25. Sherlock: The Empty Hearse (2014, TV)
IMDB score = 9.0/10
Holmes and Watson? = Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman
Synopsis = Mycroft calls Sherlock back to London to investigate an underground terrorist organization.
Defense by Paul Thomas Miller:
I should start this defense with an admission. I am one of the curmudgeons who was disappointed with series three of BBC's Sherlock. I felt let down by the move from adventure stories to drama. Does that mean I think there was something wrong with it? Perhaps I did at the time. But I was wrong. (No Holmes should be barred, after all.) Plenty of other people did like it and their opinion is as valid as mine - therefore it was still good, just not my cup of tea. Moreover, if you stop being a misery guts and look again, you will find that, like all Holmes, it does have something for you after all.
This particular episode does a lot of playing with the Sherlockian game (that of treating The Canon as real and explaining the contradictions in the stories). Old-school Holmesiana has always had a lot of fun with The Final Problem, The Great Hiatus and The Empty House and we get to see a lot of this played with on screen in The Empty Hearse.
How this Sherlock faked his own death is examined over and over and, as in old-school Holmesiana, a definitive answer is never found.
Similarly, the way his time was spent during the original Great Hiatus has always been open for debate. Getting to see pieces of his dismantling of Moriarty's network is a welcome addition.
It's also a thrill to see the effect his faked death would have had on the many friends he thought he didn't have.
In a bizarre breaking of the walls between creation and fandom, we also get to see a miniature of Holmesian fandom in Anderson's club - The Empty Hearse. And then we get to see the ripples which are created when new members of the fandom suggest theories which the original members consider beyond the pale (exactly what we still see playing out today in the friction between old and new Holmesians).
Whatever you think of the way Sherlock went after series two, seeing the Holmes fandom played with within a Holmes adaptation itself, is positively joyous.
Oh, and that bit where Mycroft and Sherlock play "deductions" with a hat (a la Greek Interpretter) is fantastic.