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Having just finished watching the series 2 finale of Sherlock and having recently seen the newest Holmes film (which are both loose adaptions of the story The Final Problem), one thing sticks out as the most striking difference between the two of them which is this:

Holmes's death in The Reichenbach Fall made me tear up. Holmes's death in The Game of Shadows didn't even come close.

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If you take a step back and look at what both franchises are trying to achieve, the british series approaches the characters as human beings that you're supposed to relate to and resonate with. The movie franchise approaches the characters as fantastical creatures that you're supposed to be in wonder of. The Game of Shadows was a fun ride once i got into it, but that's all it was - a carnival ride that's thrilling but had no real character substance even with the brilliant script writing of the Holmes and Moriarty conversation/confrontations. The films are blatant action films in which the Holmes mythos is used as the window dressing. The films are not meant to be drama.

Compare this to the television series and everything leading to the climactic ending in The Reichenbach Fall. Aside from the stories themselves, the heart of the british series is character development, particularly the development of Sherlock's and Watson's independent characters and how their chance meeting evolves into a strong and loyal friendship. Sherlock in the films has his eccentricities, but otherwise his character is puffed up as a Hero Action Figure. Sherlock in the television series is a flawed character whose eccentricities and arrogance can alienate him from his acquaintances and the one person who he considers a friend. The idea of him being a hero is even blatantly called out at the end of series one: to Watson he says, "Don't make people into heroes, John; heroes don't exist and if they did i wouldn't be one of them."

So here we have Holmes at the end of The Reichenbach Fall, where Moriarty has so well orchestrated Holmes into a corner by exposing his vulnerability - that despite the perception that Holmes doesn't care about anyone and that he lacks any sense of compassion - a perception that Holmes himself can sometimes believe - when put to the test, he is willing to destroy his reputation and, um, "kill himself" out of compassion for those he cares about.

And given the setup for the whole episode - as Holmes's world slowly starts to break down due to Moriarty's machinations, you can see his vulnerability increase and then everything shatter after Moriarty shoots himself leading to the phone conversation with Watson -

It was incredibly moving. That entire rooftop scene - boy did both Cumberbatch and Scott truly shine.

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If i have the time and energy, there's a big compare and contrast analysis in my head about the approach to everything between the movies and the television series more specificaly, but i'm incredibly busy and i'm not sure whether or not putting the time and energy into it in a way that feels like it does it justice and doesn't compromise my own sort of artistic principles is time that i can afford. Still, a proper review of the episodes of series 2 will probably come forth at some point, even if only in abstract form.

Later though. Right now it's time to write music.

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