The Project: Sherlock, BBC’s Cumberbatch-powered modern-day retelling of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved Baker Street Detective series
The Panel: Executive producer/co-creator Steven Moffat, executive producer/co-creator/co-star Mark Gatiss, and executive producer Sue Vertue. (The panel was moderated by EW’s own James Hibberd.)
Footage Screened: Sherlock‘s busy stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, were absent from the panel; joked Moffat, “We have, by accident and surprise, the two biggest British film stars around.” However, the stars did record a special video hello for Comic-Con attendees, which you can watch here. But the real treat came later, when the panel shared a whole sequence from the second episode of the upcoming third series. Century-Old Spoiler Alert: John Watson is getting hitched. And he wants Sherlock to be his Best Man..
Snap Judgment: The pippy sequence had the audience in stitches, beginning during Sherlock’s wedding speech and then flashing back to the moment when Watson asked the Great Detective to be his Best Man. Honestly, it was one of the show’s most flat-out funny scenes in its short history, and it could imply a slight tonal shift in the three 2014 episodes. As Moffat explained, the show has “moved on a bit. There’s slightly more humor.” And tenderness: The scene foregrounds the depth of Watson and Sherlock’s friendship, with a kicker that led to an audible “awwww” in the audience.
The Big Revelations: Besides that wedding? The panel promised to resolve series 2’s cliffhanger ending quickly, and that they have what Moffat terms “a rational explanation” for how Sherlock faked his own death. (They assured attendees that Sherlock’s nemesis, Moriarty, is indeed dead. “He shot himself through the brain stem,” said Gatiss. “You don’t come back from that.”) In turn, the producers pooh-poohed any notion that they might ultimately kill off their main characters, even in a theoretical series finale. Said Gatiss, “They’ve been solving crimes in Baker Street for over 100 years. They’re never gonna die.”
Although a fourth series hasn’t officially been commissioned by the BBC, it appears to be all-but a sure thing. (The actors are “optioned for a fourth series,” said Vertue. “We just haven’t worked out when we’re gonna do it.”) And the producers don’t really envision an end in sight anytime soon. Noting that the long delay between series 2 and 3 was to allow Cumberbatch and Freeman time off to film movies, they mused that Sherlock could keep on running in that model. “There is something lovely about the idea of Benedict and Martin aged 55, around the same fireplace,” said Gatiss, “becoming the same age we associate with Holmes and Watson.”
Most Incisive Audience Questions: One attendee had a non-plot question: “Benedict put on a lot of muscle mass for Star Trek. Any concern that his physical transformation would make him no longer look like Sherlock Holmes?” Joked Moffat: “People get better-looking as they get famous.”