After the results of a RadioTimes poll today ranking every single episode of BBC's Sherlock from worst to best, I got taken to task by Baker Street Queen among others, for my disbelief that all of the show's third season got ranked below the first season episode "The Blind Banker."
I had to puzzle over this for quite a while, as season three's "His Last Vow" actually won some awards. And, unlike previous seasons, I didn't feel a little disappointed after my first watch of any of season three's episodes, as I had during seasons one and two. (For the record, "The Blind Banker" in season one and "The Hounds of Baskerville" in season two.) And Mary Morstan just seems to get so much cosplay love . . . .
In forming an opinion about any movie or television show, our expectations can be such a tremendous factor. For me, the episodes before "The Blind Banker" and "The Hounds of Baskerville" were two of my personal favorites. "A Study in Pink," with it's amazing new modern Holmes and all that potential it set up for the future, and "A Scandal in Belgravia," with Mycroft Holmes and Irene Adler both in play, both quite amazing. After a favorite, after a peak, there's bound to be a little bit of a letdown.
And with the RadioTimes poll, the same pattern can be seen. The last episode of the second season, "The Reichenbach Fall" was the number one favorite, and as the article itself said, "the series' popularity soared after that jaw-dropping cliffhanger." And with that Reichenbachian peak, the show went away for a two year hiatus, leaving its worked-up fans to spend all that time building . . . among other things . . . expectations. It's no wonder the third season isn't getting any poll-love.
Which brings us to that Christmas special, now being filmed . . . and season four.
Jim Moriarty would seem to be back in some form or another, and he was a prominent feature in both of the top two of the RadioTimes list, as well as completely missing from season three. And if expectations are getting lowered after the season three business, the natural thought to follow would be that the next bunch might just do okay . . . but who knows, really.
There's never been anything quite like Sherlock, with its mix of century-old-character, fresh vision, two year hiatuses, rising star central players. So many expectations and factors are in play that who knows what the result will be . . . other than the fact that we'll all have a wide range of mixed opinions all over again. And that most of us will just keep watching.