outside help.

“Sherlock” is a favorite show though as I have watched it more the problems in Moffat’s writing become more apparent…and I would rate “Hannibal” above “Sherlock” at this point, and not only because “Hannibal” had dignity enough to end. When you are dealing with human characters the story can’t be continuously rebooted as it is with “Doctor Who” and though I’m excited to watch more “Sherlock,” Season 3 was troubling in a lot of ways that I’ll get into when I review this show as a whole.

    For now, I recommend this episode as it is a great introduction to this show and Martin Freeman as Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes are two very amazing interpretations that are worth coming back too.

Final Score: 9  / 10