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Sherlock Series 2 Preview

The second series of BBC’s Sherlock aired its finale last weekend, and the bad news is we have to wait until May here in the U.S. for it to air on PBS. Darn the luck! It’s going to be pretty unbearable, I understand, but here is a brief, mostly-spoiler-free rundown of why Sherlock fans will think it’s worth the wait (or get mad at me for making you more excited). If you want to know absolutely nothing about the new series, maybe don’t read, but I’m only going to get TV Guide-level spoilery.

While the first three episodes were allusions to various Holmes adventures by Arthur Conan Doyle, “A Study in Pink” being the one most based on a single story, all three episodes in series 2 are direct references to specific, and very famous, cases. The three episodes are written by the same three writers as series 1, which is a very good thing.

Episode 1, “A Scandal in Belgravia,” written by our friend Steven Moffat, is based on “A Scandal in Bohemia,” where Holmes first meets his rival/love interest Irene Adler as she attempts to blackmail the king of Bohemia with some saucy and incriminating photographs. Sherlock’s relationship with Adler (Lara Pulver) is a very tumultuous one, as she’s close to being his intellectual equal but is ostensibly a “bad guy.” With Moffat writing, be prepared for it to be a bit more suggestive, and twistier, than the Victorian novella upon which it’s based.

Episode 2, written by Mark Gatiss, is “The Hounds of Baskerville,” based on “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” This is arguably Sherlock Holmes’ most famous case, where he investigates a murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, demonic hound on behalf of a very troubled young man (Russell Tovey). This is Doyle’s most supernatural story, and, as a result, the episode is the series’ most horror-like. Given Gatiss’ proclivity to horror, in both his own writing and the fact that he hosted a show about it in Britain, that ensures a healthy dose of chills, but, as the show endeavors to be “realistic,” expect 21st Century science to be a major factor.

Episode 3, written by Steve Thompson, is “The Reichenbach Fall,” based on “The Final Problem.” If you’ve read any Sherlock Holmes, you probably know “The Final Problem” very well, but suffice to say it brings the conflict between Sherlock and his arch nemesis, the Napoleon of crime, Moriarty (Andrew Scott), to a head. Steve Thompson wrote “The Blind Banker” in series one, which many consider to be the inferior story of the season, as well as writing “The Curse of the Black Spot” in series 6 of Doctor Who. Whether he redeems himself or not is up to you to decide, but I’ll say “The Reichenbach Fall” is certainly livelier than his previous outing.

If you were fans of the series’ directorial style before, get ready for more of that in series 2. Paul McGuigan, who directed two episodes, returns to direct two more, and Doctor Who director Toby Haynes takes the reins of the third, replacing former DW director Euros Lyn. Sherlock established itself as a visually striking and innovative show, and it continues and improves upon the theme here.

If you enjoyed the side characters, Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves), Mrs. Hudson (Una Stubbs), and Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss), have no fear as they all return in a greater capacity in series two. All three represent or accentuate aspects of Holmes, and it’s very nice to see them become fuller, richer characters as the series progresses.

And, finally, what’s the main reason to look forward to series two of Sherlock? Holmes and Watson, of course! The longer these two work together, the more complex and fraternal their relationship becomes, often to the chagrin of the distant and repressed super sleuth. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman play off of each other like two old friends and truly bring the century-old characters to life in a realistic way, unlike the more cartoonish interpretations in the big screen adventures, fun as those movies may be.

So there you have it. Good scripts, good directing, good acting; what else do you need in a TV show? Sherlock‘s second series premieres on PBS Sunday May 6th and runs for three consecutive weeks; check your local station for time.

Get excited, people!

-Kanderson could figure out all those mysteries, he just chooses not too. Follow him on TWITTER, and if you could be so kind, give a listen to his PODCAST.

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18 comments

  • Loved, Loved LOVED Series 2. As an impatient American, I was forced to torrent it, but was SO glad I did. As a longtime fan of Sherlock as a character, I especially enjoyed all the little in-jokes and shout-outs. Nearly fell over cackling with laughter and clapping at the first appearance of The Hat.

    Without getting too spoilery, I have to say: I, for one, really liked the way Irene Adler was portrayed. She’s meant to be a challenge to Sherlock, and I think they wrote her well. Will be watching both series again in eager anticipation of the third.

  • THIS SHOW IS INCREDIBLE. It has been my obsession for the past 2 weeks. I only wish British tv has seasons that were longer and the true heartache is waiting in between seasons that seem to go too quickly. Truly Brilliant writing. Brilliant actors who really make the characters come to life as you’d expect them to in our lifetime. As I’m a huge nerd this show has gotten me into reading all of Doyle’s work now. So happy to hear there is going to be a season 3! It just hurts to have to wait so long. I am _ _ _ _ LOCKED.

  • Blew my socks off. Moffat and crew really out did themselves with this season. The relationship between all of the characters was stronger and more complex than ever and there are more twists to this thing than you can shake a stick at. I remember being a bit anxious about Steve Thompson writing Reichenbach but he made me eat my words. All the fucking BAFTAs for everyone involved.

  • I find with the Sherlock seasons that the first ep is the best and they go down from there. This season was no different. And yes the end of ep 3 is emotional. And the good news! Benedict and Martin will be back for season 3! Joy!

  • WOW!!! i just finished watching “The Reichenbach Fall”. It was AMAZING. It was perfect. Frankly im confident that when 2012 winds to and end, this episode will stand toe-to-toe with any “good vs evil” movie and beat it. Its an incredibly well written, well directed, and well acted story. I think the new Batman will come close in the “good vs evil” category, as Nolan understands how to write an intelligent villain, however Sherlock will win based on the wonderful complexity of the story and phenom resolution.

    Thanks Kyle for the great write up and for exposing more folks to this show.

  • Series 2 is on the whole much better than Series 1 and I loved Series 1. Cumberbatch simply IS Sherlock and Freeman is so perfectly subtle as Watson. It’s just excellent, excellent television.

  • Woo hoo!! the return of Sherlock. For those of you who arent familiar with this show…drop whatcha doin and seek it out. Im pretty sure S1 is avail via Netflix. It is an AMAZING show. If you’re a Who fan then you need nor further prodding than to know that Moffat is a key player. Even better is that each episode is basically a Sherlock Holmes movie! woot!!

    3T0F

  • Despite a few niggling issues I had with the writing of Irene & Anthea (Mycroft’s assistant from series 1) not appearing, It was an excellent second series & I can’t deny, I was in a bit of a state after the finale.
    Give Martin “fuck you I won a bafta” Freeman, ALL the awards!

  • I agree, all episodes were unbelievably good television. Perfectly written, funny, sexy and just the right level of suspending your disbeliefingnessness.
    Benedict Cumberpatch is always excellent, but Martin Freeman is incredible as Watson, especially in the last episode. He really is an underacted actor and I can’t wait to see him in the Hobbit.

  • Yes, this series was absolutely phenomenal. What I loved about it was each episode had a little sub genre: Romance, Horror, Thriller, and it all worked seamlessly perfectly. But I feel for you US guys having to wait till May. Don’t worry, it’ll be worth it though.

  • It made me cry too! I’d say Steve Thompson definitely made up for “The Blind Banker” with “The Reichenbach Fall.” Series two is, in a word, AMAZING! I know it just ended, but I can’t wait for series three.