Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

What a fantastic way to kick off the New Year! The second series of BBC1’s Sherlock hit the airwaves yesterday, starting with a re-imagining of one of Doyle’s most popular Holmes short stories, “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Titled A Scandal in Belgravia, this episode saw the return of Benedict Cumberbatch as the ace consulting detective and Martin Freeman as his ever suffering army doctor sidekick, John Watson. It also saw the premier of Laura Pulver in her role as The Woman, Irene Adler, a dominatrix with a secret and the only one who ever beat Sherlock Holmes.


A case of blackmail threatens to topple the monarchy itself, but soon Sherlock and John discover there is even more to it than that. They find themselves battling international terrorism, rogue CIA agents, and a secret conspiracy involving the British government. But this case will cast a longer shadow on their lives than they could ever imagine, as the great detective begins a long duel of wits with an antagonist as cold and ruthless and brilliant as himself: Irene Adler. (courtesy of the BBC)

So, how did this episode stack up with those of the previous series? Pretty well, I think. The acting was topnotch, yet again, and there were plenty of twists and turns to keep me at the edge of my seat for the full hour and a half. I was a bit concerned when I realized the entire plot of the original story had been stuffed into the first hour (we have a half hour left and nowhere to go!), but the additions Moffat introduced were well thought out and raised the level of the episode as a whole.

The only complaints I have are also those I also have with the Doyle original: not enough deduction! The focus is centered more on the relationship between Holmes and Adler (and Watson) than on tracking down the criminal (since, of course, we know who the criminal is from the get-go). It makes for a much different adventure than that of A Study in Scarlet/Pink or, looking toward the future, The Hound(s) of the Baskerville(s). Viewers curious to see the evolution of Holmes and Watson’s friendship, however, will get a treat, since it is probed in depth–as is the question of Holmes’ romantic interest in Adler. Much is said. Much is implied. Much is still left to the imagination.

Other things I loved: exasperated elder brother Mycroft, Una Stubbs’ kick-butt Mrs Hudson, and Holmes gracing the royal palace in only a towel :).

For more info and opinions, check out this podcast by The Baker Street Babes. You can also find out when Sherlock series 2 is airing in your country by consulting Sherlockology on tumblr.

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About LibriCritic

Librarian by day, bookseller by night, I read, write, and critically appraise all things to do with the written word. Special interests: mysteries, sci-fi, YA lit Obsessions: Sherlock Holmes (and his many incarnations) and things with buttons!

5 responses to “Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia”

  1. Brian Thomas says :

    What thorough nonsense. Apart from a liberal use of obfuscation – a vary English pastime, it couldn’t help but conclude with a stereotypical slur. The BBC might learn a few new tricks but is incapable of changing its spots.

  2. David randall. says :

    How wrong you are.
    Fast, witty and great fun (don’t forget that part).
    The play between the two main characters is well balanced and continues to nod towards Conan Doyle in an amusing yet respectful way – loved the deerstalker.
    You just have to go with it and enjoy the ride.
    You know, like you do with fiction.

  3. Tim says :

    I do think the ending undermined Adler a bit – a classic damsel-in-distress rescue – but equally it opens the door wide for a future (and surely inevitable?) return. Nonetheless, Lara Pulver’s performance as Adler is magnificent, and Moffat does her the courtesy of proving she is a match for Sherlock on several occasions, and is indeed one step ahead of him for most of the episode.

    Despite the minor quibbles, this was a cracking episode. I laughed out loud on several occasions, and the chemistry between Cumberbatch and Pulver/Freeman is electric.

  4. LibriCritic says :

    I have to agree with you on the ending, TIm. It was the weakest bit. If it had been left with maybe a knowing smile from Holmes hinting that he was aware of something the others were not (isn’t that always the case), I think it would have been stronger–and still open to bringing her back later.

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  1. Sherlock: The Hounds of Baskerville « LibriCritic - January 9, 2012

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