‘Henry Knight claims that his father was killed by a monstrous creature at large in Dartmoor, and asks Sherlock for help. When he and John Watson arrive on the moors to investigate, they discover a top-secret army base.‘
Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss once again show everyone how an adaptation should be done with an update on one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous stories – The Hound of the Baskervilles. While the narrative strays from the original very quickly, the spirit of the story is kept intact and there are plenty of references for die-hard Holmes fans.
The Hounds of Baskerville takes on much more of a horror aspect than is usual for the series and succeeds at being very creepy with the usual help of Paul McGuigan’s excellent direction. Unfortunately, while the horror aspect adds a nice level of tension to the overall story, there are moments when it feels out-of-place for the show. The opening of this episode in particular felt like it belonged in an episode of Doctor Who or Too Human, and the foreboding tag with Moriarty felt unnecessary. Sliding the horror conventions into the script also led to this episode being far more predictable than normal, the villain was fairly easy to spot and it was Sherlock catching up with the audience rather than the other way around. It wasn’t a bad episode by any means, but it lacked a lot of the complicated puzzle solving evident in the rest of the series.
One of the best aspects of this episode was the character building that we saw for Holmes and Watson, particularly the evolution of their partnership. While Watson has always been less of the bumbling fool in Sherlock than he is often portrayed as in other adaptations, in The Hounds of Baskerville we really see him settling into his role as Holmes’ offsider, playing good cop when necessary and ably assisting in many of Holmes’ deceptions. Watson (played with just the right level of exasperation by Martin Freeman) is necessary for Holmes to function at his optimal level and he has come to accept and even embrace this role.
Holmes himself also gets a lot of great character development; feeling doubt for the first time in this episode. The writers seem to be developing a lot of Holmes’ weaknesses this season, which will undoubtedly come into play when he faces off with Moriarty in the final episode. Rather than detracting from the character, I think that the overt humanisation of Holmes is necessary for this adaptation. Sherlock is much more of a partnership than a one man show and there has to be something that levels the playing field to an extent. Holmes’ deductive powers aren’t stifled at all, rather they serve to highlight the frail nature of his brilliant mind.
Overall, while I didn’t think that The Hounds of Baskerville was one of the best episodes of Sherlock, even a lesser episode of this great series is better than most of the other stuff on TV. There have been a lot of hints that The Reichenbach Fall will be heavily referencing what we’ve seen so far and I look forward to seeing how they pull it off. If only we could get more than three episodes in a season.
What I Liked – Great horror aspect. Development of Holmes and Watson’s relationship. Good adaptation of the original tale. Continuing to show Holmes’ weaknesses.
What I Didn’t Like – Felt predictable. Opening and Ending felt out-of-place.
Rating – 4 out of 5 (Really Enjoyable)