'Sherlock' gets complacent
Published: Sunday, January 26, 2014
Updated: Sunday, January 26, 2014 21:01
The problem for a show that’s been on hiatus for two years is during that period of time portions of its fan base will realize some of the seriously unfortunate things about it and become disillusioned before it airs again.
This is the case with BBC’s “Sherlock,” a modern retelling of the Conan Doyle stories created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. When it first aired in 2010, it was received with widespread critical acclaim, generating a massive and frighteningly zealous fandom. Due to the substantial time lapse between seasons, however, fan enthusiasm cooled substantially by the time the third season aired in early January.
Unfortunately, the actual content of the season could not manage to rescue its fan base from apathy. The first episode of the three-part series delivered a story that seemed interesting if run-of-the-mill, but spectacularly failed to explain any of the lingering plot threads of the previous season.
The cliffhanger of “The Reichenbach Fall” showed main character Sherlock Holmes had in fact survived its events, leaving the audience to puzzle over exactly how he was able to fake his death. It was expected that the answer to this mystery would be revealed, but Moffat and Gatiss apparently consider themselves to be above petty considerations such as plot consistency. Instead of offering any concrete solution, they continued to stretch out the supposed “intrigue” to the point where the audience no longer cared.
If “Sherlock” could be explained with a single word, it would be “convenient,” as it is clear that character and story can be sacrificed in the name of spectacle.
Another dangling plot concern from the previous season was a wide scale public slander movement that seriously damaged Sherlock Holmes’ credibility. Much like the faked death, this point was quickly handwaved so the weekly “white man doing something intensely” quota could be filled.
Similarly, any character growth from a terrible trauma, such as seeing your best friend commit suicide in front of you, is eradicated. John Watson initially showed an impressive amount of anger when Sherlock returned to his life, but that potential was squandered when Sherlock used the threat of an exploding bomb to manipulate forgiveness. This action, which could be construed as emotional abuse, is instead supposed to be laughed off and the status quo is immediately restored—in fact, John asks Sherlock to be his best man in the next episode.
If the purpose of a modern retelling of a story is to make the story more applicable to the world we know today, then the world according to Sherlock is a grim one indeed. It’s a world where nothing is ever of consequence and the atrocious actions committed by the main character are treated as understandable psychopathy and celebrated instead of condemned.
This may be a watchable show for some people, but others should take solace in “Elementary.” The other problem for a show that has been on hiatus for two years is that a far better show with a similar concept may replace yours.