I've always said it to everyone who's willing to hear:
"The book is always the best. There's no way you can make a TV show or a movie that's even 'close' to the book's awesomeness."
Well, with Sherlock, it's different.
I won't say it's better than the books but it's just as awesome.
If you had to consume one other piece of content other than the original Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, I'd say: watch BBC Sherlock.
So what is so cool about Sherlock?
The deductions... There's no dearth of movies and TV shows that show you a lot of action without the one thing Sherlock Holmes does best: deduce.
In BBC Sherlock, there are plenty of superb, 'we'll give the original stories a run' kind of deductions that'll make you fall in love.
The modernization. It's fun to watch a Sherlock Holmes who texts, uses his phone, blogs...
The plot. In BBC Sherlock, these guys have come up with original, thrilling, convincing plots - that are almost as awesome as many of the original story plots!
Well, well- I can go on and on because there are many wonderful things about BBC Sherlock. But you get the point. BBC Sherlock is a job well done.
We'll have fun talking about each episode of Sherlock (without spoilers) - but first - here's some trivia about this TV show that I've managed to unearth....
There are of course tens of people behind Sherlock.
The three main people involved however are Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and his wife Sue Vertue.
These are the three people:
So well, in 2002, Mark was at the Sherlock Holmes Society of London's annual dinner when he bumped into BBC journalist John Simpson.
Now Simpson had just come back from covering the war in Afghanistan and Mark said to him as he bumped:
That's Sherlock Holmes' first line to Watson (who had returned from Afghanistan in those days) in the original stories!
When Mark said that - a seed for a new TV series was sown.
It was like: yeah, if a military doctor from Afghanistan meets a crazy, modern Sherlock - today - how'd that be?
Fast-forward to 2007: Mark and Steven were on a train to Cardiff when they started discussing Sherlock Holmes yet again.
They were like: Why hasn't there been a modern TV adaptation of Sherlock Holmes?
Why are our favourite Sherlock Holmes movies 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' from 1970 and the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce movies from the 1940s?
As Mark Gatiss put it later:
A 'modern' TV series on Sherlock Holmes was definitely such an idea...
...And there, the seed finally sprouted and on 25th July, 2010 - BBC Sherlock was aired for the first time.
So who are the characters in BBC Sherlock?
Who're the guys behind the TV show?
Take a peek at this fun graphic to get a bird's eye view:
It's got an IMDB rating of 9.3. And here's the page that tells you that it's the 4th highest ranked show on IMDB with more than 5000 votes (as on March 27th, 2015).
While I knew BBC Sherlock was cool, I didn't know it was this cool.
You know a show is really cool when it can manage that kind of ranking with just 3 episodes every 2 years.
In fact, here's a fun graph that show you approximately how many people watched each episode of BBC Sherlock:
That's quite some people there!
Here's a fun picture that shows you some of the popular awards this fascinating TV show has bagged...
That's quite a few, don't you think?
Well, let's now delve deeper into each episode.
If you haven't watched Sherlock yet: don't worry. There are 'almost' no spoilers on this page.
We'll start with...
A Study in Pink is special because it has that scene which every Sherlock Holmes fan loves: the 'Sherlock Holmes meets Watson' scene.
It is based on Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet - but only based. There are many, many freshly baked deductions and the twist in the end is completely different.
The case is about these many strange 'deaths' occurring in London.
Why strange? Because they look like suicides - people have been dying after eating pills.
The problem is: these are all people who had no reason to die!
To top that, there's no suicide note. And how on earth can 4 people across the city die in almost exactly the same way?
Of course, there's something sinister going on. Something seriously murky.
Sherlock enters the scene when the 4th victim dies. She's a woman dressed in pink. She's scraped 'RACHE' on the floor. And she's different from the others because she's left some clues...
...And Sherlock follows these clues to find the force behind these apparent 'suicides.'
Want one more reason for why this episode rocks? The humour!
There's no dearth of fun scenes in A Study in Pink.
For instance, there's this scene where Sherlock is pissed off with the regular police. When a regular police guy 'Anderson' is in the room, he says:
In another scene, he says:
Now I know that's a bit derogatory - but the way Sherlock says it is really funny.
I bet you'll laugh when you watch this scene and the other umpteen funny ones in A Study in Pink.
OK, one last thing - the final 'icing on the cake': The magical chemistry between John and Sherlock is superb too.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's acting is eye-popping.
A Study in Pink was shot twice with a different plot, a different 'Sherlock' look, different cameras, a different ending and different locales including even a different '221 b Baker Street' set!
Take a look at some differences in the initial credits of A Study in Pink's pilot version and the finally aired one:
Apparently, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat showed the pilot to the BBC in 2009 and the BBC guys loved it.
The pilot thingy was of 60 minutes and the BBC guys said something like:
"We want 3 1.5 hour episodes instead of this 1 hour one. That's because this pilot episode is superb."
So A Study in Pink was shot again with plenty of differences. And telecast a year later in 2010.
I'll be honest: The Blind Banker isn't one of the best Sherlock episodes out there. Having said that, it's got it's 'Wow, this is good' moments.
It all begins with a cipher. Some guy has left a weird looking code on a painting inside a famous bank.
What does that cipher mean? Why has he left it? Who has he left it for?
...And more importantly: how has he left it? After all, that painting is on the 9th floor - and no one came through the door.
Things slowly get more sinister as someone gets er...murdered. And then slowly, more heads roll!
Who is leaving those ciphers and killing people and why? And what's the link between all this and a girl who simply teaches people about tea?
As The Blind Banker goes on, things get murkier and murkier. What is the dark secret hidden behind all this?
Amidst all this, Sherlock is as snobby and yet as fun as ever with his mind-whirling deductions and adorable arrogance :-)
Take a look at what he says when a police guy tries to help him:
Watson's chemistry with Sherlock is as wonderful as ever too. Take a look at this funny quote:
...Which brings us to one more reason to watch this BBC Sherlock episode.
Watson goes on his first ever date in BBC series in this episode. And it's fun!
Olivia Poulet plays Amanda, the first victim's secretary in The Blind Banker. She's also Benedict Cumberbatch's - that's Sherlock's - ex-girlfriend in real life!
OK, I know that borders on gossip, but yes, I was intrigued when I read that...
The Great Game is my favourite episode from the first season of Sherlock. And come on, why wouldn't it be...
...It's got 5 fascinating cases that Sherlock solves in just one 1.5 hr episode!
Now I won't spoil the fun and tell you much about each of these 5 cases. But the crux is this:
Sherlock needs to solve each case in the given timeline or a hostage will be killed!
I know: that's gruesome. Evil. And yet - you know how amazing Sherlock's deduction powers are, right?
Will he able to save each hostage in the given time or will he fail at least once?
And who's doing all this? Who's playing this great game with Sherlock? No points for guessing...
...Because this is the episode in which the bad guy - Jim Moriarty - first shows up.
I loved those expressions from Andrew Scott (Jim Moriarty)! There's pure evil for you, eh?
Basically, The Great Game is a great TV episode.
Sherlock's heart-stopping deductions? There's an ocean full of them in this episode.
The sheer thrill of solving an unsolvable crime? It's there in every minute.
OK, you want one more reason to watch The Great Game?
This is the episode in which the usually ice-cold Sherlock becomes emotional - at least for a few seconds. You also get to know how much he also cares about John Watson.
And - Sherlock and John also have their first real 'fight' in this one. As Mrs Hudson, their landlady says:
The Great Game was the first ever Sherlock episode to be shot!
I mean, there was the pilot episode of A Study in Pink that was shot before it - but The Great Game was the first actual aired episode to be shot.
This is interesting because it's actually the third BBC Sherlock episode.
A Scandal in Belgravia is one of the most awesome BBC Sherlock episodes out there.
I loved the mystery and adventure part of it, but what completely blew me away was...
The way Steven Moffat has written this episode, my LPM count got really high while I watched it. LPM count is laughs per minute - if you haven't guessed. :P
Take a look at these dialogues between John and Sherlock:
There are loads of such moments in A Scandal in Belgravia.
What else is cool about this episode?
Irene Adler - the woman Sherlock Holmes respects a lot in the original stories - enters the scene in this one. Lara Pulver plays Irene and she's phenomenal.
So this Irene Adler is a 'dominatrix' - a woman who gives you those kinds of sexual pleasures.
She's got hold of some compromising photographs of a royal family member. She's also got hold of a lot of other 'top secret' stuff. Our good old Sherlock needs to recover those photographs and secrets from her.
Sounds quite straight and simple for a mind-blowing guy like Sherlock, right?
Only: Irene Adler is stunningly clever. Alert. Observant. She's a match for Sherlock Holmes!
In fact, Irene is such a good match for Holmes, that here's a fun conversation that happens in the episode:
The way John says this in an interruptive sort of way is very funny.
Since Irene is rather good, it's fun to watch Sherlock trying to outdo her and fail. And Irene trying to outdo Sherlock again and fail. Or maybe not...
The crux: It's definitely worth a watch. Or two. I was floored.
In Season 2, the credits of each episode shown on PBS had some letters highlighted in red.
In this one, the letters 'THE WOMAN' were highlighted.
It's interesting to see Sherlock's creators having loads of 'bonus' fun with this show. :-)
There's a new client at 221b Baker Street - a guy called Henry.
This Henry saw his father getting killed by a devilish hound 20 years ago. And now, he's seen that horrifying, unreal hound again...
As Henry puts it (just like in the books):
Can Sherlock figure out the truth about this hound, please?
Is it a real hound? If so, why is it so...gigantic and scary?
All these 'hound sightings' are happening near a British security base called Baskerville. Some people say these Baskerville people are carrying out animal mutations.
Are these secret scientists at Baskerville really responsible for creating a crazy, horrible, monstrous hound that - escaped?
Grr..The mystery's quite gripping and horrifying.
I had absolutely no clue what the solution was till Sherlock cleared the air. The twist in the end made me say, 'What the...'
Overall though, this episode's a tad bit slower than the others.
It's also got a bit of a 'horror movie' feel to it and less of the 'deduce - go on a thrilling adventure - deduce more - more adventure' jazz.
But - it's also got it's unforgettable moments. There's this fascinating moment for instance when Sherlock actually misses John and almost begs him to patch up after a fight!
Here's how it goes:
Seeing Sherlock in this brand new avatar is fun. :-)
To sum up, I'd say this is a more relaxed, easy going episode compared to many other intense, fast-paced BBC Sherlock episodes.
Sometimes, you may miss the 'every-minute-new-high' pace of a regular BBC Sherlock episode but the cool deductions, the John-Sherlock fun, the crazy mystery - they're very much there.
The Hounds of Baskerville is the first episode in which Sherlock uses his mind palace.
It is basically a pretty cool memory technique.
Sherlock clearly imagines a palace and he stores everything that he wants to remember - names, faces, chemical formulae, any important info - in 'specific' rooms in this 'mind' palace.
When he wants to remember anything, he goes to the palace, to the exact room and gets back exactly what he wants to remember.
So, for instance, if Sherlock sees me once while passing me on the street, he'll put me in some room in his palace. Later, if he wants to remember how many folds he saw on my trousers, how many days ago I had cut my finger nails...
...he'll just walk into his mind palace, find me and examine me as if I were in front of him in reality!
Yup, at first this technique made me think: 'Is that even possible?'
But apparently, it is. Many world memory champions use this technique day in and day out.
In any other version of Sherlock Holmes stories/novels, encounters with the typical arch-rival - Moriarty - are my least favourite part.
I mean, come on: it's all the same - fighting, the 'hero going after villain' thing, right?
Watching this episode - The Reichenbach Fall - was the first time I enjoyed Sherlock Holmes' encounter with Moriarty more than Sherlock's deductions.
Yes, The Reichenbach Fall is about Sherlock Holmes and 'Jim' Moriarty going after each other but it's not at all like all those hero-villain chases.
In fact, there are no chases. That's why I loved this episode.
It's a 'mind-fight.'
It's Sherlock Holmes' mind fighting against Jim Moriarty's mind all the time.
There's no physical fight. No gun-fight between Jim Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes. They hardly touch each other. But they do play mind-games against each other...
...And the way that is shown in this episode is real fun.
This is one of the few episodes where I'll happily confess: the episode depicts things better than the books.
So, what exactly happens in this episode?
Jim Moriarty - the criminal mastermind - doesn't want to kill Sherlock. He wants to destroy him - by proving flawlessly to everyone that Sherlock is a fake guy. Sherlock's deductions, the cases he solved - what if they were all fake?
Jim Moriarty's idea of fun is...convincing everyone that Sherlock's a fraud.
Sounds ridiculous? I mean come on, we all know Sherlock Holmes rocks, right?
But it's not as difficult as it sounds. Jim's mind-blowing when it comes to mind-manipulation. And then, as Sherlock himself says:
After all, we all prefer a convenient lie to a hard-to-believe truth, don't we?
So, what exactly happens then? Does Jim succeed or does Sherlock bounce back? Who's the greater genius of the two? Who wins the mind-fight?
That's what this episode is about.
Want one more reason why The Reichenbach Fall rocks?
Andrew Scott is stunning as Jim Moriarty. This is the first episode in which he appears for such a long time and I guarantee that you won't be able to shift your gaze from the screen, when he's there.
The episode's worth a watch just to look at Jim.
As Jim puts it:
But that's actually a joke because Jim Moriarty seriously was the kind of villain I'd never ever seen before.
The Reichenbach Fall is the highest rated BBC Sherlock episode on IMDB.
It's IMDB rating is...
...a whopping 9.6! As on March 10, 2015, 12,773 users rated it 10 on 10.
You get the point. This one's good. ;-)
The Empty Hearse is a very different and special episode.
After all Sherlock returns from the dead after 2 years in this one!
The Empty Hearse does have a case that Sherlock solves. But that's not the coolest thing about this episode.
The coolest thing is John's reaction to Sherlock's comeback.
You need to count the punches he gives Sherlock. For not telling him that he was alive. The way it's shown is really funny.
I bet you won't be able to stifle a laugh when you see John going after Sherlock with a vengeance.
And that's nothing. I would punch a close friend a couple of times more than John does - if that dude convinced me he was dead and turned up after 2 years. :-)
This conversation between Sherlock and Mary (John's fiancée - yup, she enters the scene too!) pretty much sums up Sherlock's comeback:
Sherlock's scenes with his brother Mycroft are quite funny too!
For instance, Sherlock accuses Mycroft of calling him an idiot when he was a kid...
So well, as you can see, this one's more of a 'welcome back Sherlock - let's have fun' kind of episode.
But there is a case. You can't not have a problem to solve with Sherlock around.
There's an 'underground' terrorist attack - about to shake London up.
The intriguing part is that Sherlock - try as hard as he might - can't detect anything suspicious anywhere in London.
Can Sherlock foil this terrorist plan? Is there one in the first place?
And how the heck can Sherlock figure out where that attack's going to take place?
That's the mysterious undercurrent that flows as you celebrate the joy of Sherlock's return!
OK, one last reason to watch The Empty Hearse? This episode has the first scene in the series ever where Sherlock is genuinely emotional - properly so - and thankful.
That never happens. But well, it happens in this episode...
The Empty Hearse was the most watched episode out of the first 3 seasons of BBC Sherlock.
Getting down to numbers...
12.72 million people watched this episode on TV (while it was telecast or recorded versions) according to the Broadcasters Audience Research Board (BARB). And that's only in the UK!
Around 4 million people watched the episode on TV in the US according to Nielson.
... And around 4.2 million people have watched the episode on BBC's iPlayer.
Now if these numbers aren't eye-popping, do note that The Empty Hearse is the most watched TV show drama episode on British TV since 2001.
Here's a picture that shows you the most watched British programmes of 2014. There's no other TV show (something that tells a story) in the top 10 except for Sherlock:
The Sign of Three is indisputably the funniest episode of BBC Sherlock. I mean - all the other episodes are about crime, thrilling adventures...
...This one's all about fun, fun, fun!
And to think of it, how could it not be fun: It's the episode that has John Watson and Mary Morstan's wedding.
Imagine Sherlock helping write wedding invitations.
Or dancing with the best maid.
Or (hold your breath) giving the best man's speech.
The Sign of Three shows Sherlock Holmes a.k.a. Mr. Asocial in all these 'over-social' situations - and that's what makes this episode so special.
Take a peek at this fascinating excerpt from Sherlock's best man speech...
No points for guessing that Sherlock's best man's speech is hilarious!
Yes, there's a mystery in there too - but that's like garnishing.
A palace guard has almost died - suddenly - while taking a bath. Blood has oozed out. Yet, there's no weapon found anywhere. Absolutely no one was with this guy just before he almost died.
How did he almost die then? And has that got something to do with the wedding?
In fact, when there's Sherlock Holmes at a wedding - can it really be uneventful and only fun...
...Well, well - so there is a mystery - but it's still mostly fun.
And talking of fun again, here's one final reason to watch this episode: Sherlock does the most ridiculous things at John's stag party! ;-)
The Sign of Three is the only Sherlock episode in which John and Sherlock both talk about their feelings about each other.
That's a bit special you know. Because generally, John's always finding meaning in doing a lot of things for Sherlock but no one says, "Dude, you're important to me."
So these two really cool dialogues from The Sign of Three are rare and unique...
Now I know that's not a lot of expression, but it's nice to see these two guys at least saying something about what they think of each other. :-)
Before I ramble on about His Last Vow, I'll make one thing clear: the twist in this story almost blew my mind.
If other Sherlock episodes are masterpieces of drama, this one's their 'big daddy' when it comes to making you get up from your seat.
As for the actual story...
His Last Vow is about Charles Augustus Magnussen, a blackmailer who's sort of sick.
This is the guy:
I mean this guy knows everyone's 'pressure points.' And by everyone, I mean everyone - cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister's office, Mrs. Hudson, John, Sherlock, Mary...
...You name the person and this Magnussen dude knows what makes that person 'weak.' There's even a scene where Sherlock - yes, our good old cold Sherlock - sort of quivers when Magnussen utters one word.
As Sherlock himself puts it:
Obviously, this man is dangerous.
And now, Sherlock's after him because he's threatening Lady Eva Blackwell about her past. And this lady is Sherlock's client.
In the beginning, this episode is about Sherlock simply trying to gain access to this Magnussen guy's secret vault. But then, Sherlock discovers a secret even he is afraid to face - a secret that almost wrings the life out of him.
What is this secret? Can Sherlock survive it? Can he save John's life...
And finally: can Sherlock really succeed in dismantling Magnussen's secret vault?
That's what His Last Vow is about.
Want one more reason to watch this one? Well, I'll give you two!
Sherlock kisses for the first time in the series in here...
...And Sherlock and Mycroft actually 'celebrate' Christmas with their parents!
So yes, it's not all secretive and sinister. There's quite some fun too.
In the credits of this episode, some letters appear in red.
When you join all the red letters, here's what you get:
Charles Augustus Milverton is the blackmailer dude in the original Sherlock Holmes.
He's the guy Charles Augustus Magnussen - the villain of His Last Vow - is based upon.
Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, the creators of Sherlock, sure love having as much fun with Sherlock as they can have. :-)
If you haven't yet watched BBC Sherlock, well why not? It's awesome. And if you have watched Sherlock and read this page just for fun, here's a high five!
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