Sherlock has become delightfully divisive.
Despite a total of a mere nine episodes in five years, last night’s tenth outing seemed to anger many on social media. Perhaps some of them would be less angry if they hadn’t tweeted so much during the show and watched it instead. Social media can be like 24 hour news, better to break the story before actually knowing it in the hope of more traffic.
Also, New Year’s Day can be a tricky watch for a tricksy show. Some people are still heavily hungover and others started drinking again at noon, puzzles are best not tackled through Sherry misted eyes.
With the exception of Doctor Who, this was the only other bit of contemporary telly I voluntarily watched this Christmas. I would like to have watched Agatha Christie – Later and Blue, but no one else wanted to during this season of familial communist pact viewing.
The problem with event television is that it gives you months of build up where your hamper of hopes can bulge to bursting by the time the programme is aired. When the show is not all of the things you have been imagining, the anger rises.
I don’t invest as much time in TV as I used to. After The Sopranos, I was worried nothing could be so immaculate and as gripping and all immersive, so I haven’t been concentrating my gaze to the corner of the room for prolonged bouts. Even The Sopranos wasn’t finished for me until 2013.
My only 2015 TV obsession was Inside No.9. I worry that my love of it is so glaring that when I have met Reece Shearsmith his eyes have only seen Kathy Bates and his ankles twinge.
I caught up with the first series of Sherlock a few months after it aired. A Study in Pink remains one of my favourite episodes, brilliantly entwining much of the original story with 21st century twists and embellishments. It is also worth seeking out the DVD which has the original, 60 minute production which doesn’t work nearly as well and lacks much of the flamboyance that has enchanted the Sherlock worshippers.
When I first saw Andrew Scott’s Moriaty in The Great Game, I was a little dubious about this version of the master villain. It took seeing it on the big screen to captivate me, and now he pips even George Zucco and Henry Daniell when jockeying for position in the chart of Moriaties.
That this reworking of such an iconic world, Sherlock Holmes is almost a genre in itself, was embraced in 2010 is an achievement.
So many of the audience were brought up on the superlative Granada adapations of the 1980s where Jeremy Brett is still held up as THE Sherlock Holmes.
Obviously this is not the first time that Sherlock has been fiddled with. Young Sherlock Holmes (a franchise that waited to happen and never did), The Seven Percent Solution (where the shadow of Freud doesn’t merely darken Holmes, he ends up on the couch) and Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes are a few of the notable exercises in Holmes.
Why did last night’s Sherlock special stir people as much as it did? At 1031pm, my social media timelines seemed bombarded with furious and the frothing, this was George A Romero’s Night of the Tweeters. Where were my planks and nails? As time passed, it seemed a more 50/50 affair. The delighted gadded about as the disappointed clawed and gasped.
I am told that the reviews either say – “I didn’t understand it and I hated it” or “I didn’t understand it, I loved it” – but what has become of those who loved it and understood it?
Some have accused it of being plotless and/or aimless, yet it seemed to have direction and story to me, two stories really. The Victorian thriller seemed spooky and fulfilling, the reveal of why the chemistry addled 21st century Holmes had sunk into investigating this historical murder had a point for the modern Sherlock too.
It was the kinder surprise of TV – there was a game, a story and a fat suit.
As an entertainment, and I presume that is what it is meant to be, I thought it was a rollicking adventure. But it’s all subjective, so it was none of the above and all of what the others said as well.
Mark Gatiss is one of our many (22) guests on Josie and Robin’s Book Shambles HERE (and there’s a Reece Shearsmith one too)