So Sherlock came bouncing onto our screens last night and managed, in what seemed like 10 minutes but was more like a couple of hours, to bring us more wit, visual invention, suspense and romance than we're likely to see for the rest of the year - or until the second of this three-part series, anyway.
Moffat's contemporary take on a Victorian favourite is wonderfully fluid. The swirl of his pen transported Holmes and Watson (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, on the top form we've come to expect) from the bowels of Battersea Power Station (a sign of Mycroft's 'power complex' apparently, in one of innumerable witty throwaways) to the gilted chairs of Buckingham Palace, where Holmes, clothed in a sheet, deigned to dress for tea and a briefing on the case - and what a corker it was.
Adapted from Conan Doyle's Scandal in Bohemia, here we were informed that a lady - profession: 'recreational scolding' - had come into possession of compromising photos of a young royal female. Holmes must retrieve them. And off we went.
We got to enjoy again all the trappings of the first hit series - the mutual affection between Holmes and Watson despite disdain and frustration from each respectively, Mrs Hudson's weary but unshocked discovery of thumbs in the fridge, Mycroft's despair at his unconventional sibling, and a plot that flew, twisted, surprised and delighted from beginning to end.
However, what was even more compelling was the richer palate of emotion on display, particularly that of Holmes, and especially when he encountered the scolding Lady - Irene Adler, played crisply and with a contagious grin by Lara Pulver.
For her first encounter with Holmes, she was stark naked, apart from a whip. Yet, paradoxically, the great detective was unable to read her - a row of question marks puffed into the air where his deductions usually presented themselves. And so the scene was set for a romance of the mind, where the nudity and verbal jousting were only hints of a much stronger alliance.
Moffat provided a truly erotic, 21st-century love affair, where thinking really was the new sexy, as The Lady told us.
Other people's thoughts...
The Guardian: It doesn't really matter if – like me and Watson – you are not always sure exactly what's going on. There are nods and winks to other stories – The Greek Interpreter, The Speckled Band, or the Speckled Blonde as it has become. Presumably the thumbs that Mrs Hughes finds in the fridge were once attached to engineers. I'm sure there are dozens of references I missed, but that too doesn't matter. What does matter is that it fizzes down like a glass of New Year bubbly, full of wit and sparkle.
The Telegraph: Let’s not forget the dialogue, which recalls classic Hollywood films of the 1940s – quickfire, cold and clever. This was a lesson in how to adapt a Victorian writer with an understanding of what it is that makes their creation so compelling. If you had managed to chew your way through all of Great Expectations over Christmas, it was the perfect palate cleanser.
The Independent: And where does one start, again? With the teasing eroticism of Sherlock and Irene's affair of the mind? With the way that Moffat gets some real poignancy and longing into a story so glossily fantastical? With the fact that barely a minute passes without a line that's worth making a note of? Or the fact that, in addition to lovely performances and great writing, the whole thing is filmed with such invention? What a way to start the year.
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