Mixed reviews for what could be Sherlock's last outing

Mixed reviews for what could be Sherlock's last outing

The series finale of the BBC’s Sunday night drama Sherlock was called both “a treat” and “a flailing, noxious mess” by critics.

The Final Problem could have been Benedict Cumberbatch’s last outing as Sherlock Holmes, as he and co-star Martin Freeman are much in demand in Hollywood and it is unknown whether they will reprise their roles.

In The Daily Telegraph, Michael Hogan wrote that “if this was the last-ever episode, which it surely won’t be, it worked well as a sign-off”, adding: “Last night’s episode showcased all the elements that have made this modern-day reinvention such a hit – as well as those that have proved divisive.”

Sherlock (BBC)

He said the episode featured a “dazzling script” which “delivered laughs, excitement and emotion”, and after “the adrenalin stopped pumping, there was even a happy ending”.

He dismissed criticism of the drama as self-indulgent, smug and over-complicated.

“Would a glorified Midsomer Murders really be preferable to this exhilarating, endlessly creative series?”

He went on: “Seeing something of this calibre on our televisions on a dark, dank Sunday is a treat, not a trial.”

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock
Benedict Cumberbatch as the detective (Robert Viglasky/BBC/PA)

Digital Spy’s Morgan Jeffery wrote that the episode was “mostly satisfying” as an end to the detective drama.

“The ending they’ve chosen means that Sherlock could absolutely come back again – but it also absolutely might not. And if it doesn’t, The Final Problem would serve as an imperfect but mostly satisfying finale.”

He added: “The denouement’s a bit baffling and some of the episode’s logic is a little askew, but you’d be hard-pressed to watch The Final Problem and not feel moved.”

But Christopher Stevens wrote in The Daily Mail that the episode was “an abject, flailing, noxious mess”, “shockingly bad” and “self-indulgent rubbish”.

Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington in Sherlock
Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington in Sherlock (BBC/Hartswood Films/Robert Viglasky)

“If you’ve woken up this morning with the angry feeling that you were robbed of an evening’s entertainment, I share your sense of betrayal.

“Sherlock was, quite simply, the most nonsensical, verbose piece of television I’ve ever sat through,” he wrote.

“The plot was incompetent. The dialogue was dreadful. The scenes were disjointed, the premise absurd, the ending made me want to reach for a plastic bucket and, most heinous of all, a classic creation was ruined.”

He added that writer-creators “(Mark) Gatiss and (Steven) Moffat may just have done what Moriarty never could, and finished off the marvellous character of Sherlock Holmes”.

Sherlock (BBC/Hartswood Films/Todd Antony)

Mark Lawson wrote in The Guardian that the episode had a “visual swagger far beyond the budget” and was “a fine way to go, if gone Sherlock has”.

But he added that it might be better not to bring it back.

“Producers have cited the actors’ crammed diaries as the main reason The Final Problem may bring Sherlock to a close after 13 episodes,” he said. “Yet keeping the stars artistically interested may be an equal challenge.”

He continued: “Whether the sleuth could evolve further without becoming pointlessly distant from the source is a problem that may make it sensible for this to be the final episode.”