Sherlock: Series 2, Episode 1 – A Scandal in Belgravia

I’m not the first to say it, but it bears repeating. It is not fair to every other TV show on earth that Sherlock is on this early in the year. What a standard to be setting. The series returns for a second run, and whilst I am still not 100% comfortable with the 3×90 minute schedule, it certainly allows for some of the best possible storytelling.

We’re thrown right into the action as we left off last time, with Sherlock and Watson in a bit of a tricky situation beside the swimming pool. I was concerned that it was going to be some kind of feeble exit strategy, but when will I learn to trust in Moffat? They managed to get out of the situation and cement just what a crazy fellow that Moriarty really is. Terrifying!

It’s good to see Watson’s blog getting a little more airtime, and actually playing more of a role in the series. Now it’s a way of them actually getting clients, and it almost played a part in solving the mystery… except that it didn’t. I was slightly disappointed to see that John hunts and pecks on the keyboard, but hey, becoming an internet phenomenon is fabulous – unless you are trying to be a private detective, of course. It did allow for a deerstalker moment though.

“Tell us from the start, don’t be boring.”

We were absolutely bombarded with cases to begin with, and it was hard to see which were going to prove important and which weren’t. For a moment, I thought we were not going to find out the results of any of them, and I was particularly curious about the guy who was found in the car when he should have been on the plane. It was great to see them transport Sherlock and Irene to the scene of the backfiring car, although I wasn’t sure the explanation behind that one made a lot of sense. A boomerang? Really?

“You have a police force of sorts, even a marginally Secret Service.”

You can’t fault seeing Sherlock at Buckingham Palace wrapped in nothing but a sheet, and the boys giggling at their situation was both awkward and a joy. Seeing how natural they are together now, and how well they are in tune to each other – despite their differences – made for good viewing. I don’t even want to think about the Royal Family and the things they might get up to with someone like Irene.

There has been some consternation over Ms Adler and the fact that she has a) not been portrayed as she was in the books and b) said she was gay and then fell in love with Sherlock. I can’t really comment on the first as I’m not sure I’ve read any story with her in, and the latter could have been misdirection, or just the liberality of someone in her line of work. Either way, I didn’t like her, and although it was good to see that her beheading was not all it seemed, I’m not all that keen on her coming back. I’m sure she’ll pop up all over the place, however, and it is good for Sherlock to have someone intelligent to riff off. “Off you pop…” has to be the most gloriously patronising phrase in existence.

“Is that loathing or a salute?”

The only other thing to mention is the controversy I have spotted over the use of the word camera-phone. Interestingly, it didn’t strike me as odd the first time it was used… it helps to distinguish it from an older phone. I can also see that Sherlock might cling on to a phrase like that and use it over and over. It was said quite a lot throughout the episode, when just “phone” might have done in its place. However…

https://twitter.com/#!/steven_moffat/status/153819449823207424

It certainly didn’t take away from the episode. How could it? It was a beautifully filmed, expertly written and superbly acted start to the second series.

Some other bits to note. The protective nature of both Sherlock and Watson towards Mrs Hudsen was beautiful. I adored Molly in this episode too. Her social awkwardness when arriving at the “Christmas drinkies” and her pained anguish when Sherlock untangled her life completely in front of everyone was inspired. Telling him that he hurt her feelings was the first step towards standing up to him, and I approve! Finally, why does Sherlock have a periodic table on his bedroom wall? Surely he knows it back to front and upside down without a second’s thought?

2 thoughts on “Sherlock: Series 2, Episode 1 – A Scandal in Belgravia

  1. On the Adler controversy… I too thought that the Lesbian thing was misdirection or more importantly I don’t think they were attracted to each other in the convential sense an attraction of the mind so in a sense does it matter about their individual sexuality? I don’t think so.

    On the difference from the book I can see that it was a step backwards. Adler in the books doesn’t rely on men for anything and is strong and independant, and she also teaches Holmes that he had a blind spot, he didn’t think any woman could be intelegent enough to beat him.

    Two things occur here, first Holmes’s character of today doesn’t need to be taught this lesson, presumably he mistrusts both sexes equally so the point of the lesson for Holmes is slightly lost. Secondly almost all of the characters have been reduced in importance in the tv shows. Mycroft’s character also, in the books, teaches us about Holmes character. Mycroft is smarter than Holmes but very lazy, he is connected to the government because he is in important clubs with the great and the good but farms the actual solving of cases out to Holmes because he can’t be bothered to do them. This is a great character in the books because it begs the question, why does Sherlock bother to do what he does? And it shows that somebody could be better at solving problems that Sherlock but it is only Sherlock’s tenatiousness and perhaps his sense of justice that makes him the best detective.

    Anyway I digress, the point is that in the TV show Sherlock has to be the undesputed star and Moriarty has to be the undisputed baddie, everything has to serve that story because there isn’t time for anything else, and it would make everything more confusing. So I don’t think they downgraded Adler because of some plot, but I think they downgraded her because this is a 3 part tv series not 60 written stories, there isn’t room for the complexity that would bring. Moriarty isn’t in this story really, so we need to shove him in so that when he pops up as the big baddie at the end of the series everyone still remembers him. So we have a cliffhanger resolution at the beginning and then we need him near the end, oh well “Adler could be working for him”. That was all it was about I think.

    As a pretty major Holmes fan I felt more distressed by Mycroft saying that the only person who could trick him was Sherlock. That felt very wrong to me.

    Oh this is a very long comment isn’t it 🙂

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