“The Abominable Bride” is a special episode of the British television programme Sherlock. The episode was broadcast on BBC One, PBS and Channel One on 1 January 2016. It depicts the characters of the show in an alternative timeline: the Victorian London setting of the original stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. The title is based on the quote “Ricoletti of the club foot and his abominable wife” from “The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual”, which refers to a case mentioned by Holmes. The story also draws on elements of original Conan Doyle stories of Holmes such as “The Five Orange Pips” and “The Final Problem”. Regular composers David Arnold and Michael Price wrote the music.
By this time the sound of the “Sherlock” TV show is quite well established and one of the more enjoyable ones thanks to these two great composers and besides, it’s the one place we can still hear David Arnold write for. And yet the Victorian angle is a new one for this modern rendition of Sherlock. The opening cue “Second Afghan war” shows no trace of that as we get the playful violin sound that Hans Zimmer took to the edge in his score for the Guy Ritchie. I was maybe expecting a gimmicky episode to get a slightly modified opening titles theme but it’s not the case here.
This being a score for a single episode, there would be space for more different themes and for a story like narrative in the album. The British conservative character treat is present in the music of “Sherlock” as well; I don’t hear in “The abominable bride” anything that I haven’t heard in the previous scores. We get the playful piano, the sarcastic string and horn sections, the overall shroud of mystery in the music; four years in and I still haven’t gotten tired of it though so fans of the show and of the music of the show will have no trouble enjoying this one.
As fine as the music is and as much as I enjoy the changes of pace, I am missing the emotional factor; now I haven’t watched the show so maybe it never is about emotion but I wanted to hear these instruments used for a proper emotional theme or for a standout, memorable cue. I have to settle for tension and suspense and I do like the witch like vocal inserts in “Broke window”, they are a nice touch. The melancholic horn section in “Cuttings” is another thing I appreciate as is the constant, well, scissors cutting sounds that never leaves this cue. There is also the climax of the episode in “Unveiling the bride” where the music gets more intense.
“Sherlock – the abominable bride” is the same quirky affair with which David Arnold and Michael Price have accustomed us. Part sombre and elegant, part playful an almost never emotional it is a proper addendum to the collection of scores we’ve already gotten so far through the years. Fans will be happy with it.
Cue rating: 82 / 100
Total minutes of excellence: 3 / 28
Album excellence: 9%