by David Thiel
Good detectives won’t stay dead. That’s what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle learned when he killed off his most famous literary creation, Sherlock Holmes, in his short story "The Final Problem." Fans demanded Holmes’ resurrection from the waters of Reichenbach Falls, but it was ten years before Doyle provided him an escape hatch in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”
Happily, fans of the modern Sherlock TV series haven’t had to wait nearly as long. Despite series star Benedict Cumberbatch being contractually obliged to appear in every movie released in 2013, it took only two years for new adventures of our favorite bromantic investigators, Holmes and Watson.
I previewed the first episode of the third series of Sherlock, which comes to WILL-TV Sunday, January 19 at 9:00 pm, and enjoyed it very much! It was great fun to see Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman sparring verbally (and otherwise) again, and while the mystery plot was weak, the character work and humor more than compensated.
Mild spoilers ahead!
“The Empty Hearse” (see what they did there?) doesn’t care very much about setting a great task for Holmes, just a threat plausible enough to necessitate his return to public life. An underground terrorist plot provides a bit of urgency and a good scene for Freeman as the clock ticks to destruction, but really this episode is all about how the apparent loss of Holmes affected his friends while he was away mopping up the remainder of arch criminal Moriarty’s organization.
The absence has seemingly humanized Sherlock. He's much more aware of the emotional needs of his friends, even as he spectacularly (and hilariously) misjudges the ideal manner of letting Watson know that he is alive.
Watson’s new girlfriend Mary Morstan (played by Freeman’s real-life partner, Amanda Abbington) is a winning new addition to the cast, and the script avoids the obvious route of placing her as an impediment to his reconciliation with Holmes.
Oh, and for those waiting for an explanation of how Holmes pulled off his faked suicide, you’ll get one. Or several. The episode takes great pleasure in poking fun at overelaborate fan theories. I suspect that writer and Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss (who also plays Holmes’ brother Mycroft) spent a fair amount of time secretly reading Internet forums in search of the most ridiculous solutions to incorporate into his script.
Sherlock is back! And you’ll find him on WILL-TV!