It took two years, but another Sherlock instalment is finally on its way - and not a minute too soon. Cleverly scripted and brilliantly acted, this is one of the best dramas to grace our screens. It is difficult to pick flaws in the production, but persevere we must, for a few blemishes add to the series' charm and provide fodder for that quintessentially British tradition of self-deprecation. And the season to be jolly is all about tradition. So here they are, my 4 favourite Sherlock beauty spots. (**SPOILERS ALERT FOR SERIES 1-3**)
1. Pointless supervillains
Andrew Scott must be gutted. The BBC reboots Sherlock Holmes and he lands the part of evil genius number 1, Jim Moriarty. He gets to accessorise with insane brilliance and a maniacal stare. And then ... well, that's about it. He clocks up a grand total of about 5 minutes screen time, until the series 2 finale, when he finally gets to speak in full sentences. Then he blows his own brains out.
Sub in evil genius number 2, Charles Magnussen. He's less endearing, as far as antagonists go, but it hardly matters: for he controls individuals, corporations and governments; he can make normal spectacles work like a Terminator newsfeed; he's bad, badder, baddest. So of course he does bugger all until the last episode of the series, when - you guessed it - he gets his brains blown out. So that was worth it.
2. Google-searches disguised as mind palaces
In 'The Hounds of Baskerville', Sherlock suspects the word 'hound' might have a secret meaning able to unlock the case. To unravel the mystery he needs to collect all the possible information linked to the word. The best way to do this, of course, is a Google search. But Google searches are far too real-lifey, a little cliché (the modern equivalent of newspaper montage scenes) and not sexy at all, as they deprive us of Benny's adorable frown while he swats away irrelevant information in the form of flashy screen graphics.
So we get a mind palace instead. Which is an actual memory technique, and there are people out there who genuinely have mind palaces and use them to retain extraordinary amounts of information. I once saw a documentary about this guy who could memorise the order of an entire pack of cards by looking at it only once. When asked about the applications of his gift, he said it was a good party trick, but didn't have much of a practical use. After all, these days we have Google.
3. Intellectual cop outs
In the episode 'His Last Vow', Sherlock and Watson find themselves in a bit of a pickle: they realise Magnussen keeps state secrets in his mind palace, which leaves them with no proof of any wrongdoing. Magnussen is holding all the chips and flicking them into John's face (quite literally, he's flicking his face) and we're left wondering what last minute twist of brilliance Sherlock will deploy to prevail against all odds. The clever revelation will assert what we've known all along - that Sherlock is the better mind - and Magnussen's sense of triumph will turn bitter as he realises he's been played from the beginning. But no. Sherlock takes a gun and shoots Magnussen in the head. This is the equivalent of Stephen Fry winning a wit contest by blurting out a 'your mum' joke before kicking his opponent in the groin. That'll learn him.
4. True love won't triumph
You know that thing that writers do, when they take a minor character, the one that is a little old, or odd, or both, and make them The Herald of Truth, safe in the knowledge they won't be taken seriously? In Sherlock, that character is our favourite drug-cartel-secretary-turned-landlady Mrs Hudson.
She thinks Sherlock and Watson are an item, won't be swayed otherwise and comes up with the most hilarious quips about it. And we laugh, as we're supposed to, mainly because by laughing we can release some of the erotic tension flying back and forth between Sherlock and Watson.
Yes, I know, Watson is super-straight, a bit of a womaniser in fact, and is now even married. And I like the character of Mary Watson, I really do. But Sherlock and Watson are so perfect together, I wish it was them who got married instead. This makes sense from a practical perspective as well, as Watson wouldn't have to live away from Sherlock and the writers wouldn't need to think of improbable ways for them to meet up and solve the next case. All would be well. But I guess that's a different story.
This article was originally published on Live For Films on the 31st of December 2015