As per usual, I come into reviews of these types, analysing programmes of such renown, expecting to be thoroughly disappointed. And I was not disappointed…
When I volunteered to review the latest episode of Sherlock, I asked the TV editor at VultureHound ‘anyone slagging off Sherlock for VH this year?’ His reply was ‘no. Go for it.’ But now my hand hovers over the keys of my laptop and I hit the delete button almost as many times as I hit the letter keys because I think, ‘I can’t go on like this,’ ripping into programme after programme after programme- Michael MacIntyre, The Apprentice, Poldark, and now this. I’m becoming the Scrooge of VH!
My New Year’s resolution is to be more positive, and in being more positive you create positive energy around you, which attracts more positivity, and if you keep doing this it becomes an autogenous cycle which, by the end of the year, leads you to be a millionaire, or dating a supermodel, or getting a seat on the one-way mission to Mars or something glorious like that. But my other resolution was to not drink this year. That resolution lasted 16 hours… So…fuck it. The ‘positivity resolution’ is also sadly out the window. The moment you read this article…
I shall not blame Cumberbatch for Sherlock’s failure to impress. I shall not blame Freeman, I shall not blame Amanda Abbington, or Sherlock’s dog, or the guy in the background, or anyone else that appears on camera. I shall blame the writer! Who…appears on camera… Please stand up and take a bow Mr Mark Gatiss! For taking one of the greatest British detective stories ever and turning it into something… annoying…
Fear not reader! Before we continue and I begin my reprobative behavior I shall briefly refer to the VultureHound initiation process, initiated… high in the Himalayas where we are trained akin to Po the panda’s Kung Fu training, on the importance of giving the viewer an objective examination of the subject being reviewed. I would like to point out that Gatiss is a good writer. And co-creater of the brilliant League of Gentlemen. He is clearly a first-rate producer of drama, just not on January 1st 2017.
It’s crammed with tricks like text message displays coming up on screen and timers and clocks and washouts ala 80s porn movies (not that I’ve ever watched 80s porn). I understand you’re trying to make a ‘sophisticated Sherlock’ akin to the modern age we live in, with 24hr fast food outlets and Yodel vans clogging up the streets of Britain, but putting a fucking digital clock above Cumberbatch’s head the whole show doesn’t make me think 21st century. Over three hundred words in and I haven’t even mentioned the story.
(Editor’s note ~ H, can we get on with the story now please? G.)
Ah, yes. The story. Well…it’s about John Watson’s wife Mary, and her past and, I think…that’s it. See here’s the crux. That could be a lot to go on; someones past, or not a lot to go on, depending on how you portray it. But what Gatiss manages to ingeniously do is leave us in a half-way house where a lot goes on, but it doesn’t feel like a lot happens… It’s like we’re moving a million miles an hour yet we don’t feel like we’ve actually gone anywhere. Did Gatiss run out of ideas? Or, dare we say it, make it all up as he went along, literally, on set? Because of the sheer velocity of proceedings the show feels all over the place. Nothing sticks because everything is bish bash bang wallop move on! I know there is an aberrant fear that attention spans are getting shorter, but this is not a good thing, so should not be something that we relinquish to! Writers should actually try and fight this instead of giving in to it! What ever happened to the power of silence?
Gatiss (and, to be fair, writing partner-in-crime Steven Moffat, who is just as guilty) also shot himself in the foot with the all too early reliance on arch villains. Sherlock’s greatest nemesis is Moriarty. who was introduced too soon and who is now dead. Well…who I think is dead. Or who I think I think is dead. Which probably means he’s still alive, and it’s all quite obvious, and I’m just an idiot. But my point isn’t just that I’m an idiot, it’s that Gatiss had Moriarty shoot himself in the head in the fabulous second series finale and then the Beebs wanting Sherlock commissioned every year for the next hundred years because they’re so impressed with it, and Gatiss is sitting in his fox hunting lodge, probably smoking a half bent billiard pipe to get ‘inside the great detective’s mind’, only to be sitting there reading the letter from the Beeb informing him how brilliant he is and how they want more Sherlock, and he’s thinking, ‘shit. But I just killed Moriarty…’
Anyway, Gatiss (unlike the Titanic) manages to navigate himself round the iceberg. There is another despicable villain to come in the next episode of the latest series, played by Toby Jones, who Sherlock announces is ‘the most despicable person I’ve ever met!’ But he announces this in every episode so really he’s the most despicable person Sherlock’s met till the next episode. And if it’s end of series, until the next series.
Anyway……………………………………..on a positive note!
Cumberbatch is a brilliant Sherlock. His timing, his aloofness, his impatience, his apathy, the way he rattles off brilliant monologues at breath-taking speed (look out for the one about the man who wears his wife’s lingerie). Cumberbatch – is – brilliant. What I would give for Gatiss to step out of the fox hunting lodge, catch a weather balloon passing by, and float into the stratosphere, leaving Cumberbatch on this mortal coil, with just a copy of the original Sherlock Holmes of the Victorian era. It would be quite a show.
This twas’ not.
Happy new year everyone! Keep positive! May all the success and happiness you dream for come to you in droves in this, the year of our Lord, 2017.