Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sherlock Special "The Abominable Bride" - Canonical References and Nods

benedict cumberbatch martin freeman victorian sherlock 221 b baker street christmas special the abominable bride image wallpaper poster picture screensaver

The Sherlock Special episode The Abominable Bride has aired and as can be expected, there are a bunch of nods to Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories and novels. There might be spoilers and the readers who are yet to watch the episode are recommended to skip this post.

1. The episode title The Abominable Bride involving the bride: Emilia Ricoletti (Natasha O'Keeffe) and her husband Thomas Ricoletti (Gerald Kyd) - Sherlock Holmes mentions to Dr John Watson about this case in The Adventure of the Musgrave RitualBut there are some pretty little problems among them. Here's the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club-foot, and his abominable wife.

2. The following lines spoken by Dr John Watson (Martin Freeman): The second Afghan war brought honours and promotion to many. But for me it meant nothing but misfortune and disaster... Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are drained. - They are taken almost verbatim from A Study in Scarlet. They are also among the very first lines written by Arthur Conan Doyle, that would eventually culminate in the legendary Canon comprising 56 short stories and 4 novels.

3. The newspaper salesman asking Dr John Watson if his next story will feature an actual murder, unlike his current story The Blue Carbuncle” - Reference to the plot of The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, in which Sherlock Holmes solves the mystery behind the theft of a rare stone. This story was set during Christmas time and did not involve any murder.

Also to be noted: the man is seen holding a copy of The Strand Magazine. The Sherlock Holmes stories were published in this magazine, including The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

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4. Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) deducing the identity of his client as being Mary Morstan (Amanda Abbington) based on her perfume - Reference to this line spoken by Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles: “There are seventy-five perfumes, which it is very necessary that a criminal expert should be able to distinguish from each other, and cases have more than once within my own experience depended upon their prompt recognition.”

5. Sherlock is impressed by John's growing deductive capabilities and comments: My Boswell is learning. They grow up so fast.” - In A Scandal in Bohemia, Dr Watson offers to leave when Sherlock Holmes is about to receive a very wealthy client. Holmes responds: Not a bit, Doctor. Stay where you are. I am lost without my Boswell.

6. Dr John Watson receives a message from Sherlock: Come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same. Holmes - Sherlock Holmes sends this note to Dr John Watson in The Adventure of the Creeping Man: “Come at once if convenient–if inconvenient come all the same. S. H.”.


7. Sherlock comforts the fearful Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves): Fear is wisdom in the face of danger. It is nothing to be ashamed of. - In The Final Problem, Sherlock Holmes explains his fear of airguns to Dr Watson: I think that you know me well enough, Watson, to understand that I am by no means a nervous man. At the same time, it is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you.

8. When asked to describe the bride's face, Lestrade responds: White as death, mouth like a crimson wound. Sherlock asks: Poetry or truth? When Lestrade replies that many people would consider both the same thing, Sherlock retorts: Yes, Idiots” - In The Adventure of the Retired ColormanSherlock Holmes sends Dr John Watson to collect information about Josiah Amberley. Dr Watson returns and explains about Josiah's house: You know that particular quarter, the monotonous brick streets, the weary suburban highways. Right in the middle of them, a little island of ancient culture and comfort, lies this old home, surrounded by a high sun-baked wall mottled with lichens and topped with moss, the sort of wall...”. Holmes' angry response: Cut out the poetry, Watson...I note that it was a high brick wall.


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9. Mary receives a letter from a certain M (Mycroft). When Mrs Hudson (Una Stubbs) asks who it is from, Mary responds: England” - In The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington PlansSherlock Holmes explains about his brother to Dr John Watson: You are right in thinking that he is under the British government. You would also be right in a sense if you said that occasionally he is the British government.

10. The writing (in blood) on the wall: You” - Possible reference to the plot of A Study in Scarlet. In the original novel, the murderer writes the word RACHE (using his own blood) on the wall at the crime scene.

11. Dr Watson reprimands his maid, Jane (Stephanie Hyam) for being late, being incapable of boiling an egg and almost destroying his boots while scraping the mud off them. He also warns Jane that he will ask Mary to have a word with her -

In A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes deduces that Dr Watson has a clumsy and careless servant girl based on the careless scrapes round the edges of the soles of Watson's shoes. Dr Watson confirms Holmes' deductions:  As to Mary Jane, she is incorrigible, and my wife has given her notice....

In The Problem of Thor Bridge, Sherlock Holmes complains about his new cook to Dr Watson: There is little to share, but we may discuss it when you have consumed the two hard-boiled eggs with which our new cook has favored us. Their condition may not be unconnected with the copy of the Family Herald which I observed yesterday upon the hall-table. Even so trivial a matter as cooking an egg demands an attention which is conscious of the passage of time and incompatible with the love romance in that excellent periodical.



12. Sherlock is seen reading up on The obliquity of the ecliptic - The inclination of the earth's equator to the path of the sun on the celestial plane.”. John teases that he has been preparing himself to impress someone (Mycroft) who is more clever than him - In A Study in Scarlet, Dr Watson mentions that Sherlock Holmes' knowledge of Astronomy is NIL.

13. Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss) states: To anyone who wishes to study mankind, this is the spot.” - This exact line is spoken by Mycroft Holmes at the Diogenes Club in The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter

14. Mycroft scolds Sherlock: As ever you see, but you do not observe. - In A Scandal in Bohemia, Sherlock Holmes says the same line to Dr Watson: You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.


benedict cumberbatch victorian sherlock holmes violin the abominable bride image picture poster wallpaper screensaver

15. The following exchange between Mycroft and Sherlock is taken verbatim from The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter:

MycroftI expected to see you a few days ago about the Manor House case.  I thought you might be a little out of your depth there. 
Sherlock: No, I solved it. 
MycroftIt was Adams, of course.
Sherlock: Yes, it was Adams.

16. Sherlock asks Mycroft if he has solved the case. Mycroft responds that he has solved it, but needs his brother to do the legwork” (something he clearly hates) - In The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans, Sherlock asks Mycroft as to why he does not solve the case. Mycroft replies: Possibly, Sherlock.  But it is a question of getting details. Give me your details, and from an armchair I will return you an excellent expert opinion.  But to run here and run there, to cross-question railway guards, and lie on my face with a lens to my eye - it is not my metier.

17. Wilder (Tim Barlow) informs Mycroft: Also a Mr. Melas to see you, Mr. Holmes” - Reference to the character of Mr. Melas, the titular character of the story: The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter.

18. Sir Eustace Carmichael (Tim McInnerny) receives five orange pips as a warning of his impending death - In the original story, The Five Orange Pips, the secret society known as the Ku Klux Klan sends five orange pips as a warning to individuals who have been marked for death.

19. Sherlock tells John: The game is afoot” - Sherlock Holmes awakens Dr John Watson in The Adventure of the Abbey Grange and implores him: “Come, Watson, come! ... The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”

20. Sherlock's response to Dr Watson's comments about Lady Carmichael (Catherine McCormack): The fair sex is your department, Watson. I will take your word for it.” - In The Adventure of the Second Stain, Holmes asks Watson for his opinion about Lady Hilda Trelawney HopeNow, Watson, the fair sex is your department ... What was the fair lady's game? What did she really want?


21.  Sherlock states: All emotion is abhorrent to me. It is the grit in a sensitive instrument. The crack in the lens.” - 

Dr John Watson writes about Sherlock Holmes' attitude towards love in A Scandal in Bohemia: “All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind... He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer... But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results. Grit in a sensitive instrument, or a crack in one of his own high-power lenses, would not be more disturbing than a strong emotion in a nature such as his.”

22. Sherlock and Watson are constantly at odds about the possibility of ghosts. Finally, Sherlock has had enough and shouts: There are no ghosts!” - This reminded me of the story: The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire. Sherlock Holmes expresses clear skepticism about the existence of supernatural entities like vampires and ghosts. He comments to Dr Watson: But are we to give serious attention to such things? This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.

23. Sherlock frowns due to the fact that the murderer has escaped due to Watson's mistake: Our bird is flown - In The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter, Holmes makes a prediction that the kidnappers of Mr Melas would have escaped by making the statement: Our birds are flown and the nest empty.


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24. Sherlock scolds Watson: Use your brain, such as it is, to eliminate the impossible, which in this case is the ghost, and observe what remains, which in this case is a solution so blindingly obvious,...” -

In The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes makes one of his most famous statements: How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

25. Moriarty (Andrew Scott) taunts Sherlock: It is a dangerous habit to finger loaded firearms in the pocket of one's dressing-gown.” - This line is taken verbatim from The Final Problem. 

26. Moriarty states: There is nothing new under the sun” -

In A Study in Scarlet, Holmes states: “There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before” 

Sherlock Holmes mentions in The Valley of Fear: “The old wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up. It's all been done before, and will be again.”

27. Dr Watson asks Sherlock: Morphine or Cocaine?. Sherlock replies:  Cocaine... a 7% solution. Care to try it?” - This exchange takes place between Holmes and Watson in The Sign of the Four.

28. Mycroft asks Sherlock as he is about to search for the corpse of Emilia Ricoletti: Cherchez la femme? -

Sherlock Holmes explains about his ancestry in The Adventure of the Greek InterpreterBut, none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist.

Sherlock Holmes also uses the word “recherché” in The Musgrave Ritual - But there are some pretty little problems among them. Here's the record of the Tarleton murders, and the case of Vamberry, the wine merchant, and the adventure of the old Russian woman, and the singular affair of the aluminium crutch, as well as a full account of Ricoletti of the club-foot, and his abominable wife. And here—ah, now, this really is something a little recherché.




29. We can see the name Vernet” in Mycroft's notebook -  Sherlock Holmes explains about his ancestry in The Adventure of the Greek InterpreterBut, none the less, my turn that way is in my veins, and may have come with my grandmother, who was the sister of Vernet, the French artist.

30. In the closing scene, Sherlock states: From a drop of water, a logician should be able to infer the possibility of Atlantic or Niagara.. Watson adds: “... or a Reichenbach?” - Sherlock Holmes says this line in A Study in ScarletFrom a drop of water a logician could infer the possibility of an Atlantic or a Niagara without having seen or heard of one or the other”

31. The character of Sir Eustace Carmichael shares the first name with the character of  Sir Eustace Brackenstall from the original story: The Adventure Of The Abbey Grange.


sherlock the abominable bride dress code ku klux khan nods references

32. The dress worn by the women seeking revenge is similar to the dress worn by the Ku Klux Khan. This counts as another reference to the original story: The Five Orange Pips, that featured the members of this cult society.

The last 2 are credited to Meghashyam Chirravoori.

Readers are welcome to point out any other nods I might have missed out.

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Image Source: Hartswood Films,  BBC One,  Masterpiece Theatre, Wikipedia

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27 comments:

  1. I like what Allyn Gibson added on WelcomeHolmes discussion: "I was more intrigued by the Non-Canonical references. Nick Meyer's THE SEVEN PER-CENT SOLUTION got a nod, Laurie R. King's A MONSTROUS REGIMENT OF WOMEN was name-checked pretty directly, the climax was pilfered from YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, the musical score quoted the Jeremy Brett series, and some of the present-day drug abuse material seemed lifted from ELEMENTARY. And I felt the episode was hinting pretty hard at Michael Dibdin's THE
    LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES STORY, which I wrote about on my blog. Warning, I dropped an f-bomb in that post":

    http://www.allyngibson.com/?p=29825

    "The Abominable Bride" was simply a smorgasbord of references and nods!

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    1. Thanks Howard for the comment.

      B2B.

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    2. In addition to the observation that the non-canonical references were also very interesting, look out for the actor who plays Holmes in the cinema version of the Sherlock Holmes stories* in the recent Mr Holmes film starring Sir Ian McKellan. ;)

      (*A Hamlet-like film within the film experience for the viewers)

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    3. Thanks Paul for the comment. If I am correct, the actor is Nicholas Rowe :)

      B2B.

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  2. Exhaustive as ever, B2B! But what did you think of this one-off special then? is there a review coming later?

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    1. Thanks GK :)

      I will be posting my review shortly.

      B2B.

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    2. Don't call me shortly. Badoom-tish!

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  3. The cinematography and costumes are great in this special, and Cumberbatch can play a good 1800's Holmes if you let him. What hurt this show is that too much CGI and fancy camera tricks kill the idea of it being in past. Although I realize that some special effects was necessary to the plot,but they went way overboard. Another thing hurting it is the constant non stop comedy and getting away from Doyle in the 1800's when they should not have. For example, Mycroft wasn't a comical disgusting glutton ( Did Eddie Murphy write that scene basing it upon his Nutty Professor?) Holmes and his brother respected one another in Doyle's world of Sherlock Holmes. It could have been much better if they had eliminated or at least toned down the comedy and special effects.

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    1. I enjoyed the Victorian parts very much. I think Gatiss and Moffat outdid themselves on that account. Benedict's acting, the Canonical references and especially Mycroft Holmes were brilliant. It was refreshing to see a more Canonically accurate version of Mycroft (physically speaking) even if he was a bit too humorous.

      I do agree that the weakest sections of the episode were the ones featuring Andrew Scott's Moriarty. As fellow blogger GK put it nicely, Andrew was way OTT in this episode.

      B2B.

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    2. I just want to add that both Sherlock and Elementary, says let's have conflict between Holmes and Mycroft and not have them as in Doyle's work. Should they do this? My theory is that Holmes badly wanted to bond with his older brother, but he can't because his older brother is a recluse and so Holmes adopted Watson as his brother. It would have been the two Holmes Brothers solving crimes if Mycroft wasn't so reclusive and seldom leaves the club.

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    3. Interesting theory about the Holmes brothers.

      As for the Mycroft-Sherlock relationship, the BBC show wanted to modernize the relationship or make it more realistic, I guess. Hence they made it conflicted. CBS Elementary probably just copied that idea. After all, the show was initially supposed to be an American remake of the BBC show to begin with...

      B2B.

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    4. Did you know that the Americans (CBS) aired two series pilots in the 1990's with Sherlock Holmes in modern times? (Long before Sherlock) In both of them, Watson was female.
      They got the 1800's Sherlock Holmes in our time by having him in suspended frozen animation and waking up. You can see them on You Tube.

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    5. Yes, I am aware that CBS did those shows with female Watsons.

      Here is an interesting trivia for you: Margaret Colin, who played Jane Watson in the 1987 TV movie "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" played a supporting role in Elementary Season 2 Episode 8 "Blood is Thicker".

      I have mentioned this in my review as well: http://buddy2blogger.blogspot.com/2013/11/cbs-elementary-season-2-episode-8-blood-is-thicker-review.html

      B2B.

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    6. Great trivia. I suspected you knew this and that you know more about Holmes than myself.
      It seems CBS was, since 1987, determined to put Sherlock Holmes in modern times. Elementary being the third and successful time.

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    7. Thanks Demetrius for the kind compliment.

      B2B.

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  4. This isn't on your list, but Moriarty and Sherlock going over the falls... that was obviously a reference to "The Final Problem," where they fight to the death at Reichenbach Falls, no?

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    1. Thanks Claudia. I thought that was a bit obvious, given that they had already covered that in S2E3 "The Reichenbach Fall". That is why I left it out.

      B2B.

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  5. Awesome list! I had really missed some of those like the 'Verner' reference.

    Another reference I noted was the name 'Sir Eustace' - which is the name of the murdered man in The Abbey Grange - though he's Sir Eustace Brackenstall and not Sir Eustace Carmichael. But the names do have a similar-sounding ring.

    Yet another reference: the dresses worn by the women leading the movement - are very similar to the dresses worn by Ku Klux Klan members of yore. (For instance, here's a real picture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan#/media/File:Ku_Klux_Klan_Virgina_1922_Parade.jpg)

    That's yet another reference to The Five Orange Pips which features the Ku Klux Klan.

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    1. Thanks Meghashyam. I did check to see if Sir Eustace was in the Canon, as it did sound familiar. Thanks for clearing that up as well as the KKK dress code reference.

      I will add these and credit you.

      B2B.

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  6. Great post but I thought it was a terrible episode

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    1. Thanks Gary. I agree that the episode could have definitely done better, especially without the unnecessary presence of Andrew Scott as Moriarty.

      B2B.

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  7. I am looking forward to reading you review of referencse. I have not finished watching the episode yet so I am holding off. But I'll be back.

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    1. Thanks John for stopping by. I will be posting my review soon.

      B2B.

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  8. There's an extension to an upper floor window, when Holmes & Watson arrive at the Carmichael house, that looks very much like a telephone box. Is this a Doyle reference, or is it Gatiss & Moffatt being self-referential? (Doctor Who)?

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    1. I am not much familiar with the Dr Who universe. So missed that reference (which I don't think is to ACD's Canon).

      Thanks for stopping by.

      B2B.

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  9. The building in question is actually used for the exterior of the Diogenes Club - not the Carmichael mansion. While I can't say with any certainty that it was selected because of the unique dormer on the second floor, it does, indeed, have the basic shape of a phone box. The building is located at 10 Carlton House Terrace, London, and you can see a picture of the second floor dormer here: http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/luinalda/12837513/485254/600.jpg

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