Sherlock: Season 3 - TV Review

'Holmes 'on operation' abroad and an increased role for Mycroft (Gatiss) hint at a larger, more international world for our detective to inhabit'

It was somewhat surprising to find that there were some accusations flying around in the assessment of Sherlock: Season 3 that the Benedict Cumberbatch-led detective show had somehow become a bit smug. Isn't this a show that has always been a bit smug, or, at the very least, always featured a character so smugly superior to us mere mortals that he was somewhat hard to warm to?

For that very reason, it was refreshing to find that, at the start of Sherlock's 3rd season with The Empty Hearse, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are suddenly able to laugh at their creation and the obsessive fan culture surrounding him: all things missing from Seasons 1 and 2. There's an almost (but not quite) dismissive air to tackling the question of how our protagonist survived his fall at the end of Season 2. We know he survived it, we know he's got the brains to do so, do we really need the detail? Gatiss and Moffat poke gentle fun at those who do and then get on with telling a pretty good tale, relying on a cracking central mystery that plays to the geeky love of London's underground lore.

In the previous paragraph, Sherlock is referred to as Gatiss and Moffat's creation and, of course, at this point, he is. We've dispensed with several of the very famous Conan Doyle Holmes stories (two of them relatively poorly, in the last season) and now their creation is spreading his wings in new ways. It's what makes this series a cut above the other two, scenes of Holmes 'on operation' abroad and an increased role for Mycroft (Gatiss) hinting at a larger, more international world for our detective to inhabit. As a result, Lestrade (Rupert Graves) suffers, but, though Graves is fine, you can hardly label it the series' biggest loss.

After the predictable but well managed dual narratives of the second episode, The Sign of Three (which does have some hidden depths, see the excellent Den Of Geek article here. Beware: some spoilers) we arrive at a concluding part, His Last Vow, which is arguably Sherlock's finest moment to date. Gatiss and Moffat write in a terrific villain (Lars Mikkelsen) to orchestrate a plot which sifts in elements such as the problems hinted at in The Sign Of Three, Sherlock's drug abuse, an unexpected romance and a bit more of the Sherlock/Mycroft bickering that serves this series so well. It's a fantastic 90 minutes of television, marred only by a decision come the finale to suggest a way forwards for Season 4, a way forwards the writers desperately need not to follow, if they don't want to repeat some of the first two season's problems.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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