Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Sherlock’ premiere exciting but unsatisfying

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc.

Sherlock is so brilliant that the Sherlock fanbase was screaming for more seconds after the British show’s third season finale, which ended on a mind-blowing cliff hanger. It is so unfair that we had to wait an entire year only to watch such a mind-altering ending.

Each season is only three episodes long, which helps makes the show extremely popular. This January marked the show’s triumphant return to excited fans and critics alike. However, this season left much to be desired in comparison to previous installments of the series.

The premiere episode was meant to answer questions from the season two finale but did not fulfill expectations of the viewers. The creators produced an homage for the show’s rabid fan base, though they did not adequately address the extensive and widely-speculated theories that the fans have imagined since the pilot. They glossed over some of the fan base’s ideas in order to feed the forever-hungry fandom. The hilarious rooftop kiss between Sherlock and Moriarty, for example, hinted that the show’s writers were well aware of the sometimes ridiculous ideas fans had created.

Another important aspect of the premiere was to show the reunion of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, which was well written, emotional and wildly original. The writers did a fair job with making those scenes both emotional and comical.

Contrary to what many people would have thought, the reunion was not a momentary part of the episode; instead, the premiere focused on its repercussions. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock, and Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. John Watson, have the ability to play off of each other’s emotions and energy in every kind of scene, from action to comedy. The highlight of this episode was the artful and unexpected way Watson reacts to Sherlock’s return, after faking his death in season two. If the answer to the question of how Sherlock had survived left fans disappointed, the brilliant scenes between Watson and Sherlock probably remedied their dissatisfaction.

Every character on the show is given a chance to showcase his or her reaction to Sherlock’s return to London, which was a good way for viewers to gauge the characters’ personalities and relationships to Holmes. My personal favorite reaction was that of Rupert Graves’ Inspector Lestrade, who has a stable yet frustrated response to the man’s return. Molly, the meek assistant at the morgue, also gets her moment to shine in the episode, when she accompanies Sherlock to help him solve a crime. We see a stark difference in the relationship between Molly and Sherlock, which brings out the more human aspects of Sherlock and furthers the brilliant attributes that Molly possesses.

A new character, Mary Morstan (played by the talented Amanda Abbington) is introduced. Mary is Dr. Watson’s fiancée. Her character transcends the boring love interest stereotype by being a well-rounded and compelling individual who seems to have her own mysterious back-story. Abbington and Freeman share an infectious chemistry in their scenes together. They consistently throw great one-liners at each other. In the season premiere, Mary also develops a friendship with Sherlock. Unlike other female characters related to Watson, Mary is the most developed, best written and at some points is almost as fascinating as the leads. All-in-all, the addition of Abbington to the cast is a welcome change.

Even after all the small character details, “Sherlock” in the end is about the mystery, although this episode was not the best example of a compelling puzzle. The main mystery plot that surrounds the premiere is loosely written and is almost a secondary story of the episode. The villain introduced was not even half as menacing as the iconic Moriarty. In fact, at some points he was laughable. This doesn’t extend to Charles Magnusson, who is shown momentarily in the end of the episode, who seems to have the personality that could lead to a fascinating finale.

After two years of waiting, viewers had high expectations. Although the premiere didn’t live up to a lot of those ideals, it managed to be an entertaining hour and half of television. It led to an interesting start to the series, with a lot of opportunity to reach the level that the previous seasons have achieved. Unfortunately the premiere just didn’t feel “Sherlock” enough.