U.S. Premiere Date Of Season Three Of ‘Sherlock,’ Benedict Cumberbatch Confirms Fourth Season

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By now, you know how much we love the BBC’s Sherlock and we found out recently that Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the role of the titular character in this contemporary take on Sir Arhtur Conan Doyle’s classic, has confirmed that there will indeed be a fourth season (series) of the hit series.

The remarks came at the South Bank Show Awards in London on March 12th, where Cunberbatch also verified the return of his co-star Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson.

“We’ve agreed to two more series but I could get into trouble for saying that.  All I know at the moment is I’m doing these three [episodes of the upcoming series] and another three.”

Cumberbatch also stated that both he and Freeman are very interested in doing more seasons, noting that it is all dependent on he, Freeman and showrunner Steven Moffat’s availability.

“It just depends on Martin and I’s availability, how long we can keep it going. It depends on Steven’s ability. I’d love to keep it going.”

Season (series) three of Sherlock was supposed to begin shooting in 2012 but was delayed until January 2013 because of he and Freeman’s schedules (Cumberbatch was shooting the latest J.J. Abrams Star Trek film and Freeman was shooting The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey… with Cumberbatch) and has been delayed yet again as Cumberbatch was recently in Germany shooting the Wikileaks film, The Fifth Estate. Steven Moffat is also the showrunner on the hugely popular Doctor Who so getting everyone together at 221B Baker Street is proving to be challenging.

That being said, production on season (series) three of Sherlock has begun and U.S. audiences can expect new episodes this winter.

REVIEW: ‘Elementary’ (CBS – Thursday, 10:00 p.m.)

EDITORIAL NOTE: To understand how we do our reviews, please refer to our review of Revolution, here.

ELEMENTARY stars Jonny Lee Miller as detective Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson in a modern-day drama about a crime-solving duo that cracks the NYPD’s most impossible cases. Following his fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, eccentric Sherlock escapes to Manhattan where his wealthy father forces him to live with his worst nightmare – a sober companion, Dr. Watson.  A successful surgeon until she lost a patient and her license three years ago, Watson views her current job as another opportunity to help people, as well as paying a penance.  However, the restless Sherlock is nothing like her previous clients.  He informs her that none of her expertise as an addiction specialist applies to him and he’s devised his own post-rehab regimen – resuming his work as a police consultant in New York City. Watson has no choice but to accompany her irascible new charge on his jobs.  But Sherlock finds her medical background helpful, and Watson realizes she has a knack for playing investigator. Sherlock’s police contact, Capt. Tobias “Toby” Gregson (Aidan Quinn), knows from previous experience working with Scotland Yard that Sherlock is brilliant at closing cases, and welcomes him as part of the team.  With the mischievous Sherlock Holmes now running free in New York solving crimes, it’s simple deduction that he’s going to need someone to keep him grounded, and it’s elementary that it’s a job for Watson.  Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Cuesta, who directed the pilot, are executive producers for CBS Television Studios. – CBS

Score:     88 out of 100

Initial Impressions (September 6, 2012):

Shawn:  When we first heard about Elementary, we wanted to repeatedly punch ourselves in the face because we are kind of tired of seeing the U.S. television industry lazily copy the success of magnificent BBC programming by stealing their shows and then thoroughly screwing up what has made the BBC versions so great to begin with. To make matters worse, someone thought it was a great idea to send Holmes to New York and making matters even worse, casting Lucy Liu in the Watson role.  So, unlike the BBC’s Sherlock, which we’ll go as far to say may be the best show on television regardless of what side of the Atlantic you’re on, this adaptation of Doyle’s masterpiece not only has set the characters and the story in the modern era, but they’ve also gone so far as to change the locale to a completely different continent, ergo, destroying part of what makes Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Holmes, and they’ve changed Doctor Watson from a male, British Army Doctor to a female Asian-American surgeon.  Fantastic.  Despite that, after watching the trailer, it really doesn’t look bad.  Don’t get us wrong, it’s no Sherlock, but it doesn’t look awful.  That being said, don’t fool yourself, the lame suits at CBS have brought us, yet again, another police procedural with a gimmick (see: Numb3ers, Unforgettable, CSI and The Mentalist for recent examples of CBS doing this).

Initial Impressions (September 8, 2012):

Redeye:  Lucy Liu  in what could be a compelling crime procedural show. Only problem is, it’s a crime procedural show.  Won’t someone  please tell CBS that those are played out already?

The Review:

Shawn:  We both got it right and I am relieved to say that although Elementary is not as good as the BBC’s Sherlock, it’s still an incredibly worthy entry in the mythology of the Doyle franchise.

I wanted to bring Sherlock up immediately and discuss it regularly because it’s the biggest elephant in the room of all and it needs to be addressed so we can move on.  Elementary is not Sherlock but how the hell could it be? BBC shows are in a completely different class than American shows.  It’s not even a fair fight.  The BBC is a government-owned entity and has been its entire existence and is not nearly as dependent on advertising and 18 – 49 viewership as privately-owned American networks are.  When the BBC greenlights a project, it’s from a perspective that quality programming begets more viewership.  That’s not how it works in the U.S.  The model here is to present a product that has the most likelihood of gaining the attention and eyes of the 18 – 49 crowd on a weekly basis, quality of programming being a secondary consideration.  This really is an apples and oranges comparison.

There is ZERO chance that Sherlock could ever be produced in the U.S. with its 90-minute feature-film run times and three-episode seasons.  It just isn’t possible except for maybe on a premium network like HBO.  It’s not a coincidence that the vast majority of BBC programming that has found its way to this side of the pond has found its success on PBS (including Sherlock), a not-for-profit entity funded exclusively by donations and government grants.  So, as someone who enjoys quality television programming, not only am I thankful for what the the BBC offers, I’m beginning to appreciate the government-funded model for the arts (because television is an art) that has been the tradition in the U.K. since the BBC’s inception and I would actually prefer that the U.S. follow their lead.

That being said, I am aware that the possibility of that occurring is slim to none and I’ve come to accept how the U.S. television industry works, warts and all, and that quality programming is possible even when working within and around the standard guidelines. I’m reminded of shows like Lost that managed to find an audience on ABC because it was three years into the series before audiences realized that they were watching a Science Fiction serial, which they had generally given up on a decade earlier. The fact is that 22-episode police procedurals generally succeed in the U.S. by just moving the pieces around and cutting and pasting and that, to an extent, is why Elementary works here so well.

As I’ve noted, what’s become more and more commonplace is the the police procedural with the main character possessing some kind of uncanny and unique ability that’s not supernatural, however it does give them an advantage and greater ability to solve crimes. These shows have found a lot of success and though I’m generally skeptical of them because I come from the perspective of “you’re not fooling me, I can smell a generic procedural a mile away,” that didn’t happen with Elementary because like its BBC counterpart (which I grant is far more epic), it’s not about the ability, it’s about the characters of Holmes and Watson themselves, and they are portrayed masterfully through both writing and acting by Miller and Liu.

One of the things that needs to be noted as to why Sherlock is so good is because, frankly, Steven Moffat is a better writer than Doyle ever was and his main character’s persona being that of a self-described “high-functioning sociopath” (which was easy to call before he even admitted it) elaborates on themes only hinted at in the original work.  Why it works is because the writing never strays from that model nor do they stray from Watson’s model of the damaged, somewhat angry and lonely former soldier trying to make sense of it all while possibly being the only person that is capable of reigning in the eccentric consulting detective.  The point of this is that Moffat has smartly taken the template for the classic characters and re-imagined them while staying true to Doyle’s original intentions and this is exactly what Elementary does and it should be celebrated for doing it as effectively as it does, despite the handicap of being on American network television.

Miller is as perfectly cast for this Holmes as his long-time friend Cumberbatch is cast for his Holmes on the BBC’s hit.  Shockingly, Lucy Liu is an excellent Watson who serves to bring fresh perspectives that Holmes is frankly incapable of due to his inability to maintain normal interpersonal relationships, regardless of who’s writing the character.  As brilliant as Holmes is, even Doyle made a point to highlight his many weaknesses and in this version there is far more emphasis on the implied drug abuse issues than have been in the past. Other than the drug abuse issue, Holmes’ biggest character flaw is that though he may understand the human psyche and mentality, his own ego and inability to experience empathy has always been his downfall as well as ignoring the obvious when sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  A strong Watson is an absolute necessity in order to humanize Holmes and Liu does it aptly but don’t expect any romance between the two because it’s not even hinted at a little bit and I think the writers are aware that going that route would effectively be the sign that the show has officially jumped the shark.

Rounding out the trifecta is Aidan Quinn playing the role of Lt. Gregson (basically the equivalent of the D.I. Lestrade character on Sherlock), an NYPD detective who has had experience with Holmes and his unique abilities since his stint in London post-9/11 and respects his insights greatly to the point where he depends on them.  I like Quinn in this role – again, another perfect job of casting.  Quinn’s best performances in my opinion are where he plays the strong every man. I think he’s been short-changed in his career in a lot of roles where the attempt has been to portray him as the larger than life leading man or the villain.  He’s far more Jimmy Stewart than he is Cary Grant and his understated performance here brings a calming influence yet he still exudes a sense of leadership despite the fact that much to the dismay of the younger detectives under his command, he often defers to the expertise of Holmes.  Gregson comes off as a character who has had enough experience professionally to know that in order to be as good as he is at what he does there is a greater wisdom in deferring to the experts at the sake of even your own ego, even if that means placating Holmes’ already massive ego.

One of my biggest concerns was that Elementary was set in New York City and not London and that’s because if you’re a fan of the franchise, you know that the city of London is as much of an integral character to the stories as any of the actual performers.  I’ve noted several times how effective a locale can be for a series when done correctly.  Think of Los Angeles for  The Shield or Albuquerque in Breaking Bad or the biggest example, the island in Lost.  London in my mind has always been just as important to this franchise.  The truth is that Elementary is so well-rounded that the locale is almost insignificant and New York works nicely for it.

This being a standard 22-episode American series, don’t expect the writers to re-imagine classic Doyle tales the way that Sherlock has done (there’s simply not enough of them to do this with and 43 minutes isn’t enough time to do them justice), but it is apparent that the writers for Elementary have been chosen well and have a masterful ability to weave a good yarn in the traditional Holmesian style.  The pilot was incredibly impressive despite the fact that it was a one-off, killer-of-the-week story that is the hallmark for all procedurals.  That being said, the best part of the story was being engaged in Holmes’ process and his uncomfortable interactions with other characters and most importantly there was no Scooby Doo ending and that alone makes it a winner.

Brilliantly cast, brilliantly written with no sense of needing to prove itself, Elementary is by far one of the best new dramas of the fall and it stands alone as an excellent tribute to the classic detective.  The biggest issue I have with the series is that CBS, being the scared little babies that they are, actually used the hashtag #Sherlock during the pilot to generate buzz for the series.  That’s cheap and unnecessary and it shows that as much confidence that the writers and producers have in the series, CBS is a little more skeptical and is hedging their bets.  Dumb across the board.

Chance of Renewal:  100%

It’s already huge and with Person of Interest as its lead-in, CBS has a one-two drama punch on Thursday that’s going to be impossible to beat.

Watch Elementary, here.

NETFLIX ALERT: ‘Sherlock’ Season Two Now Available For Streaming

Season two of the BBC hit and highly-acclaimed drama, Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the contemporary version of the eccentric sleuth, is now available on Netflix’s streaming service.  If you haven’t seen this masterpiece, now’s your chance to see the series in its entirety (so far), in full 1080p HD whenever you want it.

We hate to gush, but the BBC catalog on Netflix streaming is reason enough to subscribe if you haven’t already.

REVIEW: Sherlock (PBS – Sunday, 10:00 p.m.)

A contemporary take on the classic Arthur Conan Doyle stories, Sherlock is a thrilling, funny, fast-paced adventure series set in present-day London. Co-created by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who, Coupling) and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock stars BAFTA-nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (Hawking, Amazing Grace) as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman (The Office, Love Actually), as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson. Rupert Graves plays Inspector Lestrade. The iconic details from Conan Doyle’s original books remain–they live at the same address, have the same names and, somewhere out there, Moriarty is waiting for them. And so across three thrilling, scary, action-packed and highly modern-day adventures, Sherlock and John navigate a maze of cryptic clues and lethal killers to get at the truth. – Amazon

100 out of 100 

Sherlock, a new British Television series, really took us by surprise and has us hooked. It is the best drama series to come out of the UK since the impressive Foyle’s War. It is an updated and contemporary re-telling of the exploits of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson and we are thrilled to say that the title characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are in good hands with creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss.

The first season consists of three 90-minute episodes that find our sleuths solving cases, getting into trouble and irritating Scotland Yard to no end. The first episode, A Study in Pink, introduces us to John Watson, played brilliantly by Martin Freeman (The Hobbit). Watson is a war vet and has been wounded in battle. After his discharge he returns to London, desperate for room and board and for some company. Well, he does find this and more in the form of a tall, lanky and messy-haired private dick named Sherlock Holmes, played with incredible flexibility by Benedict Cumberbatch. Holmes eventually dissects Watson after meeting up with a mutual friend at a crime lab. This is the first of many wonderful scenes where we watch Sherlock deduce, examine, take apart and observe the world around him. He is arrogant, aloof, methodical and impertinent. He is even a bit unstable and Watson is even warned to stay away from him as he is considered a bit on the dangerous and reckless side.

Holmes and Watson take a trip forward in time... but not this far.

Cumberbatch and Freemanare perfectly cast in the title roles of these classic characters. Cumberbatch’s Holmes is a quick-witted thinker and is always one or two steps ahead of everyone. He and Freeman are incredible to watch since Freeman’s Watson is the more, somewhat “cooler head” and not so spontaneous, quick and less face it… impulsive. Freeman plays Watson as an injured soul who desperately needs action and misses the war. He has seen some atrocities and wants to move ahead with his life but finds it hard to adjust. He is then at the mercy of Holmes who makes Watson’s world a living hell. And there’s where this breezy, smart show turns comical. Watson is always trying to keep up with Holmes and at one point Holmes even allows Watson to get arrested.

Sherlock is very strong in dialogue and rooted in the basic tradition that incorporates the Holmes canon. There is, of course, Holmes’ addictive nature, however, instead of cocaine and many of the other vices the original regularly would partake in, in this verison, our hero is addicted to nicotine patches that he claims “help him think.” So, no traditional pipe. He has a landlady named Mrs Hudson, who is constantly being yelled at by Holmes and they, of course, live at 221B Baker Sreet.

Holmes also butts heads with Inspector Greg Lestrade, played by actor Rupert Graves. Lestrade constantly requires Holmes’ help but can never admit it out loud. He is frustrated by him but admires his ability. Holmes makes it a priority to always insult the Scotland Yard authorities. When things click and mesh between Holmes and Watson (which takes a while) that is when the game is afoot!  (Sorry… but we just couldn’t resist.)

By the second episode, The Blind Banker, Holmes and Watson are settled in with their routine of solving very strange and difficult cases. Cumberbatch is athletic and the camera movements are fun to watch as the show is framed perfectly in order to keep up with the mobility of the characters. London has never looked better. It is bustling, raw and alive. Just the perfect place for mayhem and murder.

What makes the show work besides its great production values, smart scripts that never insult your intelligence and complicated mysteries, is the insanely well-timed chemistry of Cumberbatch and Freeman. They are so much fun to watch. When they argue we can’t help but smile. They are best friends but Holmes’ eccentricities madden Watson. More than once, Watson gets locked out of places that Holmes is in. These small things just endear us to them. Holmes manages to spit out the witty dialogue with machine gun rapidity and at times may even lose the viewer (we often have to turn the subtitles on to catch some of this rapid-fire dialogue) if they do not concentrate on the events at hand.

Sherlock never insults or panders to us. We get totally immersed and involved in the updated world of these two icons. Where the old Holmes may be a bit stiff and rigid, this new Holmes is energized and quick on his feet. It is indeed a new Victorian interpretation for these modern times. What we admire is the respect given to these wonderful characters and Professor Moriarty, played by Andrew Scott, does make his appearance in The Great Game and we are in for some fantastic confrontations between he and Holmes.  Of course Watcon asks the question that we’re all thinking: “Does anyone really ever have a arch-nemesis?” Watch and find out if it’s true between Holmes and Moriarty.

The three episodes of season one are currently airing on PBS (check your local listings, here.) and season two will begin on May 6th.  In the meantime, Netflix customers have the entire first season available in full 1080p HD for streaming at any time.  So watch Sherlock,  and remember, it’s “Elementary.”