Saturday, January 21, 2017

TV Review: SHERLOCK - Season 4

Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson are back for another season of this amazing series that has updated one of the greatest pop culture icons with a modern, present day take that has left fans of this character, like me, overwhelmed with glee thanks to an intelligent style that has managed to make the best out of the two worlds and bring life to a new world full of mischief and mystery.

The season opens with "The Six Thatchers." It is definitely the lesser one of the three episodes we got. We're reintroduced back to the characters after the events of the Christmas special episode and it is pretty much run-of-mill Sherlock stuff. It is as always an absolute honor to see Cumberbatch back in the role and he continues to kill it, time and time again his word by word delivery is impeccable and he embodies the character to perfection.

Martin Freeman is getting better and better in his role and this season he gave us his best moments by far. He manages to repair some little mistakes he made in past seasons, he really owns the role in this one and his character manages to be pushed to the forefront in many situations and because of this he shows a confidence and a camaraderie with Sherlock that is at its peak. The two know each other better than ever and it is great to see Watson owning some scenes.

Anyways, the first episodes go into another mystery for Sherlock to solve. They delve into the past of Mary's character and I think that this is the big problem here. The banter is very good, as always, and the set-up is actually pretty fascinating, but the more it goes on the more it looses the pathos you expect from Sherlock. It is both unwarranted and unnecessary for this to be a look into a character's past. I would have been much happier with a mystery that doesn't go into one of the character's arc, especially if its Mary since she has had much on her plate already.

The mystery evolves into a scheme that doesn't really serve much. We get one big surprise and for the rest the episode falls a little flat even though it is hard to not be at least entertained with the characters having their usual back and forth that is always filled with novelties and character evolution.

Then we get to "The Lying Detective" which might just be the best episode of the whole series. I find that the best episodes in this series are the one that combine a standard mystery for Sherlock to solve with all of the characters having some part to play in it. Episode 2 is the epitome of that.

Scene after scene we are riveted by the character drama going on as much as we are fascinated by the mystery behind Toby Jones' presumed murder and what a show he puts on, perfect casting and scene stealing performance. The writing is always on point. It makes Sherlock face a new challenge that we haven't seen before and the way it is brought to the screen is simply jaw dropping.

Nick Hurran directs the hell out of this, the editing here is a masterclass of technique, and the visual ideas that bring to life Sherlock's twisted mind in a way that we have never seen before. The revelations literally never stop coming from the first to the last moment and they are constantly surprising. You never know who is on top of the game and it is a continuous war of dialogue and brains that keeps the audience glued to the screen for 90 minutes of Sherlock perfection.

This episode is definitely my favorite. It encapsulates everything that is beautiful about this character and this series and gives us every kind of moment we love, even a beautiful date for Sherlock that has a twist in it, but also serves as a further exploration of his character, setting up in just three minutes possibly every story element of this and the subsequent episode. The cherry on top is the raw mystery solving that is once again brilliantly thought out and gives us treasures of logic puzzles.

Then comes "The Final Problem" which ends off this season on an overwhelming high note. This is probably the most intense episode this series has ever given us, and the most intelligent too. This review is non-spoilers so I won't delve deep into what happens, just know that it is glorious. There might be some moments that are too over the top, but we have come to expect this in a way from the creators and appreciate these moments for what they are.

The dialogue exchanges here a a work of art unto themselves, not to mention the way they are delivered, with absolutely stunning performances from everyone. We touch emotional beats that haven't been covered before in this series and the way they are integrated into the narrative flaw is just brilliant. The pace of the episode is insane and the tension and level of intelligence in the suspense they manage to keep up for the whole duration is simply something unto its own. You have no time to rest, it just becomes a whirlwind of emotions and puzzles, it takes you away and you don't have time to think about it until its finished which is when you are reminded why this series, with all of its peculiarities and bigger than life ideas, remains a beautiful study of the human condition and of how relationships are formed and built upon.

Season 4 is another great addition to the Sherlock canon. Once again the team of writers and director bring to life a complicated puzzle that is as crowd pleasing as it is smart and that is something that is always appreciated, other than constantly upping the ante in the filmmaking techniques employed.

James' Score: 9/10

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