With little news currently available regarding where the smash hit BBC show Sherlock is going next it's been a long sad drought for fans since Season 3 ended way back in the beginning of 2014.
Though we aren't going to see Season 4 for a while yet, Sherlock series creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have managed to get the increasingly busy main cast back together just long enough to film a very special Christmas flavoured episode (Moffat does love his Christmas specials).
The Special Episode involves the titular Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his companion John Watson (Martin Freeman) somehow displaced from modern London into the Victorian era, 1895 to be exact (according to IMDB). 1895 is an important year in the original Conan Doyle chronology; it's the year in which Sherlock was killed off at the Reichenbach Falls and the number repeats throughout Doyle's stories, and in the BBC's Sherlock too.
The episode will be titled The Abominable Bride and is set to air on New Years Day 2016 in keeping with the usual premiere date and a full two years after the last season. Sherlock and Watson will be kitted out in their original character costumes as a tribute to those who have come before them:
Moffat: "We’ve got, I think you can safely say, the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson of a generation – we want to see them do it in the proper outfits, just once. That makes them the only two who've done both [period and contemporary] - apart from [Basil] Rathbone and [Nigel] Bruce, who we venerate, of course."
And Sherlock Season 4?
As for Season 4, sadly news is still pretty thin on the ground in that regard but we do finally have a concrete(ish) date set for the beginning of filming, as Steven Moffat has confirmed that production is set to start "April-ish" of next year. We still don't know if all episodes will be filmed consecutively though or if the production will have to be broken up to accommodate the busy schedule of lead actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, such as was the case with Season 3 (which may have explained why it felt a little disconnected).
The good news is that, everything going according to plan, we can expect Sherlock Season 4 to begin in the usual January air date... in 2017. Okay, maybe not the greatest news but at least there's a step forward there, no matter how small it may be.
As for the content of Sherlock Season 4 we'll still guessing on that count. Earlier this year Moffat teased "consequences" as a prevailing theme of the season:
Moffat: "There are answers coming to questions which nobody has asked. There’s one thing that no one has really brought up... [Season 4] is going to be, I suppose you’d say, consequences. It’s consequences. Chickens come to roost. It’s dark in some ways—obviously it’s great fun and a Sherlock Holmes romp and all that—but there’s a sense of things coming back to bite you. It’s not a safe, sensible way to live. It’s hilarious and exhilarating some days, but some days it’s going to be bloody frightening."
As usual there's been a ton of speculation in the fandom about what this could mean, ranging from Moriarty (Andrew Scott)'s return to the death of Mary Watson (Amanda Abbington). All we know for sure is that we're not going to see a crossover with Moffat's other popular show Doctor Who, so bad news for that niche of the fandom there. Sorry.