Sherlock, The Six Thatchers. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbington, Louise Brealey, Sian Brooke, Lindsay Duncan, Mark Gatiss, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Marcia Warren.

It is one way for a television writer to divide an audience and more than half enjoying the spectacle of seeing a former British Prime Minister’s bust of her head smashed to the ground in annoyance and righteous anger and fair play to both Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss for having the courage to be bold in making it a part of the return of Sherlock and its opening episode of series four, The Six Thatchers.

It really does say a lot about the lack of enterprising drama on main stream television in 2016 that even one episode of the much loved detective series can suddenly have you looking forward to the year ahead with relish and wide eyed optimism, but then Sherlock can have that effect even when there is much to thankfully distract you from sitting at home and taking in all that the medium has to offer.

Following on from the end of series three almost seamlessly and just a barest hint of the New Year special that separates the two, Sherlock Holmes perhaps finds himself and his friends in the gravest of all situations, people change, their priorities shift but in the end the dangers they face are always real, always with the potential to be threatening and when the past comes back to haunt one of the group, it is only right that Sherlock feels compelled to save that person to the very best of his abilities.

It is in the very nature of the programme that such tragedy will stalk the streets of London when Sherlock is around, in ways that even the great and much missed Jeremy Brett could never truly portray, despite being the epitome of the detective in the 20th Century, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal is more unhinged, more in tune with his surroundings and possibly even a greater menace to society than his enemies. It is in this The Six Thatchers is perfectly mirrored, the shame of one in her many of her actions, is represented by the actions of the detective, the jeopardy of arrogance, the unwillingness to believe in the bigger picture and to be dismissive to other’s problems; only at the end in Sherlock’s case is there remorse at the outcome.

A superb return for the sleuth, despite waiting an age for a new series, Sherlock still managed to beat almost anything 2016 had to offer.

Ian D. Hall