Here’s the first official picture from forthcoming series 4, featuring Sherlock and John. The plot will feature John and wife Mary (Amanda Abbington) preparing for parenthood. Oh, and there’s the little matter of villains Moriarty (Andrew Scott) and new face Culverton Smith (Toby Jones), described by writer Steven Moffat as ‘the darkest villain we’ve had’. Here, by the way, is the official BBC Sherlock page.
‘Shut up.’ – Sherlock Holmes
‘I didn’t say anyth- ‘ — Detective Inspector Lestrade
‘You were thinking. It’s annoying.’ — Sherlock Holmes
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Abbington
Identikit: The consulting detective updated to contemporary London.
Writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss who, while working on Doctor Who, often talked about their love of Conan Doyle’s creation and of Basil Rathbone’s portrayal of him, finally decided they should do their own updated version. Seeing the 60-minute pilot, the Beeb liked it so much they ordered three 90-minute films, which meant the opener had to be re-shot. Despite BBC1 then scheduling the re-shot opener in July, the middle of TV’s dead season, Sherlock was a rip-roaring success. Moffat and Gatiss updated the world’s most famous sleuth with loving care, verve and great wit, evolving some of Arthur Conan Doyle’s best-loved tales in modern, thrilling adventures in contemporary London. It works so well because, by stripping away the Victorian fogs, frock coats and Hansom cabs, Holmes re-emerges as the exciting contemporary character he was when the stories first appeared. They were helped by the inspired pairing of Benedict Cumberbatch as a forbidding, high-functioning sociopathic Holmes, whom he plays as ‘dangerous and perverse’. Martin Freeman as the downbeat but caustic Dr Watson immediately clicked with Cumberbatch at the script read-throughs, creating a great blend of genius and exasperation. Una Stubbs is fun as Mrs Hudson, while Andrew Scott was weird and chilling as Moriarty. This arch villain featured in the terrific Reichenbach Fall cliffhanger that concluded the second series, prompting a viral swirl online as devotees tried to work out how Sherlock was going to survive. It was typical of the twists and jolts that Moffat and Gatiss enjoyed throwing at audiences throughout. Series three got off to a messy start, obsessed with
taunting viewers with the resolution of the Reichenbach cliffhanger, before progressing magnificently in the second and third instalments. It raised the stakes for the characters with revelations such as Sherlock getting a girlfriend, Watson getting a wife, Watson’s wife Mary Morstan being an assassin, Sherlock being shot, and Sherlock killing the evil Magnusson at the end (Sherlockian intellect for once giving way to bullets). It’s a twisting, spirited and funny joyride. And through it all, there is David Arnold and Michael Price’s distinctive music soundtrack.
Classic episode: A Scandal in Belgravia. The Reichenbach Fall got chins wagging over how Sherlock faked his spectacular death fall, but A Scandal in Belgravia was much more fun, as Holmes and Watson encounter naked dominatrix Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) in a quest for photos that compromised national security on her mobile. While Moffat’s storytelling (he wrote this one) can tie the plot in knots, this was still a fantastic blend of comedy and suspense, with plenty of cheek thrown in.
Watercooler fact: Matt Smith auditioned for the role of Watson. He was rejected for being ‘too barmy’, according to show runner Steven Moffat, who also oversees Doctor Who for the BBC. Soon after, Moffat cast Smith as the eleventh Doctor Who.
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH and Martin Freeman seem to have slipped into a different time zone for this Christmas’s special instalment of the BBC’s much admired drama. Its USP, of course, has been that showrunner Steven Moffat had placed Holmes and Watson in a contemporary setting. But for the special, perhaps he and co-writer Mark Gatiss had snowy Victorian Christmas scenes stuck in their heads and decided to go retro. Moffatt told the Comic-Con crowd, where this trailer was unveiled, that “It’s still the same sense of humour, it’s still very much the show you know… But it’s in the ‘correct’ era, which was unbelievably thrilling.” So, what doyou think? Comments above, please…
Sherlock: His Last Vow, BBC1, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Lars Mikkelsen PREVIEW
|Sherlock didn’t hate Moriarty, but he hates Magnussen in His Last Vow. Pics: BBC|
BBC1: Sunday, 12 January, 8.30pm
Story: A case of stolen letters leads Sherlock Holmes into a long conflict with Charles Augustus Magnussen, the Napoleon of blackmail, and the one man he truly hates…
‘THAT’S THE THING with Sherlock,’ says Watson in tonight’s finale. ‘There’s always the unexpected.’
It’s an easy deduction that Watson’s claim is an early entry for the understatement of 2014.
Because tonight’s dazzling climax is chock-full of jaw-dropping surprises, twists and delights. Written by Steven Moffat – Doctor Who head honcho and prime moving force behind this Sherlock update along with Mark Gatiss – it’s one of the absolute top episodes in what is already a tremendous series.
|Lady Smallwood (LINDSAY DUNCAN) and Magnussen ( LARS MIKKELSEN)|
Lars Mikkelsen as the loathsome Magnussen
Like a magician, Moffat diverts and stuns us with a series of revelations and intrigues that make the 90-
minute film fly by.
Lars Mikkelsen, of The Killing and Borgen fame, joins in the fun as one of the nastiest and most disconcerting villains Sherlock has encountered. He is media mogul Charles Augustus Magnussen, a world-class hoarder of personal secrets that he can use to blackmail whomever he chooses.
And Sherlock, not a chap normally ruled by his emotions, loathes Magnussen (he calls him ‘the worst man in London’ in the original story). When the slimeball turns up at Baker Street, he makes himself at home in a particularly offensive way.
|Watson again finds Sherlock anything but elementary|
Tension, laughs and tears
Anyway, it is not possible to reveal more of what’s in store. In the first place, it would be mean and sad to spoil things for anyone tuning in, and secondly, the security around the series is now so tight that you almost suspect Mycroft Holmes is organising it.
The Beeb sent me a email outlining what was verboten for this post. Here’s a redacted version:
- Anything related to the revelation of XXXXXXX.
- The lengths Sherlock goes to to XXXXXXXX
- The truth about Magnussen’s XXXXXXXXX
- Sherlock’s XXXXXX and the fact that XXXXXXX
- Sherlock’s XXXXXXX in the episode
- The fact that Sherlock XXXXXXX
- The appearance of XXXXXX
- The ending
Only someone with the evil impulses of a Moriarty would want to divulge all this anyway. But what can be revealed is that the production values are lavish, the soundtrack is again superb, there’s a wonderful ‘mind palace’ sequence, plus tension, laughs and tears.
Amanda Abbington as Mary
Moffat and co-writer/star Mark Gatiss have pushed the characters hard in this latest series. Where so
|Mary has been a brilliant addition to the series|
many TV dramas are about preserving characters in aspic, Moffat and Gatiss are so in the groove with the Sherlockian world that they’ve shown new angles and depths to Holmes and Watson throughout the series.
Any caveats? Sherlock acts in what seems an out-of-character fashion at the final confrontation, though that could have ramifications in the next series.
But bringing Amanda Abbington in as Mary has been a masterstroke. Her performance is hugely enjoyable and the character has helped to bring out Holmes in all his ridiculousness and brilliance.
Now the poor chaps have set the bar extremely high for series four. Apparently, a fourth and fifth series are planned, and will follow ‘quickly’.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes, Martin Freeman John Watson, Mark Gatiss Mycroft, Rupert Graves Inspector Lestrade, Una Stubbs Mrs Hudson, Amanda Abbington Mary Morstan, Louise Brealey Molly Hooper, Lars Mikkelsen Charles Augustus Magnussen, Lindsay Duncan Lady Smallwood
|Promotional shot for the new series|
Sherlock will return on New Year’s Day, when the mystery of how he survived his death plunge in the Reichenbach Fall cliffhanger will be resolved at last (it will be shown in the US on 19 January). The Empty Hearse kicks off the three new films, with the second going out on Sunday, 5 January, and the final one on 12 January. It’s been a two-year hiatus since the last series, with Martin Freeman filming The Hobbit and Benedict Cumberbatch taking on Star Trek Into Darkness. Showrunner Steven Moffat has said there was a clue to Sherlock’s fate that everyone missed at the end of the last season. In the view of the online frenzy that followed that finale, the audience for this new series should be one of the biggest of the holiday season.
|Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat. (Pic: R Jarossi)|
‘HOLMES WAS a dangerous young man doing exciting stuff,’ writer/co-creator Steven Moffat told fans of BBC1’s Sherlock at Bristol Crimefest on Saturday. He was explaining how the makers wanted to reinvent the character to be as thrilling as he would have been to Victorian readers. ‘We wanted to strip out all the stuff of making it in period.’
He was sitting alongside his co-writer Mark Gatiss, who also plays Mycroft, and Sue Vertue, executive producer of the hit series and also his Moffat’s wife.
The organisers of Crimefest, the annual crime fiction convention held at Bristol’s Marriott hotel, have long wanted to get the trio behind Sherlock to come and talk about the series, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
‘We had no idea how people were going to take it to their hearts,’ said Mark Gatiss. ‘It made Benedict Cumberbatch a star.’
Filming on the show, they revealed, has stopped for the moment, while Martin Freeman flies off to New Zealand to film more of The Hobbit. ‘Filming [of the third series] is going well,’ Sue Vertue said. ‘We’re having fun.’
While not giving away secrets about the new stories – The Empty Hearse, The Sign of Three and a so
|Sherlock and Watson. Pic: BBC|
far secret third story – they did talk about the trial and error process of refining the modern Sherlock (they tried Benedict Cumberbatch in jeans at one point), the difficulty of coming up with brilliant in deductions for a contemporary world (Arthur Conan Doyle became slapdash here, according to Moffat) and how Sherlock’s mannerism in steepling his fingers under his chin was borrowed from Jeremy Brett’s version on ITV.
While Moffat said he would be happy to continue making Sherlock, both he and Gatiss agreed that if Cumberbatch or Freeman – ‘Two of the biggest movie stars in the world,’ said Moffat – decided to leave, they would not want to continue.
Finally, in response to a question from the floor about whether Moffat, who’s also the showrunner for Doctor Who, would consider Cumberbatch as a future Time Lord, the answer was no – ‘Benedict couldn’t do another icon.’ That, he suggested, would be too confusing.
But Gatiss added, ‘There’s nothing to stop him playing James Bond.’
|Helluva backdrop for the new Holmes – Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller. Pics: BSkyB|
Sky Living: starts Tuesday, 23 October, 9pm
Story: An unhappy episode in London and a stint in drug rehabilitation pitches consulting detective Sherlock Holmes into a spell of recuperation in New York. At the insistence of his father, Sherlock is forced to take on a ‘sober companion’, Dr Joan Watson, who is to monitor his recovery.
After the kerfuffle over this US update supposedly ripping-off the BBC’s Sherlock – complete with the latter’s creator Steven Moffat ‘annoyed’ by the cheek of it – here at last is Holmes in modern New York. Let battle commence.
Jonny Lee Miller is, of course, the consulting detective in this new version from CBS, the twist being that he is recovering from his drug addiction in New York at the insistence of his father, who also lands him with a ‘sober companion’, Dr Joan Watson, to keep him on the straight and narrow.
Sherlock’s ‘helper monkey’
Watson being a woman may have the purists round Baker Street spluttering in their tea, but Lucy Liu has many good moments with Miller in the opening episode. She is, of course, bemused by his deducing all her secrets – that she dislikes her job because she has two alarm clocks and hates getting up for it, that she is a surgeon who killed a patient, etc – and he calls her his ‘addict sitter’ and ‘helper monkey’.
But Watson sticks up for herself, and by the end she’s making deductions about Holmes – for instance, sniffing out that he went off the rails in London because of a broken romance.
Aidan Quinn as Toby Gregson
They are swiftly pulled into investigating the murder of a woman at her home. Holmes can just walk into the murder scene because Aidan Quinn is the senior detective involved, and he’s encountered Sherlock while on secondment in London.
The New York forensics guy wants who the cocky Brit is that’s making all the brilliant deductions about the murder scene, but naturally Holmes is quickly accepted as a brilliant case closer. He works out that her body has been put in a hidden panic room, and that the perpetrator was not an intruder but someone who knew her.
Elementary v the BBC’s Sherlock
It’s an intriguing, but not particularly believable case (how many Sherlock escapades are?), but the fun of it is rightly centred on the tension and bonding between Holmes and Watson. This works well, thanks to the lead actors.
So how does Sky Living‘s new import compare to Sherlock? Steven Moffat has nothing to fear. Elementary is entertaining and shot superbly round New York, but it doesn’t have the relish and verve of the Beeb’s drama.
Most portrayed character on screen in the world
Jonny Lee Miller’s Holmes is politer and nicer than Benedict Cumberbatch’s near autistic version. And the atmosphere of almost supernatural foreboding is missing, though that may come in later mysteries.
With Sherlock Holmes being easily the world’s most portrayed fictional character on screen, there is certainly room for this sharp and witty newcomer.
Cast: Jonny Lee Miller Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Liu Dr Joan Watson, Aidan Quinn Toby Gregson, Jon Michael Hill Marcus Bell
Here’s a trailer for Elementary, CBS’s own modern update of Sherlock Holmes, following the Beeb’s brilliant success in Sherlock. Jonny Lee Miller is the sleuth and Lucy Liu plays Watson. See what you think. To me it doesn’t seem to have the edge that Steven Moffat’s Sherlock, and JLM plays the part a bit too jokily. Radio Times also has a piece about Moffat saying that the US version is too far removed from the original stories. See what you make of it – comments below!