The first time this column covered “Sherlock,” it was July 2015 and years after the season 1 premiere. The author had recently seen “Mr. Holmes” in a theater, was unimpressed, and craved some Holmes and Watson fun on Netflix.
“Sherlock,” just based on the description of the show, didn’t initially seem to be a good option. It’s an updated version of the adventures of Holmes and Watson, so the two protagonists are alive and solving crimes in the 21st century. The original stories were so incredibly good that the idea of updating them felt unnecessary.
The writer was taken completely by surprise. “Sherlock,” all three of its seasons, also turned out to be incredibly good. Season 4 is set to come out in 2017. However, in between then and the last season, which ran in 2014, a Christmas special aired on Jan. 1, 2016. In an odd divergence from the rest of the episodes, this one is mostly set in 1895. Some people enjoyed the time travel aspect more than others.
Understandably, there was confusion among fans as to how “Sherlock” could take place in the 19th century. Believe it or not, there is a reasonable explanation for this. For those who find the time shift too jarring, take some comfort in knowing that all will be revealed as the episode unfolds. However, there is an ambiguous ending that leaves mystery as to what the whole episode, and more importantly the time shift, is really about.
For those who enjoyed the original adventures from the late 1800s, it is a lot of fun watching Benedict Cumberbatch (Holmes) and Martin Freeman (Watson) don 19th century clothing and solve a crime that took place in the London of yore. It’s a little Christmas gift to fans of the original Holmes and Watson.
In the earlier review of “Sherlock,” the writer was impressed at how Sherlock’s drug addiction was addressed in the very first episode. She noted, “The addiction issue that his character faces doesn’t always come up in movies or on TV, but it’s important to make it part of the storyline in order to explain some of his quirks. It’s actually irresponsible to choose not to explore it at all.” It’s the one characteristic of Holmes that is easy to gloss over completely, with writers pretending it was never part of the stories. The Christmas special uses the 19th century setting to dig deeper into that territory and how addiction affects the people in Holmes’s life.
Fans of “Sherlock” were divided about the special on Twitter. Some thought it was great, others were too confused to have an opinion, and others just plain didn’t like it. Perhaps a second viewing would help the ones who were too confused to follow it? This reviewer enjoyed it and can’t wait for more 21st century adventures in 2017.