First we had the official picture of Cumberbatch and Freeman in period costume evoking a Brett/Hardwicke vibe. Now the internet is alive with more pictures of the pair in Victorian dress, along with Amanda Abbington. The pictures were taken while the team were filming at Gloucester Cathedral and seem to confirm speculation that the one-off special will indeed be set in Victorian times.
Personally, I’m delighted about this. I think it’s brave and inventive, harking back to the spirit of series one and two when Moffat and Gatiss simply wrote the show exactly as they wanted to, not writing for the fans or the awards or ratings. It was quirky, stylised and a bit niche.
While defending the change from the Victorian setting of the original stories to present-day London, the team said it was the essence of the characters and sense of adventure that mattered, not the period. I entirely agreed and still do. So taking the same characters and placing them in a different century is a great idea, especially as they seem to be paying due respect to the highly successful and much loved Granada adaptations. I hope there are plenty of nods to Granada and Brett in the episode, it would also be great if the team decide to take an original ACD story and re-tell it authentically but with their own unique twist.
People are speculating about how they will explain the change of time period – will it be Sherlock in a coma like Life on Mars? Will it all be a dream like Dallas? Is it fancy dress? Or time travel to right the wrongs of the past like Quantum Leap? Did aliens abduct them and dump them in Victorian England? Will it be a strange Doctor Who mash-up?
I really hope it’s none of these – I hope they are brave and bold enough to just go for it without any explanation at all. Let’s have a whole episode in the period where the stories were originally set, no explanation needed. If the quality of the drama is good enough, no one will even question it after about two minutes because we will all be so absorbed by the storytelling and characters.
I’m so excited about this episode and hope I don’t end up feeling as let down as I did at the end of series three. Please let this not be a publicity stunt, or as disappointing as Sherlock surviving his fall by landing on a big blue inflatable. I can’t wait to find out!