February 18, 2014

Sherlock: Season Three (2013)
BBC

270 mins. Not Rated
16x9 1.78:1

Format
Blu-Ray

Audio
English - DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio

Subtitles
English

Extras
Featurettes

Starring
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Amanda Abbington

Review by
Guido Henkel


Rating



(2013)

European TV shows have a very different flair than their comparative American counterparts. When it comes to crime and detective shows, they usually are more stylish in a gritty sense, instead of being overly polished the way Hollywood produces its TV shows. "Sherlock" is one example of such a European show, and fans have come to love it for many reasons. Now available on Blu-Ray Disc, in this third season, Sherlock Holmes has three new feature-length mysteries to solve.

One of the most intriguing aspects of "Sherlock" has to do with the fact that the show uses classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries but transmogrifies them into modern day London while keeping the core of the story alive. Instead of a Victorian era mystery, the events we witness have to do with modern day crime, but the crimes themselves, the players, the clues are all loosely lifted from the original story t

"The Empty Hearse" is the opener, connecting seamlessly with the previous season's stunning finale. I will not spoil details for you, but Holmes is back at his brother Mycroft's beck, investigating an underground terror ring in London, while also trying to mend fences with Watson.

The second mystery is "The Sign of Three," loosely based on the original Doyle novel "The Sign of Four," in which strange things unfold while Watson is preparing for his wedding to Mary Morstan and puts Holmes in the awkward position of serving as his best man.

The season finale is "His Last Vow," which brings to mind the classic story "His Last Bow" and it is easily the best episode of the season - perhaps even the entire show. With absolutely wicked twists and filled to the brim with moral dilemmas, this episode os "Sherlock" at its very best. If you thought the Season 2 finale was intense, wait until you see "His Last Vow." It will leave you breathless and hungry for more.

I noticed in this season that it got off to a somewhat slow start and the first two episodes appear to be more about character building/exploration than actual mysteries. I was a little disappointed. Even though the episodes were thrilling and very well put together, they just didn't have a lot of crime or mystery in them. Things change dramatically, of course, in the last episode, where writer Steven Moffat takes the show into overdrive and keeps it on steroids for its entire running length.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman own their characters by now. Very confident in their portrayals of these friends, there is a solid chemistry between them that simply works. Reigning in the quirks and aloof attitude of Cumberbatch's Holmes with just the right amount of vehemence, Freeman's Watson is a fighter in his own right. He is no longer a sidekick but has grown into a grown-up sleuth and a man of resources who knows how to handle himself around any situation. While these characters may not have a whole lot in common with the classic characters, I think they are a great extrapolation of the essence of these characters, placed in the modern world with modern day problems. To me that is not blasphemous at all, as Holmes purists suggest. Instead, to me it is creative freedom mixed with a lot of imagination. It is way too cool to be offensive in my opinion. (I have to point out, however, that I have written and published a story featuring Sherlock Holmes myself some time ago, giving the character my own spin in the book "Curse of Kali")

The release features a beautiful 1080p high definition transfer of the show that is free of defects and brings to life the production's striking imagery. With strong colors and solid black levels that give the image visual depth, the transfer dishes out plenty of detail with sharp, well-delineated edges.

It is accompanied by a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track that is balanced and makes good use of the split surrounds. Because it utilizes lossless compression, the presentation is rich and has a transparence throughout that nicely serves the show. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable.

As bonus materials the release features a few featurettes, such as "the Fall," "Fans, Villains & Speculation" as well as a behind-the-scenes look in "Shooting Sherlock."

If you can get over the fact that "Sherlock" does not try to be a traditional Holmes adaptation, this TV show is among the best that the BBC is currently producing. High caliber performances, a great London backdrops and clever writing make this show thoroughly enjoyable and clearly there is no better way to experience it than on this Blu-Ray Disc.

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