Sherlock Series 4 Premiere: How much Canon can we reference?
I will say that the Sherlock series 4 premiere was pretty good, and any complaints I have about Sherlock Holmes being psychotic or the show becoming Mission Impossible really is nitpicking. The first episode is called “The Six Thatchers”, in reference to “The Six Napoleons”, one of my favorite Holmes stories ever. But instead of taking it and just dropping modern-day crap in the story, the writers have come up with a way to move Sherlock’s overall arc forward and give us something unique and original too.
The last Sherlock story we got from Moffett and Gatiss was “The Abominable Bride” way back in 2014, and I enjoyed it. It was a one-off, had a small amount of psychotic antics, and it was set during the proper Holmes period, a Victorian setting, which probably cost a fortune for a TV show produce. This is probably why it feels a bit small, I think. In comparison, the contemporary stories are back in “The Six Thatchers” and it feels like it. The setting and the pace and the movement are all there.
The beginning of the episode touches on “Miss Me?” Moriarty, but he doesn’t appear in this one. Spoilers. Yeah, he’s too big for the opener. Gotta save that appearance, I guess. So the beginning is laced with comedy, spins around the Canon and arrives at the new stuff by the end of the episode. We’re back dealing with Mary being a mercenary killer, which I thought was a really horrible plot-twist, but there’s plenty of other twists if you didn’t like that one. Moriarty is pretty much forgotten after about 10 minutes, because Sherlock’s strategy for dealing with him is “to wait”. Okay? Anyway, Sherlock postulates that Moriarty has prepared something to be done post-humously and I think that’s a pretty good guess, which will probably be wrong. Twist! Zing!
The beginning also had a good helping of the Watson/Holmes dynamic Cumberbun and Martin Freeman have really honed to a comedic science. It works. Mary seems like a third wheel. Again. Then they throw in a baby. And Lestrade. And everybody runs around babbling plot points. It doesn’t ever slow down. At one point, I thought they were actually making fun of themselves or adventure stories in general, as they show Mary traveling the world. Mary is walking, then there’s a map with a dotted line like in Indiana Jones, then Mary walking again, then another map and so on. Eventually she creeps into a secret den and finds Sherlock waiting for her. Pretty funny.
Overall, I’d say this was a good start to the season. It moved the story arc forward, and had all the stuff we love from this contemporary series. It had plenty of nods to Conan Doyle, and maybe there were too many, but the pace was so fast, I probably missed some of them anyway. That’s maybe the only problem I had with this episode. There was a lot going on. How many references were there? A lot. I lost count. The one I liked the most was substituting Margaret Thatcher for Napoleon. That was pretty funny. In all, this Sherlock outing is definitely better than most of the episodes last season and probably “Abominable” too, so I look forward to the next one. This time.