BBC’s Sherlock ended its fourth, and potentially final season last night, and while the episode itself wasn’t a complete dud, it also wasn’t terribly impressive. Not helping matters either was a Russian leak which saw the finale hit the web almost a day before it aired on television. This, combined with the fact that the show is far from its heyday, led to a serious ratings drop.
According to Deadline, Sherlock pulled in 5.9 million overnight viewers, which is down quite a bit from the 8.1 million who watched the premiere. It’s a new low for the series and obviously, the BBC is not happy about it. “We take breaches of our stringent content security protocols very seriously and we have initiated a full investigation into how this leak has occurred,” the company announced over the weekend. At this point, though, it seems that they still haven’t figured out how the episode managed to leak out so early.
Even if it hadn’t, we’re not too sure the numbers would have been that much higher. Sherlock has been going downhill for a while now, growing more bizarre and illogical as time goes on. It’s a very different show than what it first started out as and where the first two seasons were brilliant and compelling, the last two have been watchable but far from riveting and sometimes not even satisfactory.
One issue that many fans have been citing is that Sherlock has become too over-complicated. While it’s easy to see why some may feel this way, co-creator Mark Gatiss doesn’t find that to be a valid complaint. Speaking to the Daily Star, he said the following:
“People ask if it’s good to challenge the audience. Of course it f***ing is. Why would you not want to challenge your audience?…I did a phone-in after the Christmas special a few years ago and someone said it was too complicated for people to follow. I said ‘oh, go and pour some warm paste into your mouth’. If you don’t want to be challenged, don’t watch it. It’s a complex and entertaining programme…Go and read a children’s book with hard pages if you don’t want to be challenged. We’re making the show we want to make. We don’t make it a certain way because fans are pressuring us.”
While we do agree with him somewhat, anyone can tell you that the show is often needlessly complex, throwing illogical plot points at the audience and asking us to suspend our disbelief on far too many occasions. The problem has only gotten worse as time’s gone on, too, and in season 4, it was particularly bad. We’re not saying that we need our television spoon fed to us, but when logic is thrown out the window on a show that’s supposed to be quite grounded, it’s going to turn people off.
As of now, the fate of Sherlock is very much up in the air. Everyone seems to think season 4 is it, but the cast and crew have said that they’re game for more. Whether the increasingly busy schedules of stars Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch allow for that remains to be seen, but with the way the show has been going, and these new low ratings, perhaps it’s best to end it now before it goes completely off the rails.