A friend of mine is looking to get into a new TV show. She’s after something engrossing and asked me about The Wire. I couldn’t help it. I counseled against it. That’s a 60-hour commitment. And, we all know, The Wire is the crack of TV shows. Have you seen people in the middle of it? They just stare right through you, politely waiting for work, or dinner, or your conversation to end, so they can get straight back to viewing. Don’t get me wrong; I’m all about the joys of binge watching a really great show. But, ideally it’s something with an incredible story and not so many episodes that I feel guilty I’m not using my time to do something more productive, or at least get fresh air. Enter Sherlock Holmes.

The BBC’s Sherlock will begin airing Season 3 on PBS tonight. If you’re not already watching, you’ve heard of this, it’s the one starring Benedict Cumberbatch. If you’re thinking to yourself, I’m not into Sherlock Holmes, detectives, mysteries, and action stories; you may be in for a surprise. Of course it is Sherlock Holmes (love him or hate him), but his world is delightfully updated (faithful Dr. Watson is a blogger!) and worth exploring. The writing is clever and contemporary, giving these characters and their adventures a new energy. Sherlock feels just about right in our post-9/11 world. The viewer will nod in recognition at the terrorist cells, government surveillance, and police incompetence that regularly arises during adventures. Is this the best TV you’ve ever seen? No, but the show is smart enough to put it squarely in the category of fast-paced, engaging entertainment.

If you haven’t watched Seasons 1 & 2, do yourself a favor and don’t dive in with the new episode tonight. A mere 9 hours will bring you completely up to speed, as both seasons are each comprised of three 90 minute episodes. This background is well worth it as Season 2 ends on a terrific cliffhanger. You need to know the questions so you can appreciate the answers Season 3 does and does not reveal. Both Seasons 1 & 2 are available on Netflix and on PBS.org. So, new viewers, happy watching and be glad you don’t have to wait 2 years for answers like the rest of us.

For avid watchers, it’s here at last! Did it live up to your expectations? How does Season 3 rate so far? Share your thoughts in the comments.