Brit Picks: “Sherlock” Returns With Series 2 “A Scandal in Belgravia” and the New York City PBS Premiere!

Written by Sarah Townsend May 07, 2012

“My brother has the brain of a scientist or a philosopher and yet he elects to be a detective. What might we deduce about his heart?” -Mycroft Holmes

It’s been a long wait for fans of “Sherlock” but it is finally back!  For 3 Sundays, fans can once again be enthralled, frustrated, humoured, heartbroken (tell me you aren’t by the end of the finale, I dare you), and many other wonderful adjectives all over again, on PBS. We left the show 18 months ago at the finale of Series 1 at the side of a swimming pool with Moriarty, John, a bomb, several snipers, and Sherlock with a gun, poised to fire in an excruciatingly brilliant cliff-hanger.

“A Scandal in Belgravia”, based on one of the most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, “A Scandal in Bohemia” picks up right where the show left off.  A quick resolution involving the tune “Staying Alive” swiftly alleviates the tension and leaves Moriarty as a threat for a later date.  Now Sherlock is free to work a case involving a member of the Royal Family and some compromising photographs being held as leverage, not for a payoff.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott, Mark Gatiss, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey and Rupert Graves all resume their roles as Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Jim Moriarty, Mycroft Holmes, Mrs. Hudson, Molly, and Lestrade, respectively.  This time however they are joined by Lara Pulver playing the infamous Irene Adler, transformed into a dominatrix for this modern rendition.  Honestly, this is my favourite episode to date, and I’ve seen the entirety of this series already.  The first series set up Sherlock’s world, the identity of the characters, how they relate to one another and of course the presence of a worthy baddie.  Now that all of that has been covered however, this series is able to delve further into the complexities of Sherlock’s personality, what makes him tick and what makes him weak.

 

Irene Adler or “The Woman” is the one woman who trips Sherlock up.  Whether it is a genuine sexual attraction or a fascination with her as he realises that she is the only person capable of beating him (literally and figuratively) is left for the viewer to decide.  Either way this is the first time the show has really played with the possibility of Sherlock having romantic emotions.  The real prize of the episode goes to Pulver.  Her Irene Adler is a survivor, ruthless, sexy and clever, but oh, how she’s drawn into Sherlock’s entirely unintentional ‘charm’ aka intelligence.  They fascinate each other and discover that in some ways they are quite alike.  What unfolds is a game of wits where not even the audience is aware of the winner until the last move is made.

This episode shows a more human and at times more fallible Sherlock Holmes.  Cumberbatch flips from his calculating and antisocial Sherlock, to confused, vulnerable, apologetic, cold and to violent (do not rough up Mrs. Hudson or you may “fall” out of a window) Sherlock both sharply and gracefully.  Freeman’s John Watson reacts brilliantly to these smaller moments of change within his friend.  He seems more surprised by Sherlock’s moments of humanity than his remarkable skills of observation and less in awe of his flatmate than in the previous series. They’ve clearly grown as friends and colleagues and in this episode John provides most of the comic relief through the sarcasm and realism that he brings to the eventful and strange cases that living in 221B Baker Street provide. He is the man who reacts how we would.

As always, the subtle and not-so-subtle nods to the written stories added by Moffat and Gatiss are a joy to watch.  A particularly gleeful moment in this episode is the introduction of the famous deerstalker or “Sherlock Holmes” hat.  It is impossible to watch without cracking a smile and even fans who have not read the stories will recognize the icon.

“Sherlock” PBS New York Premiere

Sherlock began its run on PBS yesterday night and continues for the next two Sundays.  I was at the premiere in New York City on May 2nd where they played the first 35 minutes of the episode.  Having already seen the series I can say that some minor (but entertaining) scenes will be cut for time.  Benedict Cumberbatch was there and commented on his sadness at the missing scene however they have been chosen well and unless you had already seen the original episode you wouldn’t miss them.  The full episodes will still appear on the DVD and Bluray.

My signed copy of Series One

 

Over 10,000 people entered for tickets to the premiere. 100 people won a pair.  I was one of them and received notice of said honour one week before the event.  Last minute packing, inviting of a plus one and a 13 hour train ride later and I was in NYC.  It may sound extreme but it was so worth it!  After the 35 min episode excerpt Steven Moffat, the co-creator and writer of “Sherlock” and many other amazing shows, his wife Sue Vertue, the producer of “Sherlock”, and Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock came on stage for a Q&A session.  A live feed played online at the time which is now apparently being edited and will be available on the PBS website in the near future.

PBS Edited Q&A

All three were extremely candid and frustratingly spoiler-free for the sake of the roughly 10 people out of the 400 seat audience that hadn’t yet seen all of Series 2 (an audience poll was conducted). That Moffat does enjoy toying with his fans!

Q&A with Benedict Cumberbatch, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue

An autographing session followed in which PBS attempted to stop Cumberbatch, Moffat and Vertue from giving personalized autographs and taking photos with fans in order to save on time.  All three blatantly ignored them which garnered the respect of every fan in the room.  If you were one of the people that were cut off before you got an autograph or a photo, my condolences.  Cumberbatch signed my DVD said thank you and took a photo with me. My friend and I were at the front of the line to meet Steven Moffat whom I’ve known of since I was 16 because of “Doctor Who”, and Sue Vertue when we were cut off.  Now, I’m normally very well mannered and wonderful at following instructions – this was not one of those times.  Upon my asking Vertue and Moffat directly for at least a photo both immediately said yes and then snuck their hands down to sign my DVD anyway!  All three were gracious, completely appreciative of their fans and as lovely in person as I’d hoped they would be. I’m fangirling, sorry, can’t help it!  It was definitely a night for the books. Thank you to PBS, Moffat, Vertue and Cumberbatch!

Me and Benedict Cumberbatch. Happiness doesn't even begin to cover how I feel about this moment.

PBS Sherlock trended on twitter that night at number 5 in the UK when it was past 3 in the morning there.  In other words, “Sherlock” is a big deal and if you aren’t already watching it, you should be.  Series 1 is available on DVD and Bluray with Series 2 following on May 22nd.  I cannot recommend this series enough! Next up, there’s howling on the moors and a hound is about! “Sherlock” is back next Sunday with “Hounds of Baskerville”.

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About Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend: Senior Television Editor of We Eat Films and writer of the Brit Picks column. A fourth year English and History student at UWO, future plans include travelling with the Doctor in his TARDIS whenever he finds me. I'm still waiting...

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