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SHERLOCK: SEASON TWO

For my money, SHERLOCK remains one of the most engaging entertainments making its way across the pond from British television… and onto a Blu-ray player near you. The series is an utter gem, which takes something totally familiar and makes it into some new and completely captivating. One hundred and twenty five years after his debut in print, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary "consulting detective" is still alive, well and living at 221B Baker Street. Re-imagined for the twenty-first century by DOCTOR WHO alumnus Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, SHERLOCK takes Doyle's legendary "consulting detective" out of his native Victorian setting and deposits Holmes into present day London… a place where technology and forensics walk hand-in-hand with the uniquely keen observational skills of the series title character.

SHERLOCK stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. A self-described "high-functioning sociopath," Cumberbatch’s Holmes is a fascinating character to watch as he alienates just about everyone in his orbit, yet his services prove invaluable to Scotland Yard, despite being labeled a "freak" by everyone but Detective Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves). Like everyone else, Freeman’s Watson is infuriated by Holmes’ total ambivalence towards other human beings, but his fascination with Holmes’ abilities, allows the Afghanistan War veteran to become swept up in the ensuing mysteries, not to mention, sharing the flat 221B Baker Street with his infuriating friend.

SHERLOCK: SEASON TWO ($40) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a two-disc set that features the following three ninety minute episodes that are in themselves updated re-imaginings of Conan Doyle's works: A Scandal In Belgravia is an adaptation of the 1891 short story A Scandal In Bohemia, which introduced readers to the character of Irene Adler, who was notable as the only member of her sex to seemingly be able to get under Holmes’ skin (as it were) and to garner his respect and admiration. In A Scandal In Belgravia, Irene Adler (Lara Pulver) is a dominatrix, who has had a relationship with a royal; and has scandalous photos of their liaison in her possession, which Holmes is engaged to retrieve… and so begins an interesting game of cat and mouse between the two. The Hounds Of Baskerville finds Holmes engaged by a man who is convinced that a monstrous hound killed his father near the Baskerville test site… a place where the Ministry of Defense conducts secret scientific research. The Reichenbach Fall reunites Holmes with his arch nemesis Jim Moriarty (Andrew Scott), with Moriarty setting out to discredit the "consulting detective" before resolving their final problem. The cast of SHERLOCK: SEASON TWO also features Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes and Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson.

BBC Home Video (via Warner) has made all the episodes that comprise SHERLOCK: SEASON TWO available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Like the preceding set, SHERLOCK: SEASON TWO features excellent 1080i presentations that beautifully renders the series excellent photography. Almost always, the image appears wonderfully crisp and clear. Dimensionality is very strong, plus there is a strong level of fine detail and texturing. Close-ups are fairly terrific; one can see every line, freckle, blemish and imperfection in the actors’ skin. Of course, there are some shots that are a bit softer than others, but this is essentially picking nits. Colors usually maintain the cold and antiseptic appearance of the first season, but occasional bits of warmth do enter the color scheme, plus hues are generally rendered with good saturation. Blacks are inky, while whites are crisp. Contrast sometimes comes across with a bit of a stylistic push. Shadow detail is quirt good. There is some grain/noise in the image, with darker sequences displaying more.

All of the episodes that constitute SHERLOCK: SEASON TWO are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel Dolby Digital 448kbps soundtracks. Essentially the same as season one’s sonics, one is presented with efficient soundtracks that hold up rather well, despite being lossy. The episodic sound designs do provide a nice use of the outlying channels during key moments, but even then, the surrounds are somewhat reserved. However, since much of SHERLOCK plays in talky mystery/drama mode, one should expect too much beyond front and center sonics. Despite the lack of a lossless encoding, the musical component manages a strong sense of presence. The bass channel adds some weight, but not too much more. Dialogue is clean and fully understandable. No other language tracks have been included, but English subtitles are provided.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as, as well as the extras. Running Audio Commentaries are featured on A Scandal In Belgravia and The Hounds Of Baskerville. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Unlocking Sherlock (nineteen minutes).

SHERLOCK is indeed one of my absolute favorite things that is being imported across the pond. At the time of this writing, Season Three of SHERLOCK is in the work, and I hope may more will follow. The Blu-ray presentations are pretty terrific. Highly recommended.

 
SHERLOCK: SEASON TWO 


Sherlock: Season Two [Blu-ray] (2011)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2012 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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