Holmesian Musings and Ripping Yarns
Fans of 'Doctor Who' look forward to the annual holiday specials that put the beloved time lord in harm's way during the Christmas season. Since screenwriters Stephen Moffat and Mark Gatiss also work on 'Sherlock,' it probably seemed an obvious move to attempt a Christmas special with that program as well. The end result is a mixed holiday blessing.
The plot places the re-imagined 21st century versions of Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Doctor Watson (Martin Freeman) back in their original Victorian English stomping grounds. The story, although pitting the duo against an original threat, borrows elements from short stories such as 'The Green Interpreter,' 'The Five Orange Pips' and 'The Final Problem.' The opening sequence from "A Study in Scarlet' detailing Watson's ordeals at the battle of Maiwand is also used.
While there will be no spoilers here, one of the special's big plot twists reveals how the characters have become temporally displaced and why.
While the acting and production values are solid, the writing falls into the same trap as Moffat's work on Doctor Who -- it is so densely detailed that it threatens to outsmart itself.
So much is thrown at the viewer that it becomes tiresome, and certain plot elements will confuse viewers that are unfamiliar with the program. This is a pity because the story offers genuinely interesting elements.
Despite the special's flaws, it remains an interesting attempt to expand the scope of the program. Hopefully the writers will offer further specials as a gift to viewers.