What does this year’s BBC Sherlock one-off special really have in store for us?

24F1F53200000578-2921763-image-m-111_1421938850201First 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!

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11 Responses to What does this year’s BBC Sherlock one-off special really have in store for us?

  1. David says:

    You wrote: “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.”

    I absolutely agree. I really hope that they make a Christmas special that just stands alone, with Cumberbatch and Freeman as Holmes and Watson in the correct period, with no explanations, and no framing tale where they’re sitting around modern-day London, telling a story to one another. I’ve long maintained that Cumberbatch could be one of the best Holmes, but he’s never actually gotten to play him, having instead played an AU character with the same name and some of the same characteristics.

    I believe that an episode with the two in the proper time would be wildly popular, but sadly it will have fans that know nothing about the True and Correct Holmes speculating for all the wrong reasons: “Is this like Holmes and Watson on “Lost”? Are the producers trying to say that there is a different parallel world where Holmes and Watson existed the late 1800’s? That’s nuts! Who knew? How crazy is that?”

    For these fans, it will be like trying to understand that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings. (Oops, showing my age. These are the same people who wouldn’t know who Paul McCartney is….)

    • I agree, it would be a good reminder to the fans that Sherlock Holmes was originally a Victorian detective – not a hyperactive 21st century oddball with great check-bones and a coat with a big collar. And you may well be right, this will be big news to some of them. Lets see if Cumberbatch can play a traditional Holmes – I think you are right when you say that he could be one of the best Holmes but has never had a chance to play Holmes from the canon. Hopefully he will have his chance now and we will get a more traditional episode. I wonder why they were filming at Gloucester Cathedral? I’ve been trying to think of canon stories which may involve a church/cathedral – could it be that Irene Adler will be back and marrying Godfrey Norton?

  2. Resa Haile says:

    I agree. Just have the episode be its own thing.

  3. Gwen says:

    Why do they feel the need to rip off Granada Sherlock Holmes? This show has now completely jumped the shark. First they keep copying the Ritchie movies, and now this. I suppose it will needs be Blue Carbuncle. Just tells me the “creative team” has lost touch AND originality. No one can be Granada Holmes except Brett – Cumberbatch is only Brett in his wildest dreams. Just stop it, BBC.

    • Depending on how the episode actually turns out, I don’t think they are ripping off Granada – just paying tribute. They are acknowledging the huge affection with which people hold both Jeremy Brett and what Granada achieved. It’s a bit like what Holmes himself said about crime – ‘Nothing is new, it’s all been done before.’ This is the same with writing about Holmes, whatever you do it will have been done before so comparisons are inevitable. At least they seem to be recognising this.

  4. David says:

    Maybe they’re not ripping off Granada. Maybe they’re just going to have a single episode that is actually about Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, instead of whoever those characters are they have been showing. The characters in “Sherlock” may have the same names as Holmes and Watson, along with a few other similarities, but otherwise they consist of entirely different people in some nine-episode (so far) alternate reality.

  5. I’m not sure it’s right to suggest anyone is ripping off Granada/Brett – one could as easily suggest that Granada/Brett simply ripped off Conan Doyle. You can find as much fault with Brett’s mannerisms, and the liberties taken by the screen writers of the Granada series, as with any other interpretation.
    Personally, I like seeing all renditions, and enjoying them for the basic point that The Character has as many facets as there are readers and watchers.

  6. LoveBug54 says:

    I think there would be less confusion if the producers hadn’t said the special would answer the question regarding Moriartys apparent return at the end of His Last Vow. How that feeds into a Victorian setting is anyone’s guess.

  7. BunKaryudo says:

    I agree. If the chemistry between the characters is the same, I think the story would work anywhere from Ancient Rome to Titan Base 5. Of course, there would have to be tweaks (Serlocianus summoned his Greek physician Watsonodorus, or something).

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