What To Expect From Sherlock's Victorian Special, According To Steven Moffat

If there’s one television series that’s as much frustrating as fun, it has to be BBC’s Sherlock. While each of the episodes is engrossing in its own way, there are just never quite enough of them to whet our appetites for modern-day mysteries. News that a special holiday season installment of Sherlock was more than welcome for fans, but news that the special will somehow take place back in Victorian England was somewhat puzzling. Even star Benedict Cumberbatch was taken aback at the news. Executive producer Steven Moffat promises that Sherlock will still feel like Sherlock.

In an interview with Radio Times, Steven Moffat had this to say about the upcoming special:

We couldn’t sustain 90 minutes of just having a bit of fun. Our ambition was that, explicitly, the first 15/20 minutes is the fun of seeing our version of Sherlock Holmes transposed back to its original setting. Then we’ve got to get on with the story. It’s a proper scary mystery…with quite a good solution, but there’s also the ongoing tension between the version of the characters we developed to accommodate the modern setting now sitting in Victorian times. There’s quite a lot to be said about each of the characters and how they survive that time travel.

Word that there will be more to the special than seasonal spectacle as Sherlock Holmes and John Watson don Victorian duds to solve a mystery that almost certainly will not involve a blog bodes well for the plot. Sherlock will have been off the air for almost two years by the time that the latest installment will air on New Year’s Day 2016, but the novelty is bound to wear off sooner rather than later in the 90 minutes. The jokes of Sherlock in a deerstalker hat and John in a mustache can only carry an episode so far,

It is worth noting that Moffat’s reference to time travel is purely a figure of speech. Fans began to theorize from the first bits of footage that were released of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in period dress that this could be a crossover with a man in a blue box who took a wrong turn from the Doctor Who set, but it looks at though the two shows will remain separate for the indefinite future. Sherlock setting one of its few episodes back in Victorian times was at once the simplest and yet most bizarre of options. After all, part of the appeal of Sherlock in the first place was how the show adapted classic stories of Holmes and Watson from the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to modern day England.

Still, there’s no reason to believe that the special will be anything but a whole lot of fun from start to finish. Steven Moffat has pulled off the impossible with Sherlock in the past, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman deciding to come back for this experimental special promises that there will be some good material.

The Sherlock special will air on the BBC and PBS on January 1, 2016.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).