Next Sherlock Sunday: The Sign of the Three by Gatiss, Thompson, and Moffat

sherlock-series3-e_2779858b I’m fairly bitter about this episode, so you may want to skip my post next week. I took notes as I watched this the second time and then talked about the problems, but there’s no focus on a craft topic because there was just too much wrong with it. I’d say if “His Last Vow” is this bad, I won’t watch the show again, but I’d be lying. I’ll come back just to watch Cumberbatch and Freeman and Stubbs and Graves and Brealey and Gatiss, not to mention Abbington and Pulver. They’re all so damn good, even in a cold mess like this. But I’m gonna bitch about it . . .

41 thoughts on “Next Sherlock Sunday: The Sign of the Three by Gatiss, Thompson, and Moffat

  1. For me, that’s why it hurts so much, for the show to go so wrong — the acting is so, so, so good that I can’t help thinking of what they could have done with better material. There’s so much potential being thrown away and stomped on.

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    1. At this point I’m watching for the acting rather than the plotting.

      And that speech was wackadoo enjoyable, I gotta say that.

      On the other hand, it seems odd to think that your belt is so tight that you don’t notice you’re dying for HOURS. WHAT.

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  2. Yeeeeeeah. I liked this particular episode, but the more I think about “The Last Vow” (I’ve had a month) the more I hate it, despite the good bits of it. Loves your analysis of the empty hearse though.

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  3. I can’t wait to see why you’re bitter. This was the only episode I liked out of the three shows this season. I can’t figure out what they are doing with the story telling this season, or why they’ve decided that stream of consciousness was the way to go. It’s very jarring. On top of that I think they’ve forgotten how to write Sherlock.

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    1. He’s completely different from the character he was in the first two episodes. I can’t understand how they can have lost their grip on his so completely.

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  4. I really liked “His Last Vow,” especially the ending. However, I will admit that I keep wondering what happened to poor [character callously used and discarded by two of the leads].

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  5. I didn’t like this one either — in fact, I told my daughter I was done with watching the show if the third episode wasn’t better — but she suggested I should watch it again and then maybe I’d get all the jokes. (I usually have no problem with British accents, but I have to glue my ear to the speaker or I miss stuff with this show. Maybe I’m just going deaf…) The third episode was much, much better, which was a great relief.

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    1. I’ve been watching with the CC on. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my hearing, but I’ve found they either speak too fast, or there are too many other background noises to get it (both on the show, and at home). Subtitles make it a lot easier.

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      1. My daughter adjusted something on the TV — she says the treble was way down, which perhaps explains why I didn’t hear everything. (Although I am probably a wee bit deaf, too.) If that doesn’t work, subtitles sound like a great solution. Thanks!

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  6. While I found the episode entertaining and fun, I admit that they’ve gone off track with Sherlock. He’s a rather wimpy version of the first two seasons. It was fun watching Sherlock stage manage Watson’s wedding, but out of character for him to be so involved. Then again, I never read the original Sherlock as being quite as cold and callous as he is often shown on film, but I could still enjoy them. That said, I’m hoping they steer it back to being about the cases. All the personal distractions don’t leave much time for the mystery.

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    1. I was just thinking that some of the shenanigans (not the character-violating ones, but a few of the legitimate laughs) might have worked if this were a longer series, and the shenanigans were spread out. You know — twelve episodes, maybe, instead of three. Then, they could have stretched out the preparation for the wedding into three episodes, as backdrop for three different mysteries. And then the day of the wedding could have been a couple episodes, or whatever. Then, there’d be the occasional comic relief, amidst the core mystery, instead of having the mystery lost amidst the slapstick.

      Except, the way I feel about it now, I’d be afraid there’d be more of the bad stuff and nor more of the good stuff. Somewhat apprehensive about watching the last one tonight.

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          1. Watch it. It’s Moffat swinging wide, but it’s brilliant.
            It is NOT however, worth those first two garbage episodes. They could have done those well and still set up everything they needed for this one. It’s really DaDa-esque, so just roll with it.

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          2. Came here just after watching it and saw your note… so yeah, they hit some brilliant marks on the third one. But I agree, we did not deserve the pile of crap that was the first one. I’m giving the second ep a meager pass, because it did do some thing rather well (especially now in hindsight), and I’m glad I was right about Mary (well, not the Mycroft angle, but what she did for a living angle).

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          3. I admire Moffat for changing things up, swinging wide. So much better than getting complacent. I think he’s playing fast and loose with Sherlock’s character but not violating it the way the first two episodes did. And the basic structure was there so that even when he swung for the bleachers, the plot stayed on point. And I loved it that every time I got exasperated with him for doing something dumb, he turned it on its head. I had a note that said “COINCIDENCE Jeannie at the wedding – Jesus, come ON” and then a few minutes later, oh, not a coincidence. The same way with the cliffhanger ending of Sherlock going off to die in Eastern Europe; I was ready to throw something at the screen and then, oh, wait, WHOA. So he really suckered me in on that one.
            Now I just have to figure out what I want to talk about there. I think probably “swinging wide successfully.”

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        1. For what it’s worth, my son and I watched episode #3 last night and enjoyed it. We’ve liked all three of the shows this season, which definitely appears to put us in the minority. Sure there were flaws, but we were entertained nonetheless. That said, if you go in looking for a debacle, you may very well find one.

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          1. I went into the first one thinking it was going to be wonderful. I’ll admit, I was leery of the second one because of “The Empty Hearse,” but I was completely open-minded about the first one.

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        2. I just watched it. It’s still kinda weird, but it’s much better than the first two, and the end makes me feel like they will steer back on course next season. This one at least kind of made sense.

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  7. Yep, I’m with you McB. I tune in for a good mystery. Forget about all the fluff and nonsense. It could have been excellent if they’d chopped out half of the wedding shenaningans.

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  8. The only thing I liked about this one was the wedding dress. The rest bored me, the next one is worth watching though!

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  9. Such is the state of American television that, even though this season of Sherlock baffles me, I will take it over most of what I see on commercial television. I think this is the ego stretch of self-satisfied writers who have chucked discipline for fun and inside jokes. It’s an interesting experiment; where would we be if we never failed? (That’s me, being uncharacteristically generous. People who know me well would be frightened by that sentiment.) But better if we get back on track, lickety-goddam-split.

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    1. I was amused to get a Dvd sale email from Amazon UK today. When I opened it with great excitement, what was on sale was Family Man, Mike and Molly, Big Bang Theory, etc. Hardly any BBC DVDs in the list, and I was bummed.

      I loved the third episode, I hadn’t seen any of the plot points coming despite the hints they gave. I’ll be curious to see what you all think. The second episode was less than meh, I outright hated the wedding.

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  10. This episode had a number of very distinct departures from Conan Doyle’s Holmes. (I have absolutely no problem with that. Just noting as a point of interest, since this is a 21st century adaptative interpretation of the 19c character.)

    In this series, Sherlock and Mary clearly develop a bond, a friendship, a mutual understanding/respect, and Holmes considers her worthy of John. (I think he was being sincere about that, not ironic or just polite.) And, of course, Sherlock participates in the wedding.

    In the Doyle stories, Mary Morston is a client (“The Sign of Four”) with whom Watson falls in love. Once the case is over, and even knowing his best friend has decided to marry her, Holmes never again has any interest whatsoever in Mary, I don’t -think- he ever even sees her again, and he’s casually dismissive of her role in Watson’s life. Holmes declines to attend the wedding, he declines all invitations to visit the couple or dine with them, and he only ever again sees Watson when Mary is not with him. (Watson’s wife is often conveniently out of town for long visits, and then she dies and he moves back into Baker St.)

    It’s a Victorian portrayal that would make Sherlock a jerk in the 21st century, so they deviated from it. It probably also wouldn’t have been in keeping with their attempts to humanize Sherlock through his friendships. Similarly, the sort of relationship that’s developing between Sherlock and Mary would have been considered highly inappropriate between Holmes and Mrs. Watson in their era.

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  11. I liked this one. Maybe that was because of contrast with “The Empty Hearse.” Guess I’ll think about it for another week.

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  12. I really didn’t like the first one, liked the second, and couldn’t stand the third one. If it had been a book I would have thrown it across the room when it finished. So I can’t wait to hear why everyone else liked it.

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    1. It’s structured cleanly so you can follow the story, among other things. It’s not structured clearly, he does a lot of gotchas, but he’s foreshadows all but the last one. Strong antagonist, protagonist who has given up at least some asshattery, subplots that support the main plot, the craft is just infinitely better.

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  13. I enjoyed Hearse (obviously in the minority ;p) and didn’t love Sign. The structure was complete WTFery and the BS with Lestrade in the opening sequence… WTF?? I *fully* expected that to be part of the larger episode (erroneously). It was shot BEAUTIFULLY so at least the eye candy was tasty, and the yellow, happy, brightly lit wedding banquet… OMG if I had it to do over again! But honestly the Hubbin and I spent the entire episode looking at each other confused and muttering… wtf?

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  14. It’s because we know from the first two series that they can do so much better that we feel so betrayed by this series. It isn’t even true to itself, to the characters developed and set up in the first two series. They had so much potential; they could do what they liked, and they behaved like spoilt children and were overly self-indulgent.

    I wish you would do a detailed analysis of this second episode as you did of the first; I found it immensely helpful in identifying just why I felt disappointed and frustrated.

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    1. I think I did a rant. I don’t know if I could face watching this again. I agree; if they hadn’t made the first two seasons so wonderful, arced the character so beautifully, this wouldn’t seem like such a betrayal. But I did like the third one much better.

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    1. They’re really upset about the gender politics which I’m okay with, although I definitely see their points. I hate what he’s done to the character and the lousy storytelling. Although Moffat does seem to put his foot in his mouth every time he talks about female characters.

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    2. I’m not offended by Moffat’s take on the audience reaction to Mary. I think it was there, there was something clearly off about her behavior vs. what they tell you about her, and I like what they did with her character. The “Sherlock is so amazing” stuff…well, it’s just what he did with Doctor Who all over again, it just took longer for it to show up in Sherlock. Probably only because there are so few episodes. He does seem to stumble over talking about female characters. I find that mildly surprising, since writing them isn’t (always) a problem for him – Irene and Sally Sparrow are amazing.

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  15. I’m in the minority in that I have felt from the beginning that the series is all style little of anything else with the exception of the “Scandal in Belgravia” episode which I thought was brilliant. The mysteries have all been second (or even third) rate. This season has totally jumped the shark. The 90 minute episodes have enough content to last perhaps half that amount of time. The rest is just dithering. I admit that I have yet to see episode three, however. A note about the style–it is so fresh and full of energy…the use of slomo…snappy editing…graphics…the music cues…art direction….and it’s covered up a heap of shortfalls.

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    1. The last episode is insane, but there’s a strong through line and a truly revolting antagonist, so even though they go all over the place, they never lose their grip.

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