‘Sherlock’ Brings On A Holiday Special And Benedict Cumberbatch’s New Look

Sherlock aired a holiday special today for New Year’s Day, but beyond that, the rest of season 4 is still uncertain, according to series creator Steven Moffat. Why? The showrunner says that scheduling conflicts for Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have kept Sherlock from going into production for the full season. There was an opportunity to film the holiday special and, as many witnessed in tonight’s episode, Mr. Cumberbatch had just one special request for the unusual installment of the series.

Sherlock presents an unusual episode and debuts a new look for Benedict Cumberbatch

Sherlock Holmes, Watson
The 'Sherlock' holiday special is unlike any other episode. Image via BBC.

There is much unusual about The Abominable Bride, which is the first episode of Sherlock‘s new season. While the episode premiered on BBC tonight, those that missed it will have more opportunities to see it, when it shows in theaters on January 5 and 6. A theater showing is certainly a special treat, but perhaps not as special as the episode itself. Moffat reveals that while Sherlock has always taken place in a present-day setting, The Abominable Bride remains true to the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books by taking place in the Victorian era.

Moffat reveals that the idea of setting an episode of Sherlock in the Victorian era was not something new or spur of the moment, but instead it was something in the backs of their minds since the series premiered. Initially, the idea had been to do a dream sequence or some other plot deviation by which to justify the different plot setting, but as the holiday special came into being, that just seemed like the perfect opportunity for a standalone Victorian era setting.

“By doing it in this era, we could do a proper Gothic ghost story that was the one thing.”

In speaking to the stars of the Sherlock Holmes series, Steven found that while Martin Freeman was mostly concerned with technical issues, Mr. Cumberbatch just had one request, a concern that might have been on his mind for three seasons.

“So we talked to the BBC and then to Benedict and Martin,” the Sherlock showrunner said. “Martin had all these penetrating questions and Benedict asked if he could have a haircut.”

The real reason Steven Moffat didn’t set all of Sherlock in the Victorian era

Sherlock, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Steven Moffat
Steven Moffat reveals the greatest challenge of taking 'Sherlock' back in time. Image via BBC.

While set design and wardrobe may be just a little cheaper with the series set in the modern era, there’s a deeper reason for Moffat’s choice.

“The biggest single problem for us in making it Victorian was the female voice. There aren’t any female voices in the original Victorian Sherlock Holmes stories,” Steven says of Doyle’s detective stories. “There’s hardly any female characters, they don’t speak and they’re not interesting.”

Differentiating Doyle’s works from his own television adaptation, Steven points out that women were inconsequential in the original Doyle stories with a Mrs. Hudson that rarely utters a word, a Mary Watson seen only long enough to advance a plot point, and no Molly Hooper at all. The Sherlock showrunner says that this created a challenge for The Abominable Bride, because he wanted to keep the strong female presence of the series but also remain true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fiction and to the historical realism of the Victorian era. While he admits that it was problematic, Steven hopes audiences will approve of their solution.

Sherlock has helped to raise Benedict Cumberbatch’s sex symbol status, attracting a sizable following of female fans who identify themselves as “Cumberb—-es,” but Steven has no comment. He says he’s the wrong person to ask, and while he admits that it does help, he quickly adds that Benedict’s sex appeal isn’t the only reason to watch Sherlock.

[Featured image via BBC]