The Hounds of Baskerville, the second episode of series two of Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes.
Ah, how those Sherlock boffins, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, like to lead us up the garden path – or should we say, down into the Dartmoor gully. The latest instalment of their super-cool, gizmo-tastic modern salute to the greatest sleuth ever created even had us thinking Sherlock Holmes could FEEL FEAR.
Just as the New Year’s Day opener got us, oh so brilliantly, to believe that Holmes had been touched by love - when actually he was just taking the luscious lady’s pulse - so episode two gave us a Sherlock with the shivers. Again, our hearts leapt at the thought that Holmes was human. Again, hopes were dashed, when it turned out the terror was no true trauma, but had been induced by a drug.
The Hounds of Baskerville took the most famous of all Sherlock Holmes stories, gave the original title just the smallest of tweaks, then had its wicked way with the rest of the tale.
Baskerville this time was not a crumbly house but a dodgy animal experimentation centre kept out of the way of prying eyes on the moors. “Hound” was no beast but the acronym for an even dodgier drugs programme that made people hallucinate their worst nightmares to the degree that they thought they were actually taking place - although there was a big bad dog too. The original had a villain called Stapleton; there was a Stapleton here as well but, although a bit snarly, she wasn’t the one doing the really devilish deeds.
The whole thing was pacy, sharp and witty, as we’ve come to expect from the Moffat and Gatiss crack creative duo, and rather less inscrutable than the New Year episode. There was even a - probably accidental - homage to dingy Danish thriller The Killing, when Watson spent five minutes wandering around in the dark with only a torch for company. The one shame was that the baddie didn’t die by sinking into the Dartmoor bog, as in the original. But finally learning Inspector LeStrade's Christian name was ample compensation. It's Greg.