I can't fault the episode for being slick and witty, but there were several things which annoyed me. The primary ones were Moriarty, a hangover from the last series; I find this version of Moriarty to be badly acted, clumsily written and poorly conceived. He's as caricatured as Rattigan from Basil the Great Mouse Detective
, except without the wonderful Vincent Price doing the voice over. The second is Mycroft, supposedly the intellectual superior of Sherlock; this version seems rather more dull witted (minor grumble: significantly slimmer, too) than any other version of Mycroft. Finally, and most egregiously, to see Irene Adler, a woman; The Woman, one of a vanishingly small number of people to have defeated Holmes reduced to an over-sexualised, lesbian-but-straight-for-our-hero (Nice going! Everyone knows lesbians are simply confused women who haven't found the right penis yet. FFS!
), stripped-of-agency shadow of her former self was very sad indeed for this particular Holmes nerd. Everything she did was either at the behest of, or in reaction to, one of the male characters (Moriarty, Holmes, Mycroft; she took no action without her strings being pulled by a man first); the final indignity was to see her broken, defeated, begging for mercy and then, as a final reminder of The Woman's inferiority to Holmes, she had to be rescued by him, from the very predicament his coldness towards her left her in. Nice work, writers and producers; make a show more regressive in terms of sexual politics than something written more than a century ago
This is part of a larger trend of belittling, mocking, shaming, side lining and ignoring women in the show. Some machismo is to be expected in a show about two men living together and solving crimes, but when Guy Ritchie, yes Guy Bloody Ritchie, gets a better bead on gender equality, merely by dint of sticking to the spirit, if not the letter, of the source material, you know that maybe your approach needs tempering somewhat.
I'm not a canon snob, or an Arthur Conan Doyle purist. I enjoy Guy Ritchie's musclebound take on the characters with his recent film interpretations, one of my very favourite short stories is a Holmes-Lovecraft homage/pastiche/Mash-Up written by Neil Gaiman called A Study in Emerald
. I'm always happy to see new interpretations and updates of a sextuplet of timeless characters. I just genuinely believe that this current BBC adaptation goes against the progressive spirit of the source material and, considering we've had a century of supposed social development since the originals were written, to find an interpretation in which Irene Adler is turned from Holmes' intellectual equal and one of the few to get the better of him, into a dominatrix who is defeated, begs for mercy and is then rescued by her nemesis because she can't save herself? A backward step which annoys me greatly.
If we're going to see Irene Adler, then for goodness' sake let's see her win
, if only to show that Holmes' isn't invincible and infallible, if nothing else.