By Michael Ausiello
We’re mere hours into the new year and the quality-TV benchmark has already been set (spoiler alert: it’s high).
On Friday, PBS aired Sherlock The Abominable Bride, a 90-minute one-off movie that found Sherlock and Watson doing their mystery-solving thing in 1890s London. The special — told from the POV of a present-day, drug-addled Holmes — was everything this Baker Street aficionado was hoping for and more. An engrossing case? Check. Sumptuous visuals, like those floating newspaper clippings? Check. Crackling dialogue? Check. Masterful performances from leads Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman? Check and check.
Sherlock and Watson’s mission this time around: to figure out how a gun-toting bride was able to commit suicide in full public view only to turn up hours later alive and well enough to murder her husband. Sherlock immediately scoffed at Watson’s “Could it have been twins?” theory. “No,” he shoots back. “It’s never twins.”
Given the standalone conceit, the special didn’t exactly push forward the series’ central mythology, eschewing traditional plot movement for trippy parallels and fun Easter eggs. There was, however, a potentially key development in the mystery surrounding Moriarty’s fate (as you’ll recall, Season 3 ended with the presumed-dead Big Bad resurfacing on UK television, boasting. “Did you miss me?”). The similarities between the “resurrections” of the titular bride (in the past) and Moriarty (in the present) were not lost on Sherlock.
In the end, however, the former case apparently did not end up informing the latter, with Sherlock ultimately echoing EP Steven Moffat’s earlier assertion that “Moriarty is dead — no question.”
I suppose we’ll have to wait until the arrival of the three-episode Season 4 in Jan. 2017 to get a definitive answer to that beguiling question.
The 90-minute period piece’s standout sequence? Watson grilling Sherlock about his lovelorn existence, zeroing in specifically on his partner’s feelings for Irene Adler. Summed up Holmes: “All emotion is abhorrent to me.”
Were you as smitten with Bride as I was? Scroll down and assign the special a grade, then elaborate in the comments!