I LOVE “Sherlock”. I’ve loved every episode but “The Blind Banker”, which was a bit dull. So it should tell you something when I say that the Victorian special was very, very bad.
I’m going to spoil everything, and you’ll thank me for it later.
First off, there were a lot of inception style “It was a vision from modern Sherlock/No it was imagined by Victorian Sherlock” elements. They weren’t great, but they were fine. No, the problem was the Victorian story.
I’ll just summarize: Apparently women’s suffragists who go around on suicide missions and killing men and crap are apparently the good guys in a war on sexist men. No, I am not exaggerating. It is called a war, and they are called the good guys, by Holmes and Mycroft.
The reactions of Holmes, Watson, et al were wildly anachronistic. When Watson sees a woman dressed as a man, instead of pulling her aside and saying, “Lady, there is no need to hide from me. I can see you are in dire straights to wear such a disguise. I may be able to help”, as the canon Watson, ever the gentleman, would have done, he instead quips “It must be tough for a woman in a men’s world”, and then walks away.
When Holmes and Mycroft figure out that radical suffragettes have started a militant organization intent on seizing equality through force, instead of turning them into the police or trying to lay a trap to prove that they’ve broken the law, he announces that really they’re the good guys and men need to be taken down a peg. Hail Sherlock, the 19th century feminist.
“Sherlock” has always balanced on the cutting edge between fine Sherlockian adventure and outrageous message fiction. I always thought it kept on the right side of the line, and never thought Moffat let his message affect his story – the mark of a good writer. Whedon is mostly the same way; I disagree with basically everything he believes, but for the most part he is too honest a writer to let his views ruin his story.
Moffat galloped towards the line on horseback, at full speed, and leaped over it, then kept galloping. This was full-blown feminist propaganda. Characters were ruined, the story was ruined, and great performances, some great dialogue at parts, and great production values were all ruined sop Moffat could make the point that men in the 19th century were so sexist that secret underground female assassin leagues were needed to educate the menfolk in feminism. Or something.
Anyway, remember, the people who don’t want women to vote are the bad guys, whereas the women who will kill men because they can’t vote are the good guys.
Blech. What a mess. So much to love there, ruined by such a bad plot. Ah well. About time for a stinker. I only wish such a great concept wasn’t wasted.