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Sherlock: The Empty Hearse

New Year’s Day, 9-10.30pm, BBC1

For an hour and a half on New Year’s Day, Twitter might just break. Two long years have passed since Sherlock’s tumble from the roof of St Bart’s – the truth is revealed tonight. And boy, does writer Mark Gatiss have fun with it, pre-empting the inevitable quibbles by gently teasing the terminally obsessed in a manner that will have you howling with laughter when you aren’t scratching your head. Frankly, there’s enough mystery and misdirection to have you half-believing Moriarty’s alive as well. (He isn’t.) But really, all this is a sideshow. So, more surprisingly, is the case itself – a rumoured terrorist plot targeting London, involving establishment figures and a sinister puppetmaster.

Tonight is all about the reunion between Holmes and Watson: two men who struggle to articulate their emotions, yet find themselves in a situation that demands exactly that. This contretemps is cleverly extended by Gatiss and brilliantly delivered by director Jeremy Lovering, who revives a few old editing tricks to tease out the humour and pathos of the situation. Central to all its success, of course, are Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, still finding new and surprising facets of these now familiar characters, while Amanda Abbington is a striking addition as Watson’s intended. It’s the biggest resurrection since 33AD; most miraculous of all, it doesn’t disappoint.