It Is What It Is – An Overview of “Sherlock” Series 4
The end of “Sherlock” Series 3 (2014) gave us one of the coolest cliffhangers in the history of television: How was arch-enemy Jim Moriarty alive when he blew his brains out to win an argument with Sherlock Holmes at the end of Series 2 (2012)? This question is so perplexing that government troubleshooter Mycroft Holmes brings back his brother to the UK to answer it.
The game returns (with spoiler alerts) for this joint BBC-PBS show!
With three more episodes, The Six Thatchers, The Lying Detective and The Final Problem, this clever series affectionately adheres to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original Sherlock Holmes stories while giving them a 21st century twist. Doctor John Watson faithfully records Sherlock’s exploits on his blog with a running joke that the blog is not as good as it was when Sherlock wrote it (Watson wrote those early cases as well). Showrunners/Writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss gives us sheer moments of brilliance (Sherlock outwitting cereal/serial killer Culverton Smith), humor (Mycroft’s fear of clowns) and heartbreak (when John’s wife Mary dies saving Sherlock).
This is the one series where the writing is matched by the acting. Benedict Cumberbatch is strangely wonderful as the “Internet ‘tect” while Martin Freeman is believable as John: the best friend a genius detective could have. It was great to have Amanda Abbington (Mary) helping the detecting duo (dead or alive), and it was fun to see Gatiss (double duty as Mycroft), Rupert Graves (Lestrade) and Louise Brealey (Molly) back in their respective roles. Yet it was Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson who was the standout supporting character for Series 4 as we got to see her as more than just the landlady who serves tea.
As for the original question of how Moriarty came back? Let’s just say that Sherlock has a sister, Eurus (Sian Brooke). As great as Sherlock’s confrontation with Eurus was in The Final Problem, it gave the viewer a deeper insight: Sherlock isn’t great because he’s the smartest person around (Eurus and Mycroft are smarter), Sherlock is great (despite his many, many flaws) because he’s the smartest person around who can relate to people. This “relating” also helped John deal with the grief of losing his wife.
There have been some unwarranted criticisms about this series floating on the web recently, but IMHO Molly was underutilized in Series 4 and this series was way too short (only three episodes). Cumberbatch is signed for another series, but timing has always been an issue with this show. As a passion project for all who contribute to “Sherlock”, if this is the last series, it ended on a high note. However, I hope Series 4 is not the last.
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