24. Sherlock: The Six Thatchers (2017, TV)

IMDB score = 7.7/10

Holmes and Watson? = Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman

Synopsis = Sherlock takes on the case of finding out who is going around and smashing six unique head statues of late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Defense by Paul Thomas Miller:

Series four of BBC Sherlock continued what series three began - a departure from the first two series of adventure stories in a Canonical tone into drama and fantasy. This episode starts with lots of nods to canonical stories (a montage scene of the denouements of several cases playing out in 221b), but we don’t get to see the fun of them being played out. Even the main investigation of the episode is overshadowed by the soap opera style plot involving Sherlock, John and Mary. I’d be lying if I said it made me happy. But (as I explain in my defense of The Empty Hearse) I was mistaken. And there is all the more reason to find my defense of this episode (and by extension the DRC motto “No Holmes Barred”).

(Tempting though it is to stick to my original misery-guts stance, I won’t take the easy option of saying this episode is good because Mary dies. Apart from being not-in-the-spirit, she turns up as a bloody ghost in the next episode anyway.)

The BBC Sherlock episodes all have one thing in common, they were born out of Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s love of Sherlock Holmes. As such all the episodes are littered with fun references and what-ifs which appeal to any Holmesian.

There is one gem that really worked for me in this episode. That is, the use of Toby the tracker dog to hunt down a criminal. In stark contrast to the exciting scene in Doyle’s Sign of Four, we see an alternate universe where John and Mary are both on the chase. Not only that, they bring their baby with them. And quite apart from being the high speed cross-London chase of the original, Toby comedically refuses to move.

It’s this playing with the original Canon which made most of us fall in love with BBC Sherlock in the first place. If you can stop being petulant about the change of tone, there is still much to enjoy in series three and four. And if you can stop wanting to restrict what the programme should be, you can even enjoy the episodes for what they are: fantasy and drama rather than the original whodunnit and adventure.