After a mere 9 episodes divided into 3 seasons, BBC Sherlock is finally releasing its fourth and potentially final season on Jan. 1, 2017. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, Sherlock is a modern twist on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Victorian Sherlock Holmes stories.
In co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ version, the two characters are flat mates at 221B Baker Street, London. John Watson, a retired military doctor moves in with the anomalous Sherlock Holmes, violinist, self-declared “consulting detective,” and genius. The unlikely pair prove to consistently outperform Scotland Yard in their crime-solving, and generally become a British sensation.
Their talent, though, does not go unnoticed by the criminal world. Faced by the likes of criminal mastermind Jim Moriarty, corrupt media man Charles Magnussen, and the elusive Hound of the Baskervilles, one can only guess what villain season 4 will present. Moffat and Gattiss, noted and sometimes criticized among fans for their secrecy, have kept Sherlock fans in the dark about this new season for 3 solid years, the amount of time since the final episode of season 3. This has its pros and cons for its audience.
“I like the idea of the small scale British series,” comments Mr. Hittle, a Sherlock fan and literature teacher at The Academy. “Everything matters, because there have been such few episodes” extended across six years since its first season in 2010. “The deeper they get into the series, the more they can play with people’s expectations. The more comfortable we are with the characters, the more freely we can explore their personalities.”
Due to such a hiatus, speculation has become rampant within the fan base, and comments from cast and crew members only fuel the confusion. “Steven [Moffat] and Mark [Gatiss] are ready to unleash the most shocking and surprising series of Sherlock yet. The only thing to expect is the unexpected,” taunts BBC drama controller, Ben Stephenson. Moffat confirms this. “We have a plan to top Season 3—and our plan is devastating. We practically reduced our cast to tears.”
The series is renowned for its plot twists, from Sherlock’s painfully believable faked suicide, to Mary Watson’s former life as a professional assassin. What more, fans then ask, can the series have in store for them? Anything can happen, according to Mr. Hittle. “That’s one thing I especially like about what the show does. In the original books, darker aspects of life were included, like Sherlock’s opium and cocaine addictions.” Sherlock’s 2015 Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride,” alluded to the potentially fatal consequences of these addictions, a likely hint at their reappearance in season 4.
For the newly married John and Mary Watson, definite lifestyle changes will occur with the presence of their newborn child. Their already tense marriage will be further tested by the life of a baby girl, and “John’s gonna have a bit of a priority problem,” predicts Tara Prabhu ’17. “He’s a new dad, he can’t still run around England with Sherlock to solve mysteries all the time.”
If there’s anything fans can agree on, however, it’s that they’re glad to be back at 221B with their favorite consulting detective. “I’m mainly just excited to see Benedict Cumberbatch again,” confirms Sarah Thornton ‘18. Mr. Hittle shares this opinion. “Looking forward to have Cumberbatch’s British charm back on the TV. It was indeed very strange to have him with an American accent in Doctor Strange” (2016).
Regardless of what’s in store for this upcoming season on January 1, BBC Sherlock is bound to thrill and astound its audience. In the words of Sherlock himself, “the game is on,” and the show’s audience is eager to play once more.