Welcome back Sherlock Holmes! I do not mean the Warner Bros’ Robert Downey, Jr. depiction of Holmes, I mean the BBC’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman Sherlock and Watson. Our return to 221b Baker Street premiers with The Abominable Bride, aired on PBS in United States ( and available on PBS.com until January 24th) and BBC 1 in the United Kingdom with a limited release in the theaters.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with Cumberbatch’s portrayal of the infamous Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character then just imagine combining the brain of Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) and the narcissistic misanthropic personality of Dr. Gregory House (House). Then you take this case study specimen of a character and put him in a profession of self appointed private detective. Surround him by his classic reoccurring characters and you have a show that even Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle would binge watch.
The past three seasons have modernized the the 1890’s character and brought him to the technological age. The Abominable Bride brings Holmes and Watson to his all too familiar Victorian era England with a brief prologue of Dr. John Watson arriving from the Anglo-Afghan War and meeting for the first time his fated bosom buddy Sherlock Holmes. The show then jumps ahead a few years to the well established partnership we have grown accustomed to in the past nine episodes. The two are sought out by Scotland Yard wanting for their expertise in solving an impossible case of a sickly bride gone mad. This inconsolable women begins firing upon by-passers on the street before turning the gun on herself, she is later positively identified stepping out of a cab shooting her husband in front of an opium den despite the fact that she was missing the back portion of her skull. Subsequent months after the incident there are similar reports of a female apparition shooting other men in the London. The case appears to be an open and shut example of copy cats but as anyone that follows the show knows that anything glaringly obvious is without a doubt furthest from what has actually occurred.
This era is vintage Holmes out of Sir Conan Doyle’s books and he even sports his familiar deerstalker cap (which is actually never described in the original stories) and Martin Freeman with a mustache which in season three is a running gag where people do not recognize him due to change of appearance.
Sherlock’s eidetic memory and penchant for annoyingly stating the intricate details normal people are customarily blind to is always kept in check by his clever confidant who is usually privy to facts even though never being included in the conclusions. Martin Freeman demonstrates a sound Watson who is aware of his limitations mentally when it comes to his dear friend but also recognizes his importance as a catalyst for Holmes’ mental process and reliance upon him.
If you have never seen the show then the introduction of his arch nemesis Professor James Moriarty may be confusing and his brother Mycroft Holmes as an obese character would be lost upon you, but never the less it does make an interesting story regarding suffragettes and the fight for women’s equal rights in England.
For anyone who has seen the show and know how the third season ended you will find that questions are evident and numerous along with a brilliant allegory to the end of season 2 as well as the waterfall Reichenbach Falls, an imperative plot point at the end of Sherlock Holmes’ story The Final Problem.
Viewers are always faced with newer questions and must decide for themselves if Sherlock is actually in Victorian era London or if the entire scenario is just a mescaline-cocaine induced apparition he is concocting in his “mind palace” in order for his astute brain to grasp the impossible notion that the dead have risen .
As I have said in previous posts an amazing hero is only as powerful in presence as the corresponding villain he is out to stop and Cumberbatch matched with Andrew Scott’s Moriarty are equally balanced by comparison except for one enormous detail: Holmes has Watson. I wouldn’t miss The Abominable Bride or the other episodes for that matter, they are a bit of an investment of time so I would recommend getting a hang over or the flu and holding yourself in for an ever entertaining splurge of mind candy.