'Sherlock' Season 3 Premiere Date Is Up In the Air, But We Think We Know When It Will Return

For about two years, the air date for Season 3 of Sherlock has been set at "eventually." It's been an infuriatingly long time since Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes ripped our hearts out — not to mention that of Martin Freeman's John Watson — and Season 3 wrapped filming in early September, but we still don't know when the British television gods will allow actual episodes back into our lives. We've already been biding our time with forays into fan-art, but we need more than that: We need answers. So we decided to do some speculating.

Here's what we know:

BBC announced the Season 2 airdate in Dec. 2011

Why yes, it has been that long. Sherlock's second season started airing in Britain on Jan. 1, 2012. They didn't announce it until Dec. 9, less than a month before the episodes were set to star airing.

They might decide to change things up for this season and announce further ahead of time, but if they stick with that model (of when to air the season and when to announce it) we'll probably have to wait a bit longer to get concrete dates. It's just how the British television system goes; they don't schedule things as heftily in advance. Sigh.

We've had a few false starts already

Google "Sherlock Series 3 premiere date" and you get a lot of "Wait, did the Sherlock premiere date just get revealed." The answer has, so far, always been "no."

There was talk that a November 2013 premiere date was possible — and if that was/is true the announcement of the date would be any day now. Any second, really. Sadly, this is probably not the case. The original nebulously-planned air date when they first started talking Season 3 after the second season's finale aired was October 2013. In case you haven't noticed, it is October now, and we still do not have Sherlock.

Sherlock producer Sue Vertue has also pretty much said it's not gonna be November:

As co-executive producer Steven Moffat reminded fans a year ago (yes, we really have been talking about this for over a year):

Get used to a bit of starvation. We’re making movies – those six films we’ve made could go in the cinema. You can’t factory produce that – it’s a different kind of show. So, when we’re good and ready – it won’t be that long – but when we’re ready, you’ll get the follow-up.

Right now, as they wrapped filming early last month, we'd bet they're in the midst of some pretty hefty post-production. Sherlock episodes are longer than the average TV show (about an hour and a half each), and they've got some pretty impressive cinematography and editing to hone, so Moffat's right: They're like movies, or an on-going miniseries. That takes time.

Their time is reaching its end

No, we're not talking about Sherlock's longevity. We would happily watch that go on forever. We're talking in reference to how long this can drag out. It's true, pretty much no matter how long they wait they're gonna draw a lot of eyes when they come back. But they're also television people, and television people do like getting the stuff they make in front of actual audiences.

Two years is a long time. Two years is insane. Rarely do hiatuses go on that long and get away with it. We're sure Sherlock will get away with it, but there's a certain fatigue that comes with the clawing around in the dark for so long. So far we know that 1) it's not airing right now, which seems fairly obvious, and 2) a number of people both close to the production and cheering along from the sidelines have mentioned that the newest release date will probably be early 2014.

Considering it would be utterly ridiculous (and completely unnecessary — they've already wrapped filming) to push it to mid- or late-2014, our money's on January. Sherlock's producer Sue Vertue responded to the past "Jan. 1 is the air date!!!!" rumors with a tweet that essentially said that she had no idea where the rumors were coming from, as (of course) nothing had been confirmed. It's not a denial by any means; just a deflection.

Jan. 1 is a Wednesday, and if BBC or whomever wants to ride the Sunday drama train, they might hold it a few days until Jan. 5. Or we might just all die from nuclear war or global warming or old age before Sherlock's third season ever airs at all.

Sigh. You know what the most frustrating part of this whole thing is, though? When Sherlock actually comes back, it's only for three weeks — three episodes in Season 3, and then we're on to another never-ending hiatus.

Image: BBC, Karolisha, Lanterne