Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

Sherlock Special Recap: Was Abominable Bride Dearly Beloved?

We’re mere hours into the new year and the quality-TV benchmark has already been set (spoiler alert: it’s high).

On Friday, PBS aired Sherlock The Abominable Bride, a 90-minute one-off movie that found Sherlock and Watson doing their mystery-solving thing in 1890s London. The special — told from the POV of a present-day, drug-addled Holmes — was everything this Baker Street aficionado was hoping for and more. An engrossing case? Check. Sumptuous visuals, like those floating newspaper clippings? Check. Crackling dialogue? Check. Masterful performances from leads Benedict Cumberbatch and  Martin Freeman? Check and check.

Sherlock and Watson’s mission this time around: to figure out how a gun-toting bride was able to commit suicide in full public view only to turn up hours later alive and well enough to murder her husband. Sherlock immediately scoffed at Watson’s “Could it have been twins?” theory. “No,” he shoots back. “It’s never twins.”

Given the standalone conceit, the special didn’t exactly push forward the series’ central mythology, eschewing traditional plot movement for trippy parallels and fun Easter eggs. There was, however, a potentially key development in the mystery surrounding Moriarty’s fate (as you’ll recall, Season 3 ended with the presumed-dead Big Bad resurfacing on UK television, boasting. “Did you miss me?”). The similarities between the “resurrections” of the titular bride (in the past) and Moriarty (in the present) were not lost on Sherlock.

In the end, however, the former case apparently did not end up informing the latter, with Sherlock ultimately echoing EP Steven Moffat’s earlier assertion that “Moriarty is dead — no question.”

I suppose we’ll have to wait until the arrival of the three-episode Season 4 in Jan. 2017 to get a definitive answer to that beguiling question.

The 90-minute period piece’s standout sequence? Watson grilling Sherlock about his lovelorn existence, zeroing in specifically on his partner’s feelings for Irene Adler. Summed up Holmes: “All emotion is abhorrent to me.”

Were you as smitten with Bride as I was? Scroll down and assign the special a grade, then elaborate in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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37 Comments
  1. Michelle says:

    Very trippy, but amazing! Looking forward to series 4.

  2. Amanda says:

    Mind Blown! Fantastic Episode! I loved the twists in the story. The way the story made the viewer use their brain to sort out what was happening. I loved the Cast. They seemed even tighter than ever. And Holmes has more human flaws which makes him more loveable. I also enjoyed seeing a softer side of Mycroft! John was given credit as a friend…a true friend. And the humor and bantering kept the show moving along! I feel like I need to see it again because it was so full of imagery and references to past cases and possibly future! I’ve waited months to see this. What a fantastic show. Bravo!

  3. Lucie Melahn says:

    Awesome, brilliant, worth the wait.

  4. Sara says:

    So, so, so, so, SO VERY GOOD. That was everything I was hoping for and more! I can’t wait for series 4, but this was a wonderful bridge to it!

  5. It certainly FEELS like the Golden Age of television when you have a series like this that drops an utterly brilliant “episode” like this.

    Movie-quality imagery, complex plot, genuine scares, compelling dialog. This episode had so many twists and turns … you HAD to be on your toes to keep up.

    Well done Team Sherlock. Well done.

  6. devinmc says:

    I don’t know about the episode itself but my Northern California PBS station gets a big fat F from me. For whatever reason they’ve decided to hold off on airing the Sherlock special until January 10th. And PBS.org only offered a one time live stream at 6pm PST. And sadly, I missed it. Blah!

    • BrightLight says:

      i was actually shocked my PBS showed it considering they spent the past two days straight showing pledge break shows. They didn’t even show kids programming this morning, so I almost passed out when I saw it was actually airing instead of “Healing A.D.D” for the 45th time in three years.

      As for the episode, I thought it was absolutely brilliant! Loved seeing the cast in the Victorian costumes and I always love a good “mind palace” mention. Still bummed that we have to wait another year for more, but this one ep really helped with my withdrawal, and then preceded to re-ignite it when it ended. I’m definitely going to watch it again when it re-airs on January 10th.

    • irene adler says:

      I live in San Francisco and watched it on KQED+ at 9pm

      • devinmc says:

        I’m about an hour north of you and my Xfinity/Comcast service doesn’t offer KQED+, just the regular old KQED. There’s no channel 10, it just jumps from 9 (KQED) to 11 (ion).

    • Lyn says:

      You only get one PBS station? I get three. Since the pop of Cal. is roughly the same as the entire nation of Canada, you’d think Cal. would be better served.

      • devinmc says:

        I also get KRCB in addition to KQED, but neither station selected to air the Sherlock special. Both opted for Great Performances and The Queen vs Diana. Quailty stuff no doubt. ;)

        I mean, I’ll get to watch it eventually. I just hope my local stations don’t make a habit of delaying the broadcast of its top stuff!

    • murley says:

      Same here. Now I am even more impatient about having to wait until the 10th, hearing such positive feedback! Can’t wait. (I have managed to stay spoiler free so far)

  7. Hammer says:

    I loved every moment. It was positively brilliant and series 4 hint “The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter” only story that I can figure related to the cryptic message in tonight credits. (Ecliptic Obliquity) My question is since Mycroft is already a character will we instead meet “The Other One” as described in the prior season? And may the other one be a female? Now to rewarch

  8. Carley says:

    I think that this episode of Sherlock was thrilling and suspenseful and over all brilliant. I think that using an original story of Sherlock as told by Arthur Conan Doyle (The Abominable Bride) to somewhat explain Moriarty’s death was extremely creative and, again, brilliant. I was a little disappointed about Moriarty not being alive though, even though he is Sherlock’s biggest nemesis’, almost pushing Sherlock to suicide, there was always some hope he would be back due to Andrew Scott’s amazing portrayal of him. I really enjoyed the show. It couldn’t have been better!

  9. Just finished it and my mind is blown it was just so good. Can’t wait for more.

  10. Shaun says:

    Kinda makes me mad we have to wait until 2017 for S4.

  11. Rae Crothers says:

    The only way I was going to like this Special was if it was exactly what it was: a giant mind palace sequence. I have to go eat crow because I ended up coming away very satisfied and eager to rewatch it, after expecting it to be a disappointing waste of filming time that could have been spent on series 4.

    I was surprised by how much back story we got on John and Sherlock and I’m pretty sure that my theory about Moriarty has been confirmed through the resolution of the Ricoletti case. I can’t wait to see if I’m completely off base, but I’m convinced that the ‘Moriarty’ we know actually is an actor, that the real Moriarty is still waiting in the wings, and that the real Moriarity is actor Moriarty’s sister Janine…

  12. Chloe says:

    I loved the acting in this episode. Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Amanda Abbingdon, Andrew Scott and everybody else are fantastic actors who never disappoint me. I’m a huge Sherlock fan and I really did like the episode in general (a lot of nice Easter eggs in it). I especially loved the scene between Sherlock and Moriarty in Sherlock’s flat, I had missed their banter!

  13. Louise says:

    Not a fan of Cumberbatch, prefer Millers interpretation of Holmes.

  14. Ashley says:

    Loved it, loved it, loved it!!!!

  15. bos4ny3 says:

    This felt much more like an episode of Doctor Who than Sherlock. Chock full of timey-wimey drivel. Can we please get back to SHERLOCK?

  16. Sophia says:

    This made my year already! What a mind blowing start to 2016. Loved the episode and definitely merits lots of rewatches. Absolutely adored Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Kudos for giving the fans a treat until season 4

  17. Kreskin says:

    I haven’t compared to confirm, but I’m pretty sure that the opening credits shot in Victorian England, from the outside-the-building perspective of 221B from the 2nd floor, showing the street number, the window, rotating to look down the busy street with horse-pulled carriages and people on the street, was a clear homage to the 1980s Grenada/Masterpiece Theater Sherlock Holmes series with Jeremy Brett. Even the music was evocative.

  18. LV Sunny says:

    All it needed was the background music/song of Sh Boom Sh Boom from the Crew Cuts. LOL!

  19. Teresa Conti says:

    watched in on Channel 54 in the Bay Area…Both channel 9 and channel 22 didn’t carry the thing… Maybe they will repeat it before Jan 10.

  20. Teresa Conti says:

    Suggest recording PBS shows on all the local PBS channels that you get. With the pledge nights, it is easy to miss the ending or beginning of a series you have been watching for weeks.

  21. Cat says:

    I “rewound” the DVR to see it again. It was actually very enjoyable. I loved when they were in period — Holmes is definitely a man in that time period. I am sad that the next new episode won’t start until 2017.

  22. Susan says:

    I love the show. I love the actors, characters etc, etc, etc, but…I was not crazy about this episode.
    I prefer my Sherlock Holmes stories more straight forward less…”jibber, jabber”. Looking forward to season 4.

  23. obriensg1 says:

    It’s available for purchase on services like iTunes, Amazon Video, and VUDU now, and comes on Blu-ray and (if you choose lower quality) DVD 1/12/2016.

  24. Samantha says:

    Amazing! I hate that we have to wait until 2017 for new episodes but it will be so worth it!

  25. Lindsey says:

    I wasn’t sure about it when I first heard about the concept, and I avoided other spoilers. I saw it at the cinema last night, and it was brilliant! Extremely well done. I felt like I was the only one laughing, though that might be because I saw it in a foreign country, and maybe some of the jokes didn’t translate well or the other viewers didn’t actually watch the show. That didn’t stop me from enjoying it or wishing for season 4 even more, though.

  26. loony says:

    i loved it. especially that this special was actually a bridge to s4 because it would be very disappointing it if weren’t like some of viewers ranted. i loved every bit of it, the well-crafted story, scripts, the plot twist, the legit scare, the cast, setting, everything! the way the different time periods was all mixed in perfect timing. too bad moriarty’s really dead tho. the story’s gotta have to move on to the “other one”.

  27. I got to this web page by entering the term “Ecliptic Obliquity PBS” into the search box. I have enjoyed finding these terms in the credits since the beginning but I can’t figure out if all of them together mean something which will result in a huge cash prize for myself or if they are a trap for those of us with a mild case of OCD.