It’s a good thing we won’t get any new Sherlock for a while

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Indeed, you can easily see the show continuing with the occasional Christmas special at five year intervals. It’s the sort of thing that could quickly become a beloved tradition, a special something extra. 

In that format, the show would be free to be a little more experimental. Perhaps it could be akin to The Abominable Bride, which saw Sherlock in Victorian times – Moffat and Gatiss are both big fans of the Basil Rathbone movies that place Sherlock Holmes in World War II, so that’s definitely something they might consider doing for an episode.

Here’s a thing about Sherlock – I reckon a break is a good thing! I’m pretty fond of the show, and I’d like to see it back eventually; equally, though, I do also reckon taking some time away might be to the benefit of all involved.

I mean, admittedly, that’s no huge insight – the long breaks were baked into the format by series 2, as big a part of the high concept as the modern era setting – but still, I think, true, and worth saying in amongst the clamoring for a speedy return. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all.

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Was The Final Problem the perfect last episode for Sherlock?

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In many ways, yes. Most immediately, it’s clear that The Final Problem was dedicated to ensuring that all the best aspects of Sherlock got their moment to shine; in that regard, no stone was left unturned. Lestrade, Molly, Mrs Hudson – even Moriarty got to return, bringing with him the same frenetic energy that characterised the show in its early days. There were plenty of classic Sherlock rug pulls too; look at how it was revealed that the prison governor was under Eurus’ control for an example of the quiet intelligence that has always characterised the show. With The Final Problem we got an episode that was as tense and engaging as The Great Game, as intimate as A Scandal in Belgravia, and as intelligent as The Reichenbach Fall – surely this is an episode that, even in its own right, would go down as a classic in Sherlock’s history?

More than that, though genuinely felt as though this was an episode dedicated to completing the story we’ve seen unfold for years – note the call backs to The Great Game and The Abominable Bride, and the subtle allusions to A Scandal in Belgravia. There’s something almost holistic about the construction of this episode, drawing together the sum total of the programme’s almost decade long history, and concentrating it into one 90-minute story.

An article I wrote immediately after The Final Problem ended. Broadly speaking, I do actually stand by it still; The Final Problem was far, far from perfect, and better critics than I have already done a good job explaining the flaws inherent within it. However, I’ll always maintain that as an episode, it was an excellent conclusion to this seven-year journey.

Plus, I finally used “holistic” in an article, so I’m reasonably pleased regardless.

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Sherlock: Why Mary Watson (probably) isn’t dead

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It’s also worth noting that a recurring theme within the episode is the narrative which rejects death; consider how the episode opens with Moriarty’s reappearance, and Mycroft essentially changing the ending of His Last Vow. Right from the beginning, The Six Thatchers is establishing an inherent ambiguity to that which is true; perhaps most significant of all though is The Merchant of Sumatra, oft-referenced throughout the episode, repeatedly emphasising that when confronted with a story that ended in death, Sherlock didn’t like it – and he changed the ending. Both Moffat and Gatiss are far too precise in their writing for that to be simple throwaway dialogue; it’s a clear statement of both theme and intent.

But another recurring theme throughout The Six Thatchers is the idea that Mary is, in many ways, an equal of Sherlock – as he himself put it to John, “she’s better than you at this”. Time and time again, The Six Thatchers presents Sherlock and Mary matching and surpassing one another, establishing Mary Watson as something of a mirror of Sherlock. What is Sherlock’s greatest achievement? What would demonstrate Mary is his equal, above all else? If Mary were, like Sherlock, able to fake her own death. It’s the sort of move that Moffat and Gatiss would delight in – at the same time both loyal to the Doyle canon, but also gleefully subversive of it.

While I didn’t really like The Six Thatchers on first broadcast, I’ve also been totally unable to get it out of my head for the past week – it’s had a far greater impact on me than any television series I’ve watched in a long time. Indeed, it’s the first programme I’ve watched in years that prompted me to sit down and theorise about the next episode, wondering where it was going and genuinely analysing it – it’s been a long time since I’ve even done that with Doctor Who, frankly.

If nothing else, I’ve now got a lot of respect for The Six Thatchers – surely anything that prompts this level of thought and dissection does, ultimately, have some sort of value. (Although I’ll be pretty annoyed if I was wrong.)

(And I did indeed turn out to be wrong. So that was disappointing.)

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4 Sherlock easter eggs you may not have spotted in The Six Thatchers

sherlock series 4 the six thatchers easter eggs benedict cumberbatch martin freeman steven moffat mark gatiss

Sherlock has a history of rewarding the dedicated viewer with references, easter eggs, hints and in-jokes, and The Six Thatchers was no exception.

Season four got off to a bang, driving a wedge between John and Sherlock and delivering a shocking ending that will no doubt continue to be felt across the rest of the series.

But in among all the excitement, did you manage to keep up your observational skills, like the great man himself? Did you spot these clues and references in last night’s Sherlock?

An article I’m quite proud of – it’s my first for the Metro! (Perhaps somewhat amusingly, though, the above text I’ve copied isn’t actually written by me. Whoops.)

Regardless, I think this is pretty cool.

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What is the future of Sherlock?

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Both of Sherlock’s headline stars are increasingly becoming blockbuster movie stars – it’s not just the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course, it’s also things like The Hobbit or The Imitation Game, and so on and so forth. With Hollywood ventures taking up more and more of the duo’s time, and Sherlock itself being no small commitment, it does beg the question – just what is the future of Sherlock going to be like?

In discussions with The Telegraph last year, Moffat said of that Sherlock “could go on forever, coming back now and again”. There’s something I find quite exciting about this prospect, I have to admit, because Cumberbatch is right; we do typically only see Holmes and Watson at a particular stage in their lives. Can you imagine spending decades with these characters, getting to know them across the years, exploring them at different points?

Another recent article for Yahoo, containing some speculation as to the future of Sherlock, as well as something of an outline as to my own personal hopes for the future of the show.

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TV Trailer Thoughts | Sherlock Series 4

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In amongst all the other SDCC news, we got this trailer for the fourth season of Sherlock, which will be released… some point next year? They’ve had success in the January slot before, so that’s a possibility, but it could also be a little early yet. We’ll see, I suppose.

What stands out about this particular trailer the most is that it’s quite clearly moved away from the original detective style storytelling. Sherlock is now very much an adventure series, with Sherlock Holmes just as much an action hero as he is a deductive genius. I can’t say it’s a change I’m particularly averse to, admittedly; there’s something about that which does, I feel, fit the character. Particularly Moffat and Cumberbatch’s iteration, actually, who’s always been pitched as being addicted to the thrill of adventure, ever since A Study in Pink.

(In light of that, I admit I’m a little worried about the potential incorporation of Sherlock’s drug abuse in upcoming episodes; largely because it’s something they eschewed mentioning in the past, with Moffat and Gatiss having made a conscious choice to leave it out. To do so now seems… well, I’m just worried that there’s a risk it might end up feeling underdeveloped, particularly given that this is going to be a fairly busy season. Nonetheless, these are just tentative concerns, and I’m still interested to see where that’s taken.)

Other than that? Well, there’s the Moriarty return, of course. I’m of the view that Moriarty isn’t really back, but rather it’s a series of pretaped videos and other machinations that he left in place to extend his influence even after his death. I expect this won’t be the plot for the whole season, as Toby Jones’ villain will presumably take the centre position – at the minute, I’m just hoping they don’t let Moriarty overshadow Jones, in the same way he very nearly overshadowed Magnussen last year.

There’s also the three clue words for this season, which are customarily enigmatic: Thatcher, Smith, and Sherrinford. This Radio Times article gives a pretty good rundown of what each could mean, and reaches largely similar conclusions to the ones I did (including, incidentally, the Thatcher blogpost). Of the three, it’s “Sherrinford” I’m perhaps most interested in – although that’s probably because its meaning is also the most obvious, so I’ve got the best idea of what it might mean. The dynamic between Sherlock and Mycroft has been consistently quite interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it might continue to evolve in this new series.

Generally, though, I’m quite excited about this. Even though I didn’t quite enjoy the third season of Sherlock as much as its predecessors, there’s a lot about this season that I’m looking forward to. It’s nice to see Lindsay Duncan back, after she was underutilised last year. It’s great to see all the characters I like so much, like Molly, Mrs. Hudson, and Mary – as well as, obviously, John and Sherlock. Particularly exciting is the fact that Rachel Talalay, who is fantastic, will be directing the opening episode; I’m really looking forward to seeing her take on Sherlock.

Roll on… 2017, or whenever.

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