There have been many adaptions of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous super sleuth book series across all sorts of media over the years. However, in my opinion, they all pale in comparison to the BBC’s adaption “Sherlock” which just recently wrapped up its fourth season.
This season, we got to watch Sherlock (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (played by Martin Freeman) go on an emotional journey, the likes of which we have never seen on this show before. Family, friendship, and what it means to be truly human are all themes that we explore. Which is a lot of pack into three 90 minute episodes with no commercials (ah, the wonder of British television).
The season picks up after the death of Sherlock’s archenemy James Moriarty, and Sherlock is living in a state of essentially constant paranoia and uncertainty of Moriarty’s death. Despite this, he is attempting to carry on and solve cases. Watson and his beloved Mary are navigating life as newlyweds and expecting parents. Things seem to be, by Baker Street standards, quite normal.
Unsurprisingly, that lasts about 8 seconds.
This season, we are plunged into the psychology of each main character and the dynamics of their relationships with each other deeper than ever before. Sherlock and Watson’s friendship goes through its hardest test yet, and Sherlock is forced to confront and accept his own humanity (and the humanity of those around him). We’ve got explosions, we’ve got long lost lovers, we’ve got blood and guts, and we’ve got tea. Lots and lots of tea. So much tea. How do these people drink that much tea.
Sherlock Holmes is as sarcastic and brash as ever. We as an audience are in a constant state of conflict. We love him, he’s brilliant, but my God do we want to deck him every once in awhile for being so insensitive. That is no different this season. Cumberbatch’s portrayal of a seemingly one dimensional man who actually has many layers is flawless, to say the least. Sherlock has always been a brilliant man who can solve any case and deduce any situation, but simply can not begin to understand human emotions. Or can he? That’s the question we attempt to answer this season.
Dr. James Watson is described by his wife Mary as “the army doctor who never came home from the war.” Freeman’s performance is honest, heartbreaking, warm, and strong. Watson’s past as a soldier comes back this season, but this time to help him, not haunt him. Constantly saving the day, but constantly living in the shadow of Sherlock Holmes, one could argue that the detective would be nothing without the doctor. But how much of that imbalance can Watson take before it breaks him and Sherlock forever?
And Mary (played by Amanda Abbington), Watson’s strong, funny, smart, brave, and caring wife, becomes the glue that holds Holmes and Watson together. She can see through both of their respective walls, and knows them both better than they know themselves. This season made me love Mary, a character that I was always indifferent about in the past.
Our favorite secondary characters are back this season too. Molly Hooper, the endearingly awkward mortician who has a heartbreaking crush on Sherlock. Mrs Hudson, the landlady who makes a mean cup of tea and knows the Baker Street boys better than possibly anyone. And Inspector Lestrade, the somewhat bumbling, always frustrated police detective who begrudgingly asks for Sherlock’s help on his cases. The background characters seemed to kind of fall by the wayside this season. There was perhaps a purpose for it but I wish they could have been worked in more. Every character, no matter how small, is so interesting that you grow attached to everyone. Sherlock and Watson kind of felt like they were on an island this season and I wonder if the story could have been served by keeping the secondary characters in the fold a bit more.
We are introduced to many new characters this season, both good and bad. This season I found the “bad guys” that we encountered to be deeply developed and incredibly well written. Character development on this show, quite frankly, never leaves anything to be desired. I was curious as to how anyone could possibly top James Moriarty. How on earth would the show bounce back from writing off such an excellent villain? Somehow, they did. And the season finale left me shaken and cuddling with my dog for comfort all night long.
In short, season 4 was, for me, Sherlock’s most suspenseful and well written season so far. We seemed to lose a bit of the playfulness of past seasons and I don’t think I laughed as much this season as I have in the past. But we also were dealing with much more serious issues and are basically smacked in the face with reality right off the bat. And with only three episodes, I am already in agony waiting for season 5. Which, because it’s the BBC, should come out by the time I’m 40.
+ Characters continue to develop and actor portrayals seem to get even better every season
+ Normally there is at least one point where I have to rewind and watch a scene again because I felt like I missed something because things were moving too quickly and too much was being thrown at the audience. This season was much cleaner and slicker.
– I missed the secondary characters involvement this season. They were there but pushed to the side. I found myself forgetting they existed.
– This season was FAR more serious than past seasons. Much more sorrow and angst, very few laughs. The lack of witty banter and shenanigans was very noticeable.
Maggie’s Harry Potter & The Cursed Child Review
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