With Benedict Cumberbatch's startling rise to fame since Sherlock first began, it's no real surprise that finding time to coordinate his schedule between those of co-star Martin Freeman, and writers Moffat and Gatiss is proving tricky.
Steven Moffat has confirmed that production has been pushed back to "early 2016" due to scheduling conflicts. Which means that if they continue the tradition of releasing the new seasons every New Year we probably wont get to see the next season until 2017. Boo.
It's not all bad though, Moffat and Gatiss have also confirmed that they have developed plots for a fifth series, which doubtless will get a green light from the BBC (though judging by the current run we probably wont get to see that until 2020). And we've still got the upcoming 2015 Moffest-eque Christmas Special to look forward to which, given that it's set in Victorian London where Sherlock Holmes was originally set, could be pretty interesting.
It does takes time to make something great though; like a lot of people, I'm a huge Sherlock fan and have followed the series since it first began back in 2010.
Like a lot of people, I felt very let down by season 3.
Shortly after the season 3 finale aired Lacy Baugher over at WETA blogs put together this wonderful (and amusing) deconstruction of the episode that perfectly echoed my feelings, so give that a read if you're unsure what the hell I mean when I say I felt let down (watch out though - it's a long one).
We need a return to the core of Sherlock
The defining feature of Sherlock is his cleverness, and to begin with that was the defining feature of the show too. But season 3 didn't feel clever; it felt pandering. It felt dumb. It felt gaping - gaps in logic, gaps in narrative and inconsistent characterisation throughout. Maybe it was the lack of direction in having no clear antagonist until right at the end and the (frankly weird) wedding episode. Maybe it's cause it's such a stop-and-start show that makes narrative bridging a little tricky: three-episode seasons, years between their runs and each episode spanning the length of a feature film. It's a bit of an awkward model for a show.
Whatever it was this feeling was reflected in Sherlock's character. Particularly in the finale, he was wrong about everything - Mary, Magnussen, the "mind-vault" (honestly, who didn't see that plot twist coming?). It's all very well and good to show us that Sherlock is human, that he makes mistakes, that he does care about people, particularly about John. That's important. But season 3 felt more like pandering fanservice than meaningful character development, especially given the contrast against previous seasons. And the finale felt all wrong, leaving Sherlock defeated intellectually, resorting to becoming a killer yet without having to face any real consequences for doing so.
Most importantly - it's totally out of character.
"It’s frustrating though, because ostensibly the idea of Sherlock Holmes is about brains trumping brawn, about being the cleverest man in the room, about solving problems and saving lives with your brain, not a gun. It’s a hard pill to swallow, for me and it’s something I desperately need to feel like we’ll see addressed in his character in the future." - Lacy Baugher
The John/Sherlock team back together
This is perhaps the most obvious one, as one of Sherlock's defining features is the, often amusing, relationship between the two central characters. Much of season 3 saw John's marriage and Sherlock generally being a bit of a douche causing problems with their partnership. When they were together it all got a bit much, which is a central problem with Moffat's writing once it gains momentum (he does the same thing in Doctor Who). Too much pandering to the fanbase, not enough paying attention to the narrative. Hopefully season 4 will strike a better balance between the two dynamics.
How the duo will juggle John's impending fatherhood and the effect that will have on their relationship remains to be seen, it's something that they're going to have to find a way to deal with if we're going to see them tackle the renewed threat in season 4.
More of the original supporting cast
Season 3 gave us a great lack of Rupert Graves' wonderful Greg Lestrade, which came as a surprise following the season 2 finale in which it's revealed that Lestrade is one of three people that Sherlock would die for. It also couldn't hurt to have some more of Brealey's Molly Hooper, and moments between Sherlock and Mycroft like the smoking in the garden scene provide much needed breaths of lightness to the relationship between them.
I don't have anything against Mary, I actually really liked her character when she was first introduced, but I'd rather see some more of the other supporting characters doing their thing than have to deal with the focus on her ridiculous assassin subplot.
Can we get back to solving mysteries now?
Hopefully the renewed threat, the possibility of Moriarty's return, is going to slap everyone upside the head and get things back on track in the wake of all that happened in season 3.
It would be nice to see a continuation of the mystery-per-episode dynamic, with the overarching storyline of season 4 being whether or not Moriarty has returned perhaps feeding into the individual episodes, with everything culminating in a really strong finale that corrects the mistakes of the previous.
For now, I'll just live in hope.