Sherlock landed at Comic-Con on Sunday: Panelists Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes), Amanda Abbington (Mary Watson), Mark Gatiss (co-creator/executive producer/writer), Steven Moffat (co-creator/executive producer/writer), and Sue Vertue (producer) all boarded the stage at Hall H to discuss the mystery drama, which centers on the titular crime solver and his partner Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman). Moderated by Chris Hardwick, the panel revealed a teaser trailer for the upcoming fourth season (due on PBS Masterpiece in 2017). Below, see other highlights from the panel.
The actor was not originally scheduled for the panel, but on Saturday he announced via PBS’ Twitter that he would join. “It’s going to be fun,” he said in a video. And fun it was: The actor played into his leading man status, making an innuendo about why Sherlock would be taking off that famous coat of his. Beyond the laughs, Cumberbatch and fellow panelists addressed the more serious as well.
Sherlock vs. Doctor Strange
Take, for example, the similarities and differences between Sherlock and Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch’s major, upcoming role that has him playing a former surgeon who trains under a sorcerer to defend the world. “Sherlock’s a lot more strange, I think, than Strange is,” Cumberbatch said, adding that Strange is fully humanized and Sherlock is still getting there. “The crossovers are slight.” But he recognized that both are cerebral characters. His key to playing such roles? “You make sure you get really smart writers.”
The Victorian special
Gatiss quipped that the difference between the show’s standalone, Victorian special and its regular series is that the former “was much more expensive.” More seriously, he said of Sherlock Holmes’ history, “We thought it’d be brilliant to go right back to the beginning.” Cumberbatch was excited by the series’ ability to “straddle both eras,” and how he was able to play his role in a different way. “There’s something slightly more severe,” he explained of his Victorian version. More importantly, he joked that his Victorian version had hair — slicked back instead of a head full of curls — that was much easier to maintain.
Mary’s big development
“I think she’s so well-rounded as a character,” Abbington said of Mary, who was revealed to be a former assassin last season. She continued to describe the character as sassy and tricky and called her a great female character. “Every character in this series is flawed in some way and that’s so much more interesting to watch and play.” Also interesting, Abbington didn’t know about Mary’s past until much later in shooting, which Gatiss felt, speaking generally, is a much better approach because then you can’t play up the secret in advance of its reveal. Plus, in season four, Mary’s baby features.
Teaser names were revealed
The panelists really didn’t talk much about what’s ahead, but Gatiss noted they have two weeks of filming left, and they’ll be shooting an “enormous scene” on Tuesday. Abbington added, “It’s really dark. It’s the darkest Steven and Mark have written.” Gatiss, Moffat, and Vertue also threw out three key names that certainly piqued the audience’s interest about what’s to come: “Thatcher,” “Smith,” and “Sherrinford.”
Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.