“Sherlock” Season 2 DVD extra: ‘Sherlock Uncovered’
This is a transcript of new material which appears only on the ‘Sherlock Uncovered’ Special Feature of the Season 2 DVD. It does not include a transcript of the clips from the episodes which are shown throughout the feature, nor does it include descriptions of visual moments without dialogue. I hope, however, that it may be useful in particular to viewers whose first language is not English, or who had difficulty understanding certain voices during the feature.
Warning: Contains spoilers for all three episodes of Season 2.
As always, please remember that some of the comments made by people may look serious in plain print but were frequently meant sarcastically or humorously.
If you quote extracts from this elsewhere, a link back to this page would be much appreciated!
Season 2 DVD extra: ‘Sherlock Uncovered’
STEVEN MOFFAT (Writer/Co-Creator): We’re just excited to be back – genuinely, properly, thinking, ‘Oh look, everybody loves it. We know that everybody loves it.’ And it’s a different feeling; because the first time we did it nobody cared or knew about us.
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH (Sherlock Holmes): It was a surprise; the level of response – positive response – we got was unreal; wonderful surprise, and just utter confirmation that the hard work had paid off and ... yeah, it’s been a thrill.
MARTIN FREEMAN (John Watson): The amount of millions of people in this country who watched it and who raved about it, and the amount of critics who raved about it; and then internationally how well it did.
STEVEN: This has become such an enormous international hit, it’s sort of preposterous. It’s our vanity project; it’s our hobby and everybody’s joined in.
SUE VERTUE (Series Producer): It certainly changed in this series from the last series. Last series nobody really knew who Benedict was. He wasn’t a household name. It’s a very different world this time. You know, if we’re outside 221 there’s a whole row of people just standing there.
STEVEN: Now when I look at Benedict and Martin capering around on set, I think, ‘Those are famous images. This room that we’re in – 221B Baker Street – is incredibly famous. Those two men are now so famous throughout the world in those roles.’ It’s a very sudden, very big change.
SUE: It’s nerve-wracking, I think, when you’re a hit to keep the quality going out, but I think you therefore try even harder and push it even further.
BENEDICT: We’re tackling the three biggest stories in the canon – well, the ones that seem to have the most amount of resonance when people mention Sherlock Holmes.
STEVEN: Let’s do the three big things, and the three big things are: the Hound, the Woman and the Professor.
BENEDICT: It’s love, horror and thriller.
ANDREW SCOTT (Jim Moriarty): In episode one, A Scandal in Belgravia, we have to finish the swimming pool scene, obviously. The last season ended on a cliffhanger, so nobody knew. Hopefully we’ve achieved it so you’re just like, ‘Oh my God,’ and then the story moves on quite quickly. ... But what they want is to have the threat of Moriarty to remain for the rest of the series.
STEVEN: In A Scandal in Belgravia, which is based on A Scandal in Bohemia, he encounters the only woman in the original stories that he really pays any attention to at all.
BENEDICT: Holmes faces one of his deadliest enemies in the shape of love, and it comes in the form of Irene Adler who’s this extraordinary dominatrix, this incredibly daring professional woman who’s utterly independent, fiercely smart and very resourceful.
MARTIN: Him meeting a sort of version of himself, you know, or someone who is his equal.
MARK GATISS (Writer/Co-Creator): Steve immediately had this idea that she should be a dominatrix.
PAUL McGUIGAN (Director): And so that’s interesting doing that, you know, ’cause again you didn’t wanna do this cliché of a dominatrix and, you know, didn’t want it to be like a sort of Ann Summers party gone wrong or something, you know, so we tried our best to keep it classy and fun.
LARA PULVER (Irene Adler): You know, it’s not very often you’re standing there in next to nothing with a leather whip in your hand, having a go at Benedict Cumberbatch! ... I did say at every opportunity, ‘D’you need me to ease off?’ and he was like, ‘No! Go for it, go for it’!
BENEDICT: In the first instance, it’s actually to cover up a Royal scandal; it’s to try and put to bed ... no pun intended ... some photographs which are salacious and ruining in their content.
MARTIN: Generally Sherlock knows he’s the cleverest person in the room, and so when he meets Irene, he might not be the cleverest person in the room. That’s upsetting.
MARK: And they’re clearly absolutely made for each other, so that’s a fascinating thing to play with.
BENEDICT: It’s a negative in his book. It’s something that is basically gonna undermine his ability to do his job, to concentrate and focus and apply logic.
STEVEN: In Hound of the Baskervilles or – as it has now become – The Hounds of Baskerville he comes face to face with the idea of real deranging terror.
MARTIN: When Sherlock thinks he has seen a gigantic hound, then he’s really terrified, because he knows that he can’t trust the evidence of his own eyes.
STEVEN: He is not above that; he’s not incapable of experiencing absolute terror, and he tries to rationalise it away but he goes out on that moor and he sees the hound, and he’s frightened.
MARK: It’s the most filmed; it’s the one that everyone knows – I think – the best, and therefore I felt more of an obligation to include certain things.
STEVEN: There are so many huge iconic moments that people expect: there’s a dog, there’s fog, there’s Dartmoor – the stuff you’d better deliver.
MARK: Even the best versions – in the end the dog, of course, is a fake; and I just thought, ‘Well, I’m not doing that. I’ve gotta do something different.’ Trying to work that out ... (he laughs) ... almost killed me! In fact, I took to saying this hound wasn’t a hound at all – it was a bitch!
MARTIN: It’s based around a military institution, a military base where strange sightings are seen and memories of things that didn’t quite happen thirty years ago still kind of haunt people. ... And it’s down to Sherlock to kind of get to the bottom of what it really is.
STEVEN: In the final one ... in The Reichenbach Fall it’s kind of almost the moment where he becomes a hero, really. Up until now he’s been this disquieting, dangerous, maybe ... potentially amoral man. This is the one where he is faced with Moriarty.
BENEDICT: It’s a brilliant, very fast paced thriller.
ANDREW: It starts by Jim going into the Tower of London and attempting to steal the Crown Jewels, which was – I have to say – one of the most fun days of filming I’ve ever had! There was a sort of a soundtrack of classical music in the background which I had to sort of dance along to. Well, I didn’t have to – I did!
STEVEN: Moriarty, in a way, is what comes to define Sherlock Holmes as a hero. He realises his place in the world.
STEVEN: We don’t think of these as episodes. We think of them as films; we think of them as movies ’cause they’re ninety minutes long and if you just do them as episodes of a TV series, they’ll seem very slow and very long. They have to have the size and weight of a movie.
PAUL: You can do whatever you want in Sherlock. There’s no ... I think we’ve shown the audience that you might expect to see anything. Well, on this one it even goes further and further.
SUE: I mean, Series 2 has still got all the onscreen text and things like that, but there’s just new ways of doing things.
PAUL: Yeah, we had a lot of toys out in this one. We had Phantom cameras which are really high-speed cameras that give you that very very slow slow slow slow motion.
BENEDICT: You can only shoot about seventeen seconds, I think, per go, then the whole thing has to be calmed down and put in a corner and given a cup of tea and then wound up again. And that was the sequence where I disarm Neilson and clock him on the back of the head, having opened the safe and it explodes. ... And I had to do that incredibly quickly, but it’s all sort of slowed down with the sort of John Woo effect and my hair’s going ... [he makes a sound I’m not even going to try to transcribe!] ... and I get to grab hold of the gun, disarm him and clock him all in one move. That was great fun to do!
DANNY HARGREAVES (Special Effects Supervisor): Sherlock Series 2, for me as a Special Effects Supervisor, has kept me very busy. There’s a few more bangs, a few more bullet hits, a few more atmospherics, so yeah – this year is pretty full on.
BENEDICT: I’ve had a great deal of fun doing the stunts.
MARTIN: You know, me and Ben know each other, you know, reasonably well now, so I feel comfortable doing stuff with him and so, yeah, things like the fight stuff, or physical stuff.
BENEDICT: I had to let him punch me. That was part of the deal this time round.
MARTIN: There was no way ... I was not gonna pass up an opportunity to even nearly punch Benedict in the face. There’s no way I was gonna pass that up, however much the stunt man might have wanted to get in there. That’s my gig.
BENEDICT: It’s the only way that he would get away with it otherwise.
BENEDICT: Doing the fall in Reichenbach Fall was really exciting. That’s me. That’s me up on a roof. That’s not me jumping off the roof, but it’s me jumping off a smaller roof onto a lower roof, which was about four feet, and then that cut to me on a wire dropping seventy feet, I think, onto a massive inflated bag. ... Fast – not terminal velocity but, you know, there’s a tiny brake on it, ’cause they need to slow you down before the end, so obviously if they did that, the last bit of it would look weird ’cause you’d be braking like that, so this ... it’s fast, fast, fast, fast, slow. But it’s pretty bloody fast.
LARA: There’s a brilliant kind of montage where Sherlock starts to describe a murder investigation.
PAUL: And basically it was so that Benedict could take her along with him and they share this ... I guess it’s a part of the kind of the love story, if you like.
SUE: So Steven had written the scene which goes between the house and the field, and we wanted the transitions between the two, so Paul McGuigan said to Arwel, the designer, ‘I want bits of the room in the field.’
ARWEL WYN JONES (Production Designer): We just replicated the wall of the living room here and put it in ... well, on the side of a road next to the car to start with, and then in the field to help with those transitions, and then took it away again. Um, which doesn’t sound too complicated until you’re talking about a house of this scale where one wall is four metres high by six metres wide, with a fireplace in it!
SUE: We had this huge bit of wall just wandering down the road going into the field; and a hydraulic bed, which just worked perfectly, I think.
ARWEL: There’s a transition from when he’s actually in bed and kind of starting to come out of this dream sequence; and he’s in the field and then has to actually appear in bed.
PAUL: And Sherlock’s getting really really tired and then, out of nowhere appears a bed.
DANNY: Paul, the Director, talked about having a bed flipping up into shot. I did exactly that, you know: made a bed on a pneumatic piston, which means it’s a piston using air, and pressed the button and it flipped the bed!
PAUL: Then he picks up his sheet and he just lies there [upright against the vertical bed] and it looks like he’s lying down; and in the next shot we’re in Baker Street from the exact same shot we matched [but above the bed], and we pull up and we see he’s back in Baker Street.
BENEDICT: That was wonderful, ’cause I did that moment and it got ... in the rehearsal people were going [in a rising high-pitched excited voice], ‘Oh, my God!’ when they were watching it. There were about ten people just getting ecstatic about it, which is quite a rare thing, to get an immediate audience response on television.
PAUL (in a resigned voice): A lot of the times, people will just put it down to, ‘Well, they’ve CGId that; that’s easy,’ you know.
BENEDICT: Yeah, I’m upstaged by a bed, a hydraulic bed. I can’t believe it.
STEVEN: One of the things that Paul wanted to bring to it was the idea that Sherlock Holmes sees the world in an extraordinary way, so in a way it’s incumbent on us to visualise the world in an extraordinary way, like Sherlock Holmes is behind the camera as well.
MARTIN: It’s one of the best examples of the camera helping to tell the story, of any television I’ve ever seen, actually, I think, you know. ’Cause what happens in camera, I think, is extraordinary on this show.
PAUL: You can show the scene of a dead body lying there and then suddenly you can do it from another point of view, or several points of view, and then you can dissect that, and you dissect it in a visual way, so you’re letting your audience understand how Sherlock thinks. ... And then we looked at how Sherlock sees things, so we used the 5D with the stills images to go closer into things; and then we’ll shoot the same scene but we’ll shoot it from a different point of view for Sherlock, so if he does walk in the room, we shoot it from his point of view so that the first time you see this scene, you never notice that Sherlock’s actually scanning the whole place and looking. ’cause we didn’t want him to be going ... [he scans across the room pointedly]... having like, you know, Six Million Dollar Man vision or something, so we just wanted it to feel very natural to this character and then it’d explain a little bit about how he does it. And also, you know, Benedict is fantastic at just reeling off these incredible words that Steven and Mark have given him.
BENEDICT: The deductions are ... they’re fantastic. They’re sort of show-stoppy pieces. They are hell to do because you ... however well you learn them, you have to deliver them faster than you can think. ... Everything just comes out as one linear thought and it’s a stream of consciousness, almost. It’s very very very hard to deliver – and your mind knows the minute it’s used a wrong preposition or an incorrect pronoun or a utterly wrong name, which has happened on a couple of occasions!
MARK: There’s a huge deduction Sherlock has by the fireside and I just put: (brackets), ‘Sorry, Benedict.’ ’Cause, you know, they’re monstrous.
PAUL: We’ve done some scenes in this episode [Hounds] where I just point the camera at Benedict and I say, ‘Okay, there’s no pressure, but this six page monologue: I want you to do it without any cuts.’
BENEDICT: He [Sherlock] thinks and talks in those moments faster than I can talk at my fastest talking moments, which is quite fast.
STEVEN: Partly because we’ve committed this huge heresy of updating it, we sort of want to say to everyone who knows the originals, ‘Look, everything else is incredibly authentic.’ In fact, you’ll never see a more obsessively authentic version of Sherlock Holmes than this one, because it is being motored by a couple of geeks.
SUE: There’s lots and lots of nods in there that Steven and Mark wanted, and they just get so excited when they walk around the set and they see all these things: ‘Oh, look! There’s so-and-so and so-and-so!’ and it’s like kids with toys – it’s lovely!
[On the set in Sherlock’s bedroom]
MARK (to Arwel): Have you got the baritsu?
ARWEL: Um, yes. No – you really stitched me up with that one!
MARK (laughing): Conan Doyle made it up, not me!
MARTIN: When you meet people like Steven and Mark who know it probably better than they know their own family, it’s kind of ... that’s a whole other level of knowledge about a writer and their work.
STEVEN (on the set, to Mark): This is a man who can straighten a bent pole.
MARK: The scale of the stories means that we are ... we’ve got to the death of Sherlock Holmes within six episodes. They’re big stories, and the big themes of love and fear and death. We want to see them going through the fire together. And that doesn’t mean that by the end of this they’ve reached the end of their possibilities.
STEVEN: These are still the formative years of Sherlock Holmes. The most important thing about this series is not that it’s updated; it’s the fact that those two men are still young and they’re still at the beginning of what they don’t yet know is gonna be a lifelong partnership.
A full list of episode transcripts, DVD commentary summaries/transcripts, and transcripts of the DVD special features can be found here.