“Sherlock” won’t just be in a different time when the PBS drama returns. Unlike the rest of “Sherlock” Season 4, the first new episode will be a special set in Victorian times. The episode won’t star the same Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (Martin Freeman) that fans are used to either. At the Television Critics Association press conference, showrunner Steven Moffat teased that both men have changed in their journey to the past.
“[Sherlock has] the manners of the Victorian gentleman, which he doesn't have in the modern version,” Moffat explained, IGN reports. “So he is a lot less brattish when he's back then. And Dr. Watson is a bit more upright. They're the same people, seen through the prism of a different time and fitting in to a different society. I would say this Sherlock is a little more polished, and he operates like a Victorian gentleman instead of a posh, rude man, which he does in the modern too.”
It sounds like Freeman wanted to go back to the present-day version of his character, but Cumberbatch was happy to be more polite. “By the end, Martin was ready to go back to the more acerbic version, but I think Benedict really enjoyed being Victorian Holmes. He was saying halfway through, ‘Let’s always do this. I quite like it,’” Moffat said, the Washington Post reports.
Of course, viewers are wondering how they’ll get there in the first place, but it seems they might not get much of an explanation (and no, it’s not a “Doctor Who” crossover). “We never bothered to explain what they were doing in modern day London,” Moffat said. “So why bother explaining what they’re doing in Victorian London, when that’s where they’re supposed to be?”
Moffat elaborated that the time period worked well for the plot. “Ghost stories work better in a Victorian setting,” Moffat teased, according to Entertainment Weekly. The magazine was also given an update that the showrunner didn’t mean this literally: “We’re told Moffat meant by this that the story is spooky, but does not involve ghosts per se.”
The episode will truly be a one-time special that’s separate from the rest of the fourth season. “Sherlock” Season 4 will pick up in modern times when Cumberbatch and Freeman start filming in 2016. “Really, this is a one-off,” Moffat said (via IGN). “Unless we go mad and decide on setting it in the 1940s and have them fight Hitler. Nothing is inconceivable if you have no taste.” It’s worth noting that this is the plot of an episode of “Doctor Who” that Moffat wrote called “Let’s Kill Hitler.”
Fans got their first glimpse of the episode with some footage from San Diego Comic-Con (above), but it looks like that’s all they’ll get for a while. The “Sherlock” team still has no idea when the Victorian-era special will air, despite speculation that it could be a Christmas special.
“Sherlock” airs on PBS. Are you excited for the special or are would you rather pick up with modern day Sherlock and Watson? Sound off in the comments section below!