Showrunner Steven Moffat, producer Sue Vertue, and Rupert Graves (our dear Lestrade) were on hand for the San Diego Comic Con Sherlock panel, which is exciting given the picture that was released today of our dynamic duo in Victorian garb for the impending Christmas special this yea. Want to know what’s up at Baker Street? Check below!
The panel starts with an apology video from Andrew Scott (Moriarty), Cumberbatch (Sherlock), and Mark Gatiss (Mycroft/co-showrunner) for not being at the panel. It started off with Scott reading a script marked “007”–he’s going to be in the next Bond outing, Spectre–and getting a call from Cumberbatch who happens to be busy playing some Denmark prince or whatever. The man himself does a few lines from Hamlet and is joined by Gatiss. Scott then says “Hello Comic Con… did you miss me?” to uproarious screams.
The panel showed a clip from the Christmas special! And Moffat has confirmed that it will be shown in select theaters worldwide as well, which is pretty great. Moffat said that the original idea behind Sherlock was to figure out how Holmes would get along in centuries with iPhones, and that the point of this special will be to discover how Sherlock gets along without his iPhone.
Sue Vertue went along to say that the special is still very much their show, their world, even if it is over a century earlier. Rupert Graves says that he adored the script and promised that he had grown some epic mutton chops for the episode. They said that the costume department had a great time trying to figure out what the Victorian versions of these characters would wear.
How to place their female characters into that era was also a challenge; Moffat claims that he completely forgot that they’d “invented” Molly Hooper, for example, and that their Mrs Hudson had a wild past. They struggled to stay true to the more gender-balanced world they created around their Sherlock and John while dealing with the sexism inherent in the Victorian Era.
It was asked how they prioritized which characters that the gave backstory to, and Moffat joked “unfairly” as the show is about two guys and then they build from there. He mentioned that they’re committed to using Doyle’s best “version” of the characters; in the stories, Lestrade is sometimes portrayed as an idiot, and sometimes as a wise man, so they went for the latter.
Moffat said that season four will be the saddest one yet, and that the “gut punch” coming is a back swing that was there from the beginning. He said that he feels no triumph when the scripts work out well, he agonizes over every single one and Sue (who is his wife) always has to remind him that his does this with every script. He said one of the few moments he is genuinely proud of is Irene’s “I Am Sherlocked” bit, but that it doesn’t translate well for other languages and you should never use puns. He says that he wrote a scene to come after Sherlock saved Irene that involved lots of guys getting hacked to death during what he would call “a domestic dispute.” He made jokes about his writing a scene of their night together, but says that he really thinks that they never saw each other again, but think of each other once a day and smile. (He genuinely doesn’t know if she’ll ever come back to the show.)
When asked why the show works, Moffat cited that friendship between the core duo who seem unlikely friends, and the fact that people will always love stories about a man who understands everything but himself. A fan asked about whether or not we would ever meet the third Holmes brother, and he slyly avoided the question. Another asked about the next store neighbor Mrs Turner and her married gay tennants, and Moffat said it was a reference to an error in one of the Doyle stories where he accidentally called Mrs Hudson by the name Turner. He said that he loved fanfiction and fanart and called it “hothousing talent,” but said that they could never engage with it in the show: “We’re doing our version, and you’re doing your version, and one day you’ll do your own version of something else and become writers and artists and creators.” He also said that the show inspiring other creatives was one of the greatest rewards in doing it. Now that they’ve gotten the most famous moments of Holmes history out of the way, Moffat claimed that he and Gatiss were looking forward to mining lesser-known parts of the canon.
A fan asked if they wrote Lestrade to fit how charming Graves is, and Moffat claimed that Rupert came into the audition and gave them a version of Lestrade that they weren’t expecting, someone who seemed like he could be star of his own show. They wrote to fit his interpretation. He thinks that Sherlock and John are resentful because Greg is more handsome than they are (saying that Freeman and Cumberbatch feel that way about Graves.)
Moffat talked about evolving as a writer, and not enjoying watching his old work, seeing himself make the same narrative mistakes. He also admitted that he has trouble with humor, saying “sometimes I have to be told ‘That’s not funny, that’s actually offensive, and you’ve basically demonstrated a prejudice against life. Nobody else is gonna laugh, they are all going to hate you. Again!'” He admitted that he’d love to do a crossover with Sherlock and the Doctor, and Sue Vertue said she wouldn’t let him. But he write and film a version of that crossover in college and got his sister to play both parts!
Vertue says that they’re working very hard to get Sherlock to air at the same time in the UK and US. And Moffat says he does have an idea of the ultimate end of the series in his mind, that he always has…
And that’s what went down!
Emmet Asher-Perrin could listen to Mrs. Hudson rail at John Watson in Victorian England all day. You can bug her on Twitter and Tumblr, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.