Given how much I enjoyed the first season of Sherlock, I’ve been eagerly anticipating this second season. When I heard that the episodes were clipped when they aired on PBS, I skipped watching them and went straight to DVD, which allowed me to wallow in all of them at once.
I love this show, even more than Doctor Who. (They share a producer in Steven Moffat, who co-created Sherlock with Mark Gatiss.) It’s a wonderful modernization of the characters and mysteries in clever and imaginative ways. I’m always impressed when I watch, both for the plots and deductions and also for the filming. Some of the scene transitions, as when Sherlock is explaining a hiker’s death to Irene Adler, and they’re transported into the scene as though envisioning themselves there, are technically breath-taking.
I also love the use of technology, cell phones and laptops and blogs and all, and what my husband calls Sherlock’s “deducto-vision”, where they slow things down and use on-screen text to indicate how he draws his conclusions. The stories feel completely current and completely faithful to the character. They also vary in tone and approach enough to show the versatility of the premise.
Lara Pulver as Irene Adler in Sherlock
The three episodes of this season tackle the most famous Sherlock Holmes stories. “A Scandal in Belgravia” introduces Irene Adler, The Woman, in a story with more sex than you usually associate with Holmes. It’s also a cross-plotted conspiracy caper that could easily have been a feature film. (Only they did that, and it wasn’t nearly as intelligent or entertaining as this one.) There’s also a commentary with Steven Moffat (who wrote the episode), Mark Gatiss (who also plays brother Mycroft), producer Sue Vertue, Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), and Lara Pulver (Irene). Remember, “brainy is the new sexy”, although showing such attractive leads naked helps, too.
Watson (Martin Freeman) and Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) on the moors in "The Hounds of Baskerville"
“The Hounds of Baskerville” updates the monster dog tale while still being a horror story, although some of the fear this time comes from wondering just what those secret military experiments are about. You may recognize guest star Russell Tovey from the BBC Being Human; he plays the haunted young man who’s not sure what he’s seen. He also participates in the commentary track, with Moffat, Gatiss (who wrote this episode), and Vertue.
Andrew Scott as Jim Moriarty in Sherlock
“The Reichenbach Fall” again pits Holmes against Moriarty (Andrew Scott), in an episode about what’s important to Sherlock, those around him and others’ respect for his mind. I was left astounded by the cliffhanger, ready for a third season already — only I need to remember how quickly season one’s cliffhanger was wrapped up, and in such a low-key way, and not get my hopes up too much. It’s a very mean place in which to leave us, but a very historically accurate one, as Arthur Conan Doyle did the same thing to his readers.
The set also includes a nineteen-minute featurette, “Sherlock Uncovered”, which includes the actors and writers talking about the episodes and filming this season, especially in relation to what’s changed from the previous (such as a bit more action) and the amazing special effects.