Why Chinese Fans were Disappointed with Latest Sherlock Episode

2017-01-05 19:47:17

After a three-year hiatus, the BBC's Sherlock finally returned on New Year's Day to kick off its fourth season with the first of three new episodes entitled "The Six Thatcher".

The Chinese audience's enthusiasm for Sherlock made headlines when former UK Prime Minister David Cameron visited the country and was asked on Sina Weibo to "urge the Sherlock crew to be quick" because "fans have been waiting for two years for every season." As Cameron frankly recognized that he "can't tell them (Sherlock crew) what to do", for the fourth season, Chinese fans waited for three years straight, and sadly, the premiere was disappointing.

Last year, when Sherlock cast introduced the new series, one word kept popping up: dark. Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Sherlock Homes, told journalists that this series is the darkest yet. Martin Freeman, who played John Watson, agreed and called it "potentially the best series yet". Amanda Abbington, who played John's wife Mary, described it as "dark and unforgiving".

Well, they all sound intriguing and mysterious. Together with Moriarty's comeback at the end of Season 3, many fans couldn't wait to watch the new series. The first episode was based on Arthur Conan Doyle's story The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, and involved six smashed statues of the former UK prime minister.

China's video streaming sites Youku and Tudou have acquired the licence for overseas television programmes to help meet the Chinese demand for high-quality versions of popular shows, but one thing is new – they’ve started to charge. You have to become a member to watch the newest episode one week before everyone else.

It hasn't put off Chinese viewers, during 24 hours the premiere was viewed 6.8 million times in China. Some users said they paid membership fees simply to watch the show. Others went to extremes and watched it at local time with the British audience and set several alarm clocks.

6:00 Sherlock comes out, wake up.

6:05 Having waited for three years and now sleeping in?

6:10 Wake up, spoilers around.

6:15 Benedict is going to elope with others.

6:20 Wake up!

6:25 Moriarty's back, wake up now.

Ok, we get it, Chinese people have been anticipating for an episode of Sherlock, but did they like Season 4? One netizens comment on Douban (online database for films and music) summarized the general feeling: "I've been waiting for three years and you give me that?!"

Another used two pictures of Cumberbutch to describe their feeling before and after watching the episode.

So where's the problem? To begin with, a lot of viewers felt the show was too focusing on impressing fans at the expense of good character development. Douban user "Euphoria" felt that the main story has become a self-indulgent showcase of handsomeness, bromance and sarcasm; the subplot was a series of plot twists; and crime solving was reduced to background story. Another said the problem started in Season 3, but hasn't been improved in Season 4.

Indeed, despite the excellent performance of Season 2, the ratings of Sherlock have decreased, from 9.3 for Season 1 and to 8.5 for Season 4.

Season2 received 9.5 out of 10 rating

Season 3 received 8.8 out of 10 rating

Season 4 received 8.5 rating out of 10

I feel embarrassed. It used to be a detective show, but now only a buddy-cop show. We didn't see any crime solving, but uncreative plots with old and unfunny jokes. I bet it's true that British TV drama doesn't need a heroine!

Apart from a shift in the show's overall direction away from crime solving, the Chinese audience found John Watson's wildly out-of-character flirtation with a random woman on the bus unacceptable, because it doesn't make sense in the context of his previous characterization. Still, many viewers hoped the flirtation would provoke a response from the big boss in the following two episodes.

Watson flirts with the Bus Lady!


This is utterly unacceptable.

Some are so disappointed that they suggest cutting the show, and they got many supporters, "the hardest part of telling a story is not telling it forever, but ending it at an appropriate time."



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