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.