Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis, writers of the BBC and PBS series Sherlock, have done a remarkable job of transporting everything that we know and love about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from Victorian England to modern times. So it will surprise many fans that Sherlock returns for a special on New Year’s Day that is set in the very time frame that Moffat and Gattis tried so hard to avoid.
On Friday night, Holmes will appear prim and proper, sporting a top hat and waistcoat. Dr. Watson will again by his side but with an added bowler hat and handlebar mustache. According to Moffat, Holmes will appear “a lot less brattish” than he is portrayed in the modern version and Dr. Watson will be “a bit more upright.” Since Sherlock is such a hit, why would the brains behind the show do this? Four words says it all.
“Because we can,” said Moffat.
Here’s the scoop: Sherlock returns for Season 4 later in the year, but the New Year’s Day special, “The Abominable Bride,” will be a one-off episode set in jolly old 1890s England. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will again reprise their roles albeit more dignified. Other characters, such Mary Morstan, Inspector Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson (played by Amanda Abbington, Rupert Graves and Una Stubbs respectively), are expected to return as well for the 90-minute special. Even London itself will be transformed with fog and spooky-looking alleyways.
One of the things that made Sherlock stand out from other versions of this crime drama/mystery genre was that it was set in modern times, so it seems a bit mysterious to go back in time, but the decision to do so wasn’t made hastily.
Moffat told the Tribune News Service, “It was just Mark and I sitting on the train, really (talking) about how much we like the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce updated versions of Sherlock Holmes back in the day. And we kept saying to each other, ‘Somebody will do that again, and that will be a huge hit.’ We kept saying, ‘We will be really cross when somebody else does that.’ And then, like men, did nothing at all about it. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Got off the train and wandered off and looked like derelicts. That’s sad and true… It was much more recent, the idea of doing a Victorian one, because we can.”
Sherlock began airing on PBS and BBC back in 2010 and was immediately seen as a different type of series from the get-go. Each season of the show only features three episodes and each episode is an hour and a half long, making the show more of a collection of movies than a weekly series. The show has been so popular that it has been sold to over 200 territories despite the fact that there is usually a two-year gap between seasons.
Each Sherlock story is based on one of the original books by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with the names changed slightly. For instance, “A Study in Scarlet” became “A Study in Pink” for the show, and often the stories are connected with an appearance or reference to Holmes archenemy, Jim Moriarty (played by Andrew Scott). And while all the episode go together nicely, they are all uniquely different. Season 3 of the show opened with the serious-toned “The Empty Hearse,” where supposedly Sherlock returns from the dead. That was followed by “The Sign of Three,” the funniest episode of the show yet, which was based on Dr. Watson’s marriage to Mary, and Sherlock learns that three is a crowd.
“The Abominable Bride” will initially air on January 1, 2016, at 9 p.m. on multiple networks, but it will no doubt be available for repeat viewing soon. We will have to wait and see when Sherlock returns for the full Season 4.
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