It was wise on the part of the makers of this decided to wait until the fourth story in to produce one that was more action and story based -- after the characters of these versions of Holmes and Watson have already been established in the first three. This story reaps the benefits.
It means that rather than be bogged down in exposition, we can skip past what has what has already been established in substantial scenes in earlier episodes rather that cursory explanations here. And it also means that knowing the people involved, we can pick up on several nice subtle moments delivered in a more shorthand style. There are also several brief brief but well-executed scenes were there is breathing room to explore the personalities of Lestrade and Mrs Hudson (and Watson's infatuation with her).
It is an episode oriented around action, suspense, and plot, thought -- and here too the writing of the series shines, as it very wittily done. For instance, Holmes and Watson bursting in just after the last moment... to the wrong execution is a really well-timed both in terms of writing and direction. The result is equal parts humor and a ratcheting- up of tension for their second race with the clock. And -- importantly - - the plot is a good one rooted in human characters.
The result isn't quite as memorable as its three antecedents in the series, but it's still an excellent piece of work and builds nicely on what set up for it.
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