BBC Sherlock – which episode gets the Gold Medal?

It’s a tough one this.  How do you choose when each episode has so much to offer?  Husband favours A Scandal in Belgravia but that probably has more to do with Lara Pulver’s naked body than anything else.  For me, the decision is a little more difficult.

I suppose it depends on what criteria you use (hotness of naked leading actress not really a valid indicator Tim).  Do you simply view each episode in its own right, or do you judge it in terms of how well it relates to the original Conan Doyle stories?  Incidentally, hotness of Cumberbatch, Freeman, Graves etc. is also not a valid indicator, though obviously an integral part of the show’s success.

I suppose what I love in Sherlock is the same as what I love in my favourite original stories – seeing Holmes bright-eyed, energetic, dashing around making brilliant deductions and saving the day.  I particularly enjoy it when he brings light into darkness, when all seems hopeless and you think “Blimey he’s never going to sort that one out” but he does.  I like seeing the science of deduction at work.  It’s also satisfying to see glimpses of his great heart as well as his great brain, particularly in terms of his friendship with Watson – the one thing which shows his ‘human’ side.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I’ve been putting the finishing touches to my new book due out next week.  It is a publication of my 56 Sherlock Holmes Stories in 56 Days blogathon which happened last year.  In it, I rate and review all the 56 original Holmes short stories and then compile my top ten.  I look at what these stories have in common to try to typify what it is I enjoy most about them.  And of course, next Saturday the live Sherlock Holmes debate will be held and groups of experts will be arguing their case for their favourite story.  So ‘favourites’ is quite topical right now in the SH world.

Well, getting back on topic – my favourite BBC Sherlock episode is The Great Game because it contains all the things mentioned above.  Moriarty sets Sherlock a series of impossible tasks, with a time limit, and we see him dash around trying to solve them in his own uniquely brilliant way.  How he does it is simply genius, a happy blend of science (Carl Power’s trainers), observation (the supernova depicted in the fake painting) and instinct (Connie Prince and her relationship with her brother).

The episode is fast-paced, dramatic, gripping and slick.  The characterisation of Moriarty is wonderful, innovative and completely left-field.  We also see the deepening relationship between Sherlock and John, especially towards the end beside the swimming pool when John tries to protect his friend endangering himself in the process.  Pretty light on canonical references but crammed full of the spirit of Conan Doyle’s best stories.

In silver medal position (adding an Olympic theme there) has to be The Reichenbach Fall.  The way this episode captured the imagination of fans all over the world and got them all tweeting, facebooking, blogging their theories about how Sherlock faked his suicide was profound.  The press, the newspapers, everyone seemed to be talking about it.  And it was so gripping, a bomb could have exploded in my back garden and I still couldn’t have turned away from those final heart-breaking scenes.  The sequence at the start of the episode showing Moriarty breaking into the Tower of London, Bank of England etc. was some of the best television I’ve ever seen.  And of course, the ‘Not our division’ line was comedy gold.  But in terms of a Sherlock Holmes adventure showing his method, The Great Game still has the edge in my humble opinion.

A bronze medal goes to A Scandal in Belgravia, but not for Lara Pulver’s naked body (sorry husband).  It wins the medal for that brilliant ‘I am Sherlocked’ moment which simply took my breath away – simply awesome.

And my favourite original Sherlock Holmes story – it has to be The Six Napoleons for the workman-like method Holmes applies to solving the crime.  The story is neat, concise, great fun and bloomin’ clever – let us not forget that the genius of Conan Doyle is at the heart of all adaptations and without him there would be no Sherlock Holmes at all.

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About barefootonbakerstreet

Author and senior recruitment manager from Shropshire
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7 Responses to BBC Sherlock – which episode gets the Gold Medal?

  1. Patrick Kincaid says:

    I think I agree with your choice of gold medal for Sherlock – though it took two viewings before I really appreciated how good The Great Game was. I’m not a fan of Andrew Scott’s style of acting (though I understand I’m very much alone here!), and it was a bit of a barrier for me to begin with. But in terms of plotting and – above all – pure suspense, it really is great television.

    The Six Napoleons is a fine choice too, and for the reasons you give. My favourite is The Man with the Twisted Lip. Though I don’t think it’s technically as good a mystery as some others, I love it because it’s as fine an exploration of the double life as anything else written in a century obsessed with the subject. Even London has a duality – I love how easily poor Mrs Sinclair slips from the affluent City streets into the dregs of the dockland…

    • It’s all down to personal choice and there is no right or wrong, just how we interpret something, but I think Andrew Scott brings a vibrancy and eccentricity to the role which is very refreshing. But when I wrote my novel which features Moriarty heavily, I still pictured the more traditional portrayal given by Eric Porter in the Granada series. And yes, I too did not appreciate The Great Game enough the first time I saw it and had to watch it again. You notice something new every time.

      The Man With the Twisted Lip is indeed a fine story with a very clever idea at the heart. I’ve used it in my own novel and things get a lot worse for poor Mrs Sinclair…

      • Patrick Kincaid says:

        Oooh! I’m going to have to make Barefoot on Baker Street part of my holiday reading, aren’t I? I’ll make it my first Kindle purchase, which will give it an added resonance…

        Scott’s take on Moriarty is certainly refreshing, you’re right. It’s essential to find new ways of tackling these roles, and he does that in spades. What did you think of Jared Harris in Game of Shadows? Very different to Scott, but perhaps the best thing in that film.

      • Jared Harris certainly was the best thing in the film. Closer to the more traditional idea of Moriarty but a very strong portrayal without the ‘pantomine villian’ effect.

        I hope you enjoy Barefoot, try to get the 2nd edition if you can as it is greatly improved from the first. Let me know what you think! Thanks for the support.

  2. Jay says:

    Omg! You chose the same episode I did! :) I love how the Great Game incorporated all these stories in one episode and somehow managed to weave it all together in one storyline (and the cliffhanger with Moriarty was frustrating). I think my second fav has to be the Reichenbach Fall (no idea if that’s right) because of how vivid it was and full of emotion especially when Moriarty made everyone believe that Sherlock was really doing all the crimes himself (don’t get me started on the ending). The last episode is The Scandal in Bohemia for the brilliant acting and the development of the characters

  3. SD says:

    I think I’d have to give the gold medal to “A Study in Pink”. I have watched that one many, many times. I loved when John and Sherlock meet and how in those first hours, John gets to really know Sherlock, as we, the audience, does too. We also get our first glimpse of Mycroft,and the other characters. My silver medal goes to “The Reichenbach Fall” because of everything mentioned before; the pure emotion of the characters. The bronze medal goes to “A Scandal in Belgravia” just for the very reason you mentioned — the “Sherlocked’ bit shocked me — didn’t see it coming.
    I am a newbie to Doyle’s writings, haven’t picked a favorite yet, I enjoy the short stories better than the novels. I’ve also been watching the Rathbone movies and the Granada series.

  4. Ennui says:

    I have to go along with SD and say that A Study in Pink get’s my gold medal. There is so much that happens in the first episode. It sets the tone for the rest of the series and I just love seeing the budding relationship b/t the two as they go through their first adventures together. To be fair, just like in the olympics where the differences b/t a gold and a bronze are so small, the same goes for all the episodes – they are all clever and expertly produced!

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