That just happened.
I can absolutely see how some dislike S3. It was different from the previous two seasons in terms of tone, pacing, and focus. I get that, and feel very sympathetic to those fans who must feel as if the rug was pulled out from under them.
To be sociological about it, I think the response to S3 is in some ways a microcosm of the debate as to whether television can be an artistic medium. Having read a lot of the comments on sites like the Guardian or the Daily Mail from people who aren’t passionate fans of the show, I understand now that some people looked at Sherlock as a modern murder mystery show. Leaving aside the question of whether it was ever that (I would argue against), it’s not now, and a lot of people are upset. What struck me, however, was the almost visceral reaction I saw some from some of those commenters. They were actually offended and railed against a television show demanding their attention, causing them to think, not being easy. To those people (a lot of whom I suspect are older), television is supposed to be a comfortable distraction.
God knows, I have my creature comforts when it comes to TV. Like, I would be embarrassed to tell you how many hours of my life have been lost to Law & Order. It’s a procedural and it’s very well done, in all its incarnations. But I would argue that to make a Law & Order series, or those of its type, requires professionalism and creativity, but not necessarily artistry. Luckily though, television is a big enough medium that it can accommodate all types. Not everything has to be The Wire, there can be room for Hawaii 5-0, too.
Anyway. Here’s my point. As I was watching S3 of Sherlock, I found myself astonished. It was dizzying, it took chances, it shook me. It made me feel unlike any television series has since Breaking Bad. I felt like I was watching the results of artists who wanted to push the medium, to see how far it could go and what they could do with it. It would’ve been very easy for Moffat & Gatiss to coast along; you could have Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch solve The Case of the Misplaced Checkbook and it would probably be a nice 90 minutes, thanks to their charisma and talent alone. And as of season two, they’d gotten enough awards and ratings for a lifetime. Instead, S3 felt like I was watching them cut the strings just to see where the balloon goes.
Does that mean it was perfect? No, but damn, I found it thrilling. To quote Andy Warhol, “The mystery was gone but the amazement was just starting.”I loved not knowing genuinely what to expect from a television show; to feel heartbreak and have my breath taken away. I loved seeing characters at their best and their messiest; I loved puzzling over situations and dilemmas that weren’t neat and tidy. I loved being trusted, as a viewer, to keep up with the relentless pace. I connected to it, in all the ways anyone can connect to great art. As the Telegraph put it, “It wasn’t flawless, but it was brilliant.”
Love it or hate it, the last thing season three was was safe. To me, it sealed the deal that Sherlock is now a staggering work in the pantheon with The Sopranos, Mad Men, The Wire, Justified, Breaking Bad, etc. It wants to shatter your expectations of what you think it specifically - or television in general - should be. It started as an excellent adaptation of Doyle, but it’s gone beyond that now. I felt the ending of His Last Vow was symbolic of that break and the future of the show: some will find it intoxicating, and some will find it suffocating, but there’s an east wind coming all the same.
I cannot stop looking at the Hannibal S2 poster. I also cannot goddamn wait for the season premiere.
…and this weeks award for brilliant gif use….
I have been laughing at this for the past 5 minutes.
A random ball pit is set up in the middle of a city
And this is what happens as people approach it.