Sherlock: Series 4
The great pieces of literature, each generation has the right to reinterpret the fundamental themes and characters to their experience and sensibilities. Among the plethora of fictional characters is the one that remains cabable of integration into the most situations is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's, Sherlock Holmes. The characters are timeless with his story shifting along the timeline from Victorian England to 21st-century America. In the 30s there was a famous series a movie starring Basil Rathbone for the first film of the franchise was that during the Edwardian era then, after the outbreak of World War II subsequent films had Sherlock Holmes applying his incredible deductive powers to help the Allies in their fight against the Nazis. Among the more recent incarnations was BBC’s ‘Sherlock,' featuring an amazing cast including Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular detective and Martin Freeman as his best friend and associate Dr. John Watson. After three wildly successful series, many fans thought that that would be the end of this interpretation of the world’s greatest detective. After all, Mr. Cumberbatch was busy entering the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Dr. Stephen Strange, The Sorcerer Supreme. Mr. Freeman had wa engaged for some years playing Bilbo Baggins in the ‘Hobbit’ Trilogy. Both of these amazing actors are unlikely ever to be in need of gainful employment so somewhat surprised when they decided to revisit television reprising these iconic roles. After a one or special that brought these current interpretations back in time, I felt that that would be the end of this franchise since both actors were in high demand in movies. I was excited to begin getting into series four which was in the same format as the previous seasons, three standalone 90 minute episodes. Unfortunately, after watching the season, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of disappointment. The fundamental elements that contributed to the original success of the series didn’t seem to mesh properly. The overall result was a form of anti-synergism for each of the individual pieces was present, but their interaction detracted from the overall impact of the experience.
The creator and show runner of the series, Steven Moffat, is also responsible for creative choices in the BBC’s longest-running science fiction series, ‘Doctor Who,' which he also concluded his participation. According to the extras on the Blu-ray disc, this for a season of ‘Sherlock ‘was his favorite but as mentioned above the fan base sitting quite share the sentiment. Initially, the series seems to be on track, consistent with previous standards of quality with the first episode, ‘The Six Thatchers,' where tasking Sherlock with solving the murder of a young man. The resolution of the mystery comes easily to his epitome of deductive reasoning of all solving it Holmes is pulled into an even deeper quagmire. It concerns a bust of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, owned by the father of the victim. The bust was found smashed which on its own was barely worth noticing. That changed suddenly when subsequently they find other statues destroyed in a similar manner. The following inquiry turned up an unexpected result when Dr. Watson’s wife Mary (Amanda Abbington), is implicated uncovering her previous work as a government agent. A person who accused Mary of betrayal while in her clandestine service to Her Majesty. Watson’s hope for a normal life of domestic tranquility evaporated when the mother of his daughter sacrifices her life to save Sherlock. Mary Watson was a principle character since the second series making the plot point of killing her in the first episode unexpected. From a narrative sense, this was a fortuitous turn of events as it returns Watson as his role of flat mate with Holmes at 221-B Baker Street thus providing a casual place for the two principle characters to interact.
The next episode was ‘The Lying Detective’ in which the Faith (Gina Bramhill), the daughter of a wealthy businessman, Culverton Smith (Toby Jones), is among the associates of her father is gathered together for a startling revelation. Smith announces that he intends to commit murder. However, before bringing his plan to fruition, he requires them to take a serum that results in the form of retrograde amnesia, unable to recall what he has confessed. When Faith starts to remember fragments of those memories she contacts Holmes for his professional services. Watson has a particular interest in the ability to forget; he is still deeply mourning the death of his wife, Mary. Sherlock was also deeply affected my recent occurrences, relapsing into server drug abuse. Watson tried to address his grief by seeking psychotherapy only to discover that his therapist is not who she claims. It seems that to infuse an unexpected twist a portion of story needlessly underminding it’s credibility. Previous episodes managed to keep the audience off balance without the plot contrivances that permeates the current three episodes.
The last of the season’s episodes is aptly titled, ‘The Final Problem.' It opens with Holmes and Watson incapacitated by tranquilizer darts. The attack was prefaced by a call on Sherlock’s mobile with the voice of his arch nemesis, James Moriarty (Andrew Scott), tormenting Holmes with the challenge, "Welcome to the final problem’. At that moment Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft (Mark Gatiss), is interrupted in his viewing of a vintage film when on the screen a message appears, "I’m Back," thus Infusing the story with a superfluous surreal moment a clown appears wielding a sword to attach Mycroft. Suddenly, Sherlock appears announcing that he and Watson were behind the recent events. The purpose of the deception was to prove the existence of a Holmes sister, Eurus (Sian Brooke). Retiring back to Baker Street Mycroft discloses that they do have a sister who was committed to a psychiatric care facility after her act of arson destroyed the family home. The story line continues its trend towards convolution when Mycroft continues his account with some disconcerting details. As a Christmas present, Eurus received five minutes of unsupervised time with Moriarty. She merrily sends her brother off on a series of psychological trails to prove her superior intellect.
There was a random feeling of contrivance that utilized as the fundamental motivation of the stories. One of the only aspects that survived from the previous installments was the use of certain circumstances that provided continuity through the season. When juxtaposed with the depressed moods shared by both Holmes and Watson the underlying tone of the season turn too dark and dismal eclipsing the singular element that draws people to Sherlock, his brilliance surrounded by the complete misanthropic personality of the detective. His flaws such as drug addiction always made the unapproachable intellect of Sherlock human and gave the audience a basis to relate as an imperfect person. His obvious use of intravenous drugs accompanied with a flirtation with Russian roulette plunges the stories into a depression that proved too difficult for even actors as skilled as comprises this cast to disperse entirely. The number of incongruous subplots proves unbearable as the feature length running time is plagued with such ill-conceived moments such as Watson sexting women he encountered on the bus. Not only does this derail the effectiveness of the basic plot but it is an unwarranted twist in Watson’s core personality. Watson has always been the necessary counterpoint to Holmes. The doctor’s stability, considerate nature and romantic view have always served to highlight the disconnected attitude displayed by Holmes, a self-proclaimed "high functioning psychopath’. The inexplicable personality shift in Watson goes beyond unnecessary well beyond the point of distraction all the way to detrimental to the series.