Sherlock EP Steven Moffat and PBS’s Masterpiece chief Rebecca Eaton worked like gangbusters this morning, for the better part of an hour, making sure to convey no actual information about the Sherlock one-off special, which will be set in the Victorian era.
Though it’s been widely reported the program will be a Christmas special in the UK, and a trailer of what has been described as such was screened at Comic-Con (watch it below), Eaton and Moffat steadfastly declined to confirm. Journalists in the hall were left deducing, like the famous sleuth, that it must be airing in the U.S. some time before January, or PBS would have waited until the January TCA to hold this Q&A.
“We are aiming for zero cognitive content in our answers today,” Moffat joked while journalists figuratively tore at their hair. Eaton said PBS is waiting on BBC to decide when it will air the special and only then can the U.S. broadcasting system schedule the special. “We are all working… to be as nimble as we can with this one… and we are in very close touch with BBC,” Eaton said cautiously. “I think we are working very hard on it to not frustrate the fans who know it’s on BBC and want to see it,” she said, but without any vim.
Moffat, who announced at Comic-Con last month that the maybe-Christmas special will also be released in select theaters around the world, explained at TCA why the decision was made to set the special in the Victorian era.
“We checked the books, and decided we got it wrong,” he said. Of, if you did not like that answer, he also said, “Because we can.”
He also told inquisitive TV critics that the team behind the series “never bothered” to explain their decision to move the iconic detective franchise to modern-day London, “so why do we have to explain why Victorian England, when it’s the era in which it’s supposed to be set?”
“It’s a mistake we’ve been a long time rectifying,” he joked.
Moffat did offer that the Victorian era better lends itself to ghost stories – then clammed up again.
Asked whether the franchise would stick with the Victorian era going forward, Moffatt first joked it’s taken so long to make that they’ll have to set future episodes in the next century. Then, more seriously, he said the series would return to its regular era next season, “unless I go mad and set it in the 1940’s and have him fight Hitler.”
Of his star Benedict Cumberbatch, Moffat said, “I think the population of the earth is going to have to increase before Benedict gets more famous.”
Speaking thereof, Cumberbatch is starring in Hamlet for a 12-week run at the Barbican theater, a run that reportedly sold out in minutes last August, and did not attend today’s Q&A, but sent a video answering what he anticipated would be the questions he would have been asked.
For instance: Now that you’re a big movie star, why do you do a TV show? “Duh,” he responded pre-emptively. Is Moriarty going to be in the special? “No comment.” After the special, will the series remain in Victorian era? “No comment.”
To questions as to how they will continue to gadget-up Sherlock in an era without mobile devices and the internet, he responded, “Ear trumpets and no comment.”
“Goobye,” he said in conclusion.