‘Sherlock’ Season 4: Benedict Cumberbatch, Amanda Abbington, and Series EPs on the Darkest Episodes Yet

     July 24, 2016

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Here is what we know about the upcoming season of BBC’s Sherlock. Sunday morning’s Hall H presentation at San Diego Comic-Con included a sneak peek and chat with stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Amanda Abbington, showrunners Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, and producer Sue Vertue. Previously unannounced, Cumberbatch joined the panel in a surprise video that dropped yesterday during the convention much to the excitement of fans who waited overnight to get in. (Note: There are massive spoilers below!)

  • They’re two weeks from finishing series four. Benedict and Mark have a big scene this season to rehearse and that got a big reaction from the crowd.
  • Steven Moffat calls Sherlock making 3 movies every two years essentially. He jokes that that’s what keeps it fresh and that Guy Richie got away with making two.
  • Cumberbatch says the pleasure of the role is playing up the evolution of the characters. He Says what they’re doing this season is very ambitious and will push the boundaries of what they can do on television.
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    Image via PBS

    Gatiss says the key to doing 90-minute episodes is working on scale and putting the characters through the emotional ringer. Moffat said Sherlock can’t be the “…scary, immortal man from the beginning. Otherwise, he’s not learning and he has learned.” The only thing not changing is the coat. Cumberbatch added that “Sometimes the coat does have to come off,” and Hall H needed a moment to recover.


  • Abbington is excited to tackle the darkest season yet. She describes the upcoming season as “shocking and amazing.” Cumberbatch added, “The learning curve is massive but with jokes.” We then got the teaser with the standout ominous line directed to Sherlock: “The roads we walk have demons beneath and yours have been waiting a long time.”
  • Not being without jokes, Gatiss assures that, despite the darker tone, there will still be light hearted moments. He continues on that the jokes have departed from meta jokes, referring to the show they now are more centered on the relationship. Cumberbatch agreed that it’s a way to reflect the growth between Watson and Sherlock. There’s no improv but only the way they choose to deliver Gatiss’ zingers.
  • Abbington didn’t know she was going to be an assassin till the third episode but knew that she had a dark past; she thinks Mary is a very well rounded character. “That’s great for a female actor to play,” she said and then said if roles were reversed she would have totally read the infamous file, unlike John. Had she known the truth about Mary all along, she might have played the character different. She liked being established as mild mannered but turning out to be ruthless.
  • Mark and Steven had planned Mary’s eventual turn all along. They purposefully made the two episodes before the reveal, keeping the character funny and light before turning things around to show everything had been a lie. It was built throughout the series to subconsciously plot it, and they didn’t want her to have any tells.
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    Image via BBC

    To weave the Christmas special back to the modern day, Gatiss thought that the only time that story could fit was in the five minutes on the plane. Gatiss loved adding the idea that Sherlock might actually imagine the future that Victorian Sherlock could be having in his fever dreams.

  • Cumberbatch enjoyed playing the Victorian era and loved his slicked back hair. “I wanted him to be more stiff and just a little bit crueler and just of that era. Clipped and slightly more severe. His arc was retrograded in that era,” he said.
  • Cumberbatch explained the pictures of him and the dog on set that floated around online. That it’s a blood hound that was supposed to drag Sherlock around but the stage dog wasn’t really feeling running around; it would just sit around much to the chagrin of Abbington and Cumberbatch. That sequence ended up being rewritten to explain the dog not wanting to move.
  • Mary is pregnant when the season opens. Abbington shared, “the baby features and also never work with babies either.” She added that the dog debacle was topped by a baby that projectile vomited on her. Moffat said they can talk about babies and dogs because they can’t say anything about season 4.
  • Vertue shared that the Christmas special was written by Gatiss and Moffat. They all loved doing the classical fall and that staging the one from the lore was joyous. They went all out and Moffat said Victorian Sherlock is expensive and they’re glad they went modern day.
  • sherlock-sign-of-threeCumberbatch shared that Moriarty is necessary to Sherlock’s work addictions. One is his archenemy and what he’s up to, and the other is the drugs. He said that when he is isn’t working on a case those two things greatly affect him. We will definitely see how that plays out next season.

  • Moffat addressed the rumors that series four was going to be the last. Both Gatiss and Moffat want to continue to explore the characters as long as they can.
  • Doctor Strange is not as strange as Sherlock. “He is a man of a sensory world and Sherlock isn’t.” The only crossover is that they’re workaholics.
  • Cumberbatch did a five day shoot of a four page script for his best man speech. Felt the cast were great cheerleaders at a one man show.
  • Cumberbatch thinks that in order for Sherlock to truly be the best he has to become more of a person. To understand connections to be part of the world he’s trying to understand to be a better detective. That’s what his friendship with Watson is all about. He takes him into a world to better function as a detective. It’s not just out of necessity. He does actually become attached to the relationships with his friends. “Through that you do form an affection. One that may be a weakness to attack him. It makes him a better person.” he shared.
  • Keyword clues dropped to describe the next season of Sherlock: Fature, Smith, and Sherrinford
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Image via BBC

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Image via PBS


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Image via PBS

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