Saturday 25 February 2012

Verdict: Sherlock - The Hounds Of Baskerville

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock
This review contains spoilers

Building upon last week's excellent series opener, The Hounds Of Baskerville shows that Mark Gatiss' and Steven Moffat's take on the super sleuth is going from strength to strength. Whilst the first episode played with the idea of Sherlock falling for the seductive charm of femme fatale Irene Adler, this week we were introduced to something bigger; that Holmes could feel fear. 

Set, just as the original Conan Doyle novel was, on the spooky and desolate Dartmoor in Devon, the change in locale was a interesting new backdrop for the series. Usually confined to the bustling and noisy streets of London, the open plains, dark forests and misted hollows of the sparse moor all added to creating a genuinely frightening entry into the series and a more than worthy adaptation of the original novel (with the smallest of tweaks). Here, Baskerville is no longer a Gothic manor house but a shady animal experimentation lab. And the so called hound? Well, I wouldn't want to ruin to much now would I?

Like I mentioned earlier, there are some truly gripping and scary scenes in this episode, as the "hound" stalks and terrorises Holmes and Watson. In one instance, Gatiss and Moffat seemingly go all Paranormal Activity on us, trapping poor Watson in the dark and deserted lab with said demonic, snarling hound. Never allowed a proper glimpse at the possessed pooch, the audience is treated to an interesting Conan Doyle/Blair Witch mash-up. One chilling sequence where Watson is alone in the darkened wood with only a torch for company was a particularly spine-tingling, paranoia-laden moment. It's not all "things that go bump in the night" however. The dialogue crackles with sharp wit and one-liners that we've come to expect from the series.

Much like the first episode, The Hounds of Baskerville did much to play with the ideal of Sherlock being human. Benedict Cumberbatch was on brilliant form in this episode as a man torn between relying on fact and believing in myth and the occult. The supporting cast also were impressive, most notably Russell Tovey as tortured soul Henry Knight.

The overall 'mystery' was not as multi-layered and intricate as the preceding episode and for anyone paying close-attention such as myself, the resolution will come as little surprise. Not that this takes anything away from my overall enjoyment of the episode. In fact, that the plot was a lot more straight-forward, enabled me to take in and enjoy the story as a whole, instead of trying to keep track of the fast-paced twists and turns that usually are injected by Gatiss and Moffat.

One other downside I can think of is simply the fact that there is only the last episode next week to go before series 2 wraps up and the long wait for another series begins again. Despite this, better to have quality over quantity right? 

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