Sherlock Special…an apology?

17 Mar

I was very interested yesterday to see that Steve Moffat has said that the Sherlock special is set entirely in Victorian London and is not a part of a three episode arc.  It is a stand alone story.

To me this is very interesting.  As I have said before, I am a Sherlock Holmes fan first, and a Sherlock fan second.  With that in mind, I have to tell you that I was deeply disappointed with series 3 of “Sherlock”.  I loved “The Empty Hearse”, but I disliked “The Sign of Three” and “His Last Vow” intensely.  Both episodes went too far off canon for my liking. Mary Morstan was NOT an assassin.  In season 2, Irene Adler as a dominatrix rather than an opera singer was clever.  Both professions are/were a little dodgy in their respective time periods.  But Mary Morstan as a ruthless killer for hire?  No, nay, NEVER!  Holmes disapproved of Watson’s marriage and did not attend the wedding.  He sure as shit didn’t arrange it or was best man.  Too far away from the originals for my comfort.  Way too far.  I am not the only Sherlockian to feel like this.

The only thing that saved “The Sign of Three” and “His Last Vow” was the friendship between Sherlock and John.  That was as strong as ever, and as it is the core of the canon, it went some way to redeeming both episodes in my eyes.  Not enough that I will willing subject myself to watching them again, however.

In my opinion “Sherlock” is starting to head into “Elementary” territory, ie, using the character names, but the characters don’t have the spirit of the originals.  Nothing more than a drama using well known characters, but not respecting the spirit of those characters.

I think Steve Moffat and Mark Gatiss are aware that they are now treading in dangerous waters.  Waters that could rise up and swallow them.

Hence the special.  A purely Victorian special. Something to make the hearts of all Sherlockians beat faster with excitement.  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman bringing their special on screen chemistry as Sherlock and John to the more traditional Holmes and Watson.  From what we have seen from the setlock photographs, it is obvious that the special is something of a tip of the hat to past incarnations of the immortal duo.  Several shots I have seen recreate scenes from Granada Televisions wonderful adaptations staring Jeremy Brett and David Burke/Edward Hardwicke.  Other photos I have seen made me think of “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”, the Billy WIlder film staring Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely that was one of the inspirations for “Sherlock”.  Indeed, the Mycroft of “Sherlock” is lifted lock, stock, and a cellar full of barrels, from the movie.

The special is a return to the roots of “Sherlock”.  To the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that captured the imagination of generations.

In light of this, I am wondering if the special is a form of apology.  An apology to the Sherlockians who came to “Sherlock” looking for a modern take on the icons, and were horrified by the direction season 3 took.

I can honestly say that I am looking forward more to the special than I am to season 4.

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