‘Sherlock’ used to be one path-breaking series we all looked forward to. The series’ fall from grace in the fourth season can be attributed to one major issue, along with a combination of many small ones.
Remember when ‘Sherlock‘ first premiered on BBC in 2010 and how ecstatic it made us feel when the pilot “A Study in Pink” was aired. Setting the legendary Sherlock Holmes saga in modern times, with all the modern forensic and IT techs aiding Sherlock to solve the most impossible of crimes was a masterstroke it seemed. ‘Sherlock’ was a retelling of the classic detective story based on the characters imagined by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and, over the decades, many iterations of the character has been seen, mostly set in the Victorian era, where the original novels are set. But TV creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss took a different route and presented us with a story set in modern time, that was as interesting as it could be, at least for the first three seasons.
- ‘Sherlock’: The path-breaking reboot of a great detective story
- First three seasons of ‘Sherlock’ worked like a charm
- ‘Sherlock’ lost its way in the fourth season
‘Sherlock’ premiered as a mini-series back in 2010, comprising of three episodes that ran for around 90 minutes. Yes, that’s right, to the standard duration of the modern-day feature films. But we knew it was the need of the hour as ‘Sherlock’ was a crime investigation story at its core and the episodic breaks would not have served it well.
The story begins with Sherlock Holmes, a sociopathic anti-social private investigator, who welcomes his new room-mate, a war veteran John Watson. Bit by bit, we figure out the life of Holmes, crowded by less than half a dozen people – his landlord Mrs Hudson, his elder brother Mycroft, a London police officer Greg Lestrade, and a laboratory assistant Molly Hooper. We follow Sherlock’s life, from John’s point of view mostly, as he goes about solving the case of a serial killer. And as John joins him in the investigation, we just know that the stage has been set.
‘Sherlock’: A path-breaking television series
For the first three seasons, the series outdoes itself with each episode with some really clever writing, humour that actually lands, great camerawork, direction and performances by everyone, especially Martin Freeman as John and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock, our two leading men. The series relied on a treatment that was never seen before in the history of television, the floating texts around the screen, the snappy editing and a raving soundtrack. It was the coolest thing broadcasting on television back then in the early 2010s.
How ‘Sherlock’ lost its way in the 4th season
However, something happened after the third season, that the series’ ratings began plummeting. It was a shock for the creators as in their minds they were not doing anything wrong and were just following the tradition of taking the series few notches higher with every season. But, maybe that is the reason! Maybe too high an ambition on part of the creators became the reason behind the show’s absolute fall from grace. But how? Let’s find out.
Season 3 ended with the final episode titled “His Last Vow”, which ended with Sherlock killing a deadly intelligent villain Charles Magnussen when he threatens to reveal the identity of Mary, John’s wife. Sherlock kills Charles and takes all the blame upon him. In a true sense, the series began on a downward spiral from that episode. While it was a great twist to see Mary Watson’s former identity getting revealed, the conclusion to the story left the fans with a somewhat bad taste in their mouths.
Things went only downhill in the 4th season of ‘Sherlock’. The show became a parody of the entire ‘Sherlock’ saga as the audience watched with confusion and asked “What happened to Sherlock? Why isn’t he solving crimes like he did?” In attempts to make the series more cool and edgy, the creators unknowingly made the series lose its way and as if it was not enough, there were more loose plot points and plot holes than all the three seasons combined. While Sherlock and John’s quirky and buddy cop movie behaviour was entertaining initially, it went stale by repetitiveness and worse, it refused to stop! And when we reached the finale of the 4th season, ‘Sherlock’ had become too self-indulgent and felt pretentious. Not a good sign for a detective thriller!
While there has not been an official announcement regarding the fifth season, we hope that we get our old ‘Sherlock’ back, because the soundtrack and the performances and the direction are still path-breaking despite the holes in the plot and the self-indulgence of the makers.
Tell us in the comments below which one, according to you, is the best season of ‘Sherlock’.