'Sherlock: Season Two'
(Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2012 / BBC Home Video)
Overview: There is nothing elementary (a Holmesian cliché that this exceedingly smart and savvy series wisely shuns) about Sherlock. This sophomore season exceeds the pleasures and promise of the Emmy-nominated first season with three feature-length mysteries that fully test Holmes's mettle and cunning, and shake his very high self-regard.
DVD Verdict: As the creators say in the commentaries, the first season of 'Sherlock' was a breeze as they didn't have anything to live up to. This second season, however, had the whole world watching and so they had to take care to mould it perfectly. That's why at 90 minutes an episode and only three a year it takes 18 months inbetween seasons to get it right!
Hence, the first of the three 'A Scandal in Belgravia' kicks off exactly as the other ended, in a quiet, well lit swimming pool in London; with a stand-off between Moriarty and Sherlock (and a prone Dr. Watson!). The thing is though, as again pointed out by the creators, there was 18 months between the end of the last season and this new one, so as we start with a slight recap of that scene, it quickly changes to new scenes - and suddenly everyone's 18 months older and Sherlock's hair has slightly changed styles!
No worries though, for moving on and in this first episode Sherlock Holmes faces Irena Adler, known only as "The Woman", who in this version is a dominatrix! Featuring some delicious scenes between them both, including a full nude scene re: Irena Adler (Lara Pulver), the episode also includes the mysterious death of a hiker in the great outdoors, some fun over a hidden password, a great sub plot re: 007, a wonderfully-played final plot twist, and a great one-liner: When told of her "death," his brother Mycroft (Mark Gatniss, who also co-created 'Sherlock' with Steven Moffat) gives him a cigarette. After one puff Holmes says, "This is low tar," to which Mycroft responds, "Well, you hardly knew her!". Bloody classic!
In 'The Hounds of Baskerville," in this case the "Hounds" are not what they seem and Baskerville itself is a (government) Army base for research. First appearing drenched in blood with a harpoon in his hands, bored and read to take on any case, Holmes is taken by a young man he thinks there is a beast that ate his father 20 years ago still on Dartmoor. This man, in actual fact is Russell Tovey who played a werewolf in 'Being Human,' so one assumes he could have dealt with this himself!
Anyhoo, as the episode unfolds, conspiracy theories abound, and even the great metal mind of Sherlock has his relentlessly rational knowledge base rattled from within! The episode also, quietly gives as a moment when Dr. Watson stumbles across "dogging on the Moors," which if you don't know what that is, well, a) good, and b) it was also a nod towards "dogs"being "loose" on the Moors!
In the final episode, 'The Reichenbach Fall,' easily the best of the bunch, and actually a remake of the 'Final Problem,' we are taken on a ride bewteen the sparing partners of both Holmes in one corner and Moriarty in the other. The latter breaks into 4 locked down establishments, allows himself to get caught, gets of scott free, and come the mid-section is setting plans in motion to dicredit Holmes and bring him to his knees.
The final roof top fatal duel between Holmes and Moriarty is incrdible to watch, so powerful, so "how did he do that?" that it will keep you guessing long after a small reveal just before the credits! This set includes a featurette on the making of the show and two audio commenataries - which, as fans, you will want to listen to, for sure! These are all Full Screen Presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs (1.85:1).