Sherlock: A Study in Pink by Steven Moffat; dir. Paul McGuigan (BBC One, 2010) The 90-minute version is consciously more murky than the unbroadcast 60-minute pilot. It is also more complex, affectedly stylish, and scored to give an impression of big budget. This doesn’t actually make it better, but it’s the Sherlock people came to love.
Sherlock: A Study in Pink (Original Pilot) by Steven Moffat; dir. Coky Giedroyc (Unbroadcast, 2009) The original 60-minute Sherlock pilot supposedly was considered a ‘potential disaster’. In fact it serves perfectly well to introduce Moffat’s new Holmes interpretation. It’s easy to imagine a parallel universe where Sherlock thrived in this shorter, more straightforward (though still innovative) format.
Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances by Timothy Zahn (Century, 2018) Zahn’s big picture storytelling doesn’t amount to much but Thrawn remains good value in the moment – a military virtuoso with Sherlockian powers of observation and deduction. Here the chronologically removed but intertwined narratives pair him with both Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader.
Jackaby by William Ritter (Algonquin Young Readers, 2014) A supernatural detective story that doesn’t overplay its hand, relying on clever but sensible plot progression and the charisma of the eponymous Jackaby – a cross between Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, narrated by a Victorian Clara Oswald John Watson.
Sherlock, Series 4 by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (BBC, 2017) The upping of stakes from series to series has led Sherlock into some very grim territory. The characteristic humour remains, but edges closer and closer to the gallows… before making its peace and dovetailing in the perfectly balanced ending: ‘The Final Problem’.
Sherlock, Series 3 by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (BBC, 2014) Having cherry-picked the most famous Sherlock Holmes stories, Gatiss and Moffat in series three give themselves even more latitude for creative adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s material, scripting three adventures that rely very much on the telling. Freeman and Cumberbatch remain resplendent.
Sherlock, Series 2 (BBC, 2012) Sherlock’s second series modernises three of Conan Doyle’s most famous stories, adapting them with stylishness, affection and considerable licence. Any infelicities are quickly forgiven, however, as the plot (though clever) is made secondary to the relentlessly paced badinage between Holmes and Watson.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (BBC, 2016) One of the charms of Sherlock is its modernisation; yet so accomplished are Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in their roles, it seems almost a shame when this special — ostensibly a more traditional standalone period piece — ultimately ties in with series continuity.