"Sherlock" Season 3 premiered on BBC One on New Year's Day. The Jan. 1 air date for "The Empty Hearse" had been greatly anticipated, considering the 9.7M viewers who saw the first run of Sherlock 3x01. As a wink to fans, real life parents of Benedict Cumberbatch, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, both appear in the episode. Sherlock Holmes' new nemesis has arrived, but viewers will know more about him in the next episodes.
Reuters Benedict Cumberbatch arriving for the premiere of the film "The Fifth Estate" at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival
Spoiler alert: This review contains spoilers on BBC One's Sherlock Season 3, Episode 1, The Empty Hearse. Those waiting for answers about "The Reichenbach Fall" will not get much. The answer Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) was the same as what he told Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman) in the second season finale. And it is likely there will be no more elaboration in the next episodes.
Series co-creator and Season 3 premiere episode writer Mark Gatiss gives a nod to all the how-Sherlock-faked-his-death fan theories out there. The show kicks off with a fan theory, courtesy of Anderson (Jonathan Aris). There's another theory mid-part, something not too strange to some fans.
Sherlock Season 3 Premiere: This one's for the fans!
The entire Sherlock Season 3 premiere, a liberal adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of the Empty House," turns out to be an elaborate tribute to fans. It is understandable, though. Loyal fans waited two years to see what happens after The Reichenbach Fall. Gatiss and the rest of the showrunners named a Sherlock Holmes fans club, "The Empty Hearse."
The EPs also thought having Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham on the show would delight fans. (They seem to be right.) In this Mirror story, Cumberbatch said acting with his real life parents was "nerve-wracking because they are actors as well and yet they were brilliant and they were fantastic."
Martin Freeman's real life partner Amanda Abbington is also in Sherlock Season 3, Episode 1. She stars as Mary Morstan, who will - spoiler alert - marry Dr Watson in the next episode, "The Sign of Three."
The Best Parts of Sherlock 3x01: 'The Empty Hearse'
"The Empty Hearse" starts funny then it gets brooding. Then it gets exciting and ends up with the usual elements of mystery, sharp wit, and comedy. All the emotions were carefully managed overall. Nothing more to be asked from Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who are brilliant as usual in their character's "after life" angsty repartee and expected reconciliation.
In his other hat as Mycroft Holmes, Mark Gatiss looks convincing as a Serbian interrogator. He had been part of the brains behind the Reichenbach Fall, but ultimately Sherlock took care of faking his own death.
Who is Sherlock Holmes' new nemesis in BBC One's Sherlock Season 3?
"A bunch of tricks" is Sherlock Holmes long and short story on what happened at The Reichenbach Fall. One might think Sherlock had hoped Dr Watson would get it when he said it on the phone. It ends there, simple and complex at once.
Well done episode, overall. Director Jeremy Lovering's camera treatment could be polarizing, but it's the finished product that counts.
The next episodes, "The Sign of Three" and "His Last Vow" would tackle the story of Sherlock's new nemesis in Season 3. His name is Charles Augustus Magnussen (Lars Mikkelsen). The character refers to Charles Augustus Milverton from "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton," still by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. BBC One on Christmas released a Sherlock Season 3 special, which has gone viral on YouTube. Watch it below.
WATCH: Sherlock Season 3 Pre-Premiere Special Episode - 'Many Happy Returns'
Toward the end of Sherlock Season 3, Episode 1, aka The Empty Hearse, an ominous character is seen obsessing over the footage of Sherlock saving Dr Watson from the blaze. Who else could it be?