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08 January 2012 @ 10:20 pm
Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville review  
Mark Gatiss gives us his take on one of the few supernaturalish Holmes stories.

The short, non-spoilery review: very enjoyable!


I'm going to start off this review by fixating on a completely irrelevant fact we learned in this episode: Sherlock can drive. I don't know why but the sight of Sherlock behind the wheel was so incongruous to me I actually started laughing and wondered who was the poor bastard who had to teach him to drive in the first place. Probably Mycroft. It might just be the sight of seeing Sherlock do something so ordinary as driving. I'd probably react the same way if I ever saw him brushing his teeth or something. Anyway...

Overall, I liked this episode. It had a few shaky plot points and the pacing at times was a bit wonky. But beyond that I thought Gatiss did a nice job of updating a story that was already filled with some ridiculous plot points. I'd guessed around the time Sherlock had his complete mental freakout over seeing the hound that it must have been some sort of hallucinogenic causing the visions. But I wasn't sure how it was being administered or why exactly. The solution to all of that was sort of ho hum but the general acting and character moments made up for anything else that felt off.

My hats off to Russell Tovey for giving a lovely performance as poor Henry Knight. I really liked his first scenes at Baker Street and particularly the way in which he asked Sherlock if the latter was laughing at him. Just in that one line you saw the lifelong trauma and teasing he's had to go through with regard to what he thought he saw when his father was killed.

We get more instances of Sherlock Getting Out of His Comfort Zone this episode with him confronting the idea that he can't always trust his senses, which for him is major. We also see that he's gotten pretty good with sensing John's moods and valuing his friendship and saying what was needed to keep it. Having said that, I'm slightly surprised John didn't have a bigger reaction to the fact that Sherlock purposefully drugged him (or tried to) as an experiment. That deserved a punch at the very least.

Liked all the more explicit allusions to canon with the famous quoting of the Occam's Razor line, Sherlock's nicotine craving, and the answer being fear-inducing hallucinogenic drugs which was a solution to another Holmes story set in the countryside.

Aesthetically, I enjoyed the visual feel of this episode with us never really seeing the hound until the very end, but just heard the noise and shadows which fit in well with the fact that it was all imagined. I liked all the handheld shots of everyone tromping through the woods and the gorgeous shots of the countryside (although, was Sherlock auditioning for a role in Torchwood: Devon?).

On a personal, fanficcing level, it was interesting to see how Sherlock might react to seeing something that's so clearly not possible in reality. It gave me an interesting thought on how I might write him in that crossover I'm doing when he has to face the idea that ghosts, angels, and demons actually exist.

Anyway, next week is the last episode already! I'm RIDICULOUSLY curious what that last scene with Moriarty and Mycroft meant.

And now again, some quickfire likes and dislikes:

Likes:
1. Harpooning things, so tedious - I laughed rather hard at the look on John's face when he asked a bloodied Sherlock if he got on the tube looking like that. That being as if he'd just gone on a Moby Dick-inspired murder spree.

2. John gets to pull rank - As always, I love when they reference John's life as a soldier.

3. Sherlock's experiment - I still say that was cruel even if it was necessary but it really gave Martin Freeman a chance to do some great acting. His panicked!John was so well done in that even in the greatest state of fear, he managed to hold it together as any trained officer would.

4. The Phone Chain to Mycroft - Again, I laughed rather hard at the look on Mycroft's face when he got the text of his card being used.

5. Sherlock & Feelings Are Not Friends. HE HAS NO FRIENDS! - I liked this entire exchange largely for Freeman's acting which was a nice contrast to Cumberbatch's ever so slightly overacting of a wired Sherlock. When Freeman was on Graham Norton he'd made the quip of how acting is reacting. And it really, really works well here. The multitude of expressions Freeman goes through as John watches Sherlock have what looks like a quiet mental breakdown that then gets increasingly vicious was a great study in reacting acting. You earned that BAFTA, Mr. Freeman!

6. Sherlock Can Never Play Cluedo Again - I knew it! He'd be terrible at the game! I bet he shot the board when the solution turned out not to be the victim was also the killer.

Dislikes:
1. Franklin's Ultimate Plan to...wait, what? - I'm still confused as to how Franklin could be sure Henry would revisit the hollow to insure him getting drugged again and thus discredited. Franklin and Mortimer weren't in it together so how did Franklin know Henry was starting to remember and more importantly, that he'd be returning?

2. Sherlock's Mind Palace - The phrase was funny but the entire sequence of Sherlock rifling through his memory banks using hand gestures ala Minority Report was visually silly.

3. Sherlock/Mycroft Holmes - How was it possible that no one at Baskerville noticed that Sherlock looks nothing like the photo of Mycroft when the ID check flashed up? I'm sorry, but you couldn't pick two white actors who look less like one another. There is zero family resemblance so I don't know how blind the Baskerville people have to be to not see these are two completely separate people.

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The Writer They Call Tay: SHERLOCK: Watson's cute noseawanderingbard on January 9th, 2012 11:17 pm (UTC)
Once again, our reviews are mostly similar. John got to be himself this episode and I was so pleased. Martin just does John's everyman so perfectly. I have a real kink for doctors and every time John acts like a doctor or a soldier, it really pleases me. And to me, what John was doing when Sherlock had his mental breakdown, was using all of his bedside manner to try and calm Sherlock down.

Yeah, I'm a bit fuzzy on the plotline resolution, too. What was with the Morse code? The only thing I can think of is, if Franklyn and Henry were friends, or at least Franklyn and Knight Sr. were friends, that Franklyn somehow helped in convincing Henry that going to the hollow would be good for him. Sort of a 'oh, I'm worried about you as the son of my old friend' thing. But it wasn't clear.

And, yeah, not sure how they missed the fact that Sherlock was clearly not the man in the photo.

Mostly I was just pleased everyone was in character again.

Edited at 2012-01-09 11:18 pm (UTC)
formerly lifeinsomniac: WatsonCocktailjoonscribble on January 10th, 2012 01:21 am (UTC)
Franklyn somehow helped in convincing Henry that going to the hollow would be good for him. Sort of a 'oh, I'm worried about you as the son of my old friend' thing. But it wasn't clear.

Yeah, even one line from Henry about how Franklyn had encouraged him to visit the hollow to make peace would have been a nice insert to at least let me know how Franklyn was manipulating things off screen.

I think I addressed most of everything else I wanted to on your review for this episode. But in short, hooray for good characterizations and giving us an updated story that's in the spirit of the original.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on January 10th, 2012 03:27 am (UTC)
Maybe it was a deleted scene? Or it could just be Henry wasn't in a state of mind to be giving useful information.

The only thing I really missed from the original story was the fact that Holmes came down incognito while Watson investigated and got to know everyone. I just would have loved to see John's reaction to Sherlock suddenly being there. But John did get a lot of the investigation work, so I was pleased about that.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on January 10th, 2012 04:19 am (UTC)
The only thing I really missed from the original story was the fact that Holmes came down incognito while Watson investigated and got to know everyone.

Actually, I didn't understand why in this version Sherlock initially said he was only going to send John due to him being tied up with the Bluebell case (ha!) but then changed his mind in the course of a minute. Was it just to get the location for where John had stashed his cigarettes?
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on January 10th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
I think it was just to get the location, yeah and maybe a nod to the original story. I do have to admit that this version of Sherlock probably wouldn't sit back and let John do the work. I also kind of laughed at Sherlock being all 'let's get Henry attacked!' when Holmes was so adamant about Henry never going out alone in the original story. That's this version of Sherlock, too.