Sherlock: how the TV phenomenon became an annoying self-parody
Now that The Final Problem has been solved, and Eurus has calmed down about not being hugged much as a child, and Sherlock and Watson are running side by side towards – if I read their facial expressions in last night’s final shot correctly – the nearest Imodium stockist, it’s time to look back on this series of Sherlock as a whole. Did it work? Was it worth the wait? Does the BBC owe the Crystal Maze some sort of royalty cheque now?
For me at least, the answer to all three questions is “probably not”. The Final Problem won’t go down as the most self-satisfied episode of Sherlock – that’s still the one where Sherlock got bored at a wedding and pottered around in his mind palace until the credits kicked in – but it was nevertheless the final flourish of a series that didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be.
On the plus side, at least this series clarified that Moriarty is definitely dead. Hopefully, should there be more of this, he’ll never be mentioned again. Hopefully Eurus has supplanted him as Sherlock’s worthy nemesis and we won’t have to watch him infuriatingly goon about like the third understudy in a touring regional theatrical adaptation of Jim Carrey’s The Mask. At least there’s that. If we can have similarly definitive promises that there’ll be no more annoying Saw rip-offs, or scenes where Sherlock slow-motion karate-chops a coffin to pieces in anguish, I might find myself coming around to Sherlock again.
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have claimed that their Sherlock Holmes has now reached the point where he can suitably be compared to Sherlocks of television past. He’s been tested and broken and humanised so thoroughly that he now bears little resemblance to the sexy young swishy-coated alien from the pilot. He knows Lestrade’s first name. He’s helping to raise Watson’s baby. He’s a wise old mastermind with a functioning set of emotions, and now he can stand shoulder to shoulder with Jeremy Brett or Basil Rathbone.
If that’s the case, then good. Sherlock sorely needs to snap back into a recognisable shape. The Final Problem felt like the outer orbit of Sherlock. It felt like it came from a place so utterly divorced from what it ever was, that it’d be a blessed relief if the next episode was just a meat and potatoes mystery caper. Wear the hat, play the violin, solve something impossible. Sherlock has become a parody of himself. It’s time for him to become Jonathan Creek again.