There’s a reason the BBC show Sherlock is so popular. Sure, it’s inventive and entertaining but, let’s face it, the show’s creators – Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffatt – got incredibly lucky when they landed stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for the lead roles, just as they were both on the cusp of mega-stardom. Such fortunes undoubtedly give the show a huge ratings boost, but ultimately cause its biggest problem as well – at least in terms of putting together future seasons.
Soon after the three-episode first season of Sherlock aired in 2010, Cumberbatch was being snapped up for War Horse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Fifth Estate and the re-booted Star Trek franchise. He is now a bona fide movie star – regularly appearing in awards-worthy fare, such as his 2013 double-whammy of August: Osage County and 12 Years A Slave. Cumberbatch also found time to join his Sherlock co-star on his rocket to international stardom – The Hobbit. Martin Freeman’s lead role of Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien franchise catapulted him from being ‘Tim from The Office,’ to being an internationally recognized star.
But, where does that leave Sherlock? As demands on the respective schedules of the two stars increase, the opportunities for getting the band back together become fewer and further between. Cultbox reports that, while speaking on the British TV show Alan Carr: Chatty Man, Freeman addressed the three-pipe problem while promoting his new show, Fargo:
“Mark Gatiss may beat me up, but there is an idea for this one-off special that’s such a good idea – I thought ‘We’ve just got to do this.’ And I don’t know when we are going to be able to do it, unfortunately.
“It’s a fantastic, really mouth-watering idea. But I really don’t know when we are going to get to do it.
“I thought the plan was to do it in the autumn, but apparently that’s fallen away.”
Indeed – it’s the familiar, media friendly line into which you could insert the name of any wildly popular show with newly sought-after stars in its cast. They all love making Sherlock, but schedules rarely synchronize, so maybe we could make one instead of three to plug the gap? Yes – an age-old teaser tactic.
But, Sherlock fans, let’s be real for a second, shall we? Cumberbatch is starring in movies that are winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Freeman is leading a global box office smash hit franchise, and starring in a Coen Brothers produced TV show with the award-winning Billy Bob Thornton. Yes – Sherlock is great, and provided them with a fantastic opportunity at the time but, given the choice, which projects do you think they would rather make time for? These guys are in the enviable position of being in demand – they can choose where they want to invest their energies. If Sherlock was a priority, it would happen – but it’s now way down the list, as demonstrated by the difficulty in synchronizing schedules.
That may sound cynical, but it only seems that way because we, the audience, are constantly locked in this romantic notion of never wanting great things to end. We no longer seem to have the ability to just appreciate things for the length of their duration. If our favourite TV show comes to a conclusion, fans just take to the internet and ‘campaign’ for more – which is all very admirable, but ultimately stultifying. Where is the element of anticipation and discovery that comes with eagerly awaiting the next creation from the people behind your favourite TV show? These people are talented storytellers – shouldn’t we be curious about what else they have up their sleeves?
If Sherlock returns for a fourth run of three, or even a one-off special, it will hopefully be because this “mouth-watering idea” is something fresh, that the team feel they just have to tell – rather than simply perpetuating a popular show for the sake of it. In the meantime, why not enjoy the other work of the Sherlock gang? There’s Doctor Who, from Gatiss and Moffatt. There’s countless movie roles from Benedict Cumberbatch, and most definitely, there’s the incredible Fargo – starring Martin Freeman, which can be found on FX in the US, and Channel 4 in the UK.
I think we can let Sherlock rest awhile, when there’s this level of quality entertainment to be had, don’t you?