Sherlock season 3 US debut wows critics

The return of Benedict Cumberbatch's sleuth sees American critics reaching for the superlatives - but not everyone is entirely bowled over

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Sherlock season 3 US debut wows critics
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Yes, American Sherlock fans had an even LONGER wait than we Brits did to find out how Sherlock survived his fall.

But it seems it didn't put them off with almost unanimous praise for the first episode of series three, The Empty Hearse, which premiered on PBS last night just after another popular UK import, Downton Abbey.

"Despite the heavy subject matter of resurrection, mayhem and terror, the episode is light on its feet and contains some of the best lines of the series to date,” said The Hollywood Reporter.

The Empty Hearse was “chock full of clever twists, inside jokes and special cameos,” said the web-site of NBC’s Today show, Today.com

Its reviewer added: “Showrunners Mark Gatiss (who also plays Sherlock's brother Mycroft) and Steven Moffat broke the fourth wall of 221B Baker Street so many times it's a wonder Mrs Hudson's house didn't collapse.”

Delighting in the fun the episode had with the many spoof explanations for Sherlock's survival its reviewer concluded that the “most entertaining suicide scenario” involved Sherlock's kiss with Moriarty – probably the most fanciful of the spoof explanations.

“At that moment, a thousand Cumberb-----es' hearts stopped,” said critic Drusilla Moorhouse.

Entertainment Weekly, however, took a more sober view of the return.

In a generally positive review it nonetheless found the explanation “pretty disappointing in its ridiculousness" adding: "Just when we're starting to think, "Oh well ... maybe the rest of the episode will be better?" We hear-- "Bollocks!" Lestrade denouncing Anderson's theory that we just witnessed as to how Sherlock faked his death. We realize: We've been punk'd!”

However, the critic acknowledged that it took “some big Bakers Street balls to troll fans who have been waiting this long” and was also “clever to bring the Internet speculation surrounding the cliffhanger into the show itself.”

San Francscio Chronicle critic David Wiegand was more representative in his assessment, insisting that all three new episodes have been "lovingly crafted for the more obsessive fans of both the original Conan Doyle creation.”

He adds: ''Sherlock is hardly the first show to acknowledge its fans, but you'd be hard-pressed to find others that do it quite so extravagantly.

"However, you do not have to be a Holmes expert to go completely gaga over the new season. All you need is appreciation of perfection.”