Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Sherlock Holmes and the Abominable Bride (No, the Bride is NOT John Watson)

Hello People of the Interwebs!

Happy New Year to you all! For my first review of 2016, I won't be reviewing my childhood Disney Channel Original Movies (I've been procrastinating with those for a while). Instead I'll be looking at a special episode of one of my favorite shows, Sherlock. If you haven't seen the three previous series (9 Episodes total), then I highly suggest that you go and watch them! This is my review of 'The Abominable Bride!

Image Credit to IMDb

WARNING: (Major) Spoilers ahead!

The story, boiled down from its inherently confusing nature, is about Sherlock attempting to solve a Victorian era crime in his mind palace. The crime in question is where a bride, on her wedding anniversary, shoots herself in public. She is then later seen shooting and killing her husband. However, she has been dead in the morgue the entire time. Then, months later, there is a string of murders where the same bride is apparently seen committing the crime. Victorian-era Holmes and Victorian-era Watson attempt to solve the crime, but the mind palace crime is prompted by modern-era Sherlock's contemplation of the death and (apparent) return of Moriarty.

There have been some harsh words towards this special. The main complaint against the episode is that it was too confusing, convoluted, and pretentiously unrealistic. It is a convoluted episode, but it does make sense. Sherlock's mind envisions a past where he can use the same methods and knowledge as he does in his modern world. This mental world is also fictional. Which means that in the climax, where Sherlock 'solves' the crime, it is over the top and ridiculous, which a wedding dress clad Moriarty reminds him of. Sherlock's shifts from modern to Victorian mindsets really work, especially as he is extremely drug addled and a (supposed) sociopath.

The episode also has some tender moments between Victorian-era Holmes and Victorian-era Watson. Which means that, technically, it's just Sherlock having deep conversations with himself. Among which was a very awkward conversation about Sherlock's romantic life (in which Sherlock maybe confirmed that he wasn't straight?) and some rather sweet thoughts about John's usefulness.

There weren't just touching and confusing moments. There was also a healthy amount of humor and satire! Most of the humor came in the form of the discussion of Victorian-era Watson's stories about Victorian-era Holmes. One of my personal favorites was when Mrs. Hudson complains about being given no lines of substance in Watson's stories. He replies with a brief comment about her "function" in the stories. She then gives Holmes and Watson ( as well as their visitors) the silent treatment, which Holmes says is Mrs. Hudson practicing "literary criticism through the form of satire". Another constant source of comedy was Moriarty. However, that's a topic for the next section!

The acting is masterful. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Sherlock Holmes, and he is so phenomenal. His Holmes is alienated and egotistical. He can rattle off the deductions with an incredible speed and clarity. Cumberbatch as Holmes is true perfection. The same can be said for Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. He has the perfect expressions and body language to accent Cumberbatch's Holmes. Probably the reason that this pairing works amazingly is that these two actors complement each other's performances incredibly.

The supporting performances are just as good. Two that really stand out to me in this episode are Una Stubbs as Mrs. Hudson and Mark Gatiss as Mycroft Holmes. Stubbs's Mrs. Hudson is witty, tough, and charming. She's sweet and funny as well. Gatiss also fits his role very well. Mycroft is essentially the mental counterpart to Sherlock, probably even the mental superior, and Gatiss's performance portrays these ideas very well. He actually shows his talents in two ways in this episode: he acts as Mycroft, and he helped Stephen Moffat write the episode (both are the co-creators of the show).

Now, we get to the villain. Professor Moriarty. Moriarty is played by Andrew Scott. Scott's performance as Moriarty is so delightful, mainly due to his affinity for the over-the-top. He plays the perfect match to Sherlock, well, perfectly. He plays his character with such abandon, with such passion, and with incredible skill. It's possibly one of the most enjoyable performances in this episode, an episode filled with enormously enjoyable performances.

This episode is well acted and well written. The themes of drug abuse, friendship, and the terrifying prospect of a dead enemy come back to life add together to make an enormously suspenseful and entertaining Sherlock Special. Again, if you haven't seen the three previous series (9 Episodes total), then I highly suggest that you watch them!

This is the Teenage Critic, signing off!

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I have also started another blog to hold myself accountable for my New Year's Resolution; to write one short story a week. The blog is: wendedwriting.blogspot.com