This is going to be a tricky one.. Might be controversial.
Over the last week I've been rewatching Sherlock Series 1 and 2, culminating in the BBC One repeat of "The Reichenbach Fall". And I've had a few thoughts about both series - the merits or otherwise of both of them. It's lead me to the conclusion that Series 1 is amazing, and near perfect. But it's also lead me to the conclusion that Series 2 is just rather good. Just rather good. It's not really, in my eyes, the standard of Series 1 at all.
Series 1 is amazing. "A Study In Pink" is a near-perfect opening episode - and you can read my thoughts about that here. "The Blind Banker" is a stranger choice. As far as I can work out, it's more to showcase modern London/Cardiff than it is to showcase Sherlock Holmes' stories. It is a new story for Sherlock - and although it's probably not anyone's favourite of the series ('cos it can't compare to the others), it is very good, and I definitely prefer it now to when I first saw. Dimmock doesn't seem to have much point in the story - let's face it, second story in we want Lestrade or at least Gregson - but overall it is a good and clever story. It's fairly basic, and the "writing on the screen" technique is used well and effectively. "The Great Game" is another spin-off of various Sherlock Holmes stories, and it is awesome. I can easily sit and watch it all the way through, follow the story, and still be interested by it. The confrontation with Moriarty at the end is electrifying and the cliffhanger works really well. This is Sherlock Holmes made lovingly, effectively, and modestly. Can you sense what I'm going to say about Series Two?
Series Two is very good - and the stories are very good to watch. There are moments in all three that are really good and show that the show has moved on, grown up (already) and still keeping up the high standard. Indeed, the whole series operates on a very high standard. It's just simply that in my opinion - Series Two isn't as good. "A Scandal in Belgravia" starts off very well, if we ignore the naked Irene Adler, which seemed to serve no purpose other than... Well actually what purpose did it solve? I know it's explained in the story - but it feels a bit unnecessary. The most part of "A Scandal in Belgravia" is very much "Several Sex Scandals in Belgravia" - and it does feel a little bit too much. Steven Moffat, writing about sex too much? He's never done that before. (Sarcasm.) I think Arthur Conan Doyle would be spinning in his grave at some moments - surely Irene Adler is there to show an intelligence equal to Sherlock's - not this and also several innuendos.
There are several moments in the story that are really good. The resolution to the Series 1 cliffhanger is awesome, the client scenes are great, the moment the bed tilts up into shot is stunning. The SHER at the end is amazing. Unfortunately, amongst sex references and lots of plots crammed into one, the story gets lost in the middle. When it changes to being Christmas I was confused. I'm still confused. Yes, it looks lovely - but for me it's wrong for this story. There was plenty of time to include this scene. John having a string of girlfriends feels wrong as well - he's shown as a clever, ordinary, but a bit brilliant man. Not an everyday bloke. At least - not in the sense he needs loads of girlfriends. The whole Adler's dead - oh five minutes later she isn't - oh now Sherlock's depressed FOR NO REASON about a girl he met FOR FIVE MINUTES. Yes she probably appeals to him - but not that much. It's just strange - it's played a bit a bit too much from what's in the story. The idea about the plane is very clever but again, it's too much. The whole American storyline is again too much. Simplicity and cleverness worked in Series 1. "A Scandal in Belgravia" is clever - but not simple by any means. The screen trickery is good, but perhaps a little too much now. Maybe they were trying too hard. Either way - not a favourite.
"The Hounds of Baskerville" - why HoundS, there was only really one and a drug, so it should be the HOUND of Baskerville - is probably the best of the series. But it's still not got the rewatch factor. I saw it a few weeks ago - and didn't really want to see it again as part of my rewatch this week. It is very clever, and like "A Scandal in Belgravia", the first time you notice it you see some really good elements. The scene in the lab where John's locked in was actually scary (TV doesn't tend to scare me that much) when I first saw it - and it retains that element even now. It is a really clever, exciting and scary story - the moment with the gas mask, the creepy old picture, the revelation of HOUND, they're all brilliant. It's held together really well too, and it feels more Sherlock Series 1, it's more simple. It tries to be less showy and so works better.
"The Reichenbach Fall" I loved when I first saw it. Who didn't? But again, as with the others, I noticed problems then. The main one being the scene on the roof. It's too long! At first it's another dramatic Moriarty/Sherlock scene - but then Sherlock climbs up to jump off then talks again, then Moriarty will reveal something then they'll talk then they'll talk a bit more. The tension's ruined a little bit by how long the scene takes - it make you lose interest. But obviously - the cliffhanger is amazing. The episode really does feel tense all the way along - moments still make me shiver even now. Sherlock, despite being the focus, doesn't seem to do much in the episode apart from go along on other people's movements - and perhaps it needs a bit more of him. Maybe it doesn't work. But actually, forget what I said about Hounds, THIS is the best story of Series 2. All the same though, the essence of Sherlock seems to have been lost a bit under the showy, complex storylines.
It happens in most series. They tend to be a bit pleased with themselves in Series 2 - so it pushes it a bit further, with jokes, plots, scenes. And sometimes it works - sometimes it's too much. And I think for Sherlock - it's a bit too much.
So Series 1 definitely works better. Series 2 is impressive, but that doesn't fix the jumble of a story like "A Scandal in Belgravia". Eventually, Series 3 will get here too. I'm not looking forward to Martin Freeman shouting and breathing heavily when Sherlock's back and I'm not looking forward to them not talking for a lot of the first episode. But apart from that - should be good. I hope.