When it comes to Sherlock, we can always expect greatness. There was a huge sense of hype around the “Christmas Special”, which ended up not being aired on Christmas and also not centered around the holiday. But it was finally released and of course, it didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
I’d say that regular fans of the show have probably enjoyed this special Sherlock episode – directed by Douglas Mackinnon – a lot more than others, not only because they’ve been in love with the show for years and years, but also because everything about it was made to appeal to them, clearly. There is no doubt in my mind that the creators and writers of Sherlock, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, are two of the greatest, most clever minds in the business. They seem to be very aware of what fans wish for the show to get into, and they always know how to use it to their advantage. The fact that from the beginning it’s made very apparent how much of a feminist episode this is attests to that, as a lot of the show’s vocal audience is female.
The Abominable Bride sets the tone very quickly, transporting us to some kind of alternate universe where John Watson and Sherlock Holmes meet in the 1890s. A spooky mystery falls in the hands of our most beloved (although not very charming) consulting detective: the case of a woman stricken by a desire for vengeance.
This is the most canon the creators have dared to be on Sherlock and it ties in perfectly with the rest of the seasons, taking from previous dialogue and even specific shots, which will be explicitly reminiscent of some of the best stories. Also the appearance of (and references to) old characters surely made fans giddy and excited for an upcoming season.
Needless to say, all the performances from the pros Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss, as well as recurring actors Louise Brealey, Amanda Abbington, Una Stubbs and Rupert Graves, are as excellent as we’re used to seeing. By now they’re all very much comfortable with their roles, enjoying it, and it shows. One unexpected surprise puts the cherry on top.
Another aspect that stood out when the show first started was how well the modern world was incorporated into a Sherlock Holmes world, with text messages, emails, clues and thoughts displayed and highlighted on the screen. In The Abominable Bride‘s Victorian universe there are no cell phones or computers, but the same style of detail is introduced in the form of newspaper clippings and other more comedic ways.
Overall, the Sherlock Special is a brilliant exercise of coherency while changing up and refreshing a much loved show. It maintains its spirit and style, throwing it back 100+ years.