Sherlock: 201 “A Scandal in Belgravia” Full Review
Review: Sherlock – A Scandal in Belgravia (Series 2, Episode 1)
WARNING – FULL SPOILERS
Well that was just a bit good wasn’t it?
Sherlock finally returned to our screens on New Year’s Day, ironically it feels like we’ve been waiting since the Victorian age to see our favourite sleuth – and what a return it was. A Scandal in Belgravia (based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia) was a brilliant episode to kick off the second series, filled with wit, humour, excitement and drama it was the perfect start to the 2012 TV calendar.
After such a long wait I’m still not sure whether I loved or hated the resolution of the cliff-hanger we were left on at the end of Series 1. The last time we saw Sherlock he was draped in laser targets standing opposite arch-nemesis Moriarty, with only a vest full of plastic explosives between them. Since that final scene we’ve all been wondering what the outcome would have been; would Sherlock shoot the bomb? Shoot Moriarty? Perhaps someone would shoot Sherlock? Heck…the thought crossed my mind that Sherlock might even shoot Watson. But after imagining all the possible scenarios, I would never have guessed the outcome – Moriarty gets an urgent call and buggers off. This was brilliantly annoying.
I don’t know about you though, but I soon forgot about this once the story got going. An awesome plot hinged around the addition of one character, The Woman, aka Irene Adler (or simply ??????). Played by True Blood & Spooks’ star Lara Pulver; Adler was a fascinating individual to try and dissect. It was amazing to see her play mind games with Sherlock throughout the episode as she proved herself a worthy opponent for the super-ego of our favourite investigator. In fact it felt almost as if the two were playing mental tennis with the intensity of that epic 2008 Wimbledon final between Nadal and Federer…, which I’m pretty sure, is still going on.
Benedict Cumberbatch was firing on all cylinders as Sherlock and once again showed why he is the next big thing in British acting. His ice-cold veneer, quick-witted responses and dominating onscreen presence were just amazing to watch. Alongside him, Martin Freeman’s Watson was just as great and the interactions between the two were highly entertaining and enjoyable. Mycroft & Mrs Hudson both had a bigger share of the dialogue, which was gladly welcomed. Mark Gatiss brings way more to the show than just his script-writing skills; he plays the big brother role well in a quirky comical, yet intelligent way. Although we didn’t see much of him after the start, Andrew Scott carried on a great job as Moriarty and the scene where he blows the text away into the air was a touch of pure genius.
The use of cinematography, technology and editing are what make Sherlock unique. What I think set this episode further ahead than it’s predecessors was both how, and more importantly, how much this was used. On screen text is a tool that could easily backfire if it’s not utilized correctly. The extreme close ups of people’s clothing as Sherlock x-rays them is nothing short of perfect. It gives the audience enough time to analyse the evidence and make there own conclusions, yet it does it so quickly that Sherlock gets there first, keeping us one step behind him. What is also worth mentioning is the Jonathan Creek meets The Matrix-style scene with the mysterious death of the hiker. Not only was the explanation oddly believable, but it was also presented in a cutting edge way filled with seamless transitions and nifty dialogue.
The conclusion to this episode was quality, bringing Sherlock into the 21st century was no easy feat and writer Steven Moffat has really tackled some great subject matter. Personally, I think the scene on the plane between Mycroft, Sherlock & Adler was a real thought provoker, bringing in themes of terrorism in such a way could have easily been misconceived but Moffat has played this in well. Bringing the episode full circle from the start was a class of touch and shows just how good this show is.
My only qualm with this is that we’re only going to get three weeks to enjoy it.
Scene of the Episode – So many to choose from, but for me it has to be the opening interaction between Sherlock, Watson & The Woman. The use of editing and cinematography really brought this to life and giving the show a signature style. The chemistry between the characters felt real and this set the bar high for the rest of the episode.
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.