Sherlock: The Christmas Special
Sherlock is back on our TV screens once again in a feature-length episode set in Victorian London that is full of self-referential humour, meta-narratives that utilise both pastiche and parody, and a plot that cannibalises several famous Holmes stories.
I won’t reveal too much of the plot, suffice to say that creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have found a way not just to resurrect Holmes’s nemesis Moriarty, but to bring back practically every notable character in the series.
All the usual suspects from the series are here: Mrs. Hudson, Inspector Lestrade, Irene Adler (briefly), Mycroft, Mary Watson, Hooper, Anderson.
The episode is knowing and perhaps a little too pleased with itself and just how clever it is; then again, this is Sherlock we are talking about, and one doesn’t become the foremost consulting detective in the world by being stupid.
The special is a treat for fans of the series, filled as it is with easter eggs, and has enough nineteenth century bric-a-brac and interior design touches to satisfy the most rabid enthusiast of Victoriana.
It also hints at where the series is going, with a reference to “Redbeard” – which presumably will feature in a future case for Holmes and Watson to solve (I’m guessing it will be a riff on “The Adventure of the Red-Headed League”).
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are now both old hands at playing Holmes and Watson, and their bickering and interplay will either charm or annoy you (some Holmes purists think the BBC series does not treat the original stories with enough reverence).
But how can anyone argue with ninety minutes of television that includes several murders, a drug overdose, ghosts, suffragettes, and a fistfight on the edge of a waterfall?
Verdict: Four Deerstalkers out of Five