LUCY MUSSELWHITE sees Basil the Great Mouse Detective make his small screen debut.

Benedict Cumberbatch culture Holmes lucy musselwhite martin freeman Sherlock TV

Sundays, 8.30pm, BBC1



Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his pal Watson (Martin Freeman) returned to our screens this New Year’s to kick some serious criminal butt in A Scandal in Belgravia.

“Brainy is the new sexy” declares Irene Adler, who is deftly portrayed by Lara Pulver. After watching the premiere of Season 2, I’m inclined to agree. Drawing particular inspiration from Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia, Moffat plaits together several mysteries to create a skilfully devised plot bursting with twists. My eyes definitely did not glaze over watching this one.

“You’re not Rachel McAdams…”

The season opens where it left us, with Holmes in a sticky situation involving his arch nemesis Moriarty and a bomb. Not ideal. But happily he manages to escape with those pretty curls unscathed. Onto the next adventure, the detective genius sets off to retrieve some photographs threatening to ruin a member of the monarchy. These naughty snaps are found on a camera-phone belonging to Irene Adler, restyled as a dominatrix, whose smarts rival those of the great Sherlock himself.

Meanwhile the bromance continues to blossom. A genuine friendship is felt between Holmes and Watson. Yes, they unravel the plans of criminal masterminds, but at the end of the day they still bicker over who left the stove on. While Watson’s congenial demeanour juxtaposes with Holmes’ abhorrence of sentiments such as love, these opposing characteristics are not exaggerated to the point where the relationship becomes unrealistic and caricatured.

Questions concerning Sherlock’s sexuality are raised in this episode. Not for the first time it is tentatively suggested that Sherlock Holmes is gay. In fact when Mycroft mockingly suggests that Sherlock wouldn’t know what sex was like, the implication is that he may not have even had relationships before. Thus the man remains a mystery, quite unattainable in his efficient brilliance and apparent asexuality. Then again, perhaps that is the very point of him.

Still, our detective finds himself uncharacteristically ruffled upon meeting his match in lady-form, Irene Adler, whom he refers to as “That woman! The woman! The one woman!” Despite his knack for analysing people, Sherlock cannot decipher Adler, who is metaphorically, as well as actually, naked when they first meet. This nudity has sparked controversy. Some critics consider its airing before the watershed inappropriate, but Pulver’s performance is classy enough to get away with it.

More concerning was the fact that Irene Adler’s character stumbled into a bit of a stereotype towards the end. The last 10 minutes saw an awesome female character belittled when it was revealed that Adler had only been able to outwit Sherlock with the help of Moriarty, rather than in her own right. Furthermore despite clearly stating that she was gay, Adler still falls in love with Sherlock Holmes, a “chemical defect” which ultimately served as her downfall.

Admittedly the fact that the four-letter code to unlock Adler’s camera phone spelled out ‘I am SHERlocked’ was a nice touch, but it all seemed a bit incongruous considering her previously established sexuality. The ending then saw Moffat’s version of Adler on her knees, defeated and facing execution, but saved in the nick of time by Holmes. Where did the clever, bold woman who could save her own ass go? Come back please.

All in all, the season looks like it’s going to be a good’un, as long as Moffat steers clear of stereotypes. A great mixture of humour and intrigue, with a solid plot to boot, this is one to be checked out. BAM. I think I might be Sherlocked.