How does Sherlock do it? How does this show keep topping itself? How does this series keep racketing up your emotions and increasing the stakes?
Sunday’s “His Last Vow” was a thrilling 90-minute ride that flung fans from laughter to terror to heartache and back again. The episode represented a return to form after the season’s previous two episodes veered from the show’s format – hilariously and movingly veered, but veered.
Sherlock, as you’ve figured out by now, is a different show this season.
All the pieces are still there and it’s still amazingly entertaining. But the storytelling emphasis has shifted, and that change signals decisions that could have ramifications beyond this episode. Producer Steven Moffat recently said that Sherlock is not a detective show but “a show about a detective.” Which is very true … this season … but wasn’t nearly as much the case the previous two seasons, when the weekly mystery was largely the focus of each episode.
Two years. Two years we’ve waited. Nobody should have to wait two years for a TV show. Star Wars movie? Sure. To get married? Okay. To flip your condo? Fine. But not to see a TV show. Especially a show that’s as brilliant as Sherlock AND concluded with a huge cliffhanger. The wait was downright cruel. We understood, in theory – the stars of Sherlock were busy slaying orcs and menacing the Enterprise and other big-screen ventures.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a terrible Sherlock Holmes. Wait! Before fans of the Cumberbatch-starring TV series Sherlock start plotting to throw this writer from the top of the Reichenbach Falls, allow me to elaborate. At a London hotel on a sunny morning last August, the actor is chatting with EW about the third season of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle update (premiering Jan. 19, 10 p.m., on PBS’ Masterpiece).
Kirk and Spock. Crockett and Tubbs. Sam and Dean. TV has had a long love affair with bromantic crime-stopping buddies. Some choose to see a love that dares not speak its name in these homosocial heroes. We joke about it, write steamy fanfic about it, and, if we’re Sherlock, make three 90-minute movies about it. Season 3 is keenly aware of its place in the pop firmament — our fandom for master detective Sherlock Holmes and partner John Watson, and for the chemistry between stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman — and unabashedly writes to it.
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