Season three of S&H again offers 10 45-minute episodes. The plots appear to be changing slightly. Instead of zany crimes, appropriate to a comic series, the crimes are getting a tad more serious. The perps are a little darker, the motives a little heavier, and so on. With a different look and more serious presentation the plots themselves could be utilized in more hardboiled, noir stories. This is not to say that S&H have suddenly turned into Endeavour, Line of Duty, Frost, Foyle’s War, etc. but this season is just a bit less comic. The genre remains the British cozy, anchored in comedy rather than romance, and the violence is a little less threatening and a little less gory. We are still in a stylized world, not a real one (though the hardboiled genre is characterized by stylized realism). Noir stories are, however, closer to what James Ellroy calls tragic realism, even if they do sometimes have comic elements.
The bottom line is that S&H provides a not-very-challenging bit of escapist entertainment. The Stratford setting is special though it has not yet been exploited to the degree that one might expect. The production values are strongish but not exceptional. The guest stars (who are usually the perps) come from the B+ list and they are generally few in number. Sebastian does get a star turn in episode 10, however. In many ways he is the show’s glue (like Norm in Cheers) and it is nice to see him enjoy a more extended outing.
In sum: harmless entertainment (which Samuel Johnson thought was a very important thing) but not life-changing or riveting. ‘Pleasant.’