Sherlock, The Abominable Bride (2016)
Years pass before BBC produces new installments of their beloved contemporary canon of their serial titled Sherlock. As a kind of bridge to their upcoming fourth season of the popular show, a special was introduced. Amid a flurry of excitement and the cheers of avid fans (most of whom have likely long since seen this), a twist on the contemporary series was introduced to the world.
If 221 Baker Street existed in 1800s Victorian England, what might it have looked like?
Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) begins telling us by narrating his stories. He’s still a returning army doctor busily recording the detective cases he helps solves with his good friend, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s also happily married to Mary (Amanda Abbington) though don’t ask him what she’s up to – he’ll not be able to tell you. Currently, Watson is narrating the one case he and Holmes could not solve: the case of the Abominable Bride.
It transpired something like this: A woman shoots wildly from a balcony and then, in front of a busy street of witnesses commits suicide. Only hours later, she is witnessed murdering her husband on a dark cobbled street. All of the clues lead to death and reincarnation only Sherlock doesn’t believe in supernatural. How will the brilliant detective puzzle through what might be his most unexplainable case to be explainable?
There is a certain level of superb brilliance that we’ve come to expect from the writers and producers of Sherlock have achieved with this series. Though only 80-some minutes, the addition commonly referred to as “the special” in the timeline is as marvelous as those preceding it. To affect something a bit different, a choice was made to set this episode back in its original timeframe of Victorian England, and heavens, it worked. Not only does the cast play beautifully as their Victorian counterparts, the entire scope of the production is, as usual, second to none.
That said I do have some complaints about this installment. The problem with this is, I’m not sure I can explain it in clarity. But I shall endeavor to try. The story isn’t one of the best, and yet it is, potentially the greatest yet. While watching this, I had the thought that the mystery wasn’t among my favorites; there was something sort of stifled about it perhaps hindered by the limited run time of the episode or the brief flurry of “catching” the audience up on what had happened in the three years prior. Either way, the mystery itself didn’t all fall into place. Then well past halfway through the production, the “twist” is introduced which sort of changes everything.
Unlike the norm of my TV watching, I hadn’t read any spoilers so the surprise was real when I realized what was really going on. Part of the way this was written allows for a darker Sherlock that shouldn’t surprise anyone given all we see here is nothing we didn’t already know. As the writer’s further this character, the complexities of him are exceedingly interesting to see. Each one is like a layer peeled back for more depth, proving there is more to Sherlock than an arrogant know-it-all. Seeing Watson return with the moustache was hilarious as was near image exact roles in the Watson marriage. Also amusing was Sherlock’s futuristic predictions which ties nicely into the contemporized version.
Though some of the details are shuffled and there are some stumbles here and there, ‘The Abominable Bride’ is a must see for any fellow Sherlock fans. The writing and details are sharp, and I suspect as close to perfect television as we’re likely to see. Not to mention, a darker supernatural sense of humor is in play that offers plenty of laughs. On TV, this is the only show I know that CAN get away with such time spans in-between its seasons. There's nothing that is quite like BBC's Sherlock and if the price for we to pay for such brilliance, I'm willing to wait.