Posts Tagged ‘martin freeman’

Ever been utterly convinced that you did something? Totally without a shadow of a doubt that you’ve undertaken and completed an action? There’s no chance that you’re mistaken and didn’t do it? Yep, me too. And how many times has that proven to be a falsehood and you didn’t do it? Yep, me too – loads of times. In the wake of Sherlock Series 2 I wrote down predictions for Series 3 and blogged them. Only it seems that I didn’t. Can’t find it anywhere on this blog. Wonder where it went? Anyway, in the wake of the finale of Sherlock Series 3 here’s what I wrote about what could happen with the (then) yet-to-be-made next set of episodes. And at some point when my full writing mojo returns I’ll hopefully write about the latest trio of adventures (which were nowhere as good as the preceding six adventures). Personally I feel that my ideas are better than what was eventually broadcast:

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are such little teases…They get the nation all worked up about the potential death of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes in The Reichenbach Fall. Only after the story aired did they mention that Series 3 had been commissioned at the same time as Series 2. You can’t fault them for the ability to build up audience anticipation. So what could be expected from the third series of Sherlock? Here’s a few of my views.

Firstly, let’s start with a viewpoint that is likely to be considered borderline blasphemous by admirers of the series. The third outing for Sherlock should be the final one….

Finished with the screams of “No!” and the rending of garments? There are practical and dramatic reasons why this is a valid point. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are two of the busiest actors around and between them seem to be appearing in every other film in production. Likewise Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss aren’t exactly short of employment. The Grand Moff has at least two more series of Doctor Who to tackle and Gatiss is writing and acting all over the place (and I for one would not be surprised at an announcement in the future about him taking over as the Doctor Who show runner from Moffat). Coordinating all those schedules must be a nightmare.

So if the next series was to be the final one what should be done with it? Let’s have four stories and bring the total produced up to a nice round number of 10. Though a trilogy of trilogies has a certain ring to it.

Which stories should act as the foundation for Series 3? In the original canon The Empty House was the tale that resurrected Holmes after his supposed demise at the Reichenbach Falls so it would be eminently logical to use elements from this. Apart from the revelation that Holmes is alive, there is a mysterious murder with a unique air rifle and a fine villain in Colonel Sebastian Moran. Originally Moriarty’s chief of staff perhaps Moran could be re-imagined as a veteran of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts – possibly a former associate of Watson’s and accused of war crimes that the good doctor supplied evidence for.

Another fine villain in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s rogues gallery is Charles Augustus Milverton, who appeared in the story of the same name in the collection The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Milverton is a repulsive master blackmailer who has no compunctions about ruining lives and reputations if his financial demands are not meant. Possibly this could tie into The Second Stain, another story from The Return of Sherlock Holmes and which involved blackmail in connection with stolen government secrets.

The Sign of the Four would make a fine series finale. Not only is it the best of the four novels in the original canon with a complex tale of revenge,  a boat chase down the River Thames and a quest for a vast treasure trove, it also features Watson finding himself a wife in the form of Mary Morstan. For my own part I believe that Sophia Myles would make a fine future Mrs Watson.

Other stories ripe for the plundering include The Musgrave Ritual.

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Following on from the release of the official synopsis for The Empty Hearse, the second and third episodes of Sherlock series 3 each now have a synopsis:

The Empty Hearse
“Two years after the devastating effects of [Series 2’s finale] The Reichenbach Fall, Dr John Watson has got on with his life. New horizons, romance and a comforting domestic future beckon. But, with London under threat of a huge terrorist attack, Sherlock Holmes is about to rise from the grave with all the theatricality that comes so naturally to him. It’s what his best friend wanted more than anything, but for John Watson it might well be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’! If Sherlock thinks everything will be just as he left it though, he’s in for a very big surprise…”

The Sign Of Three
“Sherlock faces his biggest challenge of all – delivering a Best Man’s speech on John’s wedding day! But all isn’t quite as it seems. Mortal danger stalks the reception – and someone might not make it to the happy couple’s first dance. Sherlock must thank the bridesmaids, solve the case and stop a killer!”

His Last Vow
“A case of stolen letters leads Sherlock Holmes into a long conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Napoleon of blackmail, and the one man he truly hates. But how do you tackle a foe who knows the personal weakness of every person of importance in the Western world?”

Sherlock lives on New Year’s Day 2014 9.00pm BBC1

The Doctor meets Sherlock Holmes. This is a quite extraordinary fan made crossover between Doctor Who and Sherlock.

“Months after an encounter with a mysterious ‘Doctor’, Sherlock becomes obsessed with discovering more about this impossible man… until the man makes an unexpected return.”

Sherlock lives on New Year’s Day 2014 9.00pm BBC1

The BBC has confirmed that Sherlock series 3 will feature in the Radio Times Christmas issue, so that means a transmission date for the first episode, The Empty Hearse, between 21 December 2013 and 3 January 2014. Some speculation has New Year’s Day as the transmission date. Sherlock has traditionally broadcast on a Sunday so that gives 22 December and 29 December as possible transmission dates. Whatever the truth it means that #SherlockLives and within five weeks Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman’s Dr John Watson will be back on our screens.

The official synopsis for The Empty Hearse:
“Two years after the devastating effects of [Series 2’s finale] The Reichenbach Fall, Dr John Watson has got on with his life. New horizons, romance and a comforting domestic future beckon. But, with London under threat of a huge terrorist attack, Sherlock Holmes is about to rise from the grave with all the theatricality that comes so naturally to him. It’s what his best friend wanted more than anything, but for John Watson it might well be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’! If Sherlock thinks everything will be just as he left it though, he’s in for a very big surprise…”

Sherlock Lives

Rumours have Sherlock series 3 commencing on 1st January 2014. Episodes are:

1. The Empty Hearse (by Mark Gatiss, based on “The Empty House”).
2. The Sign of Three (by Stephen Thompson, based on “The Sign of the Four”).
3. His Last Vow (by Steven Moffat, based on “His Last Bow”).

In the books Watson has a moustache but let’s hope Martin Freeman loses that growth under his nose fairly quickly.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Professor James Moriarty specifically to kill off Sherlock Holmes, reasoning correctly that an extraordinary criminal had to be responsible for the death of his mighty creation. In The Final Problem, at the picturesque and deadly Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland, the two titans of law and crime were supposed to have engaged in mortal combat and plunged to their deaths.

Sherlock - series 2In The Reichenbach Fall the acting abilities of Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott set an incredibly high benchmark for future clashes between Holmes and Moriarty. Never before in the same onscreen narrative have the Prince of Detectives and the Napoleon of Crime been so evenly matched – operating as intellectual equals but diametrically opposed in terms of morality. Like Sherlock, Moriarty needs a challenge in order to prevent stagnation and in the consulting detective he finally found a worthy opponent. In many ways he knew Sherlock better than anyone and played upon the detective’s cleverness and arrogance in order to ensnare him in an elaborate and seemingly inescapable trap.

It was entirely apt for Andrew Scott’s Moriarty to accept his own death as the only way of defeating Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock. Personally I’ll only accept that the slippery bugger is truly dead when his neatly severed head is displayed in the fridge at 221b Baker Street. After casting a shadow across the first two series of Sherlock it’s probably time for Moriarty to bow out. Although Scott’s astonishing performance is going to be much missed other villainous characters are lurking within the canon awaiting an airing. The master blackmailer Charles Augutus Milverton and Moriarty’s chief of staff Colonel Sebastian Moran to name but two…

It is with a heavy heart that I take up my pen to write these the last words in which I shall ever record the singular gifts by which my friend Mr. Sherlock Holmes was distinguished.

The Final Problem

The Death of Sherlock Holmes. Original illustration from The Strand Magazine by Sidney Paget.

The performance of any actor is built upon the material they are given to work with and when Stephen Thompson was announced as the writer for this most important and apocalyptic of tales I did have concerns at the final product adapted from The Final Problem. Thompson’s previous script for Sherlock was The Blind Banker and for me it remains the weakest story of the series to date. Similarly his work on the 2011 series of Doctor Who left me unimpressed. Thankfully I was proven spectacularly wrong and I love when that happens. The Reichenbach Fall is without doubt one of the best 90 minutes of script written for television in the last decade. I could be disparaging and wonder if Steven Moffat and/or Mark Gatiss added to the mix with rewrites, but it’s Thompson’s name on screen and so the credit for this unpredictable, emotionally draining, and magnificent piece of writing rightly belongs to him. Any television that sets the media alight with praise and vast public speculation as to the resolution deserves laudation and celebration.

Despite being one of the most famous events in the entire canon this clash of the titans has only been dramatised sparsely. The best interpretation had previously come with The Final Problem, the 13th and final episode of the 1984 series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Starring Jeremy Brett and Eric Porter as Holmes and Moriarty respectively, the finale was filmed on location at the actual Reichenbach Falls and concluded with two stuntmen plunging down the falls on cables. Nearly 30 years on it remains an incredible stunt – far above and beyond the naff CGI plunge depicted in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (which at no point even bothers to explain how Holmes survived the fall).

In common with the source material, The Reichenbach Fall is topped and tailed by the musings of Watson over the loss of his friend. Martin Freeman gives an utterly brilliant and heartbreaking performance as John – a man shattered by tragedy who simply can’t believe that his friend has gone, along with his reason for a purposeful existence. Deep underneath he clearly blames himself because if he hadn’t extolled the incredible talents of Sherlock to the public then his friend would have remained out of the public eye and not become a target for the press. With all the recent revelations about the intrusiveness of the press into private lives this story acted as a timely reminder of the power of the Fourth Estate to build up a person and to subsequently destroy them.

Sherlock - The Reichenbach FallSherlock’s fall from grace in the public eye by Moriarty’s manipulation of the press is helped along nicely by the arrogance and jealousy of individuals such as Anderson and Donovan and the naivety of eager journalist Kitty Riley. They simply can’t accept that Sherlock could be smarter than them and so are quite happy to add fuel to the fire that burns away the consulting detective’s aura of infallibility. Even Mycroft’s naivety over the abilities of Moriarty to control a situation contributed to his brother’s downfall.

Some have expressed surprise that Lestrade should be targeted for death alongside John and Mrs Hudson but it’s glaringly obvious why this should have been the case. Lestrade is the one member of the “establishment” who remained loyal to Sherlock. The “professional” has faced too many mysteries (like facing down “the Hound of the Baskervilles”) alongside the “amateur” to scoff at the latter’s abilities. It’s worth betting that when the time comes Lestrade will relish enacting revenge upon those colleagues who doubted Sherlock and contributed to his downfall.

…whom I shall ever regard as the best and the wisest man whom I have ever known.

Conan Doyle always claimed that he had no intention of resurrecting Holmes after the events at Reichenbach Falls. Indeed his diary at the time contained a satisfied entry of “Killed Holmes”. So why didn’t he have the great detective die in an unambiguous hail of bullets in front of witnesses, rather than having Watson deducing the outcome of the ultimate encounter between Holmes and Moriarty based upon footprints and a note left behind by his friend? Throughout the preceding stories it had been demonstrated time and time again that Watson is incapable of deducing anything! It’s always been my view that Conan Doyle left himself a whacking great get-out clause in case he ever wanted to bring Holmes back to life, which he did after being offered huge sums of money by his American publishers in 1903: $25,000 for six stories, $30,000 for eight stories, and $45,000 for twelve stories. A phenomenal sum of money in those days.

The Reichenbach Falls (Turner, 1804)However, in The Reichenbach Fall Holmes DID plunge to his death. Right in front of Watson. There can’t be a shadow of a doubt that the great detective is dead. Except of course for the fact he is alive at the end of the episode. Unless Series 3 is going to be entitled John and Sherlock (Deceased), Sherlock clearly faked his death. But how? Ever since the episode concluded the Internet has been abuzz with theories as to how Sherlock could have faked his death so publicly. According to Steven Moffat a whacking great clue to the solution was shown in plain sight – but no one has clocked it yet. That Molly was involved in the cover-up seems almost a given. And surely John being sideswiped by that bicycle couldn’t have been a coincidence…

In the midst of all the doom, gloom and frequent WTF?! moments, the programme makers took time out to poke fun at one of the great icons of the Holmes mythos: the deerstalker. Sherlock’s attempt to deduce the etymology of a deerstalker, his bemusement as to it’s and his subsequent description of it as a “death frisbee” was hysterical. John taking a mannequin hanging from the ceiling of the living room completely in his stride was a lovely comical insight into how everyday life at 221b Baker Street must seem utterly surreal to any visitor to the address.

Another lovely touch of humour and nod to past interpretations of the canon came with John’s visit to The Diogenes Club, where Mycroft spends a great deal of his time. The club was introduced in The Greek Interpreter and fan speculation across the years, building upon the connections of the elder Holmes brother to the British Government, has developed the establishment into a front organisation for the British Secret Service – particularly in The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and the works of Kim Newman. The elderly gentleman who summons the club staff to deal with the rather noisy John is 92 year old Douglas Wilmer who portrayed Sherlock Holmes in the television series Sherlock Holmes between 1965 and 1968 and in the 1975 film The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.

Along with Doctor Who, Sherlock is an example of what great event television should be. Intelligently written material bought to life by dedicated and capable actors and production teams who don’t trumpet every plot in a desperate press-orientated attempts to gain ratings. Steven Moffat has rallied against spoilers being leaked and he’s quite right to do so – I love watching well-crafted television where you don’t have a clue what is going to happen next.

Comes Series 3…

After the mind-bending opener of A Scandal in Belgravia next up for series 2 of Sherlock was the modernisation of the most famous Sherlock Holmes of them all. First published in The Strand Magazine between August 1901 and April 1902, The Hound of the Baskervilles is the most adapted story from the canon with over 20 versions having been produced.

Sherlock - series 2

From Basil Rathbone in 1939, Peter Cushing in 1959, through to Jeremy Brett in 1988, all the most famous Sherlocks have faced Conan Doyle’s monstrous hound. It is said that the lead actor in Doctor Who is never truly accepted until he has battled the Daleks. In a similar vein any Holmes/Watson team must encounter The Hound to be cemented in the public imagination. So, it was only a matter of time before Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman found themselves on a fog-shrouded Dartmoor listening to the baying of an unearthly hound…

Sitting as it does within the genre of crime along with the rest of the Holmes canon, it is often forgotten that The Hound of the Baskervilles is also one of the earliest popular horror novels. In his television series, and tie-in book, Nightmare: The Birth of Horror, Sir Christopher Fraying cites The Hound of the Baskervilles as one of the four stories from Victorian or Edwardian times that gave birth to the modern horror novel. The other stories being Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. August company indeed. Conan Doyle himself described the book as “…a real creeper” when he wrote to his mother ahead of starting the writing.

That Mr Mark Gatiss, with his mastery of the macabre and as a general purveyor of Kensington Gore. should be called upon to provide the script for this episode seems to have been a surprise to no one.

Mr Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound

Perhaps the greatest issue associated with adapting The Hound of the Baskervilles has lain in the realisation of the titular animal. Over the years camera trickery and special effects have been employed in often vain attempts to produce a convincing Black Shuck. Gatiss decided to avoid the problem to a certain extent by bearing in mind a maxim of Holmes‘ from A Study in Scarlet: “Where there is no imagination there is no horror”. Conan Doyle’s narrative was reshaped into a psychological horror thriller whilst retaining the aura of the supernatural that pervaded the original story. Much of the terrifying nature of the hound was down to the misinterpretation of reality by minds affected by chemicals.

Sherlock - The Hounds of Baskerville

This adaptation was aided enormously by filming on Dartmoor proper. Whilst other locations can be doubled up by utilising locations in Wales (such as the Bush Inn, St Hilary, Vale of Glamorgan doubling as The Cross Keys pub) nothing represents Dartmoor better than Dartmoor itself. The Devon moorland is as much a character of the story as Holmes and Watson – a primeval realm where the supernatural could, just possibly, enter into our world. Director Paul McGuigan used the magnificent vistas of natural beauty offered by Dartmoor to their full potential. The image of Benedict Cumberbatch standing atop a tor gazing across the seemingly enternal moor must surely enter the lexicon of memorable images from the last decade of television. McGuigan followed up his breathless interpretation of A Scandal in Belgravia with a whole different series of camera moves to capture the paranoia, spookiness and gathering horror of Mark Gatiss’ script. Nighttime shenanigans on the supernatural moor contrasted sharply with the clinical whiteness of the Baskerville military research centre.

Whilst the imagery of Frankland’s gas-mask clad, red-eyed visage morphing into true memory after Knight’s perception of the hound for twenty years was one of the most terrifying pieces of footage shown on television in years, I couldn’t help but have the phrase “Are you my mummy?” running through the mind. Between them Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have assisted in creating some of the best “event television” since the 1970s. A Hinchcliffe and Holmes for the 21st century.

A masterstroke from Gatiss was to have Sherlock himself affected by the chemical weapon that had been used on Henry Knight. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as a Sherlock Holmes briefly doubting his own senses and the logical world that he had spent his entire existence inhabiting was a joy to watch. For a moment Sherlock was as paranoid as Henry – a lovely performance from the ever-reliable Russell Tovey, who also affected a beautiful air of disbelief when Sherlock deduced the events of his morning and journey to London. Full credit to the writers when they invent these oh-so believable deductions for Holmes to impress the world with.

Watson and Lestrade addressing each other by their first names demonstrates a camaraderie between the two characters unique to the Moffat/Gatiss vision of the canon. One can easily imagine John and Greg down the pub on a Friday night knocking back pints and bitching about Sherlock and his irritating way of always being right about everything. It’s a testament to the performance of Rupert Graves that Lestrade is a likable character and friend to Watson. In one of the audio commentaries for the Sherlock series 1 DVD it was pointed out that Lestrade could feature in a spin-off series of his own without much suspension of disbelief. It’s not that Lestrade is a moron, it’s simply that all other representatives of the law pale in comparison next to Sherlock.

As well as references to other Holmes stories, the hallucinogenic gas from The Devil’s Foot and Holmes’ wielding of the harpoon from Black Peter, Gatiss managed to throw in a couple of homages to the creation of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The suppliers of the meat to the pub being Undershaw is a reference to the house where Conan Doyle wrote the book. The tour guide being named Fletcher is in all likelihood a nod to Bertram Fletcher Robinson who imparted legends of ghostly hounds to Conan Doyle and acted as a guide around Dartmoor during research for the novel.

The Hounds of Baskerville was another palpable hit for the Sherlock team, with the final scene setting up the series finale of The Reichenbach Fall with Mycroft ordering the release of Moriarty from confinement….

Comes The Fall…

For once the viewing public across the UK demonstrated a capability to watch more intelligent fare than mindless televised Victorian freak shows and made the first series of Sherlock a palpable hit in terms of both outstanding ratings and critical acclaim. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr John H Watson retooled for the 21st century had raised eyebrows from many aficionados of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary creations. However, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss proved once more that they are able to produce entertaining and enthralling drama to a level of excellence not often seen at the BBC since the golden days of the 1970s.

Sherlock - series 2

Given the cliffhanging nature of The Great Game it’s just as well the public and critics demanded more or we’d have been left with one of the most frustrating finales since those of The Italian Job, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Blake’s 7. Sherlock and John in an explosive Mexican stand-off with Moriarty, snipers, and a vest laden with explosives. We all knew they’d get out of the conundrum, but how? If you guessed how Moffat and Gatiss would resolve the drama then put your hand up now…Ok…now put it down as you’re clearly lying!

For my own part I thought the story might commence with Sherlock and John being pulled out of the rubble of the destroyed swimming pool with the whereabouts of Moriarty a mystery. The gag with the mobile phone and Staying Alive as the ringtone was genius. Also, pure comedy gold was provided by Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Scott as the latter apologises for the interruption to the apocalyptic proceedings.

In the comments I made about The Great Game I wasn’t overly complimentary about Andrew Scott’s performance as Jim Moriarty. Yet more proof that I can talk incredible shit. Rewatching The Great Game before A Scandal in Belgravia transmitted I suddenly fell in love with this new version of The Napoleon of Crime. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and the laid-back (near to comatose) interpretation of Professor Moriarty in that film doubtless helped changed my opinion. Not for one moment did Robert Downey Jr’s Holmes seem in the slightest danger from Jared Harris’ Moriarty. With Scott’s Moriarty and the writing of Moffat and Gatiss you don’t have any idea what the next instant will bring.

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.

A Scandal in Bohemia was the first Sherlock Holmes short story and introduced the character of Irene Adler. She has remained one of the most memorable women in the canon and is frequently used as a romantic interest for Holmes. In the original story Adler was a New Jersey-born opera singer who is using a compromising photograph to protect herself from the machinations of the King of Bohemia. For A Scandal in Belgravia, Moffat re-imagined Adler as a British-born dominatrix who has compromising images of a female member of the Royal Family stored on an encrypted smart phone. As you do…

Sherlock - A Scandal in Belgravia

Moffat’s script appropriated beats from the original tale (Holmes disguising himself as a vicar and Watson faking a fire so that Adler would be tricked into revealing the location of her safe) and wove them into another engrossing, and occasionally bonkers, narrative that revolved around a deception plan against international terrorism that is compromised by Moriarty with the unknowing assistance of Sherlock. In many ways all the crimes, attempted assassinations and political shenanigans were simply the backdrop to the relationship between Sherlock and Irene.

Over the decades millions and millions of wasted words have been devoted to the subject of the sexuality of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes isn’t heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or Watson-sexual – he’s simply asexual. Love and sex for him hold no interest as they are orientated around emotions. His regard for Irene Adler in A Scandal in Bohemia wasn’t love but a respect for her abilities. In A Scandal in Belgravia it’s clear that Sherlock is throughly confused by his inability to read Irene and the feelings that subsequently emerged. In turn she is confused by her attraction to him. Benedict Cumberbatch and Lara Pulver spark beautifully off each other as the couple that were born to be together but can never be. A kind of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor relationship with logic and respect at the root.

Was Sherlock’s rescuing of Irene at the conclusion real or simply a manifestation of his wish that he could have saved her? I’m going with it being reality. Irene is far too good a character to despatch to literary Valhalla and the door needs to be left wide open for a possible return in series 3 or beyond.

Forget Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law. Wipe them from your mind. They are not the Holmes and Watson for the 21st century: that honour belongs to Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Neither are capable of putting a foot wrong in their performances and the chemistry between the actors is so strong it’s almost visible.

As the story takes place over many months and during the course of it there is a clear mellowing of Sherlock’s character. Though the influence of Irene is behind some of the changes, the time spent in the company of John has clearly affected the purely analytical nature of the world’s only consulting detective. His cold dismissal of Molly’s appearance and aspirations for loving him at the Baker Street Christmas gathering are indicative of the heartless Sherlock of the first series but his subsequent genuine apology is a new twist.

Mrs Hudson’s relationship to Sherlock and Mycroft intrigues and hints at a previous association with the Holmes family. Could she have been their housekeeper in days of old and that’s why Sherlock has that view of her? Mycroft is certainly cow-towed by her. Sherlock’s fury against the Americans that have injured her is beyond any anger that he had previously demonstrated.

Rupert Grave’s Lestrade may not have been allocated the largest amount of screen time but he certainly picked up the best line award when advising a fellow officer to listen to what Sherlock has to say but to resist the temptation to punch him.

Moffat cheekily referenced many of the original Conan Doyle stories with the montage of cases that Sherlock and John tackled after the encounter with Moriarty. The Greek Interpreter became The Greek Interpreter, The Speckled Band was The Speckled Blonde, and The Naval Treaty was changed to The Naval Treatment. The unseen adventure of “The Vatican Cameos” (referenced in The Hound of the Baskervilles) tipped John to the fact there was a gun in Irene’s safe rigged to fire. And were the thumbs in the fridge at 221b Baker Street a reference to The Engineer’s Thumb? Moffat even manages to get a deerstalker onto Sherlock’s head. It must be such fun raiding the canon for all this stuff. When is the knowing nod to “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” going to take a bow?

One of the reasons for the instant success of Sherlock was the incredible direction of A Study in Pink by Paul McGuigan. The original pilot version had a largely similar script to the final televised product but what it lacked was the sheen, class and confidence that McGuigan brought to the proceedings. The on-screen manifestations of texts and character thoughts were his idea and a narrative verve that sets Sherlock apart from all other dramas.

A Scandal in Belgravia was an outstanding opening to the second series of Sherlock. Ignore all the nonsensical allegations of sexism that have been thrown at Steven Moffat and savour 90 minutes of the finest drama that the BBC is likely to air in 2012 or any other year.

Comes The Hound…

The second series of the highly-acclaimed Sherlock arrives on Sunday 1st January 2012. Three of the most famous adventures for Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson updated for the 21st century from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic 19th century stories.

The Woman: A Scandal in Belgravia (based on A Scandal in Bohemia, in which Sherlock Holmes meets his equal in the form of Irene Adler).

The Hound: “The Hounds of Baskerville” (based on The Hound of the Baskervilles, arguably the most famous of the original stories).

The Fall: The Reichenbach Fall (based on The Final Problem, the final confrontation between Holmes and Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls)

Sherlock - series 2 promo