Reviews of the episode were mostly positive. In a pre-broadcast review, Terry Ramsey of The Daily Telegraph labelled the story's shift from a Gothic house to a military research base "an inspired piece of modernisation". He praised the two lead actors, and say that "the script is sharp and witty and the updating is clever, while remaining true to the original. A modern classic." Serena Davies, also of The Daily Telegraph praised the episode for being "pacy, sharp and witty, as we've come to expect from the Moffat and Gatiss crack creative duo, and rather less inscrutable than the New Year episode." Davies rated the episode four out of five stars. Chris Harvey, again from The Daily Telegraph identified a range of clues, cultural references and possible inspirations. He suggests that the scene in which "Sherlock Holmes clambered alone to the top of a Dartmoor mound and surveyed the landscape below, it appeared to be a direct visual reference to ... Wanderer above the Sea of Fog" by 19th century German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich. Harvey also identified several references to Thomas Harris' character Hannibal Lecter, plot similarities to the 2005 film Batman Begins, and jokes similar to Scooby Doo. Sam Wollaston, for The Guardian, favourably compared "The Hounds of Baskerville" to "A Scandal in Belgravia", writing that the episode "has a 21st-century pace to it, and fizzes with the wit we've come to expect from Sherlock ... [recapturing] the essence of The Hound of the Baskervilles ... like the original, it's properly creepy". The Radio Times's David Butcher compared the episode to Steven Moffat's series opener, "A Scandal in Belgravia", saying this "is more of a creepy affair, all jittery camerawork, paranoia and suspense." Christopher Hootan of Metro thought the episode was "the perfect marriage of misty, moor-based foreboding and modern, fast-paced thriller," adding that "with a breakneck script and captivating...
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