A spoiler-free review of the “Sherlock” Christmas special (2016).

What can I say about the “Sherlock” Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride?”  Extremely little, for fear of spoilers.

I will say that I loved it — I’d rate it a perfect 10, as I would just about any episode of this amazing TV show.  Also, as good as the trailer was … I can say that it offers much more in its story than you’d expect.

I’d also say that it strongly, strongly parallels a movie that I happen to love — right down to its surprise plot device, key character interactions, and a symbolic act by the main protagonist in the climactic scene.  The similarities are just too much for this to be a coincidence — it’s just got to be a well done (and a damn fun) homage.  It’s unexpected, too, as the film I’m thinking off probably appeals to a different fan base.  “The Abominable Bride” also cheerfully skewers another excellent recent film and the twist employed there.  [My blog posts link automatically to Facebook.  If you see this via my page, then PLEASE do not name the movies you think I’m talking about.]

There’s some terrific acting, especially between Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and our main villain.  And the dialogue is as sly and superbly delivered as always.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched a new episode of “Sherlock” and not laughed out loud at least once.  The stronger, more assertive John Watson (Martin Freeman) that we see is damn terrific.  (There’s a compelling and sensible reason why this iteration of Watson seems a little different than our usual mild anti-hero, but I just can’t say why.)

My quibbles were wholly forgivable.  I thought that the Victorian versions of Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey) and Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss) were just so cartoonish that they seemed right out of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.  It “took me out of the movie,” and hampered my willing suspension of disbelief.  It felt more like farce and silly sight-gags, instead of the dry, dialogue- and character-driven humor that the show is known for.

I also though that the climactic scene occurring among three primary characters, felt a little … off.  Was it just not staged right?  Was the pacing off?  Maybe I got the sense that I was looking at a soundstage?  I’m not sure.

Finally, I am an inveterate horror movie fan, and I might have liked to have seen the director and screenwriters play up the horror story elements just a little bit more here.  The mystery for this episode was a jewel of an opportunity — a garish, fearsome “ghost bride” that assassinates men.  It could have been just a little scarier, given that story.  I know that “Sherlock” is not a horror show, but its creators did just fine in making their adaptation of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” both a bit frightening and a proper mystery.

But, again, those are just forgivable quibbles.  This show remains the best thing on television!

[Update: there’s a direct reference to “The Five Orange Pips,” but we see little parallel with the story shown.]

 

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10 thoughts on “A spoiler-free review of the “Sherlock” Christmas special (2016).

  1. PorterGirl says:

    I must say I was incredibly disappointed with this outing for Sherlock – the writing was smug and one-dimensional and the whole thing is in danger of becoming a parody of itself. I fear for the next series.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. BBC Sherlock & Harry Potter Lover says:

    I Completely and Utterly Agree, I Love this Show To Death; I Don’t Want This Show To End! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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