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Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

The holiday special pleased fans of UK TV abroad, without resolving the series' deeper conundrums

Thu, September 29th, 2016

Since its 2010 launch, ‘Sherlock’ has been among the biggest successes of British TV. Indeed, the only real complaint of the legions of fans who watch UK TV abroad and at home has been lack of supply, with just three complete series broadcast to date.

A Sherlock Classic Case: Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife

‘The Abominable Bride’, this year’s feature-length holiday special, provided welcome relief. The transposition of the Cumberbatch/Freeman double act from its familiar milieu in contemporary London to the late-Victorian setting of Conan Doyle’s source novels was a treat for the show’s content-starved audience. Of course, the special did nothing to resolve any of the questions raised by the downbeat ending of the last series… but no-one’s complaining.  

The teasers for Sherlock ‘The Abominable Bride’ which started appearing months before the broadcast lingered over Freeman’s bristling mustache and period-accurate scratchy, buttoned-up menswear. Would his persona shift to match his drawers? Apparently not. Sherlock and his sidekick adapted their chummy banter to life in the hub of the British Empire with barely a hiccup.

Revenants In The Mind Palace

The plotline featured a revenant and vengeful suicide. Long Term fans will have noted that hint of the supernatural which usually indicates a stay in Sherlock’s ‘mind palace’. Given that he concluded the famous showdown at the Reichenbach falls by flying like a celluloid martial artist, perhaps it really is all in our hero’s head…

Series creators Gatiss and Moffat certainly weren’t telling. However, they made sure that every one of those solipsistic fancies was well-grounded. Besides the BBC’s usual impeccable period detail, there was a stroppy and media-savvy Mrs. Hudson, and a major plot element featuring a militant — and apparently historically correct — proto-suffragette group.

‘The Abominable Bride’ made full use of its multiple time shifts and dislocations to explore the series’ preoccupation with the extremes of subjectivity, besides providing some fun for fans of cerebral sleuthing. It also presented a Sherlock who was even colder and smarter than the one we’re used to. More, please!

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