Sherlock: Season Two (BBC/DVD)
Nominated for 4 primetime Emmys, Sherlock is back with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson in three new stories. In A Scandal in Belgravia, Sherlock gets embroiled in the complex plans of the dangerous and desirable Irene Adler, and finds himself employing every one of his remarkable skills to survive as the unlikely duo square off in a battle of witsâ€¦and perhaps emotions? The Hounds of Baskerville whisks the increasingly popular detective and Watson to the wilds of Dartmoor, and face to face with the supernatural lurking in the eerie landscape. Meanwhile, Moriarty is still out there in the shadows, and is determined to bring Sherlock down-at whatever the cost-in The Reichenbach Fall. With beguiling performances, witty scripts and some of the most intriguing characters ever created, it's no wonder that Sherlock has proven to be a worldwide success.
]]> There is nothing elementary (a Holmesian clichÃ© that this exceedingly smart and savvy series wisely shuns) about Sherlock
. This sophomore season exceeds the pleasures and promise of the Emmy-nominated first season with three feature-length mysteries that fully test Holmes's mettle and cunning, and shake his very high self-regard. The first and third episodes do full justice to two figures who loom large in the Holmes canon. The first is Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), a.k.a. "the Woman," in "A Scandal in Belgravia," a ripping and naughty yarn involving a high-class dominatrix and some scandalous royal photos. The second, of course, is Moriarty (an Emmy-worthy Andrew Scott) in "The Reichenbach Fall," who hatches a mad scheme to bring about Holmes's ruination. The middle mystery is perhaps Holmes's best-known, "The Hounds of Baskerville," a psychological thriller that lacks the other two's worthy central adversaries, although Holmes's rare moment of bafflement sets the stage for the seemingly game-changing finale that has Dark Knight
's high concept--transplanting Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master consulting detective to 21st-century London--is brilliantly realized, but at the heart of this series' success is the casting and chemistry between Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson, who chronicles their adventures in--what else--a blog. While some may make innuendo about the nature of their relationship, it is their friendship that unfolds by degrees that holds the most fascination. "I don't have friends," Holmes confesses to Watson in one of his rare quiet and less prickly moments. "I have one." Sherlock
benefits from repeat viewings, not so much to decipher clues, but to savor the brilliant wordplay. Series three cannot arrive fast enough. --Donald Liebenson