Thursday, February 23, 2017

Series 2 of "Sherlock" expands the emotional depth of Doyle's sleuth

Steven Moffat's creative genius and Benedict Cumberbatch's dorky charm are a match in TV show heaven, a collaboration that would, I'm sure, impress even Arthur Conan Doyle himself.  Sherlock Series 2 delivers more of the exciting mysteries and murder cases for our favorite London detective to solve, but this time around, he's humanized more thoroughly.  Mr. Holmes (ahem, not the hero's older brother, Mycroft, but the younger, quick witted genius) will finally meet The Woman, and perhaps even have his heart challenged at a previously unfamiliar level.

The first episode of Series 2, A Scandal in Belgravia, introduces Sherlock to Irene Adler (Laura Pulver), a dominatrix-for-hire who has incriminating photos of a member of the British Royal family. Mycroft, as a member of the government intelligence, brings in his younger brother to look into the matter; meanwhile, Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) will wonder if Sherlock has ever had a girlfriend before, or even been in love.  Irene will even go so far to tell the good doctor that although he doesn't yet realize it, he is Sherlock's "other half", a theory Watson rejects.  However, it's clear that Moffat is also expanding the relationship between the two roommates, who are slowly becoming very dependent on one another.

The Hounds of Baskerville injects the first dose of horror into this otherwise non-horrific TV series.  Henry (Russell Tovey) was traumatized as a young boy when he witnessed a vicious beast maul his father to death, and those nightmarish visions are still present in his psyche some 20 years later.  After he hires Holmes and Watson to help him get to the bottom of, the duo take a trip into the English countryside, where they discover a military laboratory experimenting on various animals.  Baskerville may not possess the charm of the previous episodes, nor does it present us with a worthy adversary for Holmes (I already miss Laura Pulver's Irene Adler, and was disappointed to find she does not make a cameo here).  Overall, the episode is mostly bark, with some very cleverly placed bite.

The best episode of the entire series so far is The Reichenbach Fall.  At long last, we witness a complete and thorough confrontation between Sherlock and his nemesis, the criminal mastermind Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott).  The scenes in which they try to outwit and one-up each other sizzle with tension, their intellect practically on the same level, with very little between them.  Moriarty reveals that his goal is not to murder Sherlock - that would simply be too easy - but to ruin him in the eyes of the public, and to force him to commit suicide, an act that would eventually strip away any credibility that young sleuth has built over the years.  Scott turns Reichenbach Fall into his own personal one-man show, and by the time we reach the nerve-wracking climax, we may (or may not) believe what we had just seen and heard.

Sherlock Series 2 is simply superb entertainment, a show that should appeal to both young and old, cool and lame, rich or poor.  It's as good as anything currently airing on television.

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