All right, so it's really sad to have to come to the second season of Sherlock and say that Hounds of the Baskerville is the strongest episode.
It shouldn't be.
Much as I love Hound (and I do in pretty much any version including Rathbone and Brett), in a line-up that includes Scandal and Reichenbach, it should not be the strongest.
That said, Mark Gatiss has done a lovely job updating the monster story -- I think maybe he tried a tad tiny bit too hard ("The Grimpen Minefield") but at the same time, I'm deeply grateful not to have to go through the whole quicksand thing.
If I were Russell Tovey's agent, on the other hand, I might have suggested that doing another story that centers around big, potentially supernatural dogs might be something that could be best avoided at this point but, hey, whatever. I'm not the man's career coach and I love watching him dither about the place.
Hound gives us some great Sherlock/John moments and the best attempt at character development for Sherlock that you're going to get for any of the three stories. Admittedly, it also features Sherlock's "info dump" trick which I'm starting to get really sick of. Cumberbatch is very good at it and I realise that it's totally canon, but it's slick and superficial and annoying and when it's used in place of actual character development, it just doesn't cut it.
There's great house porn and bar porn and small-cute-town-in-England-porn which is nice. There's a moderately effective villain and some great chain-jerking which allows Gatiss the luxury of tying in another Holmes canon story.
So...yeah, it's fun; it's cheesy; it's amusing; it's well-paced; it's the most fun you're going to get out of this season, quite honestly, without making a drinking game out of it!