What time and when is the new Sherlock on TV?
The new feature-length Sherlock special is on New Year’s Day at 9.00pm, on BBC One.
Sherlock is back (in time)
Yes, what a shocker: a Sherlock Holmes tale set in Victorian times. Previous episodes of this hugely successful show starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have all been apt adaptations or riffs on the first stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – importing all the high tech options of 21st-century crime-fighting to amazing, and often visually spectacular, effect. Indeed cutting edge modernity has been one of the series’s defining features.
But The Abominable Bride turns the formula on its head -a brand new storyline draped in the initial Conan Doyle locale of a smog-clogged London of dark alleyways, cobbled streets and dangerous drinking dens. Set in 1895 the narrative also blends in another Victorian seasonal favourite – a ghost story.
The storyline revolves around one Thomas Nicoletti (any relation to master offender Peter Nicoletti who got a reference in The Reichenbach Fall, one wonders?) a guy who, quite understandably, is perturbed to arrive home one evening to discover his wife of several years all done up in her old wedding weeds. Not just a couple of hours earlier, she committed suicide. Her phantom additionally appears to be stalking the streets of London, exhibiting ghastly signs of bloodthirstiness.
A fine festive nut to crack for our favourite detective couple subsequently, although with the hyper-logical Sherlock Holmes on the job it is a reasonable bet that something fairly less spooky than a blood-thirsty spectre will probably be at the core of this mystery from beyond the grave.
The show’s creator Steven Moffat has indicated that there will be high delight alongside the gay frippery. “We couldn’t sustain 90 minutes on only having a little of pleasure. Our dream was that the first 15 minutes is the enjoyment of seeing Sherlock Holmes transposed back to the original setting. Then we have got to get on with the story. It is a suitable chilling mystery. A great storyline that has a good option, but there is also the ongoing tension between the version of the characters we developed for the modern setting now sitting in Victorian times.”
What that will entail remains cloaked in mystery for now. Just one thing seems certain: The Abominable Bride promises to be a classic Sherlock in every sense. But to be getting on with, here are some first questions in need responses:
Whither for Sherlock?
We last saw Sherlock at the end of His Last Vow on the verge of being banished for murdering the repulsive “Napoleon of blackmail” Charles Augustus Magnussen. When the seemingly impossible happened but recalled at the last moment. His arch enemy Moriarty returned from the dead, taking over every screen in the UK cackling, “Did you miss me?” A fantastic cliffhanger by Sherlock’s high standards.
How will all that fit into a storyline that is Victorian?
Realistically, it probably will not. Although they’re fantastically intelligent with storylines, Moffat and co-writer Mark Gatiss may well utilize the Victorian setting to leave that enormous question (how does a guy who blew his own brains out on a rooftop return from the deceased?) hanging like a delightful tease until the fourth series, commissioned but as yet unfilmed, arrives on our screens in 2017. Purists might call that a cop-out. Could any suitable court to the original Holmes leave Moriarty out of the image?
What about Watson?
As the character least changed from the template of Conan Doyle, he should ease into the Victorian setting. Expect a large bowler hat, the reappearance of that ill-fated moustache, and possibly even a puff or two on a pipe.
Conan Doyle wasn’t just a pioneer of girl power. He killed off Watson’s wife simply to get him back into Baker Street with Holmes. But Mary (Amanda Abbington) is a much bigger player in Sherlock’s modern avatar. So there’ll be a plum part in The Abominable Bride. Thus far the sole intel from Sherlock HQ is that she’ll be sporting a fairly snazzy pair of tweed breeches, but expect her to be equal as resourceful, if not more, than her 21st-century former-assassin counterpart.
Will Sherlock survive without his smartphone?
The dizzying power of modern technology has ever been an essential attribute of Sherlock to the stunning visuals that stream all sorts of digital information on the other side of the monitor. Really Sherlock’s smartphone has been his key prop in every episode to date. However, he’s nothing if not a resourceful chap.