Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 2 (Spoiler-Free)

Sherlock and Moriarty are 'absolutely obsessed with each other', confirms  Andrew Scott | The Independent | The Independent

Rating: 9.8 out of 10

Intro

After watching the first season of Sherlock, I was super excited to dive in to Season 2. Below I share my impression of the season as a whole. As it is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Sherlock Season 2 aired in 2012 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Andrew Scott, and Lara Pulver.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Summary

By this time, Watson and Sherlock have been living together in a flat for some time, solving mysteries and generally getting better acquainted. We last saw them in Season 1 when Moriarty was threatening their lives.

In this season, Sherlock and Watson face off against Moriarty and also have to contend with the dominatrix Irene Adler.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Intriguing new character this season
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Engaging plot
  • Carefully chosen camera angles
  • Introduction of the mind palace
  • Catchy theme song

Cons

  • Nudity
  • Over-the-top drama when Sherlock is thinking deeply (in his “mind palace”)

Review

Acting

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, was incredible. They both played their parts well.

All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized. This season, for the first time, we see Sherlock take a vague interest in a woman, and we see him exhibit actual fear. Cumberbatch was highly skilled at demonstrating both.

Setting

Sherlock Holmes - Wikiwand
Sherlock and Watson’s flat in Sherlock

The setting in Season 2 is the same as Season 1, unsurprisingly. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones remains a way for this new Sherlock to test his intellect. This transition from the Victorian London of the books to modern-day London is seamless.

Characters

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is always blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage.

This quote reveals just how blunt he can be.

You repel me.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock

It is demonstrated in this season that he cannot always reign in his emotions, even though he considers them “a grit on the lens.”

He shows emotions he has not shown before as he meets new challenges. These emotions expand on his character rather than contradicting it.

It was more than that, John. It was doubt. I felt doubt. I’ve always been able to trust my senses, the evidence of my own eyes, until last night.”

Watson is of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has a high tolerance for Sherlock, but even he loses his temper sometimes at Sherlock’s careless comments and ill-timed deductions.

The relationship between Sherlock and Watson gets closer in this season (although there is a fair share of tension and squabbles). Sherlock even attempts humor to “break the ice.” Watson responds with:

Funny doesn’t suit you. I’d stick to ice.”

Watson to Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
Irene Adler (BBC series) | Villains Wiki | Fandom

Irene Adler is the new character added to the mix, a dominatrix. She is intelligent enough to banter well with Sherlock, and provoking enough to make Watson uncomfortable.

The thing that is the most fun about Irene Adler is the way Sherlock reacts to her. Between her and Moriarty, Sherlock has some well-matched antagonists.

My favorite line of hers is this:

You know what the problem with a disguise is, Mr. Holmes? No matter how hard you try, it’s always a self-portrait.”

Irene Adler in Sherlock
Sherlock's Andrew Scott: fans asked me every day whether Moriarty would  return

Moriarty is undeniably intelligent and his schemes are both elaborate and effective. He’s a good villain – creepy, bizarre, and insane.

Script

The script is clever, deepening the relationship between the characters and creating many funny moments. Just one of the many examples of humor in the text is when Sherlock asked Watson to punch him. When Watson seemed confused, Sherlock asked if he heard correctly. Then, Watson said this:

I always hear ‘punch me in the face’ when you’re speaking, but it’s usually sub-text.”

John Watson in Sherlock

Plot

Without spoiling anything, all I can say is that if you liked the plot of Season 1, you will like Season 2 as well. The episode I found most interesting in terms of plot was The Hounds of Baskerville.

Camera Angles

The camera angles chosen at various times during the episodes added to the drama. For instance, the camera was jostled to simulate running in one of the episodes.

Mind Palace

Season 2 introduces the concept of a mind palace, a memory technique that mentally connects information to an imagined physical location. It is a testament to Sherlock’s ego that he calls his imagined location a palace rather than a house or street or even a mansion.

While on the topic of his mind palace, I should mention that Sherlock does some really dramatic motions while he’s thinking of it. Fly-swatting, phone-swiping, head-jolting sorts of motions. It’s all very dramatic and unlike him to be that expressive.

Nudity

There was a scene with nudity in it. I do not think that it was a wise choice on the part of the directors. Having that scene reduces the size of the potential audience while catering to the whims of a small percentage of their audience. Before and after that episode it really doesn’t seem like that kind of show.

That being said, there were some conveniently placed items of furniture and people that limited how much one could really see of the nude person, so I do not feel like it was a major con.

Conclusion

This show really deserves it’s rating of 9.8 out of 10. Although I admit I liked Season 1 best, this season was so good that I would certainly recommend it, and would gladly watch it again.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate things, check out my rating system.

Links

For my review of Season 1, click here.

Shows

Show Review: Sherlock Season 1 (Spoiler-Free)

Show: Sherlock, Season 1 (2010)

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

Although I have written movie and book reviews, this is my first show review. I am thrilled to be able to share with you my reaction to and rating of Sherlock Season 1.

As this is a spoiler-free review, I will limit how much I reveal of the plot.

Background

Sherlock Season 1 aired in 2010 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, and Andrew Scott.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Strong character development
  • Benefit of a familiar character with a new spin
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Intriguing titles
  • Engaging plot
  • Catchy theme song

Cons

  • I could not think of any specific cons for this season.

Review

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, was incredible. They both played their parts well. All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized.

The setting is more relevant to a modern-day audience than Victorian London and allows for a unique spin on a Sherlock Holmes story. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones creates a new playing field for a new Sherlock to test his intellect.

The main characters are highly developed.

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage. He diagnoses himself as a sociopath, which is shown by this comment:

I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high-functioning sociopath. Do your research.”

Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock

Ironically, he is not actually a psychopath or a sociopath, which is argued very strongly in this article by psychologist Maria Konnikova. One line of reasoning used in the article is that he is not actually devoid of empathy, shown by his treatment of Watson and Mrs. Hudson on numerous occasions. Another point is that he does feel emotions and that his calculated coldness is learned rather than innate. Konnikova makes several other valid points, so I would recommend her article.

Watson also seems to be of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has his own dark side, however, and when Sherlock asks him if he wants to see more death, he says:

Oh, God, yes.”

John Watson in Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes is a familiar character, which means that the directors of this show have to find a way to embrace the old while creating a new take on Sherlock. They have done this masterfully.

The first time we see Sherlock, he is viciously beating a corpse with a whip. That seems contrary to his character: the cold, intelligent type. But it isn’t. It’s a new take on his character. By emphasizing his lack of empathy at the beginning, the directors make his character more ambiguous.

Is Sherlock good or bad? Well, he’s both, just like any other human being. He has his negative and positive qualities, and by showing his negative qualities first, the directors introduced the possibility of a bad or morally ambiguous character.

It is a way of generating curiosity and analysis. Viewers get to know the harder parts of Sherlock and then have to decide if that is somewhat made up for by his better qualities.

This makes Sherlock so much more than the intelligent “consulting detective.”

The script is often comical and further develops the characters. When Sherlock asks Molly about her lipstick and Anderson about how long his wife has been away, this reveals both his lack of tact and the ingenuity of the script that made that apparent.

The titles of the episodes are intriguing. For instance, a quick search of “A Study in Pink” finds that it is an echo of the first Sherlock Holmes book written by Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet. It is also a strange title because of the associations people have with the color pink: for example, happiness, peppiness, even superficiality. It stands out from the darker atmosphere of Sherlock. It is also interesting to note that this becomes the name of Watson’s blog article.

The plot is engaging and kept me watching carefully. It is always fun to try to deduce how Sherlock has come to his conclusions before he condescends to explain it. The first episode, “A Study in Pink,” is solving the case of serial suicides, which I thought was creative.

Conclusion

I would rate this show 10 out of 10 stars. It was so good that I failed to find any cons.

Have you watched it yourself? Or do you intend to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.