This review is very late, good thing nobody reads this blog! It’s still basically spoiler free though.
This show got really weird. But truthfully this was always a weird show. It’s always had that Doctor Who vibe…for obvious reasons. But Doctor Who is supposed to be weird, that’s part of its bizarre pulp charm. Sherlock was a strange show because it was part of its time, the time of reboots, and reboots are something Sherlock Holmes adaptations sort of invented. Holmes is kind of the quintessential nerd “IP.”
Let me count the ways:
1. the character is a nerd, socially unacceptable and brilliant
2. he’s clearly a super hero, not just a great detective like Miss Marple but an honest to God crime fighter, he’s like Batman without all the dressing, take Zorro add Holmes throw in some tragedy and empathy out comes Bats
3. After the Cthulhu Mythos, Holmes is one of the main IPs (that aren’t IPs because no one owns them) that essentially produced fan fiction, back when Fan fiction was published novels of IPs in the public domain
4. He’s a tech and chem nerd
5. He started the whole dead but not really dead thing which is how comic books have survived for so long
Holmes really has it all when it comes to nerd cred. And by bringing him into the 21st century with such ease the Sherlock team did what really seemed so obvious it was almost mundane after 1 season. This is made more obvious by the fact that the Downey films were concurrent and tried to do the same thing but backwards. Steam punk is in these days so Guy Ritchie et al figured they could update the character by simultaneously returning him to his grungy anti social roots but in a hip Lethal Weaponish way. Those two films did well at the box office but they’re barely watchable trash. It is always obvious that they are trying to entertain you, they are trying to be interesting…and they almost never are.
Sherlock however is effortless. At least when it works. When that show doesn’t work it isn’t ever clear why, something is just a miss. Usually it seems to be the story. Spin a good yarn and Sherlock knits a nice sweater (or peacoat). But if you have no story to tell then…it’s just a weird super smart guy…with a cell phone.
That’s one reason the show works when it works. They embrace the trappings of our time but not it’s sensibilities. Whereas the Ritchie movies don’t embrace the trappings of any time and try to force modern sensibilities. Story is driven by the world the story inhabits. Tolkien is the greatest example of this: he discovered the true nature of Bilbo’s ring within his own mythos, and the rest is…the establishment of a genre essentially relegated to pulp magazines. But in Sherlock the cell phone, the blog, etc are all elements that drive story in very organic ways. It’s simple and honest and that’s why it works.
But the 4th Season of Sherlock and especially the last episode keeps trying to focus on the characters and giving us new things to see and learn about them. That sounds nice but there are several problems with this:
1. These characters are interesting because they are fun to watch not fun to learn about
2. We don’t really need to learn anything new about these characters, we want to see how they will solve New and original problems
3. The new information given is weak…and feels contrived, but even if it were interesting and organic the first two points would still stand
I’ve basically kept this spoiler free so I won’t change that now. Sherlock is still far more worth your time than much of the crap on TV/streaming but it certainly has highs and lows. This last episode had some great moments…but it didn’t hold together, and that’s basically true of the whole 4th series. 3 is probably the best series overall but 1&2 have the 4 best episodes. Series 4 is clearly the most mixed. At least it’s something interesting to write about…I don’t know if they’re making more but I’ll certainly watch it if they do but I’m not as excited for a new series as I used to be.