May 7, 2018

[TV] Sherlock: Series 4 (BBC) Review


Sherlock is a bit of an acquired taste as a television series. It was spretty striking when it first came out and that helped build a decent following. Plus a lot of people just got a kick out of trying to say the name "Bendict Cumberbatch" as quickly as possible.

But the show's unique release format of 3 epsiodes at a time that come out seemingly at random times given difficulties in scheduling shooting and all that sort of thing. And thus after 3 seasons and an odd Christmas special and all the delays between them, it's hard to stay all that excited for new Sherlock content. And so it took a while before this season came out and even longer before we got around to watching it on Netflix. And you know how long it takes before a show ends up on Netflix without an exclusive streaming deal.

And while this season was still interesting with a lot of clever bits in it, it's starting to feel a little stale.

Synopsis: Sherlock is a BBC television crime drama series created by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. Thus far this fourth season represents the last season of the show unless things change all of a sudden.

A seemingly simple murder mystery ends up leading Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) on an even larger mystery. And oddly enough it involves broken busts of Margaret Thatcher, hence the first episode being "The Six Thatchers". The conclusion of that episode sets up the tone for the whole season in rather stark contrast to how the third season had been crafted around Mary (Amanda Abbington), the woman who became his wife in that season.

 By the time of "The Lying Detective", Sherlock is back on drugs and is challenged in discering reality from fantasy as he tries to solve a murder mystery presented by a woman who believes she's been drugged to forget the murder she had witnessed. And come "The Final Problem", we have Sherlock, Watson, and Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) kidnapped by yet another genius with videos of Moriarty (Andrew Scott).

What I Liked: To be fair, the progression of events in the second and third episodes of this season was very fascinating and the character of Eurus as played by Sian Brooke quite masterfully. As much as I'm a little tired of additional genius-level characters brought into this series, she was quite the well-conceived character and how she was established and presented made for some great moments in the series.

Gatiss clearly wanted to have more this time around as Mycroft continues to get a lot of screen time in this series. Sure he was key to brining Sherlock back last time, but this time he really got into the thick of things given the mystery of Eurus and who she represented in Sherlock's life.

What Could Have Been Better: Mary's fate in this series was very disappointing and I wanted to see more of out her, especially after we finally found out more about her secret life as a special operative of sorts. After all the build up in the last season only to have her exit the show so quickly into the season felt like a cop-out or at the very least poor writing.

The big finale tried to be especially clever and it had its good moments, but on the whole I admit I'm feeling the cleverness fatigue, if we can call it that. The setup was great but the follow throught felt short of being great. The same goes for how the seaosn began and how they had to retcon Sherlock's murderous actions from the last season. All this convenient writing to allow the show to continue when clearly they had no plans of pushing things forward!

TL;DR: On its own, this fourth season of Sherlock remains consistent with the rest of the show and has a lot of good clever moments and some creative visualizations of Sherlock's drugged up state. But it's also a lot more of the same, for better or worse, and it's starting to feel rather flat and not quite as creative as before. And thus the fourth season gets a decent 3.5 victims of Eurus's schemes out of a possible 5.


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