Saturday, 2 January 2016

Abominable Bride vs Doctor Who


I struggled with the last series of Doctor Who. I think I started to watch the last proper pre-Xmas special episode of the series three times before I eventually got through it. And that's sitting down comfortably on the sofa, not staring at it from a bike turbo session. It really was an out-of-time number, complete with a Dalek and a defective Cyberman in what appeared to be Doctor Who's mind-palace.

Similarly with the glossy Christmas Special, which I watched a couple of days ago. I'm not quite sure what has gone wrong, but it feels as if their infinite universe is somehow struggling for the right clever ideas. It started well enough and had some proper humour included, but then veered off into decapitations as they all ran around like headless turkeys. I liked the idea to use an old stripped back version of the Tardis and wonder if that's a hint that they'll need to reset their thinking before the next series gets written.

By comparison, the parallel universe and inception-like mind-palace of Sherlock Holmes was altogether more entertaining, to the extent that I might even watch the whole 90 minutes for a second time. When they Cumberbatched Sherlock, it was set in the modern day to provide an instant relevance (probably save some set money too). Now they've zoomed it back to the 1890s and it worked just as well, with the Holmes/Watson duo doing their now familiar double act with aplomb.

Given the Moffatt/Gatiss script-writers also write for Doctor Who, to me the Sherlock show was an altogether more finessed production, with most scenes having rapid-fire get-in and get-out moments to hustle the whole plot line along.

A straightforward main story with the bride Ricoletti's ghost prowling the murky Limehouse streets seeking revenge. Meanwhile Holmes/Watson and their extended company do their thing including some self-referential banter which could well be Sherlock talking to himself.

Then, if the beginning wasn't already snappy enough, it progressively accelerates through the last few scenes, keeping surprises tucked up its sleeve to the very end.

Throw in some multi-level twists and we see that inside the mind of Sherlock would give that DiCaprio movie a run for its money in terms of levels of nesting and recursion.

Final Score:

Doctor Who : 2
Abominable Bride: 5

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