Sherlock: The Abominable Bride. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Amanda Abbington, Louise Brealey, Jonathan Aris, Tim McInnerny, Natasha O’Keeffe, Yasmine Akram, Taj Smith, Gerald Kyd, Daniel Fearn, Stephanie Hyam, Damian Samuels, Charles Furness, Adam Greaves- Neal, Jessie Hawkes, Dionne Vincent, Kishan Maru, Gavin Lee Lewis, Tim Barlow, David Nellist, Alex Austin.

It is a war we must lose”, muses Mycroft as he sits with corpulent and greed running through his veins and it seems in every battle there must come a realisation that that the enemy we are fighting is the one that is naturally our ally.

For fans of Mark Gatiss’ and Steven Moffat’s 21st Century adaptations of the tales of Sherlock Holmes, the eponymous Sherlock, the unexpected delivery, the turn of the story’s screw is what keeps the idea of a master detective alive. However, even the most ardent of fan might have found it a little perplexing to believe that Sherlock was back in his rightful place solving the most perplexing of mysteries in Victorian England, a little demanding to run their fingers through the moustache of John Watson and slightly in awe to see Benedict Cumberbatch go seemingly stride for stride with the greatest of all actors to grace the intellectual mind of Sherlock Holmes, Jeremy Brett.

Whilst it would take an actor of absolute wit, dedication and arguably the authority of complete disregard for their own sanity to ever take on Jeremy Brett for the role of the consummate Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch comes so close that the spark behind the eyes when he is the mode is as thrilling to witness as any performance that the much missed Mr. Brett produced. The one startling difference is that thankfully Mr. Cumberbatch is not consumed by the role, it is not his everything, a passion that borders on the extreme edges of addiction rarely end well; the part may all but it should never devour, it should never incinerate or burn up the actor.

With Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott in top form as Dr. Watson and Professor Moriarty, the tale of The Abominable Bride was one that was truly must see television. In a Christmas season devoid of the truly exceptional, in which the barest few have shined as bright or as lucid as the mock angel on the withering pine tree, the 2016 New Year special of Sherlock was as first rate and complete a tale as a viewer would wish to experience and with the added bonus of setting up Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat to bring the series back in a big way as soon as time allows.

Exuberant, honest and worthwhile, there was no greater reason than Sherlock to truly celebrate the start of a New Year.

Ian D. Hall