‘Sherlock, The Abominable Bride’ BBC Review


Years pass before BBC produces new installments of their beloved contemporary canon of their serial titled Sherlock. As a kind of bridge to their upcoming fourth season of the popular show, they introduce this special. Amid a flurry of excitement and the cheers of avid fans (most of whom have likely long since seen this), a twist on the contemporary series was introduced to the world. If 221 Baker Street existed in 1800s Victorian England, what might it have looked like?

Sherlock, The Abominable Bride (2016) BBC Review

Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) begins telling us by narrating his stories. He’s still a returning army doctor busily recording the detective cases he helps solves with his good friend, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch). He’s also happily married to Mary (Amanda Abbington) though don’t ask him what she’s up to – he’ll not be able to tell you. Currently, Watson is narrating the one case he and Holmes could not solve: the case of the Abominable Bride.  

‘Sherlock, The Abominable Bride’ BBC Review. The 2015 British period film puts Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock in Victorian England. © Rissi JC

It transpires something like this; A woman shoots wildly from a balcony and then, in front of a busy street of witnesses commits suicide. Only hours later, she witnesses the murder of her husband on a dark cobbled street. All of the clues lead to death and reincarnation only Sherlock doesn’t believe in supernatural. How will the brilliant detective puzzle through what might be his most unexplainable case to be explainable?   

There is a certain level of superb brilliance that we’ve come to expect from the writers and producers of Sherlock. Though only 80-some minutes, the addition commonly referred to as “the special” in the timeline is as marvelous as those preceding it. To do something a bit different, they make the choice to set this episode back in its original timeframe of Victorian England; and heavens, it works. Not only does the cast play beautifully as their Victorian counterparts, the entire scope of the production is, as usual, second to none.  

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That said I do have some complaints about this installment. The problem with this is, I’m not sure I can explain it in clarity. But I shall endeavor to try. The story isn’t one of the best, and yet it is, potentially the greatest yet. While watching this, I did think that the mystery isn’t among my favorites; there’s something sort of stifled about it. Perhaps the limited run time hinders this or the brief flurry of “catching” the audience up on the three years prior. Either way, the mystery itself didn’t all fall into place. Then well past halfway through the production, the “twist” appears which sort of changes everything.  

‘Sherlock, The Abominable Bride’ BBC Review. The 2015 British period film puts Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock in Victorian England. © Rissi JC

Unlike the norm of my TV watching, I hadn’t read any spoilers so the surprise was real when what’s really going on hits. Part of the way this was written allows for a darker Sherlock that shouldn’t surprise anyone given all we see here is nothing we didn’t already know. As the writer’s further this character, the complexities of him are exceedingly interesting to see. Each one is like a layer peeled back for more depth, proving there is more to Sherlock than an arrogant know-it-all. Seeing Watson return with the moustache was hilarious as was near image exact roles in the Watson marriage. Also amusing was Sherlock’s futuristic predictions which ties nicely into the contemporized version. 

Though some of the details are shuffled and there are some stumbles here and there, ‘The Abominable Bride’ is a must see for any fellow Sherlock fans. The writing and details are sharp, and I suspect as close to perfect television as we’re likely to see. Not to mention, a darker supernatural sense of humor is in play that offers plenty of laughs. On TV, this is the only show I know that CAN get away with such time spans in-between its seasons. There’s nothing that is quite like BBC’s Sherlock and if the price for we to pay for such brilliance, I’m willing to wait.

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You can find Sherlock, the Abominable Bride digitally on Amazon Video

About Rissi JC

amateur graphic designer. confirmed bookaholic. bubbl’r enthusiast. critical thinker. miswesterner. social media coordinator. writer.


  1. I didn't love the mystery aspect of this one, either, but I was amazed (as I always am) by the creativity of this show and how they managed to fit everything together. It was a little trippy near the end but I loved it. I especially liked how they referenced so much of the modern day show in the historical part. I just got the DVD yesterday, so I'm excited about watching it again! :)

    1. The creative writing and every working aspect of this show is epic and amazing… and there aren't enough words. It's a constant upkeep of this and I'm consistently impressed by that. If YEARS is what's required to keep up this sort of amazing, I can wait. Albeit impatiently. I'm curious to watch it again as well, Kristin because I suspect I'll like it even MORE the second time through. :)

    I thought this was excellent. As a lover of period dramas, I've found it jarring before when stories swap to modern ("No! Take me back!") but I didn't find that the case at all with this one. Actually, when things started intertwining with the present-day I got all the more excited by the genius weaving of story… I say again- excellent! ^^

    1. I was impressed too, Joni. I'd read (somewhere) that this did connect with the modern timeline I just didn't realize THAT was how they were going about the story. Soon as they began connecting Moriarty into the story it should have clicked… but I was too wrapped up in the period piece script. Either way, this was another brilliant installment even if it was a bit unusual. :)

  3. I just watched this a few days ago and agree that the mystery aspect was weaker than usual, but it was so much fun to see the regular characters pop up in the historical setting :) I can't wait until the next season starts!

    1. There was something DIFFERENT or not quite as "well crafted" about this one, but I'm not sure I can put my finger on what. But at the same time, I did think this was again a brilliant addition to this series! So, yeah, I'm being contradictory about this one. ;)

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