BINGE-WATCHING: SHERLOCK (TV SERIES) S1, S2, S3 & S4

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson’s adventures in 21st century London. A thrilling, funny, fast-paced contemporary re-imagining of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic.

The series depicts “consulting detective” Sherlock Holmes solving various mysteries in modern-day London. Holmes is assisted by his flatmate and friend, Dr John Watson, who has returned from military service in Afghanistan with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Although Metropolitan Police Service Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade and others are at first suspicious of Holmes, over time his exceptional intellect and bold powers of observation persuade them of his value. In part through Watson’s blog documenting their adventures, Holmes becomes a reluctant celebrity with the press reporting on his cases and eccentric personal life. Both ordinary people and the British government ask for his help. Although Sherlock depicts a variety of crimes and perpetrators, Holmes’ conflict with archnemesis Jim Moriarty is a recurring feature. Molly Hooper, a pathologist at St. Bart’s Hospital, occasionally assists Holmes in his cases. Other recurring roles include Mrs Hudson, Holmes and Watson’s landlady, and series co-creator Mark Gatiss as Holmes’ elder brother Mycroft.



Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Doctor John Watson. The series is a co-production of the British network BBC and the American station WGBH Boston for its Masterpiece anthology series on PBS, along with Hartswood Films, with Moffat, Gatiss, Sue Vertue and Rebecca Eaton serving as executive producers. Four series, each consisting of three episodes, have been produced. The first series was initially broadcast in July and August 2010 on the BBC, later premiering on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States in October 2010. A second series of three episodes was first broadcast in the UK in January 2012, and then in the U.S. during May 2012. The third series premiered in the UK on January 1, 2014 and in the US on January 19, 2014. A special episode premiered on January 1, 2016, on BBC One and PBS, marking the first time the series has aired on the same day in the UK and U.S. The fourth series began airing on BBC One and PBS on January 1, 2017 and concluded on January 15, 2017.

Series 1 (2010)

The first episode, A Study in Pink, loosely based upon the first Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet, was written by Moffat and directed by Paul McGuigan. The story depicts the introduction of Sherlock to John, and them entering a flatshare at Baker Street in London, and then their investigation into a series of deaths, initially believed to be suicides. Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older brother, played by Mark Gatiss, also appears for the first time. The episode was first broadcast simultaneously on BBC One and BBC HD on July 25, 2010.

The second episode, The Blind Banker, was first broadcast on August 1, 2010. Written by Stephen Thompson and directed by Euros Lyn, the episode depicts Holmes being hired by an old university acquaintance to investigate a mysterious break-in at a bank in the City of London.

The first series concluded with The Great Game, first broadcast on August 8, 2010. The episode introduces the character of archenemy James Moriarty (played by Andrew Scott) to the series, who sets Holmes deadlines to solve a series of apparently unrelated cases. Written by Mark Gatiss and directed by McGuigan, The Great Game ends with a cliffhanger in which Sherlock and Moriarty reach a standoff involving a bomb attached to a vest removed moments earlier from Watson.



Series 2 (2012)

After the high ratings for A Study in Pink, the BBC was reportedly eager to produce more episodes. On August 10, 2010, it was confirmed that Sherlock had been renewed for a second series. At the 2011 convention, Gatiss confirmed which stories would be adapted, and that the writers of the first series would each write an episode for series two. Acknowledging that A Scandal in Bohemia, The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Final Problem are amongst the best-known Holmes stories, Gatiss explained, “We knew after having a successful first run that the natural order would be to do three of the most famous stories.” “There’s the question of how to go out on a cliffhanger and then the thematic things of the three stories, where we were trying to get to and what Sherlock and John’s relationship is a little further on. You can’t just go back to: “You have no emotions.” “I don’t care.” You’ve got to move on somewhere and make sure the other characters have something of a journey too.” Paul McGuigan directed the first two episodes, and Doctor Who director Toby Haynes handled the last one. The second series of three 90-minute episodes was initially planned to air in late 2011, but was delayed until early January 2012.

A Scandal in Belgravia, written by Steven Moffat and directed by Paul McGuigan, was first broadcast on January 1, 2012. Loosely based on A Scandal in Bohemia, the episode depicts Holmes’s quest to retrieve compromising photos of a minor royal held on the camera phone of Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a ruthless and brilliant dominatrix who also trades in classified information extracted from her rich and powerful clients.

Mark Gatiss wrote The Hounds of Baskerville, which investigates the strange activities at a military base. Aware that The Hound of the Baskervilles, first published in 1902, was one of the most famous of Conan Doyle’s original stories, Gatiss felt a greater responsibility to include familiar elements of the story than he does when adapting the lesser-known stories. Russell Tovey appeared as Henry Knight, a man whose father was ripped apart by a gigantic hound on Dartmoor 20 years earlier. Directed by McGuigan, the episode was first broadcast on January 8, 2012.

The second series concluded with The Reichenbach Fall. Steve Thompson wrote the episode, which was directed by Toby Haynes, who had previously directed many of Moffat’s Doctor Who episodes. First broadcast on January 15, 2012, the episode follows Moriarty’s plot to discredit and kill Sherlock Holmes, concluding with Holmes faking his suicide. It was based upon Conan Doyle’s story The Final Problem, in which Sherlock and Moriarty are presumed to have fallen to their deaths from the Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland. Moffat felt that he and co-creator Gatiss had outdone Conan Doyle in their version of Holmes’ fall and Moffat added that, in that much-discussed sequence, there was still “a clue everybody’s missed”.



Christmas mini-episode (2013)

BBC One premiered a seven-minute Sherlock mini-episode over the 2013 Christmas period entitled Many Happy Returns. The episode is available via BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button service, and BBC’s YouTube channel, and acts as a prequel to the third series.

The synopsis for the episode reads “Sherlock has been gone for two years. But someone isn’t quite convinced that he’s dead.” The “someone” turns out to be Anderson, the forensics technician from series 1 and 2 (who has now lost his job due to his obsessive conviction that the detective still lives). He had a long-standing mistrust of Sherlock, yet is now one of the few people who believes Sherlock is alive, and throughout the episode is trying to convince Lestrade. Anderson tracks him via various mysterious events from Tibet to New Delhi to Germany in which he seems to be involved and points out that the incidents are getting progressively closer to London.



Series 3 (2014)

After the end of the final episode of the second series, Moffat and Gatiss both announced on Twitter that a third series had been commissioned at the same time as series two, and a part of the resolution to The Reichenbach Fall was filmed concurrently with series two. Without revealing whether Moriarty also faked his own death at the end of series two, Moffat suggested that Moriarty will not feature heavily in future series of Sherlock.

The Empty Hearse, written by Mark Gatiss and directed by Jeremy Lovering, is the first episode of Series 3 and was first broadcast on January 1, 2014. Inspired by The Adventure of the Empty House by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the episode follows Sherlock Holmes’ return to London and reunion with John Watson, and their subsequent solving of an underground terrorist network. The episode achieved an official rating of 12.72 million viewers, making it the highest rated drama episode shown on UK television in 2014.

In The Sign of Three, written by Stephen Thompson, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, Watson and Mary Morstan get married. The episode takes place during the wedding reception and the story is told through flashbacks. The episode title is inspired by The Sign of the Four and was first broadcast on January 5, 2014.

The final episode His Last Vow was first broadcast on January 12, 2014, on BBC One, and written by Steven Moffat, directed by Nick Hurran and is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton. This case leads Sherlock into conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen), a “terrifying” villain who was introduced as an unnamed villain in episode one. Mary Morstan and Sherlock Holmes both break into Magnussen’s office, where, having surprised each other, Mary shoots Sherlock. Later, Holmes deduces that Mary was formerly a secret agent, and reveals this to Watson. Holmes and Watson try to get Magnussen arrested, but their attempt fails, and Holmes shoots Magnussen to stop him from blackmailing Mary Watson. Mycroft arranges that Sherlock will be exiled from the United Kingdom instead of being tried for murder. As Sherlock’s plane takes off, every video screen in London broadcasts the image of Moriarty, and Sherlock is recalled to deal with the crisis associated with Moriarty’s potential return.

The third series aired in the United States on PBS over a period of three weeks, airing late January to early February 2014.



Special (2016)

On July 2, 2014, it was announced there would be a special episode broadcast between the third and fourth series. Filming began on January 5, 2015 and wrapped on February 10, 2015. Moffat confirmed the episode is set in Victorian London, saying, “The special is its own thing. We wouldn’t have done the story we’re doing, and the way we’re doing it, if we didn’t have this special. It’s not part of the run of three episodes. So we had this to do it ... It’s kind of in its own little bubble.”

In October 2015, the title of the episode was announced as The Abominable Bride. It was broadcast on January 1, 2016 at 9:00 pm local time on BBC One in the UK, and on PBS in the US. The episode was simulcast in British cinemas on January 1, and was shown on January 5 and 6, 2016 in selected cinemas throughout the US. Exclusive bonus material in the cinema presentation included a guided tour of 221B Baker Street from Steven Moffat and a look behind the scenes at how the special episode was made featuring all the lead cast and crew.



Series 4 (2017)

By October 2013, a fourth series was commissioned, with scripts planned. Moffat told The Telegraph in January 2014, “we’re all keen to continue,” but said it had been difficult to co-ordinate the lead actors’ schedules. Filming began on April 4, 2016 at Pinewood Studio Wales, and lasted until August 5. In May 2016 it was announced that Toby Jones had been cast as a villain from Sherlock Holmes lore. The fourth series premiered on January 1, 2017, with The Six Thatchers. The second episode The Lying Detective aired on January 8, 2017; the last episode The Final Problem aired on January 15, 2017.



Series 5 (Coming soon)

In January 2014, Moffat stated that a fifth series had been plotted by himself and Gatiss, however by the release of the fourth series in January 2017, the duo had not yet decided whether to produce it. Cumberbatch is signed for a fifth series.

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The show met with critical acclaim, sustaining positive reviews across its three series. Series one holds a Metacritic score of 85/100, based on 17 reviews, and series two scored 91/100, based on 24 reviews, while series three holds a score of 88/100, based on 22 reviews. The first two series hold 100% rating at critical aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, and series three has a 97% approval rating. The fourth series holds a rating of 59%. The first episode rated highly on the Appreciation Index.

The Observer said the show was “a cross between Withnail and I and The Bourne Ultimatum, there is also a hint of Doctor Who about the drama; hardly surprising, since it has been written and created by Doctor Who writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat.” The Guardian’s Dan Martin said, “It’s early days, but the first of three 90-minute movies, A Study In Pink, is brilliantly promising. It has the finesse of Spooks but is indisputably Sherlock Holmes. The deduction sequences are ingenious, and the plot is classic Moffat intricacy.” Tom Sutcliffe for The Independent wrote, “Sherlock is a triumph, witty and knowing, without ever undercutting the flair and dazzle of the original. It understands that Holmes isn’t really about plot but about charisma ... Flagrantly unfaithful to the original in some respects, Sherlock is wonderfully loyal to it in every way that matters.” The lead actors were commended. Critic Victoria Thorpe said, “Freeman’s dependable, capable Watson unlocks this modern Holmes, a man who now describes himself as “a high-functioning sociopath.” ” Following the second series’ opening episode, Sarah Crompton, for The Telegraph, asserts that “Cumberbatch is utterly credible as a man who lives entirely in his cerebellum with little regard for the world outside, making Sherlock the perfect depiction of Holmes for our times”.

Conan Doyle fans were generally appreciative. Gwilym Mumford, for The Guardian, suggested that “this has to do with the fact that Moffat and Gatiss are enormously knowledgeable about Conan Doyle’s work, and their reimagining incorporates big- and small-screen adaptations of Holmes, as well as the original stories. As Gatiss puts it: “Everything is canonical.” ” Sarah Crompton, for The Telegraph, identifies some of the jokes and allusions intended for fans. Commenting specifically on the second series’ finale The Reichenbach Fall, The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston praised the show’s faithfulness to Conan Doyle, but also how “it will wander, taking in mobile phone technology and computer hacking ... But it doesn’t feel like cheating; more like an open relationship, agreed by both parties.”

In the 2011 BAFTA awards, the show as a whole won the award for Best Drama Series, while Freeman (as Dr Watson) won the award for the Best Supporting Actor. Cumberbatch was nominated for Best Actor. Andrew Scott won 2012’s Best Supporting Actor, beating Freeman, for his work in the second series, which was nominated in other categories.

Following multiple nominations for the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards (2011) and 64th Primetime Emmy Awards (2012), the show won multiple Emmys at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards (2014), including Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Cumberbatch, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Freeman and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special for Moffat. It subsequently won the Emmy for Best Television Film at the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards (2016).

The first series also won the Arqiva award for the “best terrestrial show” at the 2011 Edinburgh International Television Festival. A Study in Pink and A Scandal in Belgravia were nominated for Emmy Awards in a variety of categories. The series won several BAFTA Cymru awards: television drama, Director: Fiction (Euros Lyn), Director of Photography: Fiction (Steve Lawes), Production Design (Arwel Wyn Jones), and Make Up & Hair (Claire Pritchard-Jones). Charlie Phillips won the “Editing: Fiction” category at the British Academy Television Craft Awards. The show was also nominated for the YouTube Audience Award. Source.

Watch Sherlock Season 1, 2, 3 & 4 online.

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