Robert Tanitch reviews Sherlock Series 3 Special Edition (BBC)
Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat bring Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson into the 21th century with real panache and a detailed knowledge of the originals. Not everybody thought it was a good idea. But it has worked; and it is vastly superior to the Robert Downey Jr./Jude Law travesties.
Holmes first appeared on stage in New York in 1899 when he was played by William Gillette in a play written by Gillette and Conan Doyle. Since then he has been played by over 200 actors world-wide, the most famous to British audiences being Basil Rathbone on screen and Jeremy Brett on television.
Now Benedict Cumberbatch has taken on the role and made it his very own and become a world star. Martin Freeman is also a far cry from the buffoon played by Nigel Bruce who was also a far cry from the doctor Doyle created. The series succeeds because of the relationship between the two men.
Series 2 ended with Holmes falling from the roof of a tall building to his death, a mirror image as to what happened at the Reichenbach Falls in The Final Problem in 1893, and it seemed as if the whole world wanted to know how Holmes had faked it.
The series is notable for its visually arresting individual images and their extremely clever editing. The actual fast forwarding/fast backing construction gives the action its pace.
The one big disappointment of Series Three is the absence of Andrew Scott’s brilliant and original Moriarty. Such was the fury of the public when Conan Doyle killed off Holmes, he had to bring him back to life. So now, the good news is Gatiss and Moffat are bringing Scott and Moriarty back for Series 4.
You will probably have also heard that Cumberbatch will be playing Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre at the end of 2015.