The latest series of Sherlock aired its last episode on Sunday night. I really enjoyed the first two series (i.e. I think it’s one of the best things the BBC have done in the past few years, perfect cast and tone), so this was something I was eagerly anticipating. However… after a few days I’m still not sure what to make of it. I mean, let’s be clear, the series had some genius moments (loved meeting Sherlock’s parents in the first episode, or the game Mycroft and Sherlock are playing, for example). And it was all tremendously clever. But I feel that something fundamental had changed and just wasn’t there.
This article on the Huffington Post goes some way to explaining the problems I have with the third series. I don’t agree with all of it, but I think Kate Rose pretty much hits the nail on the head when she talks about some of the fundamental changes which seem to have happened between series two and three.
- One of the things people noted about S3 was it felt a bit like fan fiction. (Sherlock, if you didn’t know, has a massive fan fiction community). To me, I thought there were just a few too many nods to fan fiction – especially including a group of characters in the first episode who came up with theories about how Sherlock survived (I mean, is that meta or what?)
- S3 seemed to focus more on Sherlock’s character and its development. In some ways this was a good thing, but in others I felt like they overplayed it to the detriment of Sherlock’s raison d’etre: Sherlock as the aloof, high-functioning sociopath who … detects things. I mean, what did Sherlock really do in this entire series which only he could do? The first episode, he was virtually irrelevant to the bomb plot. The second episode he did deduce more, but I still felt like it wasn’t the same as the previous two (although the episode itself was probably my favourite of the three, despite moving at a snail’s pace sometimes). The third episode… well, again, not much deducing going on.
- This is the thing: the previous episodes have had some mystery which only Sherlock could solve as the primary driver behind the events in each episode – S3 seemed to go some way away from this. Each episode felt more fragmented and fractured, trying to tie all the pieces together.
- There was no real overarching plot (well, villain), unless you count the very end of the first episode. That’s what I loved about the first two series – both of them built up to a finale. In S3, the finale seemed to be more of a whimper.
It was still good TV, and I do appreciate that with the expectations riding on the series it was almost doomed not to live up to expectations. Still, these are just my feelings at the moment. I should probably go watch it again, just to make sure…