2017 has already been responsible for a whole host of dramatic moments illustrating that British television remains an international powerhouse of entertainment to most of the western world. No finer example of this fact can be found in the latest series of the BBC’s Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman reprised their roles as Holmes and Watson for what the audience were told would be the last time.
It seems to be a common theme of today’s TV culture that just as a series becomes popular, producers and channel controllers promptly bring it to an end through fear of the programme being outdated. To me this an absurd concept and one I’ve never been able to get my head around. Surely if you’re a channel controller with a hit on your hands you’d just want more and more but I guess it’s difficult to know when a series has had its day. I think this attitude robs the audience of getting the very best out of a programme as just as we begin to invest in the characters, the series in fact comes to an end.
This series of Sherlock seemed rather different to the self contained mystery episodes which we have grown accustomed to. The first indication of this came during the climax to the first episode when Holmes is under fire from the crazed Parliamentary Secretary Mrs Norberry. In a bid to save her friend, Waston’s wife Mary, played by Martin Freeman’s real life wife Amanda Abbingdon, sacrifices her own life to save Sherlock. This is perhaps a significant clue that this episode will be different from anything that’s gone before. Instead we learned of Sherlock’s own backstory and his thwarted relationship with his estranged sister Eurus whose existence he had blocked from his mind since he was very young. This resulted in the rollercoaster of the last episode which was able to actually pose questions at the very heart of human philosophy.
I’m not sure what Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle would have made of these new adaptations to the Holmes family as it seems a million miles away from the quaint nature of the books. You could argue did we actually need to know his backstory at all? Personally, I would have preferred a little more episode structure as I felt the episode got a little lost in the complexities of the story but I guess I’m a TV traditionalist. I suppose that’s the evolution of television. So it looks like another popular drama series is over. There’s still time to catch up on iPlayer if you missed it but just as the credits roll on for Sherlock, I wonder what will be the next BBC drama blockbuster…