We're days away from the long awaited premiere of Sherlock Season 4, and, of course, the question on everyone's mind is: Will there be a Sherlock Season 5? Because when I say long awaited, I mean long awaited. It's been three years since Sherlock Season 3 debuted (Though it has felt like, I don't know, approximately forever.) Just in time to prep us for a new round of Holmes's adventures, co-creator Mark Gatiss talked to TVLine about Sherlock's future, and it didn't exactly sound positive about the concept of future seasons.
Here's what Gatiss had to say. Are you ready for it? You sure? OK. He said... "We honestly don’t know." They honestly don't know. Which means that we honestly don't know either, and probably won't know for a while. It gets worse (or better, depending on your perspective, which I will address in a moment). Gatiss added, “It’s just genuinely difficult to schedule everyone’s diaries. It was a nightmare to schedule this season… and that’s not going to go away. I mean, the success of Doctor Strange is not going to make Benedict short of work.”
It's true. In the time since Sherlock premiered back in 2010, both of its leading men have been blowing up. Scheduling nightmares are a real thing and definitely a real reason to end a show. Not saying a good reason, but a real one.
Here's where I aim to change your perspective on this not-necessarily-bad, but not-necessarily-great news. While Gatiss calls the show a "gift" and makes it clear that they aren't going to take its ending lightly, he adds “there is a great precedent for leaving well alone. Fawlty Towers is 12 episodes, with four years apart. And it’s perfect.” He also noted that they are "very, very pleased" with Season 4's episodes.
When a show ends on its own terms (like Breaking Bad, which has maintained a postmortem elevation ever since that final scene commenced), something unique happens. The creators and writers get to tell a complete story exactly how they intended. Nothing needs to be watered down or dragged out. Last year, Lena Dunham decided to end HBO's Girls after Season 6 because she knew that the story was done. She wanted to "keep the momentum alive." In the end, a shorter story that still feels alive trumps a longer story that feels bland. (Or elementary, my dear Watson.)
It's never easy to see a show you love conclude. But wouldn't it be better for Sherlock to end flawlessly than continue on with the possibility that the actors will have less time and energy to give to the series? Or the possibility that the story won't go anywhere more impactful than it already has?
Cumberbatch divulged that the ending of Season 4 sets a tough precedent anyway. He told UK's GQ that Season 4 “goes to a place where it will be pretty hard to follow on immediately.” Though he did add,
Waiting is a concept Sherlock fans are used to, so that shouldn't be a problem.
To make things even more confusing, the final episode of the season shares a title with an Arthur Conan Doyle short story, wherein Doyle kills off Sherlock. However, like Gatiss told TVLine, "'The Final Problem’ was then followed by another 40 stories." What are we supposed to deduce from that?
We'll get one step closer to the answers when Sherlock Season 4 premieres Jan. 1, 2017.