It’s been nearly two years since The Reichenbach Fall and the deadly confrontation between Sherlock and his psycho-nemesis Moriarty, wherein our hero flung himself off the rooftop of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital. He lay dead in the streets. We all saw him. His only friend, John Watson saw him too and though we, the audience, were immediately reassured that the great man still lived John wasn’t afforded the same comfort. Sherlock had to remain, for the safety of those closest to him, hidden in the shadows.
Surely Doctor Watson’s grief has known no bounds, not to mention the landlady, Mrs. Hudson. Or have they both…as life and people often do…moved on? If so, there remain questions which beg to be answered. How was this slight of hand accomplished and how will Holmes be able to walk in the light again without putting his compatriots in danger? How will John react once he learns the truth? I shudder to think.
But…I needn’t worry. All will be put right when these questions are answered this Sunday (January 19/PBS) when Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman return to Masterpiece Mystery! in season three of Sherlock.
To get ready for this event (and it is an event) think about picking up The Sherlock Files by Guy Adams, the official companion guide to the show. It’s clever in its presentation, informative and entertaining.
My favorite sections are the conversations with co-creators Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss who, while working on Dr. Who and other TV projects, sometimes road the same commuter train into the city and would often share aloud their wish list projects:
“We kept talking about things we’d like to do,” said Gatiss. “And Sherlock Holmes came up again and again.
“It came down to the fact that we secretly liked the Rathbone’s best. (Basil that is—1939 to ’46) Particularly the ones where they brought them up to date,” he continued. “These cheeky B-movies seemed to us to be closer to Doyle than almost any other version. Perhaps because his own attitude towards his creation was so casual that somehow these potboilers really got it.”
Now everyone knows Sherlock; his unique—bordering on sociopathic—personality traits and maddening peccadilloes. He is, after all, one of the most oft-portrayed literary characters in film and television. And according to Moffatt and Gatiss, one of the great things about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s singular creation is, he never leaves you guessing.
“He has one whopping advantage over magicians,” Moffatt said, “This is where Doyle is right and the magicians wrong: always tell them how the trick is done! I saw a magic act in Edinburgh where you went to see the magic act, a very good magic act, and then you went back an hour later and he showed you how every single trick was done. And I have to say that knowing did not spoil it. Sherlock Holmes tells you how the trick is done. No matter how much you hate him, you want to listen to the next thing he says. You’d really hate him if he said, ‘I’m going to do all this and then not tell you how!'”
BTW: The Sherlock Files is the perfect volume to peruse to either acquaint or reacquaint yourself with the previous six shows, while gearing up for the new season.
Besides interviews and commentary from the serie’s creators and stars, Cumberbatch, Freeman and Rupert Graves, Adams inserts a modern day ploy to include private conversations between Holmes and Watson. Conversations laid out in the form of post it notes written betwixt the two (their main form of communication perhaps?) and left laying around the flat, with occasional notes from Mycroft Holmes, ‘The Woman’ who nearly bested the brilliant detective and even a note or two from Mrs. Hudson:
Mrs. Hudson to Holmes: “The plumbing’s backed up! Please tell me you haven’t been flushing body parts down the loo again.”
While Mrs. Hudson’s communiqués border on sweet, the notes between our two main guys are a bit more… unforgiving:
Holmes: “When you’ve finished with your Girl’s Scrapbook, (his nickname for John’s journaling) could you come and find me? I have something Extremely Obvious that needs stating.”
Watson: “Certainly. How about: ‘Most people think I’m mad to put up with you.'”
Holmes: “Me included.”
The six episodes from the previous two seasons are broken down into separate chapters, with Dr. Watson’s handwritten notes, portions of the online blog recounting the consulting detective’s exploits and Detective Lestrade’s police reports. There’s so much more in these pages: newspaper articles, a closer look at the evidence, and coroner’s reports; all of which allows us to feel like true insiders into a very private world.
Sunday can’t get here fast enough. Am I Sherlocked? You betcha!
‘Til then for your viewing pleasure the Season 3 Prequel:
On PBS Masterpiece Mystery! watch Sherlock: The Empty Hearse, on Sunday, January 19 followed by Sherlock: The Sign of Three, January 26 and Sherlock: The Last Vow, February 2. Check your local listings for times.