One cannot have Sherlock Holmes around for very long without The Woman putting in an appearance. In Sherlock's version of "A Scandal in Bohemia," Irene Adler, a lesbian dominatrix (what else?), is using some very explicit photographs on her cell phone to bargain for protection against being killed by...the CIA, it appears, but then again, maybe not. (The CIA, it gets around.) Oh, and of course, there's Moriarty: all Sherlock Holmes adaptations abhor a Moriarty vacuum. Plus bizarre terrorism decoy plots involving corpses on a plane. Meanwhile, the royal equivalent to His Highness in "A Scandal in Bohemia" is all but invisible and irrelevant, with only her (bound--see "lesbian dominatrix") feet making a brief foray onto the screen. There are times when this series' ninety-minute format seems to require pumping unnecessary air into Conan Doyle's original plot, and this would be one of them.
The "it's always Moriarty" issue (as opposed to "it's never lupus" on the soon-to-be-late House) does get at the series' insistent self-reflexivity. After all, it's always been Moriarty for decades now: often, Sherlock seems to be primarily about Sherlock Holmes adaptations and our expectations thereof. Although wink-wink-nudge-nudge quotation tends to be an occupational hazard of any pastiche--I swear, the next Holmesian author to invoke any variation on "the game's afoot" will get a disciplinary visit from Col. Sebastian Moran--Sherlock is just as invested in the Holmes industry. Thus, this time around, we had puns on the original story titles ("The Geek Interpreter," "The Navel Treaty"), but we also had the sudden appearance of the omnipresent deerstalker. (Remember, boys and girls: Conan Doyle's Holmes wouldn't wear a deerstalker while rambling about London.) Similarly, Irene Adler as would-be love interest? Been there. Dumbed-down Mycroft? Yep, done that. Jokes about Holmes and Watson as gay couple? That too. At this point, there's nothing to do for the series to do except wink at its own lack of originality; it is, as Harold Bloom might say (if Harold Bloom could be brought to pronounce about a TV series...), belated.
That being said, the series does some interesting things with the shift from Watson as professional chronicler to Watson as amateur blogger. (No news yet about whether or not the good doctor has monetized his site, although goodness only knows what kind of Google ads it would run.) The spontaneity and interactivity of blogging suggests a more intimate relationship between the narrator and his audience; although the novels and tales include occasional metafictional reflections on how Watson is constructing a certain kind of private detective, the shift to blogging brings up the possibility that the audience may actively collaborate in the comments section. If you look at the link I posted just above, you can see that the fictional comments are given to bad puns, along with grumpy observations from the detective himself; Holmes doesn't just complain to Watson about the narration, he does so in public. Watson still "buffers" and humanizes Holmes, but this Holmes' media celebrity, and his role (willing or otherwise) in shaping it plays a much more substantial role in the plot. There's a sense, that is, that the audience can be in on the "joke." And, by the same token, this John Watson's prose is informal, off-the-cuff, and in brief: the new media Sherlock has to be easily consumed by iPhone, in much the same way that the series can really be consumed by convenient PBS app. He's more portable, but he's also figured as less distant, even if he's still as chilly and eccentric as Conan Doyle's Holmes ever was.