Over the past several years, one of the true absolute joys from the television world have been the infrequent but always fully packed episodes of Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's sturdy detective duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr.John Watson. This series has the conceit (shared by the also rather diverting Elementary) of shifting the Holmes saga to the modern world and letting him have a go at our problems. This opens up the storytelling and we find that Holmes is of course a rather modern figure after all is said and done.
But the latest installment in the series, a special for 2016 titled The Abominable Bride reverses that situation and instead gives us a grand old Sherlock Holmes mystery steeped in the Victorian era, rife with its fixed class structure, backwards attitudes about women and men, and noxious odors such as sweat, decomposition and horse shit. To be fair this story pays a lot of attention to the two former problems and less on the latter, but I'm always reminded of that particular nasal dilemma when folks wax on about the good old days which when we take a second or two to reflect were rich of singular banes we've kindly forgotten.
The story here is a lurid and gothic mystery in which a mad bride commits suicide then seems to many to rise from her grave and commit a range of murders. Holmes and Watson are brought into the case which stretches over many months and have to confront their own fears, attitudes and weaknesses to find a way to discover and reveal the truth which turns out afterwards to have been staring us in the face all along.
The story is brimming with the entertaining banter we've come to expect from this series, as Watson and Holmes exchange jibes and Holmes in his own snotty fashion snipes at the rest of the world. Mary Morstan Watson is along for the ride as well and the delightful Mycroft Holmes, Mrs. Hudson and Inspector Lestrade are on board as well. Molly Hooper turns up as does the enigmatic and excitable James Moriarty. The gang is all there, and believe it or not this does all fold back into the regular story line we've been following now for several years.
There's no new Sherlock due out until later next year, so this impressive one-off will have to suffice for now. It's a hoot and highly recommended.