TV Review: Sherlock (Season 4, 2017)

After more than a year, Sherlock returns to TV (or internet streaming if you’re here in Australia) with season 4, which brings three more episode of the classic literary duo to the screen. As always, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman) help solve crimes out of their Baker Street flat, often relying on Sherlock’s preternatural ability to read people and his surroundings, as well as the help of Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft (Mark Gatiss) and Watson’s now wife, and mother to his child Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington). Each episode is at least partially based on a story from the iconic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes anthology.

+ as expected, the series once again features some very good acting from the main duo, particularly from Martin Freeman (outside of one particularly bad scene near the end of the first episode). After three-plus seasons, Cumberbatch has the fast-talking sarcasm to a T, and the chemistry between Holmes and Watson is really like that of old friends
+ secondary characters, such as Mycroft Holmes (Gatiss) and Mary (Abbington) are also, as expected, admirable. The new relationship between Sherlock and Mary was perhaps my favourite to watch, as Sherlock didn’t seem to understand Mary was as important to Watson as Sherlock thought he was
+ the second episode, The Lying Detective, was absolutely fantastic, particularly due to a phenomenal performance by Toby Jones as entrepreneur Culverton Smith who may or may not also be a serial killer. Jones tapped into a fantastic ability to be both incredibly charming, but also undeniably terrifying, often at the same time. Unlike the other episodes, the twists of this episode were actually interesting and made for some good potential outcomes

– the series has gone too far from the original premise of Sherlock/Watson solving unsolvable crimes. Everything this season has to be a big twist, or dramatic reveal of characters or situations for Sherlock and Watson to overcome
– the first episode, The Six Thatchers, really dragged on in the middle third. A solid opening led to an interesting twist to move the plot along, but then a seemingly never ending montage of scenes led to a predictable ending. The final scene featured some of the worst acting I’ve seen, which left a bad taste in my mouth
– third episode in particular, The Final Problem, is just really unenjoyable outside of one solitary scene. Based off of an uninspired twist in general, it felt like a bunch of cliches built entirely around making the audience squeamish, but it all fell completely flat. Leading to what is not a particularly interesting ending, maybe the final problem of the episode’s title is the writers’ lack of imagination
– I don’t know why I noticed it more than anywhere else, but gosh darn there was a handful of horrible CGI moments this season

> Not to directly say whether he does or does not appear alive and well in this season, it really is apparent just how much the series needs Moriarty around for someone to challenge Sherlock. I am reminded of a recent article where the writers of Arrow said how difficult it was to write a Green Arrow story without the Black Canary, and all I can think is “well why the hell did you kill her off then?!”

Should you watch this show: This was far and away the weakest of the seasons so far. The idea of a pair of detectives has been thrown away for character twist after twist, and if this is to be the final season it will be a sad way for the series to conclude. It is difficult to say not to watch it, as each episode features what will surely be important moments in any future episodes, but just don’t get your hopes up for anything nearly as good as it has been previously.

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