So, Dr. Watson intends to marry and is taking the brave, the bold and perhaps the insane step of selecting Mr. Holmes as his best man.? What could possibly go wrong?
I was somewhat expecting that the final scene of “The Empty Hearse” would lead us into a widening mystery, that would be pursued in this week’s installment. I had so many questions. Who was that man, closely examining the footage of Watson’s bonfire rescue. Who took the footage? Is Mycroft in some way connected? I was quite clearly way off the mark.
This third series, far more than the previous pair, is focusing on the social network that has formed around the friendship between Holmes and Watson. The cases themselves are quite simply a backdrop, providing moments of drama or comedy or whatever is appropriate in order to reveal a certain aspect of the relationship being examined at that moment.
I did laugh loud and long and often during this sitting. Mrs. Husdon’s hysterical mirth in response to the prospect of Holmes’ best man speech was a fine teaser for the main event; Holme’s best man speech. Once things get going, this speech is the device around which the story hangs and the execution is as ever, immaculate.
I consistently enjoy the manner in which certain moments are exploited with skill, verve and much tongue in cheek; Sherlocks’ response to being asked to be best man is a fine study of comic timing; the stag-night detection whilst under the influence is most chuckle-worthy, the blurred, distorted and quite frankly sozzled graphics being a particular highlight for yours truly ; the devious yet endearing manner in which bride to be Mary, engineers for both Watson and Holmes to get out of the house and give her some peace. It’s noteworthy how Amanda Abbington’s role feels utterly established, in this, her second appearance.
Comedic desserts aside, the story still manages to add an essential tartness to the mix. Holmes’ exchanges with Mycroft are always revealing and their debate on loneliness and the futility of relationships with us ‘goldfish’ provides a welcome contrast to the piece. It adds depth to the pathos inherent in our best man’s departure from the proceedings. I’m sure across the country, there was the odd deep sigh or solitary tear shed.
Altogether, this makes for a series that is quite distinctive from the bulk of Sherlock Holmes’ branded output. If I was to don my cynical hat for the briefest of moments, I’d call this Sherlock : The Soap Opera. Misunderstand me not, I thoroughly enjoyed this latest outing. This is a wonderful , entertaining and heartwarming slice of quality british television. However it is a series where the game whilst afoot, is trod ever so quietly.