Surrender 13: Sherlock Holmes The Abominable Bride

Spoiler free post. 

Not only do Dayan and I enjoy watching BBC’s Doctor Who together, we love another of their series, Sherlock Holmes. This incredibly popular incarnation of one of literature’s greatest detectives is the creation of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Moffat is currently the show runner for Doctor Who as well. 

Which perhaps explains, at least partially, why there have only been nine 90 minute episodes of Sherlock Holmes in the past six years. Moffat has been the primary story writer for Doctor Who, which produces 13 episodes a season. Moffat is a busy man! And the primary actors for Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, are just as busy, being in demand for movies such as The Hobbit Trilogy and Dr. Strange. 

Fans of Sherlock Holmes appreciate the quirky show’s brilliance enough that they’ve resigned themselves to the long wait between seasons, but just barely. One can appreciate repeat viewings of the existing feature length episodes, however anticipation and excitement has been high since the announcement of a holiday special, titled The Abominable Bride. Moffat promised something familiar yet different. Dayan and I, along with other family members who love Sherlock, couldn’t wait! 


Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Natosha O’Keefe and Amanda Abbington. It was directed by Douglas McKinnon and written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, based upon the works of Arthur Conan Doyle. The crime/drama/mystery has a run time of 90 minutes and carries a TV-14 rating, for mild violence and adult themes. The show premiered in the US on January 1.

The episode begins with a brief recap of the previous three seasons, and then flashes the word Alternatively…before launching into the new story, set in 1890’s London. Garbed in Victorian clothing, all the familiar characters are present: Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch), Dr. John Watson (Freeman), Mary Watson (Abbington), Mycroft Holmes (Gatiss), Mrs. Hudson (Stubbs), Inspector Lestrade (Graves) and Moriarty (Scott).  Holmes and Watson take the mysterious case of a deceased bride (O’Keefe), who after shooting herself, appears later to shoot and kill her husband. Other men in London meet the same fate, apparent victims of a ghost bride. 

Holmes, who scoffs at the possibility of a ghost killer, and Watson, who is much more open to that possibility, seek to solve the mystery and prevent more murders. We are taken on a wild journey through Victorian London. As the episode continues, we realize there is a much deeper, and much more mysterious, journey unfolding at the same time. 

Dayan and I loved this Sherlock romp. And we had to wait to watch it, allowing the flow of life to work out the right time for us. We both missed the January 1 showing on PBS Masterpiece Theater. Fathom Events released the show as a feature at movie theaters a few days later, however, confident we would catch it on television, we didn’t make the drive to the nearest sponsoring theater in Tulsa. Dayan intended to record Sherlock when it was rebroadcast Sunday evening, which left me free to watch the Golden Globe Awards that night. We planned to get together today and watch the episode, but Dayan didn’t get the show recorded. Not to worry! We both surrendered on this one. And yesterday, in my Facebook newsfeed, was a notice from PBS that the full episode could be watched for free via their website. Dayan used his technology skills to pull that site up on their large screen tv, and we were set to go. 

It was wonderful to see the cast together again. As always, the acting was superb and the cinematography gorgeous with the perfect musical score accompaniment. And the story, well that was pure Moffat genius. As Whovians, we are very familiar with Moffat’s writing style and this story, with its many twists, turns and connections, was Steven at his finest. Sprinkled throughout the episode were humorous moments, ahas and key references to past episodes, which created a fun viewing experience. 


As we watched, we kept up a running banter of speculations about where the story was headed, and we were basically spot on. Dayan made a couple of excellent observations, based on his knowledge of Moffat, Sherlock and Doctor Who, that proved to be true. 

After the delightful conclusion, my grandson and I spent time discussing the intricacies of the  episode and how it will tie in to the fourth season, due to begin filming this spring. Alas, we will have to wait until 2017 for the next episodes to air, but it will be worth the wait. The Abominable Bride helped to satisfy our Sherlock craving slightly, while at the same time, creating even greater anticipation. That, to me, is the hallmark of a great show.