Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

Sherlock – The Hounds of Baskerville

27 January 2012 by Nicholas in TV

Sherlock – The Hounds of Baskerville was the second in the current series of Sherlock and was written by Mark Gatiss rather than Steven Moffat. Although the episode was often very funny, and good overall, it wasn’t quite as enjoyable as Moffat’s work.

The reasons, I think, are varied: Gatiss’s dialogue isn’t quite as good, although there are some good moments. When Moffat writes he manages to sell you on insane ideas and has a very strong sense of tone. Gatiss has a little more trouble with tone and even gives us a histrionic Holmes and oddly flustered and bumbling Watson. I know one could argue that they were demanded by the plot they still felt out of place.

The source material is lacklustre. Although it is the most famous of the Holmes tales, it is far from the best. The television adaptation carries this over and has some of its own problems: the shoe horning of the supporting cast into the plot when he had no reason to be there, characters acting out of character because of the demands of the plot, Mycroft being lackadaisical and oddly supportive of his little brother, and a really obvious villain (If he had stood at the back cackling he couldn’t have been more obvious). There also wasn’t enough story to carry the full ninety minutes. There was maybe 75 minutes worth with some scenes that could easily have been jettisoned and others that could have been tightened.

This all sounds like I didn’t enjoy it. that isn’t the case: I did, I really enjoyed it. I think it was very funny in places (Holmes being his usual rude and dismissive self, mainly), I thought some of the scenes were strong (Holmes observing that someone had travelled by train and him working out someone was a fisherman) and the direction and acting were both good. The writing, too, was good. it just wasn’t excellent. The problem is the bar is set very high and missing it results in disappointment even when it also results in quality entertainment.