sherlock-benedict-cumberbatch-intro

The BBC and PBS Masterpiece series Sherlock was the highlight of a panel at Comic Con today, with producers Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and Sue Vertue in attendance. Not in the house were the show’s stars, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, because they are occupied with finishing up The Hobbit and filming the third season of Sherlock.  But the two actors were showcased in a video introduction to the panel — greeted with Twilight panel-worthy screams from the audience — in which Cumberbatch “explained” just how Sherlock made it out of the end of season two.

The panel that followed was light on news but very entertaining, as Matiss, Moffat, and Vertue evaded questions and offered up a few observations about making the show, all the way through the nearly-complete third season. You can watch the actors’ video intro below, after which we’ll run down a few panel highlights. Needless to say there are some mild spoilers for the end of the second season below, and anyone who wants to go into the thitd season cold should watch the video below, but skip the panel recap.

First up, here’s the video intro from Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, via EW:

As for the third season, it was explained that the first episode will really focus on Sherlock’s return to the land of the living, after an apparent dire fate at the end of season two. (Despite that fate being shown to be false at the very end.) The point isn’t so much to explain how he lives, but what effect his life has on the people around him, starting with Watson. “All the talk tends to be about “how did he do it,” said Moffat, “but I don’t think that’s the interesting part. That’s just the answer.” He explained that “the centerpiece of the thing is when John and Sherlock meet again.”

Asked about the reappearance of Sherlock’s brother Mycroft Holmes (played by gatiss himself) and just how much we’ll see of the character, Gatiss said,

Quite a lot. We can’t say without giving anything away, but. the big thing we wanted to explore was… in Doyle’s story, Watson’s reaction to Sherlock’s reappearance is dealt with fairly quickly. He just forgives him. That’s not going to happen for us. If [Sherlock] just showed up, “Hi, did you miss me?” doesn’t work. So we wanted to explore how it affects all the regulars, his friends and family.

The episode is based on the story The Empty House, and bears that title. Gatiss explained, “It’s based on The Adventure of the Empty House, but Doyle would even have said the whole excuse there [in the original story] was to bring Sherlock back. So the show has got a very different plot from the short story. The point is Sherlock’s return and the effect on Watson.”

The second episode of the third season will deal with Watson’s wedding. “I can, hot off the presses from 110 years ago, confirm that John does get married to Mary Watson,” joked Moffat. “We hoped you wouldn’t read the books.” In fact, the producers showed a scene from that episode, and asked people not to explain it in too much detail online. So I’ll just say that it was one of the funnier scenes in the series to date, and showcases a certain evolution in the Holmes/Watson friendship.

Asked about a fourth season, Vertue said the actors are optioned, and that at this point everyone seems to want to keep going. It isn’t fully commissioned at this point, but based on what was said today it would be a surprise to see the series close out with the upcoming third season. Sherlock will be back on the air on PBS in the States in early 2014.

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