Sherlock Lives: The Empty Hearse Review

Mention 221B Baker Street to most fans and it would seem like hinting at a favourite childhood memory – and a childhood memory it may very well be, because a lot of us have grown up reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Almost a century down the road, we have movies, TV shows and fan fiction all trying to take the story of the consultant detective forward but who does it best? For me, BBC One’s adaptation appears to be a winning contestant.

Cue first episode of the third season. Chances are if you haven’t seen the episode yet, you still have a fair amount of idea of what it’s going to be about, thanks to over-enthusiastic friends, an ever-refreshing newsfeed and a very intriguing hashtag, #SherlockLives.

As with all the previous episodes of the series, Season 3’s first installment has great production value. From breathtaking landscape shots of architecture to creatively moving portrait shots, the cinematography of the show keeps you hooked. There’s prose and then there’s poetry. The camera work is hands down the latter.


The editing is tight (no pun intended). At one particular instance, scenes of Sherlock in his study are intercut with Watson at his clinic as if they are completing sentences of the other without realising. Sheer genius could be a good way to describe it. No wonder, the episode garnered nearly 10 million viewers for BBC One when it first aired.

And then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch himself. From sporting long raincoats to hand drawn moustaches and from faking his death to trolling Watson, audiences and waiters all at the same time, the actor has proved that he can live, breath and make you believe in Sherlock like no other.

Cumberbatch 1

The conversation between Mrs Hudson and Watson is where the heart and soul of the episode lies. Great acting and a brilliantly written script has you choking with laughter at one instance (“I have moved on” “Oh God, you’re immigrating!”) and feeling for them at the next (“I know I’m not your mother…but one call would have done.”)

Hudson and Watson

Also, this is one adaptation that have come the closest to being true to the book. With even the names of episodes drawn from actual cases, the BBC One series is at once reminiscent of what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle actually wrote and how he envisioned Sherlock – annoying, eccentric and mostly right.

However, if I were to change something about the episode, I would take away the somewhat forced nature of his deductions. We get it. He is a genius and likes to flaunt it but showing that again and again seem to take away the credibility of it and maybe requires more finesse on screen.

While this episode seemed to be poking fun at fan stories by playing various scenarios his death could have been faked (and that is great) but Sherlock in the book was never this much of a troll. Even his interactions with Watson are over played but this, as a reader and an audience one could forgive in the name of entertainment – some, however maybe less forgiving than others.

Having said that, this episode for me was one hell of a way to pay tribute to a character that still hasn’t found a match in wit, class and humour in almost a hundred years of his fictional existence.


This particular interaction between Watson and Sherlock can very well serve to describe the episode.

Watson (while ordering drinks): “Surprise me.”

Sherlock (in the guise of a waiter): “Certainly endeavouring to, sir.”


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