‘Sherlock’ Producers Tease Upcoming Victorian Special

(C)Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films for MASTERPIECE

Sherlock is heading back in time.

When the wildly popular British crime drama returns, the action shifts from modern London to the Victorian era with Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman) bringing the original stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to life. “We looked at the books and realized we got it wrong!” joked executive producer Steven Moffat at the Television Critics Association press tour. “But why do a Victorian one? Just because we can, really. Why bother to explain it?”

Moffat confirmed the time jump would only be a one-off in the Sherlock universe, but was tight-lipped when it came to plot details. Cumberbatch himself appeared in a pre-taped segment cheekily repeating “no comment” to any potential spoilers. However, Moffat did reveal that the special will lean heavily on Doyle’s original themes. “Ghost stories work better in a Victorian setting,” Moffat said. “The strand of Doyle’s original stories were creepy and scary, so it’s the chance to do a ghost story.”

The characters will also alter their behavior in the new setting. “Sherlock is a bit more polished and operates more like a Victorian gentleman rather than a posh mood man,” Moffat said. “And Dr. Watson is a bit more upright. You can’t not write Martin a bit acerbic, so we’ve given him a real edge.”

But when will viewers actually be able to see the special? The BBC has yet to set an air date, and PBS is unable to schedule the American broadcast without knowing when it will first be shown in the U.K. “We can’t tell you when we’re going to air it because we must follow the BBC,” said Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “We are working very hard on it to not frustrate the fans.” Added Moffat: “You can never have too much anticipation.”

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