The BBC Sherlock series continues to be filled with surprises. The New Year's special on PBS (in the states) cleverly offered up both a Victorian era drama that Sir Doyle would approve of and a direct connection (although little is revealed) to where the series left off in the previous season; on the tarmac with Sherlock's plane being turned around at the news of Moriarty's return.
The New Year's special starts off, delightfully Gothic, in merry old England and consummately follows the template for a standard recreation of a classic adventure by the legendary detective. Somewhere in the middle a disturbing message shows up and the surprising revelation is that this becomes a tale of two separate mysteries in two different times. Sherlock, for personal reasons, needs to solve the mystery in the past before he can move forward in the present.
Literary purists who were waiting for a straight up classic Sherlock played by Cumberpatch and company might feel somewhat cheated in the end but fans of the show should be delighted.