Thanks to the progression of technology, TV no longer holds the power over our social interactions it once did. There are now so many channels to choose from, and our lives so hectic, that getting a large number of people to gather round to watch one show is increasingly challenging. Sherlock bucks that trend and creates water-cooler moments the way a decade ago so many other shows did. Actually, lets not call them water-cooler moments. Work is no longer the epicentre for discussions about TV thanks to social networks, so instead we shall call it ‘Twit-book moments’, as in the bit of a programme where Twitter and Facebook become virtually united in discussing one thing and there is a momentary pause in people posting pictures of their dinner and re-tweeting praise about themselves. Sherlock has caused more digital ink to spill than many, but as the third series ended last week the voices have quietened. So with that in mind, I am throwing my own two-pence into the ring about this divisive series.

There seems to be three main stream of complaints. The first is the mawkishness of the second episode, The Signs of Three. Personally, I disagree. If the crime(s) weren’t at the centre, so what? This was always a show about an unusual friendship, the uniting of heart and mind etc., etc., etc. It was a healthy change of pace for the it to have a softer focus. Not every episode can be as psychologically ferocious as The Reichenbach Fall or The Hounds of Baskerville. It was a wise decision to press pause on the mind-games and look at the people at the centre of the stories. Besides, from the introduction of Janine to the mysterious note from CAM it set up the final episode quite nicely.

On a similar note, the second problem was that Sherlock was trying to hard to be funny. Once again, I couldn’t disagree more. Why does a show after get darker every series? Let’s revel in the versatility of the actors and writers that they can handle such a broad range of styles! Every episode had its own lol-moments. The first episode made references to the homo-erotic slash fiction about both Holmes/Watson and Holmes/Moriarty, as well as mocking internet theorists about how Sherlock survived. The second had Sherlock in a Bearskin hat marching with guards and we got to see him drunk. Amazingly, the most intense episode of the three, His Last Vow, had the most frequent and brilliant humour of them all. You could take your pick from Sherlock’s and Mycroft’s mum catching them smoking, the druggie assistant, or Molly slapping Sherlock. Personally, I found Una Stubbs’s Mrs Hudson as the best; her clucking over Holmes and Watson interspersed with revelations of her ‘hobbies/career’ was a lesson in how to make a side-character as comically powerful as those taking centre-stage.

The final whine is that the show is trying too hard to be clever, and in doing so is not being clever enough. Ok, I grant you that in the first two episodes everything was too easily solved. Also, the third episode did repeatedly expose Sherlock as naïve. But if you are watching this purely to watch someone solve a crime, you are betting sticking with Midsomer Murders. Sherlock is at its strongest when we see the hero at his weakest – where he has over-reached, under-estimated or generally taken things a step too far. The gap between how good he thinks he is and how good he really is provides the tension, the drama, the ‘ooooh’-ness of the whole show.

In short, let’s stop complaining about where the show is apparently going wrong, and celebrate the fact that it is still miles ahead of 99% of what is out there. If you don’t like it, go watch Splash!. Your bickering about things won’t matter there, as nobody is watching it anyway.

 

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