HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
HTS Overall Score:83
After 3 seasons “Sherlock” has finally gone the way of U.K. tv shows and Anime alike, bringing rise to the famed Holiday Special. A sort of one off movie length episode that both deviates from the modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes, but also sets things up for next season to start. I was a bit excited when we heard that Watson and Sherlock were being transported back to the end of the 19th century, right when they were written about from the pen of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, but there was a sense of trepidation as well. Moffat and Gatiss (Moffat particularly) have had some criticism thrown their way after some poor writing in “Dr. Who”, and much of the same narcissism that began seeping into that show began appearing in later seasons of “Sherlock” as well.
Some of my fears were put to rest, while others realized, as Sherlock is transported back in time through a well-known plot device in the regular series. The one off episode is a fun little diversion and certainly has its defenders, but fans all over the internet were shrieking in disappointment when the telltale “reveal” for why Holmes and Watson were stuck back in the 19th century came to light. However, there is enough playful misdirection that allows the viewer to make up their own mind whether the duo are a modern couple transported back, OR an old fashioned couple who are just imagining a life in days to come. Either way, “The Abominable Bride” is a fun little diversion, but really one of the weaker episodes from an already fantastic series.
While it’s not COMPLETELY necessary to have watched all 3 seasons of “Sherlock”, the holiday special makes frequent references back to the previous seasons (the last one especially with Moriarty), and the episode is make more understandable if you’ve already watched said seasons. There are hints and clues to the powers that be and their end goal from the very beginning, but the show starts out with a recap of the last couple seasons and then immediately goes to a title screen with the words “Alternatively”. Now we see what would happen if Watson (Martin Freeman) and Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) were back in 1880. Playing their roles as Arthur Conan Doyle saw fit to pen them. Their life situations are much the same. Watson is married to Mary (Amanda Abbington) and Sherlock is deep in thought over a new case. Brother Mycroft makes an appearance as having a huge eating disorder (Mark Gatiss in a heavy fat suit), and he has a case for Holmes. This time he’s having him investigate a mystery that coincides with another case brought to him by Inspector Lestrade earlier that day where a bride shot herself and then rose from the dead to shoot her husband.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66410[/img]As time goes on it becomes more apparent that the case is not just something to be solved. It is a METHOD for Sherlock to unlock the mysteries deep within his own soul. To confront the substance abuse issues that he was famous for, and unravelling his own thoughts and fears of the famous Moriarty after his death last season. There’s some bait and switch with the reveal on HOW this 1880 adventure comes to be, and I understand the frustration that goes along with it, but like many holiday specials, it’s a way to look at the character differently before the start of the much awaited season 4 (that has taken way too much time to produce thanks to Freeman’s and Cumberbatch’s insanely busy schedule).
It’s almost impossible to miss AFTER watching, but there are TONS of clues to the end result littered throughout the episode. Watch how the Bride kills herself at the beginning of the movie and compare it to Moriarty’s death. Watch the little clues with Mary Watson, the maid, and even Sherlock winking and nodding to the camera with old fashioned Basil Rathbone comments and manners of dress. They’re all there for you to see, but done with a bit of tongue and cheek with some added misdirection for good fun. What makes the show so fun is watching how Freeman and Cumberbatch slip so seamlessly into the roles of Watson and Sherlock in Victorian days. Changing a few mannerisms is one thing, but being able to just seem SO similar to your modern day counterpart while being so radically different is an art form.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66418[/img]Shot on Arri Alexa digital cameras, “Sherlock: The Abominable Bride” is a magnificent sight to behold. Much like the regular series it showcases fantastic fine detail in both up close and long shots, as well as amazing black levels, strong contrast and even better colors. The show is set in Victorian London this time around, so the teals and brighter color palate is a bit different, and a lot more vibrant, than what fans are used to seeing. BBC has always done a great job at the encoding process for these discs and there is no signs of digital manipulation or artifacting in the slightest. The disc is about as pristine and lovely as one could hope for from the series.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=66426[/img]After the lossy Audio for Seasons 1 and 2 of the series, I was ecstatic to find a DTS-HD MA track on board for season 3. However, I was even MORE thrilled when I saw the press release for “The Abominable Bride” and noticed it had a Dolby Atmos track. At the same time I was a little skeptical as the Atmos track for the “Dr. Who” special a few months back felt very much like a converted track. Rest your fears and smile a bit more as this Atmos experience is not nearly as quiet and subdued as “Dr. Who” was. Vocals are strong and clean as usual, but the audio really shines at the wide layers of immersion that it can include. The rustling of fabric across the ground and shifting overheard as it passes by. Or the sounds of a ghost wailing from all directions lighting up every surround and overhead with eerie noises. The LFE is tight and powerful, adding serious umph to the low end of the spectrum with huge bass drops on the score as well as a some added punch to gunshots and slamming doors.
• A Study in Sherlock
• Production Diary
• Writer's Interview
• Creating the Look
• Sherlockology Q &A
The show has few elements of several Arthur Conan Doyle stories. Adding in some of “The Five Orange Pips”, some “Death of Sherlock Holmes” and a smattering of others to make another hodge podge adventure that will delight fans of the original dynamic duo the world over. “The Abominable Bride” is not AS GOOD as the last 3 seasons have been, and the bait and switch tactics that Moffat introduced was a bit part of that. However it’s still “Sherlock” and any “Sherlock” is still better than a lot of the material out there. The inclusion of Atmos Audio amps up the stakes a good bit and makes an already fantastic audio experience even better. Not to mention the always stellalr video. Definitely a must watch if you’re a “Sherlock” fan, and a recommended watch if you’re not yet one (as you soon will be).
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs
Directed by: Paul McGuigan
Written by: Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (7.1 TrueHD core)
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 93 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 12th 2016
Buy Sherlock: The Abominable Bride On Blu-ray at Amazon
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