Sherlock, Series 2, BBC One | TV reviews, news & interviews
Sherlock, Series 2, BBC One
The rebooted net 'tec returns in a stylish and sexy game of wits
My, but it’s been a bumper few months for the Baker Street Boy. There’s been Anthony Horowitz’s superior new Holmes novel, The House of Silk, Guy Ritchie’s second instalment of his steampunk take on Sherlock as karate-kicking action hero, and now the return of the BBC’s stylish reboot of Holmes as a new millennium net 'tec. And what a lot of fun it was. There may be helicopters, webcams and Wi-Fi, and Dr Watson may be blogging rather than scratching away at the old pen and ink, but still the essence of what makes Holmes such an enduringly compelling fictional figure was evident in spades.
The first of three new 90-minute films began where the last series left off, reviewing the stand-off between Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) and the psychopathic “consulting criminal” Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott, whose resemblance to Dec from Ant & Dec only slightly dulled his see-sawing menace).
It proved to be the last we saw of Holmes’s arch-rival until very near the end of this episode, though he cast a long shadow. Entitled A Scandal in Belgravia, the plot stuck surprisely close to the broad outline of A Scandal in Bohemia, one of Conan Doyle’s raciest tales. The Bohemian Grand Duke of Cassel-Felstein in the original story had become a (female) member of the British royal family, snapped in a series of compromising positions with Irene Adler (Lara Pulver, pictured left), recast as a high-end dominatrix who, in Mycroft’s peerless phrase, provided “recreational scolding” to the rich and powerful. Considerably cooler and smarter than Holmes's estimation of the average female of the species, Adler had made the royals aware of the existence of the slap-happy snaps and Holmes was duly employed to get them back. And so the game was afoot. A game of equals. Almost.
The plot – taking the original spirit of the Holmes stories and going hell-for-leather – was confused, convoluted nonsense, like one of those head-spinning Ted Rogers riddles that would eventually lead to Dusty Bin. It encompassed the mysterious murder (by boomerang, it transpired) of a man in a remote hillside, several set-tos with US spooks, a faked death, bluffs and double-bluffs, after all of which it became clear that the spanking of the royal rear (which put quite another spin on the phrase blue blood) was a red herring, diverting attention from a more sinister terrorist plot to blow up a jumbo jet. While whipping some high-ranking civil servant into a frenzy Adler had captured on her camera phone vital information pertaining to the plot, and, using her womanly wiles, later snared Holmes into deciphering the clue. She then fed the info straight to Moriarty, who informed the terrorist cells – and well, yes, it all eventually got more than a little silly.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 7,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Inside story of how the lights went out all over Europe
BBC One's upcoming Great War nursing drama depicts life behind the front line
Fine cast veers queasily from cartoon to more accomplished literary comedy
Archive footage of Margot Fonteyn among the highlights of a week of ballet programmes
It may be looking a little creaky, but it's still fun and frothy
Portrait of South Sudanese football team is a little too comfortable with poking fun
Could this be a series too far for Peter Moffat's legal eagles?
Provocative, hectoring and loquacious - Jonathan Meades on the architecture people love to hate
Time Team expands its horizons in tribute to architect Sir Edwin Lutyens
Death on the bayou, with an added philosophical twist
Tales from the starchitects, and a tribute to a brilliant maverick, Ian Nairn
Tough and confident start for new Fire Brigade drama