I meant to write this up last week, but other stuff has got in the way. Anyway, while I’ve lost a bit of momentum with my Studies in Sherlock, I do want to conclude them in the way that I intended.
So, Moriarty… This reconception of the character has definitely been the most controversial aspect of the series. It really affected my enjoyment of The Great Game, and unfairly biased me against other aspects of that episode. Looking back now, I retain my reservations but have less of the jaw-dropping astonishment at Andrew Scott’s gurning campy “Jim”. The following series of screencaps illustrate the broadness of Scott’s performance (screencaps thanks to Cementville).
While many fans seem to have accepted and enjoyed the new version, I disliked the episode’s cynical invitation to “ship” Sherlock and Jim. I had a similar objection to the way this was done with David Tennant and John Simm in Doctor Who. I’d argue that, in this respect, both shows are pandering to their fans rather than challenging them. In fairness, some of these aspects have been interpreted differently in an excellent essay by Matt Hills on the subject.
I think my friend Alex put his finger on the strangest aspect of this reimagining. While Moffat and Gatiss have insisted in interviews on the affinity between their update and the Conan Doyle stories, their Moriarty bears no resemblance to the original character. He destroys the logic of the show. Far from being a shadowy presence, here he seeks the detective’s attention. And I think that by making him a fan of Sherlock, he becomes less complex. Moriarty is frightening when he towers above Sherlock, not when he is following him.