Sherlock: The Empty Hearse – A review of the first episode from Series 3
A Preview for press and fans at the BFI London with cast and crew attending
One thing before we start: We won’t reveal anything in regards to the plot or how Sherlock survived the fall, nor anything new that is surprising to the fans. Our report is completely spoiler-free and is more focused on capturing the atmosphere and bring you a little bit into what was happening on site …. here we go!
When we arrived at the BFI, 2 hours prior to the actual screening, there was an atmosphere in the building as rarely experienced before with other screenings: excitement and tension throughout. While a number of fans were filled with hope for a ticket in the queue for returns (some of them already queued for more than 24hours), others ran excitedly from one side to the other in the hope to catch a glimpse of the stars of the series.
And they weren’t disappointed: Mark Gattis arrived first and he was welcomed by cheering fans. He was followed by Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue with their two kids, Una Stubbs (who willingly gave autographs and took pictures), Louise Brealey was surrounded by fans in seconds and also signed photos and books, Andrew Scott was literally trapped within the enthusiastic fan base, Amanda Abbington surprised with a new hair color …
and suddenly there was Benedict Cumberbatch on the first floor greeting the fans from up there. He was visibly overwhelmed by the rush and cheers, his known charming, nice restraint a wonderful contrast to the screaming fans. Martin Freeman also said Hello from the first floor, and together with Benedict they mentioned to the crowd how much they are pleased that so many avid fans showed up and that they will see them later after the screening.
Shortly before 1pm, we were asked to take our seats, fourth row with a great view on screen and stage. To the delight of all, the entire cast and crew (among them also Arwel Jones and director Jeremy Lovering) was sat within the audience (they were of course in our own rows and with security) and like the fans waited eagerly for the new first episode of Season 3 to start.
And then it finally started, after a 2 year wait: the preview of The Empty Hearse!
90 minutes of suspense, humor, love, surprises and unforeseen events – 90 minutes that were clearly too short.
First of all (and without spoilers): The episode is different from episodes from previous two seasons. This time it is not focused on Sherlock Deductions, his arrogance and his infamous word bursts, it rather shows the return of John Watson’s presumed dead friend in all the emotional facets that are associated with it. It is the reunion of two friends, the concurrent case (in which Sherlock shines of course) is of secondary importance. London is very represent in the episode as well, and the story takes us to places that we previously did not know or have seen.
The performances are perfect – as expected.
Benedict plays the character of Sherlock Holmes as we know it from previous episodes. He also brings out a new, affable, almost soft side to the detective after he realises the extent of his apparent death.
Martin Freeman shines as mourning John Watson, who suddenly is face to face with his presumed dead friend – and responds with a heavy dose of emotion. (We suffer with him and understand his reaction all too well.)
Louise Brealey embodies a well-known Molly, as we have taken her to our hearts – still obviously in love with Sherlock, she moved on with her live – but as Sherlock-addict she is still not quite over the Consulting Detective.
Mrs. Hudson, played by Una Stubbs, delights us again as Landlady and is of course still on the side of their “boys”. We see her in a lovely scene with John that makes us clear how much the detective is missed.
Mark Gattis as Mycroft shows his known cynical side and brings some surprising facet to the surface, while John Aris’ Anderson plays a great part in the new series and is almost endearing. We were also very pleased to see Rupert Graves aka Inspector Greg Lestrade in the first episode.
New to the cast is Amanda Abbington as Mary, John’s wife. Even if she never makes any real appearance in the novels, the character is quite center in the episode. Her chemistry with John is just beautiful to see. We are anxious to see how the trio Sherlock/ John/ Mary will evolve in future episodes.
All in all, a surprisingly different and unexpected episode which definitely will be watched a numerous of times to catch all the details and nuances.
Q&A with Cast & Crew
Eagerly expected by the audience was the Q&A that followed the screening, especially since the guest presenter Caitlin Moran is not only self-confessed Sherlock fan, but she is also a friend of Steven Moffat and Benedict.
Unfortunately, Caitlin did exactly the opposite of Sherlock – she excelled in no way.
With boring, irrelevant questions, she not only centered director Jeremy Lovering on a “filming error” in one scene, she also showed complete ignorance to Sue Vertue who had also taken place on the stage and had for sure to report something exciting (she was unfortunately not asked a single question). As a “highlight” of the probably worst Q&A ever she handed Benedict and Martin a fanfiction script to read out loud in front of the audience. Already quite questionable, it also did not fit the occasion or episode whatsoever. Benedict and Martin gave in at first, but Benedict was more and more visibly annoyed and stopped reciting.
However, questions asked by fans were quite relevant and related to the episode and the plot.
The Q&A ended with the best – the photo shoot ! More pictures: Sherlock: The Empty Hearse Preview
To conclude: there is something new to Sherlock which for sure some fans have to get used to in the new series, and maybe some might even dislike it. We can only say: watch the episode, and then watch it again – because HE IS BACK !