Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall - review

Sherlock concluded its all too short three-episode run tonight with another cunningly titled episode - The Reichenbach Fall. Of course, I say "all too short", but part of the success of the series has been to leave viewers wanting more. The temptation for any writer is to outstay his or her welcome, whether with a series that has run out of steam, or a type of book that has passed its sell-by date. But this episode was probably as good as any we've seen to date. Will there be any more? We can only hope so.

I'm going to avoid spoilers, but I think even a Holmes super-purist would be impressed with the way the writers have taken themes from Conan Doyle's original stories, and updated them so cleverly that the effect is always of homage, not parody. And as the title of this episode suggests, there was a duel of wits between Sherlock and Moriarty which resulted in a dramatic climax.

Benedict Cumberbatch was as good as ever in the title role, but I was impressed also by Andrew Scott as Moriarty. At first, I wasn't convinced by the casting of Scott, which is certainly audacious, but the quality of his acting has won me over, as I'm sure it has won over many other doubters. The roof-top encounter brought out the best in both actors, while Martin Freeman was again excellent as the devoted Watson.

One of the many small touches that I've admired in this series was the casting of Douglas Wilmer, who celebrated his 92nd birthday earlier this month, as a guest in the Diogenes Club. Wilmer played Holmes in the TV series that I enjoyed very much as a young boy. He's not as celebrated as Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing but I felt he was a very good Sherlock, and it was great that he was included in this terrific show.


The Passing Tramp said...

"Appalling" is the word I would choose for the casting of the actor playing Moriarty, at least based on the last ten minutes of episode three, season one. ;) But if they toned down the "I'm MAD!" aspect I will be pleased. My other problem was he seemed way to young to be a Napoleon of Crime, but, these kids, what can't they do these days? I suppose he was no more absurd in that respect than that girl with the dragon tattoo.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I hadn't realised about Douglas Wilmer - thanks for flagging that up.

I thought this was a wonderful reworking of The Final Problem, made much better for the fact the climactic battle between Sherlock and Moriarty is a mental rather than physical one. Like you, I had been unconvinced by Scott's portrayal previously, but it was pitch-perfect here. Cumberbatch draws deserved plaudits but huge credit should also go to Freeman, who brings such depth and dignity to Watson's quiet grief.

Thankfully both Moffat and Gatiss confirmed via Twitter last night that there will be a series 3, although with both busy shooting films I fear it may be late rather than early 2013 until we see Holmes and Watson reunited.

Martin Edwards said...

Curt, I changed my mind about the actor after this episode, and I gather many others have done too. A daring portrayal that won't please everyone, but one of some quality, I think.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Slouching, and I much enjoyed your own detailed review.

Sarah said...

Yes I think I liked Moriaty more in this episode and he is a good actor. A couple of the jokes wore a bit thin I felt - the Sherlock 'try and act normal' was done to death. But the plotting was the best in the series and I thought the 'fall' scene very well done. I'm so glad it is back for a third series.

Martin Edwards said...

Sarah, I'm glad too !