The most recent half-season of Doctor Who and the Christmas special that followed left me pretty disappointed, to the point of questioning my faith in Steven Moffat. When Russell T. Davies was running the show, the episodes Steven Moffat wrote are some of my very favorites. The two parter with “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances” has some genuinely creepy moments, and it introduces Jack Harkness, who would go on to be one of the best characters created by the revamp. “The Girl in the Fireplace” is a fantastically tragic time travel love story that plays with the problems and nuances of jumping through time and space. “Blink” probably is my all-time favorite Doctor Who episode and just might be the overall creepiest episode of any TV show I’ve ever watched. I even enjoyed the two parter that introduces River Song, “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead.” In those, River’s story is intriguing, and she’s a character I wanted to know more about.

My faith in Moffat seemed well placed when he took over running the show in 2010, as Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor and his adventures with Amy Pond quickly became classics for me. All that started to unravel with Moffat’s second Doctor Who series, however, when everything shifts over to all River Song all the time. The first half of the season still had me on board, but the second half really took a dive and made me hate River Song forevermore. The 2011 Christmas special likewise was a waste for me and even professes some points and opinions that are more than a little offensive. I had reached a point of being ready to write off my enjoyment of Steven Moffat’s writing as a thing of the past.

Thankfully, that all changed again tonight when we watched the second series premiere of Sherlock, also penned by Moffat. I don’t think this set of episodes will be airing in the US for a while yet, so I’ll be cagey about the details so as not to spoil anything. Suffice to say that “A Scandal in Belgravia” restored my faith in Moffat as a writer, if not as a Doctor Who writer. Sherlock’s second season is every bit as engaging, exciting, and funny as the first, and it might even prove to be better than the original three episodes, if that could be possible. Sure, Moffat has Conan Doyle’s original classics to lean on as his source material for this show, but the masterfully clever ways he spins the old Holmes stories, combines them, and modernizes them without cheapening them makes me love Sherlock.

Basil Rathbone is the classic Holmes actor, and Robert Downey, Jr, has made a good run at the character in the two recent films. For my money, though, Benedict Cumberbatch is the most enjoyably neurotic Sherlock Holmes. RDJ can stand strong as the one true Tony Stark, but Cumberbatch claims the corner on Holmes for me.

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