At the “Sherlock” panel at Comic-Con 2013, co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis joined producer Sue Vertue to discuss last season’s shocking cliffhanger (which won’t be resolved until next year when the show returns to PBS), crack jokes and introduce a short video segment from season 3. Fans were perhaps most excited, though, to see a joint video greeting from stars Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch.
The panel kicked off with a question about the differences between the two stars, which Moffat quickly answered. “One is a high-functioning sociopath and the other one is a hobbit. So there’s that.”
As if to make the case that the stars are very different animals, video greetings from both Cumberbatch and Freeman were played. Freeman, in costume and clearly taking a break from filming “The Hobbit” sequels, drily joked that fans should ask “the most belligerent, badgering questions” before noting he would soon be off to shoot the third episode of “Sherlock.”
Cumberbatch, on the other hand, pretended not to know what he was meant to be discussing “‘Smaug?’… ‘Julian Assange?’ Oh, ‘Sherlock’? That’s television! Oh, you want me to talk about the show!” After assuring fans “I can guarantee it’s more fun doing it than watching it,” he continued. “I’m on holiday at the moment, and having for two years of my life not having been able to talk about what my character does, I think, fuck it.” He then grabbed a stuffed animal monkey toy and, while the audio comically cut out, pretended to act out scenes from the third season of “Sherlock.”
Once the joking was over, it was time to talk about Sherlock Holmes’ (Cumerbatch) jaw-dropping fall that concluded season two. “We knew it would be huge, and we thought… oh my God, what are we going to do? He dies tragically… and then he’s behind a tree! People are going to be so cross! And that’s when it got really fun.”
As Gatiss explained, “There are only a few ways you can fall off a roof and survive. It’s not black magic.” Though he wouldn’t explain how Homes’ survives, he said, “It’s a rational explanation. We did know it before we shot it. And we shot a lot of what you’re going to see. And when you see the answer, you’re going to see that yes, it had to be plotted out.”
One plot development is exactly how it seems, at least according to Moffat. “Moriarity is dead. He shot himself in the face. What more do you want?” And if it had been fakery, he said, “What a waste of a scene that would have been? ‘You were faking?’ ‘I was faking, too!'” But that doesn’t mean Andrew Scott, who played the role, won’t make it back. “It was actually cheaper to get Andrew Scott to come back than to get a mannequin. But he shot himself in the head. Can’t come back from that.”
More time will likely be spent on Holmes’ brother Mycroft Holmes next season. “One of the big things we wanted to explore, Dr. Watson’s reaction to [his appearance] is dealt with very quickly. He just seems to forgive him. But it can’t just be that. We wanted to explore how it affected all the regulars and extended family.”
Vertue confirmed that season four has been commissioned, though Moffat was less sure about a Sherlock film. “It’s an interesting thought. It take ages to set up films… films are really slow compared to television. It would reduce the quality even further. But one never knows. We do have the two biggest film stars out there in our show. You wouldn’t even get them in the same film now. But we do get them and they’re always delighted to come back.”
The season three clues of rat, wedding and bow were mentioned, and fans got a little more info — but only a little. “The first episode, “The Empty Hearse,” we need to resolve the cliffhanger. It’s based on “The Empty House,” but only a little. It was just an excuse to bring Sherlock back… [and address] the enormously important impact Sherlock’s return has on John. And something with a rat and a biscuit tin,” said Gatiss.
The second hint is probably pretty obvious. “Hot off the presses from 110 years ago, [John] gets married. We thought you wouldn’t sneak ahead and read the book,” Moffat joked. “That’s what happens when [things happen before] you were born. Watch this panel for a treat later.”
A clip from season three was played, though not before Vertue asked everyone to put away their phones and explained she’d promised the BBC the footage would stay off the Internet. The scene was about Holmes recalling the moment Watson asked him to be his best man, and I don’t think it’s giving anything away to say that eyeball tea is sipped.
Moffat was asked to explain the difference between his two stars, giving him another opportunity to joke around. “The violence, the mood swings. The clown costume,” he said. “The chemistry, they’re completely different people, but they really have a really good laugh, and you can really see how much love there is behind it. Benedict is the goofy one and Martin is the sardonic one. When they read for the parts, we auditioned them in a room, not even a nice room, and they read again. Benedict is really quite bumbly, isn’t he, and Martin is much more direct. Maybe they should put each other’s costumes on.”