Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

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    Craig @craig


    Written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Husbands of River Song, Flatline, Time Heist, Listen, etc.) I don’t know much about this pre-broadcast so here’s what the BBC has to say:

    We’ve been here before – but what if this wasn’t the modern day but the late Victorian period? What if the world’s most famous consulting detective and his best friend lived in a Baker Street of steam trains, hansom cabs, top hats and frock coats? Welcome to Sherlock in 1895!

    Some things, though, remain reassuringly the same. Friendship, adventure and especially, murder…

    Why is Thomas Ricoletti a little surprised to see his wife dressed in her old wedding gown? Because, just a few hours before, she took her own life…

    Mrs Ricoletti’s ghost now appears to be prowling the streets with an unslakable thirst for revenge. From fog-shrouded Limehouse to the bowels of a ruined church, Holmes, Watson and their friends must use all their cunning to combat an enemy seemingly from beyond the grave, and the final, shocking truth about… the Abominable Bride!

    Craig @craig

    It’s a totally different show than Doctor Who but I hope you enjoy. This is not a sneek peek.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave


    The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets were brilliant!

    “Moriarty from the Goon Show?…”




    Well I for one thoroughly enjoyed that little head fuck.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    That was really, really funny. And very neat, the way they used it to progress the main Sherlock arc.

    Definitely worth a rewatch.


    The jiggery pokery at the end will appeal to anyone (like me) who enjoyed Buffy 6×17. Or, indeed, anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of a leg-pull.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    That was outstandingly brilliant, and very funny, and…well, brilliant.

    Moffat (and Gatiss) can do “meta” in a fabulous way. Better than David Lynch.

    In fact, it was even better than The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets…


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I was thinking of Chuang Tzu and the Butterfly, but yeah, Buffy could definitely be a source as well.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    Thought that was first class. What with s9, Husbands of River Song and this, SM has had a really great year and has hit a real creative peak. It looked beautiful, was very funny and managed to drive the main narrative forward rather than just being a cute little detour. Great to see Andrew Scott back as Moriarty and Mark Gatiss continues to make Mycroft an engaging and complex foil to Cabbagepatch….

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Happy New Year everyone!

    I loved it too – a rewatch definitely in order.

    Turns out not only does the Doctor lie, but Sherlock lies too.

    Mycroft deduced that Sherlock was already high when he said goodbye to John on the tarmac at the end of His Last Vow. He didn’t neck a bunch of drugs to solve Moriarty’s return in his Victorian AU Mind Palace. He thought he was never going to see John again and he took an overdose. Ouch.

    Moffat’s New Year gift to shippers everywhere.  <heads off, trailing tinsel, to watch the internet explode> 🙂


    janetteB @janetteb

    Have to wait to  tonight to watch. We are going over to visit boys who are house/dogs/cat sitting to watch it with them. I am pleased that there is a thread here. (Many thanks @craig). After reading some of the Guardian “BTL” comments i needed to know what sensible people thought about it. Look forward to discussing tomorrow.



    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    My ‘Guardian Moffat Bingo card’ is nearing completion: so far we’ve had

    • Self indulgent
    • Over complicated
    • Too clever
    • Too like Doctor Who
    • misogynistic

    I feel a bit like going on there and shouting ‘House!’, but that lot’d probably think I was talking about a US TV programme with Hugh Laurie…

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Here’s a thought for “Sherlock” when it returns in 2017: what was on the list that Sherlock gave Mycroft on the plane and that Sherlock had in his mind palace?



    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @janetteb, @bluesqueakpip

    Why do you torture yourself by going to “that place”?

    Surely, life is too short.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip — that Sherlock thread is particularly depressing. But really it’s just the usual suspects using it to give SM a kicking … just because.

    I say it every year but I’m really going to try to give up the Graun in 2016. It just depletes my faith in human nature too much.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @blenkinsopthebrave — the list (I thought) was of Sherlock’s latest pharmaceuticals of choice. And that the deal they had was that Sherlock would always furnish such a list in order to look out for his brother. I liked this as it added yet another layer of complexity to their relationship.

    @bluesqueakpip — I liked your explanation of the ‘Sherlock addresses the feminists’ speech and think it would be well worth repeating here at some point.


    @bluesqueakpip – what @jimthefish says.

    That will also let me expand on the comment I made in response to your Graun piece.



    I yeah, the trope is far (far!) from new, but Normal Again was a very specific chain yank of a fanbase which set some off in howls of outrage that Sunnydale might not be real after all…

    Missy @missy

    How daft was that! Loved it, it was so silly.

    I heard, on the grape vine like @bluesqueakpip, that the fans ‘panned’ it, because nobody knew what wasa going on.

    The mystery is, were they really fans? Or were they right?

    Watch this space, when I see it I’ll let you know – if I can ever find out where it’s on in OZ? It isn’t on TV and

    was shown at one cinema at 8.30 this morning.


    CountScarlioni @countscarlioni

    Great fun & in effect a big teaser for the next series. Agree with @blenkinsopthebrave that Moffat and Gatiss are brilliant at the “meta” stuff.

    In the bit when Holmes bones up on the obliquity of the ecliptic, we had another reference to the discovery of Neptune as the astronomer who had published a paper with the Royal Astronomical Society on the subject of the obliquity (before murdering the author of a still greater paper on the same topic)  was “Adams.” John Couch Adams, like Le Verrier, predicted mathematically the existence of what turned out to be Neptune, which gets us back to Station Le Verrier and Sleep No More and more  “meta” stuff from Moffat and Gattiss…..



    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    Well the internet is exploding nicely 🙂 Tumblr loves it, BTL Graun is confused and angry…

    Looking forward to a re-watch.

    janetteB @janetteb

    Yes that was wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed it. It was very “Moffatian” and topped the ratings for the holiday season so well done to Moffat and Gatiss.




    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    I thought people here might enjoy this rather brilliant post on why rather than simply contemporary drug addled Sherlock’s Victorian Mind Palace mashup, we may have seen two alternate universe time-streams brought together by a freak atmospheric weather storm.

    Maths analysis and a Minkowski matrix ahead!


    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish and @pedant

    Here it is:

    The whodunnit was ‘How is Moriarty coming back from the dead’?

    The answer: he’s not. Somebody else is using Moriarty’s death to create a ghostly Criminal Mastermind (TM); possibly pre-planned by Moriarty, possibly not.

    Within Sherlock’s head, he creates a highly misogynistic Victorian world, where the women are fighting back – and starts to realise partway through his ‘Sherlock explains it all’ speech that he is the man who’s treating women badly. That’s why the women were all the female actors from previous episodes – it’s a bit difficult to play that point unless you bring back all the female characters that Sherlock treated like sh*t.

    At which point Moriarty appears, because Moriarty has become Sherlock’s internal personification of all that is wrong with Sherlock.

    I suppose you could have had a female actor playing all that is wrong with Sherlock, but that would have been just a tiny bit misogynist…

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip — thanks for that. Thought it was spot on and eloquently put.

    @juniperfish — that’s also interesting, although I’d argue that the placing of the matrix in the notebook (much like the similar flourishes in modern Who) are just designed to mess with us rather than having a full-blown intention behind them. I’d say they stick them in just to see how far folks on the interwebs will run with them….


    @bluesqueakpip @jimthefish

    And this is my comment

    At which point Moriarty appears, because Moriarty has become Sherlock’s internal personification of all that is wrong with Sherlock.

    Plus, there is a theory that Moriarty was always a Holmes fiction – I think Mark Lawson wrote in the Graun ages ago about this. In the books they were, I think, never seen together (so to speak). Moff/Gatt changed this by having him seen by Watson, but wouldn’t surprise me if they go for a riff on “If Moriatry doesn’t exist, Holmes will have to invent him.”

    Am not sufficient a Sherlock geek to know how well this theory is supported by the text, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Moffat is aware of it and having a bit of fun.

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @pedant — there’s certainly a play The Secret of Sherlock Holmes, which toured with Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke, that explored this theory. Moriarty as a creation of Holmes’s imagination.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish and @pedant

    Yes, I saw The Secret of Sherlock Holmes when it was in the West End. Both actors, I must say, were wonderful.

    So Sherlock reinventing Moriarty, possibly in some kind of schizoid breakdown, may well be something that comes up. But the other question is ‘it’s never twins’. Was Jim Moriarty a twin?

    Because when he’s setting up Sherlock, he seems to have set up this entire other life as an actor, an actor with the stage name ‘Richard Brooke’ and even with a real job on children’s TV. I can’t help thinking that that would be an awful lot easier to do if there actually were two Moriarty’s.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    @jimthefish, @bluesqueakpip,

    Wasn’t there a theory doing the rounds during the first series of Sherlock that little Jim Moriarty was just a front for the “real” Moriarty lurking in the shadows? At the time I think Mycroft was the lead contender for the real Moriarty, although, in hindsight it would seem that Gatiss and Moffat had dropped those hints deliberately to keep people guessing.

    I even recall briefly flirting myself with the theory that Molly was Jim Moriarty’s sister who would avenge his death. In hindsight, perhaps not…

    Anyway, my point is: could little Jim still turn out to have been a front for the real Moriarty?

    Rather than linking Moriarty’s death with Sherlock’s fake death, and assuming little Jim could still be alive, as some are doing, should we link little Jim’s death with the death of the abominable bride–ie, both were prepared to die for a cause?

    And on another point, it is clear that Moffat and Gatiss do everything for a reason that will pay off later. I find it hard to believe that the fat Mycroft was put there purely for comic effect. Could there be something more to that? Not sure. More thought required.

    Oh, and another thing. There have been at least two references in the show so far to a third Holmes brother…



    ichabod @ichabod

    Good lord, a *third* Holmes brother!?  Oh, you run with it, boys, run!

    Thanks for good stuff — I sort of surfed through the whole thing in a daze of confusion so it’s nice to have a bit of firm ground (maybe) to stand on.  I  do protest, though, the idea of a “fictionally misogynist” London, since you don’t have to scratch deeper than a millimeter to find the dismaying evidence that there’s nothing fake about the misogyny of the time not just in London but all over Europe as well.  There’s a good, if ultimately a bit tedious book about how this is reflected in the art, philosophy, and literature of the time, “Idols of Perversity”, from a university press, author Somebody Dykstra I believe (I lent out my copy and it hasn’t come home).

    I must say I’m impressed with how Steven Moffat’s pro-feminist awareness and interest continues to inform his work.  Is it a recent development in him, do people think?  Or maybe it was always latent but has been honed to an edge in part by the challenges (however unpleasantly put, sometimes) raised by angry feminists over masculinist sexism in DW?  Because yanking the knee-jerk misogyny built into so much of our culture (IMO) to the foreground and energetically taking it on is still pretty unusual in popular TV, and always to be applauded in the attempt, in my book (I admit, I used to be a good deal more inclined to dismiss such efforts as “too little, too late, too self-serving”, as younger feminist women still do, because when the Revolution begins, nothing it achieves is ever good enough for the idealists).

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    I would go for ‘always latent, but honed to an edge’. It must be pretty annoying to be constantly be accused of being sexist when you’re carefully making sexism/misogyny a serious character fault (and making full-on misogyny the province of your villains).

    Probably saying Sherlock’s Victorian London is ‘created’ is a bit misleading of me; on the one hand, it’s all in his head. On the other, he’s creating it out of his knowledge of the real Victorian London.

    And on the gripping hand, the moment when Sherlock realises that his fantasy Victorian-based world is a misogynistic one – and that’s how he’s behaving towards the real women in his real life – is a pretty powerful one. Especially since Sherlock Holmes is practically the prototype of the Detective-with-issues who treats women badly…

    ichabod @ichabod

    @bluesqueakpip Sherlock Holmes is practically the prototype of the Detective-with-issues who treats women badly…

    Not to mention Mycroft, fat or thin, who lives, apparently, in his club (to which, I imagine, women are not admitted *at all*, or are relegated to a corner of the “strangers room “). I found Mycroft’s comment about the “hidden enemy” being one that the (male) establishment *must* lose to a great deal more startling than Holmes’s personal epiphany.  It surprised me, too, that Gatiss could put the virtuous enemy idea across so firmly and not have everybody rear back and say, “HUH? What did this brilliant, Victorian, super-establishment stuffed shirt just say about women, from whom he is clearly in full retreat and of whom he consequently can know very little firsthand?!”

    As to Sherlock, my understanding of the character is that hewas *intended* to be not just more or less asexual, but a-anything that didn’t feed directly into his laser-beam concentration on observation + logic = deduction. Which I think may be one reason that ACD got fed up with the character and tried to kill him off permanently at the Falls. Sherlock is so thinly characterized (apart from his deductive genius) that there’s really not a lot to be done with him, from a writerly p.o.v., unless you start from the understanding that to portray him successfully in modern times you must be willing to branch him out into some degree of social and personal connection with others.  A number of novelists have done this successfully (Laurie King’s series, “The 7% Solution”, etc.).  But hard core SH fans seem to find this approach very threatening, and tend to disallow from the start (and permanently).

    I wouldn’t say that classic Holmes treats women “badly”; I haven’t re-read the original stories in decades, but my impression is that he pretty much treats *everyone* badly (ordinary people are, more or less, boring pudding-brains to him) — mainly by ignoring them as soon and as much as possible.  The oddity, given his time, place, and culture, is that he has no different reaction to women than he does to men, which in western culture gets read as repressed heterosexuality/homosexuality; trauma-induced and therefore pathological asexuality; or some kind of weird religious or sexual perversion like secret S/M/B, or other sorts of fetishism.

    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    to portray him successfully in modern times you must be willing to branch him out into some degree of social and personal connection with others.

    Even in Victorian England, Doyle needed Holmes to make some kind of personal connection. Watson, whether Doyle realised it consciously or not, was the perfect man to make a personal connection with Holmes. Because, as Doctor Watson, he was allowed to care.

    He was allowed to tell Holmes he wasn’t eating enough, needed to sleep, shouldn’t be doing drugs, needed a holiday, all the stuff that good friends do – because Watson could always retreat from ‘speaking as a friend’ to ‘that’s my professional opinion.’

    There are women he treats particularly badly in the stories – the maid he gets engaged to, for example. However, Watson does say at one point something along the lines of ‘to be fair, he was also susceptible on the side of kindliness’. That is, Holmes does sometimes help people simply because they need help and have no one else to turn to.

    But hard core SH fans seem to find this approach very threatening, and tend to disallow from the start (and permanently).

    Sherlock’s determination to protect John is straight out of the stories; Holmes gets deeply upset when Watson is injured.

    Abominable Bride was very firm on the subtext of the Holmes stories, by having Watson the Victorian author point out that he has created the character of ‘Sherlock Holmes’, which isn’t the same thing as the man Sherlock Holmes. Equally, the man Watson makes the character Watson look an idiot to make Holmes shine, and the real Mrs Hudson does more than just serve the breakfasts and show clients upstairs.


    @bluesqueakpip @ichabod

    Even in Victorian England, Doyle needed Holmes to make some kind of personal connection. Watson, whether Doyle realised it consciously or not, was the perfect man to make a personal connection with Holmes. Because, as Doctor Watson, he was allowed to care.

    He was allowed to tell Holmes he wasn’t eating enough, needed to sleep, shouldn’t be doing drugs, needed a holiday, all the stuff that good friends do – because Watson could always retreat from ‘speaking as a friend’ to ‘that’s my professional opinion.’

    While I don’t dispute any of this, it is worth noting that Watson speaks from a place of being every bit as damaged as Holmes, but in a very different way.

    (c/w with George Smiley who I once saw rather well described as “Brilliant spy, useless man” – but he had no true confident (at least not before Karla cross over) – and come to think of it, nor does Mycroft)

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Just re-watched it. What a brilliant concoction by Gatiss and Moffat!

    Have also become aware of the complaints–that is was too confusing. As Holmes would say about those who conflate poetry with truth…idiots!

    Two thoughts in light of a re-watch: the third Holmes brother. There is a reference towards the end to a sibling…ie, a gender neutral description. And the previous references to another sibling are also, I believe, gender neutral. So….

    Second, my impression, particularly in the sequence at the Reichenbach Falls, is that “Moriarty” (whoever, or whatever, he may be) is akin to Frankenstein’s monster; born of his creator, who can never die.

    And then there were the references to “me”, particularly Holmes replying to Watson during his drug-induced mind palace dream, that “I made me”. Is Holmes/Moriarty really…Ashildr…? Oh, hold on, probably too influenced by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets. Must remember: “It’s a totally different program!”

    Missy @missy




    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip


    While I don’t dispute any of this, it is worth noting that Watson speaks from a place of being every bit as damaged as Holmes, but in a very different way.

    Absolutely. Sherlock’s PTSD adrenaline addicted war veteran is definitely a possible reading.

    One way (but only one way) of reading the relationship between Watson and Holmes is that they each repair the faults of the other’s brother. Watson’s brother was an alcoholic, who died. Holmes is a drug addict – but Watson manages to keep him alive. Holmes’ brother is inactive, smarter than Holmes and seemingly uncaring. Watson is active, less smart than Holmes, demonstrably caring.

    Of course, Doyle did this backwards; creating Holmes and Watson first, and their respective brothers later. But it’s still neat. 🙂

    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    re: Mycroft- I wasn’t aware that the original Mycroft was overweight. But I thought I saw a wedding wing on Mycroft’s finger and wondered  if this meant that 19th century Mycroft was even more unhappy Than 21st century Mycroft who is lonely, but at least not required to marry in order to seem respectable.

    I was confused by the confused ones on the Guardian thread claiming there was no resolution to the mystery. There was. Unlikely as the resolution to the bride case was, the real case was ‘how can Moriarty still be alive, and for the love of god, why? The answer seems to be, of course he isn’t alive himself, the person (shame, though, because I love Scott’s scenes) but something has been set up to carry on beyond his death, using his image and legend.

    I also think that it is quite possible that in the end, it will turn out to be twins. Twin sister. I can’t remember her name. but Mary’s friend, who he pretended to have a relationship with. I mean, even in house, sometimes it is Lupus…  and it wouldn’t be the first time a Moriarty has got past Sherlock’s radar by pretending (if not completely pretending) to have a crush on him…

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    Abominable Bride was very firm on the subtext of the Holmes stories, by having Watson the Victorian author point out that he has created the character of ‘Sherlock Holmes’, which isn’t the same thing as the man Sherlock Holmes. Equally, the man Watson makes the character Watson look an idiot to make Holmes shine, and the real Mrs Hudson does more than just serve the breakfasts and show clients upstairs.

    Yes, I think it was particularly clear in this story that one of the key points of the entire series is examining this Sherlock’s (and by extension, our) relationship with not just the original stories but just about every adaptation and interpretation of them that came after. Thus in s2 we got riffs on the Rathbones. This time there were clear parallels to the Bretts. And maybe the levels of difference between Watson/Creator and Watson/Character are pointing to things like the underrated Without a Clue parody.

    As I said on the t’other place, the complaints about ‘it was too complicated, why can’t we go back to mysteries of s1 & 2’ (apart from being the usual ‘things were so much better last week’ brigade), is because they’ve fundamentally misinterpreted the show from its outset. It was never about the mysteries. They were just the hook to hang the series on, which is much more concerned with the relationship between Holmes and Watson, their correlation to just about every representation of them, and their relationship with the audience.

    blenkinsopthebrave @blenkinsopthebrave

    Some great analysis on the board, but do we need some more bonkers theories?

    Well, every character on the show is either alone, or in a fractured relationship (the current exception being John and Mary, but if the show follows the original, that won’t last long). So, has there been a character already mentioned who could complement the existing characters? Obviously a third Holmes sibling, but there is also another character who has been mentioned. Watson’s sister, Harry.


    todeledo @todeledo

    <span style=”line-height: 1.5;”>Sherlock’s dream is described in a impressive way by putting the viewers in Sherlock’s shoes.</span>

    When the viewer don’t know that everything is a hallucination he/she live the adventure the dream created for her/him. They are thrilled by the case of the bride and happily follow the path that has been laid out for them. Everyone know that the episode would be in the 19th century so noone questions it. The viewers are watching the episode as if it’s an episode of Sherlock in his original setting. Just like Sherlock believes that he has control over his own mined.

    When they finally realise that everything is a uncontrolled hallucination the episode goes crazy. The limiting views of the audience has been moved aside.<span style=”line-height: 1.5;”> Moffat used our expectations to create an episode that nailed the denial and fear Sherlock has about his addiction and the limits of his genius.</span>

    Juniperfish @juniperfish

    @todeledo – quite – we are inside Sherlock’s head for most of the episode and as the doctor of Vienna, Freud himself, is actually mentioned (by Sherlock, during the awkward “impulses” talk) we are invited to use Freud’s methods to analyse the drugged dream-state of Sherlock’s Mind Palace (those methods can be found in his Interpretation of Dreams).

    At the opener, we see, in contemporary day flashback, scenes from Sherlock and Watson’s cases together, before we arrive at the Victorian “Alternatively”. This is, we later discover, literally a case of someone’s life flashing before their eyes, because Sherlock Holmes has taken a drug overdose. And the life he wants to remember in his time of dying? His life with John Watson.

    Now, those initial flashbacks remind us that it was Molly Hooper who came across Sherlock beating a body with a riding crop in her morgue. But, once we jump to the Victorian AU we find that Sherlock’s drug-addled Mind Palace has switched things around, so that it is John, in his initial meeting, who sees Sherlock beating a corpse. Sherlock throws the beating stick to John and remarks, “Excellent reflexes – you’ll do”.

    If we use Freud’s dream analysis method, Sherlock’s drug-fuelled unconscious thus finds him “beating the meat” when he first meets John, only to throw the “beating stick” approvingly to him. Sherlock’s unconscious thus links masturbation and sexual attraction to John Watson, however much another layer of his mind denies that he experiences such “impulses”.

    Freud actually wrote a paper called “A Child is Being Beaten” about the “origin of sexual perversions”. In it, he cogitates on sexual masochism. That Sherlock’s subconscious mind is on such matters is revealed in the morgue scene, when a cross-dressed Molly Hooper (cross-dressing was certainly classed as a perversion at the time) remarks that Watson is observant when “Daddy” is out of the way (“Daddy” being Sherlock). As both cross-dressed Molly and Victorian Watson are creations of Sherlock’s drugged Mind Palace, we may note that his drugged subconscious likes the idea of Molly cross-dressed and of Watson calling him “Daddy” (a term used is BDSM).

    Additionally, the year Sherlock insists his Victorian AU took place in was 1895, the year of the Wilde trials. The doorkeeper at the Diogenes club is Mr. Wilde(r) and he, Sherlock and Watson converse in a sign language (a code) in which Sherlock is well-versed, but to which Watson is only partially accustomed.

    There’s a great deal more, but I must attend to other things!



    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord


    I wasn’t aware that the original Mycroft was overweight. But I thought I saw a wedding wing on Mycroft’s finger and wondered  if this meant that 19th century Mycroft was even more unhappy Than 21st century Mycroft who is lonely, but at least not required to marry in order to seem respectable.

    Mycroft is generally portrayed as corpulent but I can’t remember offhand if this is referenced in the stories. There’s definitely a line something like ‘he runs on fixed lines between Whitehall, his lodgings and the Diogenes Club’. So it’s not that he’s lonely as such but that he just has no interest in social interaction of any kind. I suspect the intention was to soften Holmes’s character a bit — a kind of ‘if you think Holmes is bad, check out this dude’ approach.

    winston @winston

    Well I watched it and I really liked it . I have always loved the Sherlock Holmes stories and have read them all, many times. I haved watched many different shows and movies with alot of Holmes and Watsons and I love this modern Sherlock. This episode gave me a chance to see Cumberbatch and Freeman as the Victorian characters from those old tales, and they were great.  It just seems so long to wait for a new series.

    Thanks to @craig for giving us this place to talk about Sherlock.

    Missy @missy

    One wonders whether -if there is a Sherlock twin – if he/she has something very wrong mentally.
    Perhaps she/he is in a ‘home.’
    This would affect Sherlock in one way, as well as trying to be as clever as Mycroft the other.
    This is what I love about Moffat and Gatiss, they are alwys leaving their audience with something to think about.
    I noticed that Red Beard, made a brief appearance too.



    Miapatrick @miapatrick

    @jimthefish- I was thinking perhaps modern day Mycroft is lonely- even his dim little brother picked up on it- while Victorian Mycroft seemed in a worse state- and also to be married- which is, of course, Sherlock’s own projection.

    (Mycroft is a favourite of mine, as someone whose name is often abbreviated against my will ‘Mycroft is the name you gave me, if you could just struggle through to the end.’ Perfect line.)



    Missy @missy


    I too am partial to Mycroft. He must be very lonely. All he has is his brilliant – although not quite as brilliant as he – brother Sherlock. Not much fun being a genius.


    Brewski @brewski

    Well I found it thoroughly enjoyable. I am frankly not surprised that a lot of fans of the show were left confused since many only have modern Sherlock to go on.  Gattiss himself remarked that he heard fans ask outloud “How can Sherlock solve crimes without his smart phone?” That pretty much says it all.

    @blenkinsopthebrave Mycroft is definitely described in the books as “stout” and “massive”. My assumption when I saw him in tAB was that they were purposefully being as true to the original stories as possible.  So “Look! We even have a properly fat Mycroft!”

    @ichabod ACD killing of Holmes permanently.  I never believed it for a minute! If he’d really, truly intended to rid himself of the character forever he would never have given himself such a convenient out as having no body.  I have always believed that he intended from the beginning to bring the character back, or at least have the opportunity to if he wanted to.

    Unconnected note, just because I’ve found nowhere else to mention it: was anyone else tickled in episode 1 after we found out that Watson’s leg wound was indeed psychosomatic that he revealed he really was shot. But in the shoulder?


    ichabod @ichabod

    @brewski   “How can Sherlock solve crimes without his smart phone?” That pretty much says it all.

    ARGH!  We’re doomed.  Seriously.

    ACD killing of Holmes permanently. I never believed it for a minute!

    Well, I recall seeing some correspondence from ADC to a friend rejoicing in having finally divested himself of that damned Holmes, and I do believe it.  He really did seem to think that his reputation was, finally, going to be based firmly on his Historical England fiction, and said that in print too, more than once.

    Here’s a funny little parallel for you: my dad’s family is supposed to be descended from the Conan Doyles (when Adrian was lost in New Guinea or wherever it was, my father said, “Here, look at this — you cousin’s been eaten by a crocodile”, or some such).  I looked into it once on, and there’s a possibility, through bastardy via one of ACD’s brothers, which means probably nah, nonsense (except that Dad’s family was, so far as I could tell, weirdly uptight and priggish about background, having at least one other such “shameful secret” to hide; so who knows).

    When I came across that comment of ACD’s about wanting people to forget Sherlock and admire the *serious* historical work, I had to laugh.  I’ve thought that whatever rep I’ve established, assuming that it persists after I’ve kicked this particular bucket, would rest on a four-vol. series about a feminist post-apocalyctic future that I began in 1974; but apparently not.  It’s the *vampire* book that people know, if they know anything about my stuff, and for me that was a bauble that I more or less tossed off as a diversion from a sticky place in vol. II.

    Life; what a gas!

    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    OK, wrote a blog post on the episode. It’s kinda long so won’t be offended if it’s considered in the tl;dr category…

    The scheduling of Sherlock, largely because of the now high profile of its two stars, as well as constraints on the time of its creator, is often something of a sporadic affair. Thus, this feature-length one-off special is all we can expect of the series until 2017.

    It didn’t disappoint. It had many genuinely funny moments but took the show in a different direction. It would have been easy to let the Victorian setting be a quirky and unconnected sidestep from the narrative that had come before but rather it was cleverly knitted into the arc established in the previous series. It was a step up from a third season that I thought flagged slightly.

    And yet it didn’t seem to please everybody. A quick scan BTL on many of the online reviews complain that the story was too complicated. They complain of its metatextuality and they call for a return to the mystery-solving of the first two series.

    This is a criticism that I saw levelled at the show last year and it was just as wrong-headed then. Sherlock has never been about the mysteries. It’s not strictly speaking an adaptation. Rather it is, as I read it anyway, more a playful examination on the one hand of the relationships between the two main characters and on the other of the interplay between the original stories and all their subsequent adaptations and reinterpretations (and by extension with their audiences).

    The early episodes A Study In Pink and The Blind Banker do perhaps foreground the mystery element more but that is largely because the character work that is at the heart of the series is still being built upon. We’re still getting to know these characters and the Moriarty arc is still only being hinted at.

    So that’s only two episodes out of a run (so far) of ten. By the time we get to The Great Game, the focus is squarely on the character interplay and metatextual conceit. (The source material, The Bruce-Partington Plans and The Final Problem is only really dealt with in the most cursory way.) And this is the model that’s more or less been followed since.

    While it is not necessary to have seen every version of Holmes to appreciate Sherlock, it is clear that they are written and produced with them in mind. Thus we see distinct allusions to the Basil Rathbone films of the 30s and 40s in Series Two and we see clear references to the Jeremy Brett TV series (and perhaps even the Michael Caine parody Without a Clue) in this year’s The Abominable Bride.

    It’s certainly true that by the third series the show had accrued an added layer of meaning. While it is partially because of the happy accident of its success (the BBC did not initially have high hopes for it) and the stratospheric status of its two stars, it does not really constitute any kind of dramatic change in direction from the two series that preceded it.

    Those first two series did use a number of the original Conan Doyle stories as their starting points but I’d argue this was never the point of the show. Those mysteries were there primarily as hooks to be riffed upon, with the character relationships, and the relationship between the various Holmes mythologies being the true heart of the programme.

    If this all sound too postmodern, then so be it. This kind of intertextuality drives some folks nuts and that’s fair enough. But you can’t tune into a show and then berate it for not following some set of conventions or expectations that have never really existed and it never had any intention of following. It’s a bit like tuning into EastEnders and then moaning about all the Londoners on it.

    Thus the mystery of the abominable bride was never the point of this adventure. It was using as its starting point a cited but never seen Holmes adventure and was possibly also meant to be a barb at those traditionalists howling at the addition of Watson’s wife to the mix. But the real thrust of the mystery was exploring the cliffhanger of the previous story – can Moriarty really be still alive?

    However, perhaps there is a caveat worth putting in here. I don’t buy the accusations of egomania from the either the producers/writers and/or the stars. Or at least not yet. I do, however, fear that it could become an issue if care is not taken.

    The second issue that is raised against The Abominable Bride is the “mansplaining feminism to a coven of murderous females” scene. Superficially this would seem to be a harder criticism to defend. The representation of Suffragettes as a KKK-style bunch of vigilantes is at first glance a rather bold and inflammatory step.

    However, the scene really has to be viewed through the prism of over-arching structure of the episode – that the Victorian sequences take place within Sherlock’s “mind palace” (no, I don’t like the phrase either). The “battle that [Sherlock] must lose”, according to Victorian Mycroft is not so much Male Victorian Society vs The Suffragists but Sherlock’s struggle (and presumably subsequent re-evaluation) of his relationships with women. Steven Moffatt himself is clearly wary of this misinterpretation and takes significant care to avoid it – Moriarty shows up at the end of the scene specifically to labour the point for the hard of thinking – the scenario is “melodramatic”, “Gothic”, “silly” and in case you were still not getting it “not real” and “all in Sherlock’s head”. The faux-outrage makes in sense unless you’re terminally dense or pretending to be in order to make a point.

    Indeed, for someone like Moffatt who has faced criticism for his portrayal of female characters before, I think he’s to be commended for not shying away from a scene like this and instead tackling it head on. (It’s perhaps also worth pointing out that no real ‘mansplaining’ takes place. Rather the opposite in fact, with the power relationships in this scene weighted, I’d argue, towards the female characters.)

    Again, this is a through-line of the entire series and touches upon Sherlock’s relationship with Molly Hooper, Mrs Hudson, Irene Adler, his abortive engagement and so on. This is made explicit at several points in the script. Indeed, the “coven” scene is melodramatic and even arch because it is meant to be. It is highlighting the absurdity of Sherlock’s view of women. And emphasising his growing awareness of that absurdity.

    And once again this feeds back into the show’s core “mission statement” – to look at the tropes of Holmesiana through a 21st century lens. And there is no greater aspect of Sherlock that has to be re-examined than his attitude to women.

    It seems to me that many of the criticisms of this year’s Sherlock are not dissimilar to the ones that greet his Doctor Who stories. There are many who want Who to remain fixed in amber and adhering to the template that covered six or seven years of the show’s 50-year history. Similarly, the partially Victorian setting seemed to lull many into assuming that they were going to get some linear mystery Jeremy Brett pastiche. But a single look at any previous episode should have made clear that this was never really going to be on the cards.

    The critics of both shows are very similar in this regard. First of all, they seem to argue for approaches that seem dated and, well, boring. It’s probably possible to do a straight Victorian Holmes adaptation but haven’t we seen it all before? (Similarly, returning Who to its rubber-suited megalomaniac chase-a-thons isn’t going to work either.) Both Moffatt and Guy Ritchie were smart enough that you have to tinker under the hood a little for Holmes to work in the modern age.

    And what’s more, it’s nonsensical and even a little churlish to dismiss the programme for not adhering to frames of reference that it has never been that bothered with in the past. It’s a bit like castigating a gritty social drama for not having enough space battles. At their heart, the criticisms boil down to ‘I didn’t like it because it’s not the show I envisaged in my head and which I personally would have made’. But this isn’t valid criticism. As with all TV shows, whether you like or dislike it, Sherlock at least has the right to be engaged with on its own terms, not those dreamt up in fanboys’ bedrooms.

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