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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5 years on, can we settle the question – is Elementary better than Sherlock?

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Today marks five years since the first episode of Elementary – the American retelling of Sherlock Holmes, set in the modern day and starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. 

Since that first episode, it’s been repeatedly compared to Sherlock – the British retelling of Sherlock Holmes, set in the modern day, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It also first aired a few years before Elementary, leading to more than one accusation of copying. 

So, with Elementary about to enter its sixth season, and Sherlock seemingly finished for the time being, can we finally settle the question – which is better?

Something of a repeat from me today, actually; the first ‘proper’ blog post I wrote on tumblr was on a similar topic, and it was also the first to pick up much traction. I don’t think, back then, I ever dreamed I’d be in the position I’m in now – so it’s nice to return to this!

To hedge against the obvious: I don’t actually think Elementary is better than Sherlock. I also, however, don’t think Sherlock is better than Elementary. They’re both such different beasts, with different strengths and more importantly different aims, it’s difficult to compare the two – to attempt to seriously is a folly, really. Essentially, then, I like them both a lot, albeit for different reasons, and in different ways.

And, in response to the other obvious question: No, I didn’t make this image, no, I don’t know who did, no, I don’t know what they were thinking.

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Where next for Steven Moffat?

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Prior to Doctor Who, much of Moffat’s work was in sitcoms – shows like Joking Apart and Coupling being particularly notable for their semi-autobiographical nature. Might we see something in this vein from Moffat once more – a spiritual successor to Coupling, much like Cucumber was to Queer as Folk, bringing with it a comedic interpretation of the last decade of Moffat’s life? Might it be time for a subversive, satirical workplace comedy, based around the hectic production of one of the biggest shows in the world?

An article pondering about the future of Steven Moffat’s career, because I’m presumptuous like that.

It does seem likely – based on comments that he’s made in interviews and so on – that Moffat will return to comedy, and given that all his previous comedies have been semi-autobiographical, it’s possible they’ll continue in that vein. I think I’ve sort of built up a platonic ideal of Moffat’s future career in my head, with little heed paid to what he might actually want to do. Imagine him casting Mark Gatiss as the lead of the show, a writer helming “Mr X”, the BBC’s most high-profile science fiction programme. It’d be hilarious.

(Of course, not long after leaving Doctor Who, Moffat said he’d do a bit of theatre and then adapt Dracula with Gatiss. And then he wrote a Doctor Who book. So, you know.)

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4 Sherlock easter eggs you might not have noticed in The Final Problem

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With what could well be the final episode of Sherlock, we’ve been given one last chance to exercise our observational skills – to put into practice the science of deduction.

As we moved from one thrilling set piece to another, there was plenty to spot – but it’s understandable if you were caught up in the drama.

Don’t worry, though – we’ve got you covered. Here are four easter eggs you may not have noticed in The Final Problem.

(Be warned – there are some spoilers for The Final Problem throughout this article.)

The final of my three Metro Sherlock articles, which is quite a good one, I reckon.

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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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4 Sherlock easter eggs you may not have noticed in The Lying Detective

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Another episode of Sherlock, another explosive cliffhanger – and now, the game really is on.

In among the excitement, though, did you exercise your deductive prowess? Did you simply see, or did you ‘observe’?

There’s so much going on that, frankly, we don’t blame you if you missed some important moments. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Here are four Easter eggs you may not have noticed in The Lying Detective

And we’ve got the Metro once more with this article. (I’ve been writing about Sherlock a lot lately, I realise.)

Unlike my previous effort, I didn’t actually think of all of these ones myself, and had to check the internet to clarify a few bits. I know, I know. In this case, I was Lestrade rather than Holmes.

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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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Why Sherlock’s return didn’t quite work

sherlock the reichenbach fall death benedict cumberbatch mark gatiss steven moffat sherlock series 2 stephen thompson toby haynes

Ambiguities notwithstanding, the presented explanations as to how Sherlock faked his death all had one thing in common: the intention to fool John. It’s all about his perspective – where he’s standing, what he can see, and so on and so forth. It’s understandable in some ways, because in that scene John is the audience surrogate; indeed, there’s a tradition dating back to the start of Watson acting in that role. Convincing John of Sherlock’s death is, in effect, necessary to demonstrate it to the audience. But, here’s the thing: in an instance of dramatic irony, it’s revealed to the audience that Sherlock is alive. Most would have been expecting it, of course, but the confirmation shifts our perspective away from John’s – suddenly, we become a confidante. We’re in on it. John isn’t.

The Reichenbach Fall indicates a need to fool Moriarty’s assassins; The Empty Hearse presents instead an attempt to fool John, with no explanation as to why. The ending of The Reichenbach Fall becomes less about Sherlock outwitting Moriarty against the clock, and more about Sherlock pulling a cruel and elaborate prank on his best and only friend.

Finally drawing a close to my series of Sherlock articles (at least until Sunday), here’s one that expands on some observations I made a few years ago.

It’s weird, I guess; I feel like pivoting away from the technicalities to focus on the emotional aspect was the most sensible – indeed, even essential – choice to make. But I don’t feel like the emotional aspect landed, given the above; I suspect that’s part of why so many people struggled on the technicalities of it. (Though it didn’t help that the technicalities were a bit ridiculous anyway.)

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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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