Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have been so busy over the past couple years that I almost forgot we haven’t seen a new episode of Sherlock since May 2012 (January 2012 if you watched the BBC airings). The duo has been so busy that filming on the third season had to be split up in order to accommodate their schedules. But the “high-functioning sociopath” is about to return, and U.S. audiences can set their calendars for January 19th at 10:00pm to watch season three on PBS’ Masterpiece. What’s even crazier is that this means Sherlock will run back-to-back with PBS’ other hugely popular British series, Downton Abbey, which premieres on January 5th. That’s right: PBS of all channels will be a ratings powerhouse on Sunday nights starting in January. That’s insane. It’s great, but insane.
Hit the jump for more details about the BBC air date and episodes from season three.
BBC will still get Sherlock first, but we don’t know when exactly. While it would be nice to have the episodes air simultaneously on BBC and PBS in order to avoid spoilers and cut down on piracy, it’s not going to happen. “There are things fans would like to do we just can’t do,” says Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. Whenever it airs on BBC, it will at least be the shortest amount of time U.S. audiences have had to wait for the superb show to travel across the Atlantic.
[Minor spoilers ahead concerning season three]
According to EW, the first episode is “The Empty Hearse” and solves the mystery of Sherlock’s death. The second episode is titled “The Sign of Three” and features Watson getting married to Mary Morstan (played by his real-life partner, Mr. Selfridge actress Amanda Abbington). The third episode is “The Last Vow” and airs February 2nd.
Waiting two years for three weeks of entertainment is highly unusual, but it’s always best to think of it as getting a trilogy of movies. Hopefully, they’ll live up to the same high standard as the previous “episodes”.