On the 15th January 2012, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, much to everyone’s horror, hurled himself of the roof of St. Barts Hospital following an epic showdown with his nemesis Moriarty. Ten minutes later, our mouths all dropped in shock as, with Watson at Holmes’ graveside, a mysterious figure watching from the shadows is revealed to be none other than Sherlock- still very much alive. For two years, fans have speculated over how he did it and on New Years Day 2014, we will finally find out the truth.
But first, creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat wanted to make sure we’re all thoroughly excited about the shows return and so released, on Christmas Day, a prequel entitled ‘Many Happy Returns’. Set two years after the famous detectives’ apparent demise, we catch up with Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) and Anderson (Jonathan Aris) Anderson – who now sports a rather ragged beard – appears to have been booted off the police force in the two years since we last saw him stirring trouble for Sherlock, is convinced that a series of incidents involving ‘amazing powers of deduction’ are the work of Holmes, and what is more, it appears he is heading back to London. Lestrade dismisses Anderson’s slightly deranged ramblings but we see that, across the globe, Sherlock’s trademark coat is still in action.
The episode then becomes slightly more bitter sweet as we are reunited with John Watson (Martin Freeman). Though he seems to be recovering, there does seem a certain sadness about the character. Though not yet sporting the wonderful/dreadful (delete as appropriate) moustache seen in the trailers, this is definitely a John Watson who is older, more weary than the one we saw in Series Two.
A birthday video message, given to Watson, at first reminds us of Sherlock’s lack of tact and sharp wit, but quickly takes a much more interesting turn. Watson comments ‘You can stop being dead’ to which the video seems to reply ‘OK’. The recorded Sherlock then tells John that he will be with him soon. And then the doorbell rings… But who is it? Well, we’ll have to wait to New Year’s Day to find out, and I for one, am very excited.
The prequel is a perfect way to both reintroduce the audience (those who haven’t watched the Reichenbach Fall episode 100 times since trying to figure out the secret) to the world of Sherlock and allow us to see how, with Sherlock ‘dead’ our beloved characters have changed. If the series continues to be as good, or better than the prequel, it will be excellent.