Arts

Review: Sherlock – The Abominable Bride

The New Year’s Day special took Holmes and Watson on a timehop. It wasn’t perfect, but it was still a cracking bit of telly, reckons Kiri Pritchard-McLean. Contains spoilers.

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock special The Abominable Bride. All photos: BBC.

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock special The Abominable Bride. All photos: BBC.

Yes, it was essentially a 90-minute trailer for a series we’re expected to wait another year for. Yes, the women’s rights stuff was clunky and the white supremacist-inspired outfits were an odd choice. And yes, I still have no idea why they used a bizarre rotating fade between two scenes, usually only found in training videos for supermarkets in the mid-90s.

Sherlock was still a blinding bit of TV though.

So, how did they explain the time jump? Well, quite well as it turns out. Of all the and-then-I-woke-up-and-it-had-all-been-a-dream-esque sequences I’ve seen, this was certainly one of the more forgivable.

If we’re willing to buy that Amanda Abbington was anything other than mega preggo (I like saying that because I think it sounds like a pizza), we can give them a bit of grace when it comes to an imaginary century in Sherlock’s brain.

“Cumberbatch in a tartan suit? He looked like a really great commemorative teddy from a Scottish stately home, and that’s one of the highest forms of praise I can heap on another human.”

It’s lovely to think his mind palace is as immersive as that. That he’s thinking himself through eras and algorithms as he’s throwing out pith. A bit like when I imagine what I should’ve said to a rude person on the bus, but then – unlike Sherlock – I get so distracted I end up saying “thank you” to a cash machine.

We got grit too, as we learned a bit more about Sherlock’s drug addled past – a user, not an addict, if you must know. It added a layer of authenticity to the brotherly bond he and Mycroft have. I can now fully imagine them having a bath together, I mean as kids of course, but there’s fan fiction on the internet that has doubtless already covered the adult version.

veiled brideSherlock has always been very funny for a drama, but something about the shift in epoch really helped with the zinger count. I love that a dense, intricate bit of telly can devote a few minutes to making Watson look a tit through the medium of BSL, and the Mr Creosote version of Mycroft allowed Gatiss to really tuck into the comic acting that first brought him to our attention.

Everyone was at the funnies, Mary, Mrs Hudson… maybe a bit more of that in the future? I can’t help but think that if this self-aware programme wants to prove its equality credentials, there are better ways to do it than having a man explain the goals of feminism to a room full of vengeful women dressed as Quality Street purple Klansmen.

Want to fight for the sisterhood? Keep giving Mary strong plots and funny lines. Keep letting Molly be a hero. Essentially, show us women matter to Sherlock; don’t tell us.

The costume department deserve a paid day off or at least some WH Smith vouchers. Everyone looked incredible. Sherlock has always been given great outerwear, but popping Cumberbatch in a tartan suit? Brilliant. He looked like a really great commemorative teddy from a Scottish stately home, and that’s one of the highest forms of praise I can heap on another human.

I love this cast so much. It’s a group of people who are all at the top of their game, a theatrical supergroup. Not Audioslave either, a really good one. Watching anyone go toe to toe with Benedict Cumberbatch is such a treat, but I genuinely think this happens in every scene; everyone is on form because who wants to be the Marilyn in that Band Aid?

Sherlock with violinI had high expectations for this episode and it was a great watch. My assembled pals and I laughed out loud at regular intervals. I got all smiley when Watson tried to get Sherlock to open up about boffing women and falling in love, and then five minutes later I shat my pants at a ghost in a tunnel. What a triptych.

Ultimately, whether or not you think they got it wrong or didn’t; that this was 90 minutes of misogyny or yet more feminist propaganda from the commie BBC, we should remember first to be glad just to have Sherlock – a show created by writers anxious to forge well-crafted TV with a social conscience, and performed by the best of British and Irish actors.

Never more so than when I accidentally watched the first few minutes of Mrs Brown’s Boys straight afterwards.

@kiripritchardmc

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Written by Kiri Pritchard-McLean

Kiri is a Welsh stand up comedian and one fourth of sketch group Gein’s Family Giftshop. She is also a Farmer’s daughter. The subtext to all this? Great at swearing. @kiripritchardmc