Sherlock: Season Three Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this excellent Blu-ray release
Sherlock Holmes stalks again in a thrilling contemporary version of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the go-to consulting detective in 21st century London, with Martin Freeman as his loyal friend, Dr. John Watson, and Rupert Graves as the long suffering Inspector Lestrade. Fast-paced, funny, and surreally true to the hero's fantastic gifts for deduction.
For more about Sherlock: Season Three and the Sherlock: Season Three Blu-ray release, see Sherlock: Season Three Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on February 16, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Gatiss and Moffat have done it, by jove! After two addicting, fiendishly clever but slightly flawed seasons of Sherlock, the executive producing duo have churned out the very best the hit series has to offer. Not with just one episode either. All three episodes. Sherlock's return in "The Empty Hearse" is a hilarious opening gambit, a playful ruse in and of itself, and an unexpectedly revealing dual character study, further challenging and deepening the relationship between the world-famous detective (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his friend and assistant, the ever reliable, rightfully temperamental Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman). Newcomer Amanda Abbington could have gummed up the gears as Watson's fiancÚ; instead she energizes Cumberbatch and Freeman, breathes fresh life into the show's dynamics and has a few cards stashed up her sleeve. "The Sign of Three," meanwhile, is a dizzying but delightful labyrinth of interconnected elements with an unforgettable string of big laughs, sharp payouts and smartly penned payoffs. Previously, each season's second episode has been its weakest. Here it's arguably the strongest, and certainly the one that remains the most enjoyable over multiple viewings. And, of course, there's "His Last Vow," which brings the all-too-quickly exhausted third season to a close with an eerie, unnerving villain (Lars Mikkelsen) every bit as memorable as the series' Moriarty (Andrew Scott). Even more diabolical than Mikkelsen's baddie? The twists and turns that await. I'm still reeling.
Not to overshadow the cast's terrific, instantly iconic performances, the show's razor-wire wit and scripting, or its masterfully executed sleight of hand, but the real genius of Sherlock is in its balance, and Season Three is its most balanced to date. If Gatiss and Moffat somehow top themselves again next go-round, series fans might just lose their minds.
"As a mental exercise, I've often planned the murder of friends and colleagues. John, I'd poison..."
The 2-disc Blu-ray release of Sherlock: Season Three divides the season's mysteries across two BD-50 discs; "The Empty Hearse" and "The Sign of Three" are housed on Disc One, while "His Last Vow" and a trio of featurettes are found on Disc Two. Episodes synopses are as follows:
The Empty Hearse: "Just one more miracle, Sherlock. Stop being dead." Two years after the devastating events of "The Reichenbach Fall," Dr. John Watson has moved on with his life. New horizons, romance and a comforting domestic future beckon. But with London under threat of a huge terrorist attack, Sherlock Holmes is about to rise from the grave with all the theatricality that comes so naturally to him. It's what his best friend wanted more than anything, but for John Watson it might well be a case of "be careful what you wish for." If Sherlock thinks everything will be just as he left it, he's in for a very big surprise.
The Sign of Three: Sherlock faces his biggest challenge of all: delivering a Best Man's speech at John and Mary's wedding. A room full of anxious guests await, stories about his friend are just itching to be told, and the world's shrewdest detective doesn't have a handle on how to handle any of it. But when the threat of murder spills over into John and Mary's big day, Sherlock rebounds with renewed enthusiasm, eager to capture a killer, no matter the cost.
His Last Vow: Sherlock Holmes encounters the one man he truly hates, Charles Augustus Magnussen (Mikkelsen), through a case of stolen letters. How will he tackle an enemy who specializes in blackmail and knows the personal weakness of every eminent person in the Western world? More importantly, how will he survive Christmas with his brother Mycroft (Gatiss) and his parents, especially with John and Mary in tow?
Sherlock: Season Three features an excellent, near-perfect 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation; one that's more refined and rewarding than its predecessors. For "The Empty Hearse," the series exhumes the gloomy, overcast-skies palette that graced previous seasons, straying from wintry grays and chilly blues only when a warmly lit interior affords it the opportunity. In "The Sign of Three," though, the show's palette is suddenly bristling with color fitting John and Mary's joyous day. Bright splashes of yellow, lush greens, delicate purples and more lifelike skintones accompany the third season's second mystery (or mysteries as it were), while more generous saturation allows for an altogether striking episode. "His Last Vow" finds a happy middle ground, swaying between the dismal and the more inviting as the season finale dictates. Thankfully, whatever the palette, contrast is consistent, black levels are satisfying, delineation is quite good, and detail delivers. Edges are crisp and clean, without any significant ringing or aliasing, and textures are nicely resolved. Add to that an absence of artifacting, banding and errant noise and you have a proficient, eye-catching presentation that deserves every tip of the hat it receives.
While the Blu-ray editions of Season One and Season Two didn't offer a lossless option, Sherlock: Season Three arrives armed with a strong and steady DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. LFE output puts a spring in the mix's step, not to mention a great deal of heft when the going gets tough or Sherlock and Watson are on the move. The rear speakers are playful little pranksters too, deploying reliable directionality and smooth pans, as well as creating a fully immersive series of expansive hotspots and intimate locales, one particularly quaint Baker Street flat, and a bustling London cityscape. David Arnold and Michael Price's buoyant series score is a blast of carefully balanced cues too, and never overpowers or underwhelms. It only helps that dialogue is clear and intelligible, prioritization is flawless, and dynamics are as noteworthy as they are. Sherlock may not sound like a summer blockbuster (nor should it), but it matches the third season's video presentation step for step, beat for beat, and surge for surge.
The Fall (HD, 14 minutes): "I can't possibly tell you!" The first of three featurettes available on Disc Two finds executive producers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, key members of the cast, and fans on the street discuss Sherlock's rooftop plummet at the end of Season Two, the subsequent cliffhanger and the many, many, many theories that have been dreamed up to explain it. Still no answers, though. Also included is a behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of the false flashbacks and survival theories sprinkled throughout the third season.
Fans, Villains & Speculation (HD, 17 minutes): This "Legacy of Sherlock Holmes" mini-doc includes glimpses at table read-throughs, as well as interviews with the producers and cast, an overview of the new elements and characters in Season Three, and a rundown of the inspiration behind the mysteries, episodes, twists and turns.
Shooting Sherlock (HD, 14 minutes): Cumberbatch and Freeman talk about being surprised, the challenge of surprising audiences and delve into the filming of Sherlock's near-death shooting in "His Last Vow."
If Sherlock wasn't already one of the best shows on television, it certainly is now. Season Three serves up the series' finest mysteries and episodes to date, without a weak link in the bunch. From start to finish, the third season gets better and better, ending with another fantastic cliffhanger that makes the fourth season seem unbearably far away. Cumberbatch and Freeman are outstanding as well, with a wonderfully assembled supporting cast making their jobs that much easier. This is about as good as it gets... unless Gatiss and Moffat are sitting on a trio of mysteries more expertly crafted and wholly infectious as these. So what of the Blu-ray release of Season Three? With a first class video presentation and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, the 2-disc set's relative lack of extras is hardly even a factor. Add this one to your collection now. Haven't seen the first two seasons? Add all three to your cart. You'll thank me later.
Sherlock: Other Seasons
Season 1 2-disc set $29.76
Season 2 2-disc set $29.21
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