Sherlock: Season Two - Blu-ray Review

'We've seen these tales before in Holmes adaptations past and we've seen present-day cops in everything from Morse to Midsomer.'

Like Taggart or Dalziel and Pascoe, Sherlock's second season continues to offer feature-length mysteries for a Sunday night crowd, at an acceptable pace for all involved to keep up. The second of those two comparisons sticks more than the first. A duo who occasionally argue yet offer their own brilliant insights into the case at hand, whilst growling supposed superiors lurk in the background. Sherlock may benefit from Arthur Conan Doyle's mysteries but the reason why it feels so pedestrian occasionally is down to a feeling of familiarity. We've seen these tales before in Holmes adaptations past and we've seen present-day cops in everything from Morse to Midsomer.

So, was the transplanting of Sherlock to the present day a mistake after all? It certainly seems it in Episode Two: The Hound Of The Baskervilles, which makes Baskerville itself a military base, complete with unconvincing BBC military costumes. In twisting this core of the story, writer Mark Gatiss, for probably the first time, loses the romance of Holmes. You can get swept away on the eerie air of Dartmoor and the cold halls of Baskerville Hall. It's very difficult to feel the same way about a brushed steel base, to feel involved with chain link fences and land mine surrounds. The eventual conclusion is hokum, more forgiveable considering that this was always the case with Doyle's original any way.

That this episode follows on the heels of the very strong A Scandal In Belgravia is a shame, although that episode, the first, features one of many cases of Sherlock: Season Two again calling to mind Guy Ritchie's take on the franchise. In Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) the series finds a remarkable character and the closest yet Sherlock has come to a love interest but it's also a direct lift from the Ritchie films, where the same person was played by Rachel McAdams. Sure, Pulver's Adler has a bit more of a kinky side (she's a dominatrix to the rich and famous) but the rest is all the same; flirtatious, clever, an adept thief but well in over her head, treading dangerously close to femme fatale territory. The episode works mainly because of the human relations but again, the series comes close to that which it seemed to want to avoid, namely Hollywood's repossession of the British sleuth.

It's left to the obvious candidate to wrap things up, as Sherlock dips into a legendary Doyle story for the second time in two episodes. The conclusion of The Reichenbach Fall will be known to many but that does not mean that there isn't a thrill in the build up as Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch, still riskily playing the detective a bit too close to smarmy) and Watson (Martin Freeman, brilliant in this second season) chase uber-nemesis Moriarty (Andrew Scott). Scott remains a problem. His line delivery veers from sneer to shout to whisper but never once does he hit on menacing, coming across as psychopathic but un-methodical, his screen presence a mile away from Cumberbatch's. It leaves the final confrontation lacking and reliant on a cliff-hanger to force your attention on to Season Three, due in 2013. Its a cheap trick but again forgiveable when you consider its exactly what Doyle did. Still, you don't see The Wire relying on that sort of thing, and Sherlock's second outing again comes across as a poor, if passable, relation to the better drama infiltrating from the other side of the pond.



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