Spoilers for Sherlock included below.
What if the world's most famous consulting detective and his best friend lived in a Baker Street of steam trains, hansom cabs, top hats and frock-coats? Welcome to 'Sherlock' in 1895! Some things, though, remain reassuringly the same. Friendship, adventure and especially, MURDER... Why is Thomas Ricoletti a little surprised to see his wife dressed in her old wedding gown? Because, just a few hours before, she took her own life... Mrs. Ricoletti's ghost now appears to be prowling the streets with an unslakeable thirst for revenge. From fog-shrouded Limehouse to the bowels of a ruined church, Holmes, Watson and their friends must use all their cunning to combat an enemy seemingly from beyond the grave and the final, shocking truth about...the Abominable Bride! ~Sherlockology
Anna CatherineAfter waiting two years for more Sherlock, this was a lovely treat to keep me contented until the new season. It was really scary (to me because I'm scared easily), but since Sherlock can leave nothing unexplained, I was able to sleep that night. XD It was more like Doctor Who than any other episode I've ever seen. I was very glad it still connected with the last episode. I'd rather have connection than a stand alone special. The episode was brilliantly done and I can't wait for more of this awesome show! (The only thing I couldn't stand were Lestrade's mutton chops. Why, Lestrade, why.)
Waiting two years for another series of Sherlock can become agonizing. From fan theories to crazy gifs (see Rica's section for proof), the Sherlock fandom almost, metaphorically, dives right off St. Bart's during the hiatuses. Fortunately, the BBC swoops in just in time to hand off more material to keep us aloft. But sometimes bloopers just don't cut it. (Though, really, BBC, where are my Sherlock bloopers? I know you have them.) Thus, when they first announced we would receive a time period, holiday special, I was ecstatic.
But then, I started to worry. Wasn't the whole point of Sherlock that it's set in the 21st-century in order to give the same old story a new spin? Would putting the modern versions of the characters into a different time period change something vital in the show, something that I've grown to love about the concept of Sherlock?
Plus, I soon learned, to my dismay, the holiday special would be a single episode. It would not be the start or the prelude to series four. Instead, we could have to wait an entire year yet for series four to air. The agony, indeed.
Still, I was intrigued by the promo photos (come on, top hats and swanky 1800s clothes are super dreamy) and the trailers, which were laced with auras of spooky and mystery. I wanted to give it a chance. Luckily, I wasn't disappointed.
Overall, I enjoyed the episode. I loved how they brought in elements from the modern world and mixed it into the 1895 time period. Watson, mustache and all, is a well-known writer for his Sherlock stories. Sherlock wears the iconic hat and has the apparent drug problem (which is swept under the rug in the modern setting a bit too easily). Mycroft is as he should be, indulgent and overweight. And Mary, oh Mary, still strong and intelligent despite her societal restraints of the time. (Can I just discuss how much I love Mary?)
The conclusion to the mystery felt... too much. It felt like the writers were trying to appease people with their feminist themes. It just didn't seem to work for me. It felt too unlikely, too ridiculous, too much. I understood why they did it. I thought showing Mary's struggle with "keeping her place" worked well to show this kind of unhappiness (Molly's part, too). However, I've decided I don't normally watch Sherlock to solve the mysteries; I watch it to see the process behind how he solves it. While the conclusion of this mystery didn't feel as strong or clever, I enjoyed the episode because I enjoyed watching Sherlock and Watson figure things out. (Plus, they were wearing top hats and swanky turn-of-the-century clothes doing so.)
Also, Moriarty. I will always be excited for Moriarty's appearance in the show. It was cleverly done, even slipping in references to the falls. I especially liked how they tied the whole "1895" setting into the 21st-century setting. I helped calm my fears that this episode wouldn't disconnect from everything I love about Sherlock; instead, it will help bridge series three and four together later.
Thus, Sherlock returned briefly but brief enough to satisfy me. I look forward to more fan theories, more crazy gifs, and the first glimpses of series four. To the BBC, I say: "Fantastic, meretricious, and a happy new year."
This show has been on hiatus for so long that I’d almost forgotten how to be excited about it, and my life was so busy that I wasn’t even able to watch the special until nearly two days after it aired.
But as soon as I did, I immediately remembered why I love Sherlock so much. The episode was practically perfect in every way, from more unforgettable fourth-wall quotes — “I am your housekeeper, not a plot device!” — to the shocking moment when the story seamlessly integrated with the rest of the show’s twenty-first-century plot.
I remember reading somewhere that Moffatt intended this special to be perfectly canon with the modern-day storyline, and originally I wasn’t sure if that was possible. (Not without a Doctor Who crossover, anyway… which Moffatt has also expressed a desire to arrange. Here’s to hoping!)
But he pulled the swap off splendidly. It was a breath of fresh air to see a Sherlock Holmes adaptation done accurately — yes, I’m looking at you, Warner Bros. — with the perfect amount of humor, gravity, and of course the correct time period (again: I glare at you, Warner Bros).
Granted, the special wasn’t wholly without flaws. The whole ‘feminist warriors’ storyline felt a little absurd and overbearing (and I am a woman, so I may say so). I’m also a little disappointed that I can’t show this special to newcomers who are skeptical of the modern retelling, because there’s too much backstory for that to happen here.
But this episode is still a phenomenal reminder that Sherlock isn’t necessarily set in present day for some petty reason like BBC revenues. The producers have the capabilities to make Holmes a part of any era they’d like, but Sherlock is set in the world of today so as to give audiences a clearer glimpse of the mind behind everybody’s favorite detective.